The talent market might be the one thing rockier than the stock market: COVID restrictions, mass returns to the office, and the Great Resignation (or, the Great Awakening, depending on how you spin it) have coincided with rising inflation concerns, gas price increases, and growing whispers of another recession.
Tech companies have been caught squarely in this storm, and they’ve boomeranged in the process.
When competition for top talent was peaking in late 2021, Big Tech salaries spiked—along with employee attrition—as professionals rode the wage wave. But almost just as quickly, things took a turn. Amid supply chain shutdowns, inflation, and the downward trend of technology purchases, many leading tech brands have announced reductions in their workforces.
In this dynamic, tech workers are becoming even more discerning about where they plant their flag. Attracting and retaining high performers has always been critical, and stakes are even higher when companies and candidates alike are becoming cautious. So, how can you win?
Experts agree, whether you’re competing against a tech giant or start-up, a stellar employee experience is the best investment for any brand. To find out exactly what “stellar” looks like in today’s climate, we spoke to HR leaders from two thriving tech companies to get their tips on how to woo talent in a volatile candidate market.
1. Lead with Purpose
More than ever, employees are searching for deeper meaning. “Intention” and “impact” are therefore critical components of workplace culture, says Jen Stoural, vice president of talent at Smartsheet, a SaaS company offering enterprise work tools.
“Workers in the tech sector have a choice,” Stoural says. “They are asking themselves what they want to work on, who they want to work with, and what impact they want to make in a world that has irreversibly changed.”
Savvy employers put purpose at the heart of their value proposition. CrowdStrike, a cloud-based cybersecurity company, has seen the fruits of this firsthand.
“We believe that aligning employees’ work to our mission creates great engagement,” says J.C. Herrera, chief human resources officer at CrowdStrike. “People want to know how their work contributes to the broader mission of the company.”
2. Be Real and Deliver on Promises
A strong brand image stems from a strong reputation, which is built by syncing up words and actions. At Smartsheet, authenticity and follow-through are the key.
“Make commitments to your employee base, be clear about your expectations for success and growth, and provide the learning pathways to support and empower your employees,” Stoural says.
To gain trust, treat your interactions with employees with the same care as your customer service. “Your ability to earn trust comes from straightforwardness, integrity, and consistency,” Stoural adds.
3. Empower Employees to Innovate
Sometimes letting go is the best answer. At CrowdStrike, Herrera encourages employees to be innovative in all they do.
“We never stop innovating, and we also dedicate a couple of weeks each year to XLR8, CrowdStrike’s company-wide, cross-functional innovation contest, where employees can showcase their talents, innovation, and skills to focus on a specific project they’ve wanted to work on,” Herrera says.
Research shows that employees who perceive their companies as innovative report higher job satisfaction. These types of initiatives can unlock both employee engagement and business results.
But opening the funnel to new ideas and different ways of doing things requires trust. As Herrera puts it, you have to “be comfortable with your employees creating a space for continuous evolution and growth.”
4. Evolve Your Benefits and Culture
Candidates’ priorities continue to change. Keep a close pulse on your company’s benefits offering and adjust accordingly.
“We regularly reassess our benefits and policies: we’ve introduced unlimited paid time off, a flexible workplaces plan, and more comprehensive mental health benefits over the past year,” Stoural says.
5. Up Your Recruitment and Retention Game
In the current environment, attracting talent isn’t just about perks and packages. Stoural recommends leveraging the company’s experts during the recruiting process and using them to show job prospects you mean business.
“Involve partners, peers, and cross-functional leaders from diverse backgrounds in your interview loops,” Stoural advises. “LinkedIn InMails and posts from leaders and peers within the hiring org also carry enormous credibility.”
Even once employees are in the door, the work isn’t done. Beyond the disruptive impact that attrition has on working teams and morale, the cost of replacing an employee can be six to nine months of their salary, according to the Society for Human Resources Management.
For CrowdStrike, the key differentiator is engaging employees in impactful work—work that not only challenges them to strive for excellence but also aligns with a broader mission, such as protecting customers from cybercrime.
“There are many companies that might pay more, or might bring in lunch every day, or do a variety of things for employees,” Herrera says. “What we do for our customers is unrivaled. We are very proud of our work.”