Thinking Differently: 4 Ways to Better Retain and Recruit Employees 

Attracting talent has been a persistent challenge for employers. In fact, Catapult surveys reveal that 61% of North Carolina employers are facing recruitment challenges, 52% are struggling with talent retention, and 81% are discovering that it’s only getting harder. What’s an employer to do? 

This month’s installment of Thinking Differently tackles “The Value of Investing in Your People.” Connecting attendees with actionable advice were our hosts, Catapult experts Kirsten Lora, VP of Learning, and Becky Drozdz, HR Advisor and Compensation Team Lead. 

“We’re not experiencing the ‘Great Resignation.’ We’re experiencing the ‘Great Upgrade,’” notes Becky. She points out that as job seekers’ options have increased, “employees are looking for something special – not just a job.”  

Employers: review these key takeaways from Thinking Differently to better create that “something special” at your organization. 

 1. Offer Clear Opportunities for Growth 

“So much has changed in the business space, including how much we expect from the workforce,” says Kirsten. “Employees need upgraded skills because there are now so many more roles for a single talent to fill.” As a result, employers must keep talent competitive and current with formal and informal training. “Otherwise,” she warns, “hiring pools and employees will find that investment somewhere else. 

It’s also important to remember that growth isn’t always a ladder. It can be a rock wall, too. Encourage those with multiple interests to pursue their different skillsets. Catapult surveys show that 41% of employers are filling jobs with existing staff that lack job skills but have potential to learn and grow.  

Whether that means boosting certifications or supporting the exploration of cross-functional roles, employees who discover their unique paths within your organization can better set their own learning and development goals. Plus, it shows them where they can apply that knowledge within the business.  

Actions To Take Now: Better understand job roles. (This Catapult Toolkit can help!) Employers should ask what skills make one job a Level One or a Level Two. Outlining the competencies between these roles can help employees fill these gaps with clearer opportunities for training or skill exposure.

 2. Encourage Open Communication  

During the webinar, we asked attendees: “When do you talk about career paths and professional development with employees?”  

This survey inquires about employee conversation frequency.

51% of attending employers noted they communicate with employees during annual performance reviews. While having annual career-centered conversations is important, it’s paramount to hold similar conversations more often. A lot can happen in a year, and COVID proved just that.  

“People have different needs for their careers now,” says Becky. “Worklife balance, working from home, career development – there are so many more employment topics on the table.” 74% of employers believe prospective employees rank a good work life balance near the top of their workplace needs, reveals a Catapult survey. 

You’ll never understand what’s missing from an individual’s career or from an open role unless you ask. “As a leader, managers especially must find what interests and drive employees,” says Kirsten. “If someone communicates during these conversations that they may not see themselves with an employer, find out what they need and how to get it. That’s our role as managers.”  

This flexibility also applies in hiring. If you’re afraid that an applicant you really want may not be with a role for more than three years, consider adjusting the job to better suit them. “Someone impassioned and creative may not work for you forever, but they’ll certainly put more thought and creativity into a role than a ‘warm body,’” notes Kirsten. “They’ll likely help define the needs and functions of a role better than someone who just checks boxes.” 

Actions To Take Now: Communicate with employees to find out what matters in their world. How can you fit those needs to ensure mutual appreciation for a longer return on investment? Don’t be afraid to also look deeper into what other organizations are doing and what you can reasonably apply. 

 3. Connect with Employees as People 

During the webinar, we asked attendees: “Which training opportunities do you provide?” 

This survey inquires the training opportunities employers provide.

46% of attending employees polled that they provide work skill and life skill training—incredibly important in today’s working world. Investing in employees both within their roles and their personal lives can attract and retain top talent.  

Help employees to understand how to save for their first house, how to pay student loans, or how to balance checkbooks. Why? “If employees don’t understand how to manage their money or manage their lives outside of work, their perspective can shift to temporary thinking,” says Kirsten. “They can start thinking about leaving to chase signing bonuses or other temporary factors.” 

This balance also extends into mental health. “Burnout is when stress goes unmanaged,” notes Becky. “When you address the whole person and invest in helping employees understand stress management, they can be more successful as a person and as an employee.”  

Actions To Take Now: Expose employees to outside experts. Whether that’s someone who specializes in retirement planning or nutrition, giving employees life skills builds a stronger relationship between you and your talent.

 4. Compensation 

Training individuals to cover broader skillsets to fulfill greater roles means you should be prepared to pay them accordingly. “By all means, invest in employees to give them better skills,” says Becky. “However, if those employees are performing roles with more responsibilities, you need to compensate for that.” 

If a pay increase has employers reconsidering employee training, it’s important to put HR scope into perspective. “At the end of the day, you might be spending way more money and time filling a position when you could have just compensated someone for the work they elect to do.” 

In most cases, thinking about current employees rather than committing to recruitment can be the best solution. Their foundational knowledge of your organization is valuable! 

Also, consider addressing compensation compression. In fact, we’ve found 71% of employers have increased their starting salaries. If an employee has been performing for your company for years with a minimum pay increase, a new hire will demand a market price. If you’re not addressing the disparity in the market rate and hiring new employees for a higher salary, that can lead to talent loss.  

Actions To Take Now: Reassess compensation structures within your business. Are you hemorrhaging employees? Feel like the best talent, both tenured and new, slip through the cracks? Our compensation experts can take a deep dive into your pay structures to ensure you’re competitive and attractive in today’s market.


Seeking ways to evaluate workplace challenges and create informed strategies to solve them? Register for our Thinking Differently webinar series. Every month, Catapult hosts and third-party experts weigh in on hot topics and current events Employers are facing.