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Ask the HR Pro: Fixing employee recruitment and retention

By Ashley Cuttino, Ogletree Deakins, co-chair COVID-19 Litigation Practice Group

February 1, 2023

Ask the HR ProQ: Is there a magic bullet to fix employee recruitment and retention issues?

A: Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet or secret to employee recruitment and retention issues. Many employers, including in the equipment and event rental industry, are facing challenges with employee recruitment and retention in this post COVID-19 pandemic era of the “Great Resignation” and “quiet quitting.” In fact, a recent study revealed that more than 40 percent of surveyed U.S. workers are currently looking for a different job. Plus, turnover rates continue to reach record highs. Indeed, recruitment and retention are currently a high priority for most companies, and human resources teams should be equipped to address these issues.

In response to these trends, many employers have relaxed preemployment drug testing and/or background check practices to help facilitate talent acquisition. Others have changed random drug testing practices to combat retention challenges. Some may consider additional employee benefits or leave, perhaps even employee sabbaticals. If an employer is considering altering its leave policies, however, it should be wary of overlapping legal considerations — particularly from a multi-state perspective. These issues, which are not exhaustive, may include: eligibility requirements, length of leave, whether the leave is paid or unpaid, whether the employee will retain his or her benefits during leave, protocol for the employee’s return to work, and continuity of life and/or disability insurance. For any alterations to a policy or practice, companies should ensure that all applicable legal requirements are met.

From a “non-legal” perspective, it is important for companies to implement policies and create a culture that makes it difficult for employees to leave. According to a recent study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employees identified five factors as the leading contributors to job satisfaction: (1) respectful treatment of all employees at all levels; (2) compensation/pay; (3) trust between employees and senior management; (4) job security; and (5) opportunities to use their skills and abilities at work. Additionally, companies can increase employee engagement by providing mentors, fostering a team environment, placing value on work-life balance, focusing on diversity and inclusion, providing proper training and development, maintaining flexible work arrangements, providing wellness offerings, engaging in employee recognition, being transparent about the company’s future, and, of course, supplying financial incentives and competitive benefits. Finally, because a high rate of turnover likely occurs within the first six months of an employee’s employment, it is important to emphasize these cultural standards early on through robust onboarding practices.

No matter what strategies an employer may wish to deploy, finding unique ways to attract and retain good employees based on a company’s own business needs should be worth the time and investment. By doing so, employers should reduce turnover and its related costs and also attract talent in a competitive market.

But what if a company does everything it can and an employee still leaves or it has difficulty finding good talent? Well, companies must learn to “pivot,” a word that has become all-toofamiliar since the pandemic. For example, employers may encourage departing employees to participate in an exit interview process in order to analyze departure reasons so that the company can equip itself to remedy any prevalent concerns.

This column is provided by Ogletree Deakins, Atlanta, as part of a partnership with the American Rental Association (ARA) for ARA’s Human Resources Assistance Program. ARA members can receive a single sign on from the ARA webpage to a microsite specific to ARA on the Ogletree Deakins platform; get access to two 30-minute calls with an HR professional per year; access to an FAQ section as well as to Ogletree Deakins’ library of webinars; and access to Ogletree Deakins’ ARA-specific webinars. To learn more, visit