7 Hiring Incentives for Attracting Talent in a Tight Labor Market

illustration of a business person with several hands coming from out of frame offering different hiring incentives

The American economy is still grappling with the after-effects of what many have dubbed the “Great Resignation,” as millions of people have quit their jobs in pursuit of something new. While the reasons people gave for leaving their jobs are complex, one clear result from this has been a very tight labor market.

“The candidate has more power than they have ever had in the market and can use that to make sure they are landing their dream job that aligns with their needs,” says Jerek Jeffrey, recruiting partner at True Talent Group®.

So how are employers and the human resources professionals tasked with attracting talented employees adapting to this change? Hiring incentives and process shifts are playing a central role as employers adjust to a new employment landscape.

We talked to several professionals navigating this new reality to get a sense of what works when it comes to attracting top talent.

7 Hiring incentives and initiatives for attracting employees

While the shift from an abundant labor market to one with a much more competitive landscape may be catching some employers flat-footed, the good news is that there are several attainable approaches employers can take to shake things up.

1. Streamlining the hiring process

One of the first places employers can turn is inward to address any unnecessarily drawn-out steps or bottlenecks within their hiring process. A lengthy and convoluted hiring process can turn off top talent as they pursue new jobs. No one wants to feel like they’re jumping through extra hoops if they know they can head elsewhere with less hassle.

“Have a clearly defined, fast-moving interview process,” advises Trish English, head of recruiting at Instawork®. “Keep in mind that candidates are interviewing us as well.”

Employers should also be proactive in communicating with potential hires, especially regarding all the next steps.

“The process shouldn’t be more than a week or two, or you risk losing the talent who is the best fit,” says Jeffrey.

2. Putting an additional focus on building a positive employer “brand”

Increasing brand awareness is generally on the mind for any organization but having positive reviews on your company—employer brand awareness—is particularly important in the current hiring marketplace.

“Make sure to communicate your company’s story, the principles it stands for, its culture and its purpose in an authentic way,” says Steven McConnell, director at Exceptional Resumes.

Cultivating a company’s online presence, especially on sites like Glassdoor®, is an important factor in attracting new hires. While savvy job seekers tend to understand that online reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, a presence that reflects only the frustrations some employees have with an organization won’t do you any favors. Crowdsourcing testimonials from current staff is one way to let potential hires know what it’s like to work at your company, advises Ryan Reed-Baum, CEO and founder of TruLog Siding.

“Great individuals want to work for great organizations,” adds Reed-Baum. “Allowing your reputation to speak for you is one of the most effective strategies to grab the attention of top performers.”

3. Flexible schedules and remote/hybrid options

Many organizations and companies are learning the hard way that potential hires are extremely motivated by flexible work schedules and options to work at home or in a hybrid model. The pandemic has created a lot of stress and change, particularly for families and caregivers, causing employees to value work that can adapt according to their personal needs.

“The new labor market is really looking for better work-life balance, so flexibility is a great way to allow for that,” says Connor Ondriska, CEO of SpanishVIP. “Especially for businesses that don’t need a physical location, it’s a great incentive for the employee and a cost-saver for the business.”

Kimberly Back, senior job data content producer for Virtual Vocations, cites her company’s 2021 survey of parents who are remote workers as an indication that flexibility will remain a key hiring incentive.

“The continued desire to work remotely amid uncertain times is the top motivator for working parents seeking to change jobs,” Back reports. “They named working from home as the number one reason they want a new job, ahead of better pay, a promotion or increased professional fulfillment.”

4. Employee referral bonuses

Employee referral bonuses are nothing new, but they remain a rock-solid tactic for attracting top talent.

“One of the best cost-effective options is to encourage employee referrals,” says Steve Anevski, co-founder of UpShift®. “Employee referrals are more likely to land you candidates for the long term because they are vouched for by the people who already know the company culture.”

5. Hiring bonuses

Like employee referral bonuses, hiring bonuses are an established tactic for employers seeking to attract new talent. But it’s important to note that offering money to candidates upfront isn’t just appealing to potential hires—it also has benefits for employers.

“A bonus can help you counter another offer,” says Adam Fard, founder of Adam Fard UX Agency. “These are one-time expenses that do not compound, like pay.”

6. Mental health support and wellness initiatives

Many employers have traditionally seen mental health support and wellness initiatives as “extras” or perks. But attitudes are shifting, according to Hal Halladay, CEO of Breakthrough Leadership.

“Companies should invest in the well-being and growth of their employees,” says Halladay. “These factors connect with people and their lives rather than just their bank account.” 

Making time to tend to the mind and body has become extremely important to people, according to McConnell.

“Consider offering gym memberships, healthy snacks, yoga classes, athletic gear reimbursement and mental health aid programs,” McConnell advises.

7. Emphasizing professional development and growth opportunities

Competitive employers are always seeking growth, but it’s important to make it obvious to potential new hires. People are attracted to organizations that have demonstrated their investment in their employees by training and promoting them.

“The top talent looks for jobs that will give them the most room for personal growth and career advancements,” says Will Donnelly, founder of Lottie. “They have the power to say no to offers and will only choose one that they see a future in.”

Anevski echoes this, saying that good candidates will be looking for opportunities and the ability to learn and expand their skills.

“The most talented candidates always want to push themselves to their limits,” Anevski adds. “This allows them to advance their careers rapidly.”

Want to help put hiring incentives to use?

Finding and attracting the right people to a company is a big undertaking—even during the times when employers are flooded with applicants. The push and pull of the recruiting process can be a taxing yet engaging way to make a living. If you want to learn more about the steps you’d need to take to get started in this important HR focus area, start with our article “How to Become a Recruiter: The Beginner’s Guide.”

True Talent Group is a registered trademark of True Talent Group, LLC.
Instawork is a registered trademark of Garuda Labs, Inc.
Glassdoor is a registered trademark of Glassdoor, Inc.
UpShift is a registered trademark of Pinch Enterprises, LLC.

About the author

Carrie Mesrobian

Carrie is a freelance copywriter at Collegis Education. She researches and writes articles, on behalf of Rasmussen University, to help empower students to achieve their career dreams through higher education.

Carrie Mesrobian

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