Notice periods have long been an issue for recruiters and employers. In a scaling business, you often need to hire talent quickly to meet a sudden increase in demand or to help you reach the next level of growth. Of course, having to wait for your perfect candidate to start is never ideal, but many of us are willing to do so for the right person, even if it pauses growth plans slightly. After all, you want to hire them for a reason, and they could be the perfect fit for your scaling business with all of the right skills and attitudes you need.
However, at Talent Works, a trend our recruitment experts are seeing more and more of is extended notice periods even for junior candidates. For roles like UX designer, where the only requirement is a Bachelor’s degree, many of our recruiters are seeing three months’ notice periods instead of the usual, and often expected, one month. Which, if you’re a scaling business looking to hire quickly, could pose a problem. Especially if you’re expecting candidates to have a month-long notice period.
When you consider the reasoning for these more extended notice periods, though, it’s not too much of a surprise. We’re in an incredibly competitive, candidate-driven market which makes talent even harder to replace than ever before. With so many people currently seeking new opportunities extending the expected notice period provides employers with a level of safety. Attrition and turnover rates are currently at an all-time high, with employees who would have naturally moved on over the pandemic finally feeling comfortable to do so and other employees reassessing their career choices and workplace priorities. Therefore, it’s understandable that employers are guarding themselves against talent on the move. Otherwise, they could be left short-staffed and strained as employees leave before finding a suitable replacement. Plus, there’s the cost and time of onboarding a new team member to get them up to speed and in a place where they can be as productive and profitable as the previous candidate. We’d be naïve to think that someone can step into a role and hit the ground running. There’s always a need for onboarding. Therefore, the thought of replacing existing employees is costly and worrying for employers.
However, these extended notice periods create even more issues for employers. Firstly, if everyone does this, you’re prolonging the time from sourcing candidates to them starting. For example, it could take you three months to find a replacement for your UX designer, and if prolonged notice periods become the norm, you could be waiting just as long for them to start just as your existing one leaves.
Then, there’s the danger that if you offer a role to a candidate with a long notice period, they could retract and go elsewhere by the time they’re due to start. A lot can happen in 3 months, and there are no rules to say that a candidate within their notice period can’t receive other offers.
Therefore, while it may seem like longer notice periods are a form of protection for employers, they could cause more problems than you’d expect.
So, what are the solutions?
If you hire a candidate who has a long notice period, check in regularly. By this, we don’t mean sending an email asking if they’re still planning on joining the team every other week. Instead, organise calls to introduce them to the rest of the team or update them with the goings-on in the business. Think about any meetings or catch-ups that you could invite them to, like whole business updates or virtual quizzes and catch-ups. Including these soon-to-be employees in your team catch-ups will help them form more of an emotional connection to your workplace. In addition, they will maintain the excitement they have around joining your organisation. This means that they won’t have doubts when their notice period comes to an end; in fact, they’ll likely be incredibly eager to join. If you’re hiring many people, including them in team sessions is much easier, as you can include them all in meetings at once or even host separate new starter sessions. However, even if you’re hiring one individual, trying to include them in the business as soon as possible and finding ways to bring them into the team will help your onboarding efforts and reduce the risk of them accepting an offer elsewhere.
Similarly, keep warm comms (like those you use for candidates who are yet to apply) could be used for your new hires. If it’s not feasible for them to join meetings as they have their own work commitments, consider regularly sending them updates from the business over email. This way, they’ll see all of the new projects, developments, and developments you have, building excitement. As we’ve just said, a lot can happen in 3 months, and that includes within your business. Projects you discussed with candidates at the interview stage may be history by the time they start, so it’s essential to keep them updated to see what they might be working on and build anticipation.
Then, there’s future planning. Of course, you can’t prepare for every employee who may leave; some will surprise you. However, through talking to your team, asking them to complete employee satisfaction surveys and mapping out the future of your business, you should be able to generate an idea of where you’ll need to fill roles in the future. The more planning you can do in advance, the more you can prepare for longer notice periods. For example, say you have a project in the pipeline requiring a more extensive software development department. Advertising for these jobs early and planning for a prolonged notice period will ensure that your project can run smoothly. You can even factor in time for onboarding if you’re prepared. Including extended notice periods into your talent mapping and forecasting can help to ensure you don’t have huge gaps in productivity while you hire and train.
Lastly, you can negotiate with candidates a little. Passive candidates who are less concerned with leaving their current employer will likely stick to the longer notice periods. This is because they’re less keen to leave and probably have a higher degree of loyalty to their existing workplace. However, with active candidates, you may create some solutions that work for both of you. Chances are, if they’re actively looking for a new role, they want to leave their current employer as soon as possible, and you can use this to your advantage. It may be, for example, that they have some annual leave which they can take to get out of their current job earlier and join you. If you have the right conversations, you can find this out and potentially save yourself from long periods of decreased productivity. Of course, you must be aware that this could be used against you, too; your existing team may use the same tactics to leave your workforce. Be prepared for this eventuality too.
Remember, you can’t avoid a long notice period, and the right candidate should be worth the wait in the end. Although in a scaling tech business, it can cause problems when your recruitment process hits a stumbling blog like this, it’s more important to surround yourself with the right talent who can take your business further when they do join. It’s better to wait for someone with the right attitude, values, and skillset than quickly hiring a less suitable candidate. Plus, in a highly competitive and candidate-driven market like the current tech recruitment landscape, these obstacles are only going to become more commonplace as employers try to protect themselves.
At Talent Works, we specialise in helping scaling tech businesses navigate this competitive landscape and find the right technical talent to grow their business. In a candidate-driven market, outsourcing your recruitment process to a specialist RPO provider can help you to reach passive candidates and stand out from the competition. Plus, our flexible approach to RPO offers a risk-free and cost-effective solution perfect for startups and growing enterprises.