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11 talent acquisition strategies to retain employees

April 18, 2023
9 min read
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Your talent acquisition strategy impacts much more than recruitment. A robust approach will attract promising candidates and transform them into engaged employees who stay for the long haul.

Why is your TA strategy important?

Employers depend on the employees who make a difference. The ones who stay late polishing a presentation. The ones who spend lunch mentoring another employee. The ones who round up the whole team for happy hour after a hard week.

Talent acquisition is the process of finding, attracting, engaging and retaining these employees. When employers tackle talent acquisition without a strategy, employers end up with employees who are unqualified and uninterested.

To build a talent acquisition strategy that attracts and retains the employees who make a difference, employers must implement industry best practices such as:

  • Creating an enticing employer brand.
  • Developing strong candidate relationships.
  • Streamlining talent acquisition process.
  • Building diverse and inclusive workforces.

How does your talent acquisition strategy framework impact retention?

To create a sustainable talent acquisition strategy framework, you must consider how your tactics impact retention. By placing an equal emphasis on recruiting and retention, employers elicit the best work from hard-won talent. Without this balance, absenteeism festers and engagement takes a nosedive. And that means employers lose time, money, productivity and innovation.

11 talent acquisition strategy examples to boost retention

Recruiter reviews analytics dashboard in her home office.

If turnover is up at your organization — or if your talent acquisition plan could just use a refresher — it’s time to try out some new tactics. Below, you’ll find 11 strategies to include in your talent acquisition framework, each aimed at bolstering retention.

1. Design competitive compensation and benefit packages

To design compensation and benefits packages that captivate candidates and satisfy current employees, research is key. External data will help employers understand what the competition pays. Internal data will illuminate how employees perceive their earnings and what kinds of benefits they value most.

Pay and benefits was the most common reason employees left their jobs in 2022, according to Gallup. By offering competitive compensation and useful benefits, employers can attract candidates and retain employees more effectively. Of course, employers must remember to communicate their offerings well. Incoming hires will feel confident in their offered salary when their new employer openly discusses its approach to compensation. And employees will feel more loyal when they’re reminded of the services they can access through their employee assistance program.

2. Offer flexible work schedules

Flexible work is highly sought after by workers — nearly a third of U.S. workers said the option to work remotely some of the time would influence whether they would accept another job, according to Gallup. Why is flexibility in demand? Research points to two possible reasons: Flexibility helps employees achieve greater work-life balance, and it helps them improve their sense of well-being.

Flexibility benefits employers, too. In many cases, flexibility improves productivity because it reduces time lost to commuting and office distractions. It also powers engagement, which drives profitability and decreases absenteeism. Research shows that flexible work reduces turnover, too: 80% of workers in a FlexJobs survey said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.

Flexible work arrangements won’t benefit anyone, however, if they’re not implemented well. Regular communication about expectations will help employers establish a workforce that thrives — no matter when or where they work.

3. Provide career development and growth opportunities

A lack of learning opportunities drives dissatisfaction in about 40% of workers, according to Gartner. Findings like these should motivate employers to cultivate employee learning programs that will lure candidates from other companies and prepare current employees for their next big promotion.

Learning opportunities come in a wide variety of forms. Some employers base their upskilling programs in house, inviting guest speakers and holding on-site trainings. Others set up tuition benefits that allow workers to pay off student loans or seek new learning opportunities on their own time.

4. Expand your outreach strategies

Employers often get stuck in the traditional channels of recruitment, reaching for candidates via job postings and referrals. But more creative means of recruitment will net employers a broader slate of candidates. To build meaningful connections with potential talent, meet applicants where they are. For example: If a restaurant supply company wants to hire people passionate about cookware, they can advertise job openings on YouTube cooking shows, on food podcasts and in recipe newsletters.

Creative recruiting efforts like these help employers create a more dynamic workforce that’s more engaged and interested in their work. Employers should regularly refresh their outreach strategies to make sure they are reaching candidates who will remain committed for years.

5. Utilize data analytics to guide your efforts

Employers that ignore data and analytics in recruiting and retention deny themselves information that could transform their approach to talent. Employers can use tools like iCIMS’ hiring and mobility platform to track and analyze metrics that provide quick insights. Consider these three metrics:

  • Time to hire: Identify candidates who have stalled out at the same status for 10+ days to connect with at-risk candidates before they fall out of your pipeline.
  • Hires by type: Compare the percentage of new talent versus promotions to help identify a churn issue or lack of advancement opportunities for staff.
  • Jobs opened by department: Leaders can identify the areas of the business that may be growing, lagging, or facing high turnover.

The insights generated by these metrics make hiring faster and retention easier by highlighting the areas where things are going right and flagging the areas where things are going wrong. For instance, when an organization can see that its sales department is experiencing higher-than-average turnover, it can ask the question that must be asked: Why? Sales leaders may share that sellers are burned out, or that they’re dissatisfied with their current trainings, or that they’re getting poached by a competitor offering bigger bonuses. When the employer pinpoints the reasons behind elevated turnover, it can begin to reinstate retention, one strategy at a time.

6. Promote diversity, equity and inclusion

The business case for diversity, equity and inclusion is easy to make. Studies show that diverse teams compete better, innovate faster, and earn more. But what effect do DEI efforts have on retention?

