Hiring is hard right now. Statistics from the Indy Chamber show that the Indiana labor participation rate has plateaued with just a 1.4% change from April 2021 to 2022. Meanwhile There are 5.8% more job postings. Instead of posting and coasting, make a choice to use data and become a competitive hiring force.

Our team works with clients in 40 cities across the country. Between increasing wages and inflation, we get a lot of questions from human resources teams and business leaders who want to know what makes a competitive compensation and benefits package. What we’ve discovered is that many company leaders want to provide workers competitive wages, salaries and benefits. But they need market data and research to guide decisions.

A quick Google search leads to online articles, business publications and industry associations that tell what should be in a package. But those articles don’t dig deep into the details needed to create a market intelligence report, which should be used by recruiters and human resource executives to sell your business to job seekers.

Digging a level deeper to create a marketing intelligence report means market mapping with information from trusted human resources services that include employment/unemployment stats, trends related to labor participation rates, geographic data and specific industry challenges and trends. Get qualitative and quantitative details that offer:

Business culture. Often a national company will build a culture from the top down. Reality is, cities across the country each have their own unique culture. Even from a statewide perspective, Indianapolis is not like South Bend and South Bend is not like Fort Wayne. When documenting the marketplace learn about the city culture, demographics and psychographics. Understand the people who live there to get a better sense about what they want in their workplace culture.

It’s been said time and time again, hire for culture. Executives who have worked in a certain industry for years may be seeking change. What makes your business culture different than a competitor in the same industry? Perhaps your culture fits them better.

Pay rate. Know the competitive rate in the city or town where you’re hiring. We’re all reading stories about the $15 per hour pay rate offered by McDonalds. But then another employer outdoes that with $20 per hour plus tips and bonuses. Having a market intelligence report that gives insight into wages, overtime, tips for hourly staff along with base pay, bonuses and commission for entry level to C-Suite executives coupled with projected inflation rates is critical.

Benefits. Medical and dental insurance, workers compensation and disability, life insurance are all standard expectations in a benefits package. Is there something you can offer not just to be attractive to job seekers but also to retain staff? Perhaps there a bonus for working a certain duration of time. And instead of a single bonus, have multiple bonus offers in the hiring structure.

A business outside of Indianapolis needed to retain hourly workers who were ghosting them a few weeks into the job. The company decided to incentivize those workers: Work the full week and get a $200 bonus. Sounds crazy, but the cost is less than finding and training a new worker. This is the type of intelligence needed to stay competitive in your marketplace.

Mental health and self-care. A Harvard Business Review article says, “Although employers have responded with initiatives like mental health days or weeks, four-day workweeks, and enhanced counseling benefits or apps, they’re not enough. Employees need and expect sustainable and mentally healthy workplaces, which requires taking on the real work of culture change.”

The article outlines the Mind Share Partners’ 2021 Mental Health at Work Report comparing results to 2019. No surprise, employees experiencing mental health challenges increased over the two-year period. An overwhelming 84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor that negatively impacted their mental health, including stress. What can your business do to support employees at every level? Are your leaders trained to recognize mental health issues? Consider a ban on email after hours, no-meeting days for staff and other boundaries to create a healthy workplace.

It’s easy to say, find out what your competitors are doing. How is that done? There are companies, such as ours, that specialize in creating market intelligence reports to show gaps and create recommendations. Whether it’s our team or another, be sure a report offers specific details including inflation rates, labor participation percentages and cost of living, which all impact what employees want, need and expect when receiving an offer.

George Lessmeister is CEO and founder of LGC Hospitality, a national staffing firm headquartered in Indianapolis. LGC has offices in over 40 U.S. cities.

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