FamilyJust when you thought it might be safe to go back into the talent market: this CareerBuilder/Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. study suggests that talent shortages are set to persist into 2015 and beyond, especially in IT, healthcare, and marketing, where the average monthly gap between job postings and hires is between 15,000-20,000 per position.

You’re going to have to further differentiate your employer brand in 2015 if you want to appeal to the talent. To do this, you can deploy some of the usual gambits, like better benefits, better pay, and more flexible work options, but you’ll find that even these perks are becoming quite hackneyed and expected of leading employers.

To really make a difference, you’ll need to do something truly distinctive that instantly separates you from other employers in the market. Virgin did this last year by announcing they’d be offering unlimited holidays. This made a huge bang in the marketplace and got Virgin noticed in a fiercely contested blue-chip employer brand war; at the same time, it acted as a lighthouse, attracting top talent to Virgin’s shores.

Now, however, it’s been done: you can still make waves by offering this kind of policy, but the tsunami of PR interest has passed. Now, 2015 presents an opportunity to create a new headline-grabbing employer-branding message.

One move that I think taps into today’s spirit of work-life balance is the four-day workweek. Should your firm take a bold step away from the standard Monday-Friday paradigm and introduce a four-day workweek? Could you actually build an enterprise where the standard contract is four days a week, where everyone up to the CEO exclusively works four days and four days only?

If you could build this kind of enterprise, you could burst onto the stage with an employer-branding hurricane that everyone would notice. You’d send a strong message to those professionals who value work-life balance and who want to work for a company that understands this value. This could make your firm more attractive to ambitious working parents who are driven to succeed, but still want to see their families.

A four-day workweek could also make your business more productive. According to CNN, Utah state workers, plus a graphic design and software company, reported increases in productivity and worker satisfaction after moving to four-day weeks.

Of course, four-day weeks, won’t appeal to everyone. Some workers may simply need five days’ pay to to meet their bills. I guess there is the option of overtime – and who knows: you may be able to pay employees more per hour to compensate for higher productivity.

A four day workweek may be especially challenging for customer-facing companies, although this could be managed by staggering the four-day weeks and employing job-sharing strategies.

There may be some challenges associated with implementing a four-day workweek, but anecdotal research suggests that doing so could increase productivity, help you make a huge splash in the employer market, and distinguish your brand, giving you a valuable edge when it comes to attracting talent. I believe the four-day workweek is an innovative employer-branding and talent-attraction strategy that could be worth in 2015.

What do you think? Would you consider becoming a four-day workweek employer? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

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