In a recent webinar, University of Minnesota Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Consultant Patricia Izek lectured on the strong connection between DEI and retention. The connection begins with the very first interactions between employer and employee. Candidates scrutinize a company’s approach to DEI before they begin the interview process, Izek said. They’ll look at the makeup of company leadership. They’ll look for a company statement addressing DEI. They’ll look for certain practices and procedures, like blind resume readings and diverse hiring managers.

If a candidate needs a job, they may accept it — even if they’re not impressed by a company’s apparent lack of DEI efforts, Izek said. Despite coming on board, the employee may plan to jump to a new job with stronger DEI measures as soon as possible. They may be disengaged from the start, wary of how they’ll fit in at an organization that doesn’t appear to take an active approach to DEI.

The relationship between DEI and retention goes beyond those initial interactions, of course. Of equal importance is workplace culture. Culture experts say it’s up to leaders — from middle managers to executives — to make values like empathy and listening standard operating procedures.

7. Build an applicant pool with local universities

College campuses teem with talent. By paying a visit, employers can meet potential interns and hires, build relationships with professors, and advertise their employer brand. Businesses rooted to specific locations can get in touch with local institutions — from community colleges to top-tier universities. Campuses make it easy for employers to get involved. Colleges often have a career services group that exists to help students land internships and jobs. This team also often hosts job fairs and other on-campus events employers can attend.

Employers that operate mostly online can still get to know pre-career individuals through school. Build connections with your employees’ alma maters: Offer referral bonuses for early-career employees who still have connections with students looking for internships.

These opportunities allow employers to develop a pipeline of future talent and nurture high-potential candidates when they’re still early in their careers. Candidates will be more loyal to a job that uses their hard-earned skills, establishes their financial well-being, and puts them on a path to success right out of college.

8. Show off your employer brand, culture and values

Why should employees want to work at your company? Answer that question, and you have your employer value proposition (EVP). Your organization’s EVP will serve as the foundation of your employer branding. All of your recruitment marketing should reflect it, and your perks, benefits, and workplace culture should further it.

Employee testimonial videos showcase what it’s like to work at a company with unscripted authenticity. Employers can use these videos on their career sites to give candidates a glimpse into their potential professional future. According to iCIMS data, employers that use video increase SEO traffic to their career site by up to 75%.

Employers can also use these videos to communicate with current employees, too. Employee-generated video content can touch on a vast array of topics. Workers can commemorate the fun they had at the annual employee appreciation picnic. They can recommend employees take advantage of the mental health benefits that helped them when they went through a tough time. They can share how they advanced from intern to vice president — and why they stayed with the company for so long.

9. Encourage feedback and conduct exit interviews

Employee engagement is down, according to Gallup. Two contributing factors? Employees feel that expectations have become increasingly unclear. And on top of that, they feel their opinions matter less — a frustration more pronounced among younger employees.

By positioning communication as the foundation of workplace culture, employers can start to reverse this trend. Communication can and must take a variety of forms for it to permeate an organization. While managers must work to establish robust communication habits with direct reports, company leaders can establish better communication by conducting listening tours, holding town halls, and surveying employees to solicit feedback. The more information leaders have, the more targeted they can be in their response. If employee listening strategies reveal a strong demand for support among working parents, for instance, an employer can work to provide greater flexible work options, tax-advantaged childcare spending accounts, and more progressive family leave policies.

10. Look for candidates with a history of longevity

Notice the applicants whose resumes are dominated by lengthy periods of time at one organization. Employers should be on the lookout for these rare gems — candidates who dedicated years of their careers to one place are more likely to build a longer tenure at their next opportunity.

This doesn’t excuse employers from doing their due diligence. Hiring managers or recruiters still need to conduct thorough reference checks to ensure they’re hiring someone trustworthy, dedicated and experienced. It’s also worth asking the candidate why they stayed so long in one role — and why they’re leaving now. The candidate may have helpful insight into how to create a culture that inspires longevity.

11. Hire for culture fit

When organizations are attempting to build a strong culture, they need to ensure every hire will contribute. That’s why it’s important to think about culture fit when assessing candidates. To gauge a candidate’s culture fit, a recruiter or hiring manger may ask:

  • What do you enjoy most about your current position?
  • What are you looking for in a supervisor?
  • What’s something you made better in your current role?

Behavioral questions like these help employers determine whether a candidate will promote or impede an organization’s mission.

Start empowering your talent acquisition team with iCIMS

Retention is a critical metric that any organization getting serious about talent acquisition should consider. Leveraging software solutions, such as iCIMS, can provide a competitive edge in making sure your talent acquisition strategies bolster retention. If you’re interested in learning more about iCIMS’ solutions for talent acquisition, book a demo to see it in action.


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About the author

Alex Oliver

Alex is well-versed in content and digital marketing. He blends a passion for sharp, persuasive copy with creating intuitive user experiences on the web. A natural storyteller, Alex highlights customer successes and amplifies their best practices.

Alex earned his bachelor’s degree at Fairleigh Dickinson University before pursuing his master’s at Montclair State University. When not at work, Alex enjoys hiking, studying history and homebrewing beer.

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