The golden rules of finding and keeping good staff

Taking on the right employees first time around can avoid recruitment issues later down the line. Here, Kate Russell discusses what to remember when hiring.

The ability to attract and retain employee talent is vital for success in any business. It’s not easy and more than one business owner has complained that the dearth of good quality candidates is holding the growth of the business back.

Many businesses don’t give staff retention the priority it needs. But if you don’t give it some thought and develop appropriate processes, you can pay a heavy price if it is ignored. What are the risks? Some of the main impacts of poor staff retention include:

  • the costs of recruiting replacements
  • the loss of technical knowledge and skills
  • additional pressure on the recruiting manager
  • service disruption, lower levels of customer service and loss of new business
  • a climate of uncertainty and low morale among remaining staff, particularly if several employees within the same section or team leave within a short time-scale.

Reasons for staff turnover vary and you will have to investigate the reasons and create a plan to address any common causes of dissatisfaction. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to reducing turnover, but there are a range of strategies that you can use to boost staff retention.

When you’re under pressure it’s tempting to take on someone who is in the right ball park but is far from the ideal candidate. Don’t just take on someone because you’re desperate. It’s tempting but you’ll regret it. Be choosey and only select people who are right for your business. Recruit the best possible person for each position and don’t compromise. Be prepared to pay for the right person. When you think about it, it’s far more cost effective in the long term to pay more for the right employee than it is to keep recruiting because you’re getting it wrong. Involve your current team in the recruitment process.

A pool of suitable candidates

Consider how you can create a pool of suitable candidates. This is more easily said than done, so as well as using the more traditional routes, for example, placing job advertisements in trade journals, think about other ways of sourcing candidates. Network with your contacts, use local sources like local schools, community colleges, or referrals from other staff members to generate candidates. The use of commercial job boards, corporate website and social media platforms are also potential sources of candidates.

Be clear about what you want. Identify the essential job-related criteria so that job requirements can be matched to the skills and experience of candidates. Make sure you collect relevant data so you can identify strong candidates. Your choice of selection tools should be based on job-related criteria.

Take time to collect as much relevant data about the candidates you have short-listed for interview as you can. Use testing in conjunction with a competence based interview.

Once you have found and appointed your employees, encourage the right people to stay.

Let them know your vision for the business, what it means for them and what they need to do to support it.

Surveys consistently show that what employees want most, even more than money, is appreciation and recognition, so take the opportunity to give regular positive feedback. Offer balanced and specific praise and make suggestions for areas that need improvement. Provide clear and measurable standards of performance and give examples of what success looks like. Help employees achieve optimum performance and give objective feedback if they don’t meet all your standards. Where you do have to give criticism make sure it’s done in private.

Taking on high quality performers

If you want to achieve high standards of performance you will need to recruit high quality performers. Make sure the remuneration package you’re offering is competitive and attractive. Consider introducing performance related bonuses. If you reward the type of behaviour you want to receive, you will receive more of that behaviour. It creates a win-win for you. Employees enjoy a share of increased profits, and the business achieves higher levels of productivity and profitability.

Create a workplace that is a great place to work. Good pay, good technology and ongoing development opportunities. Good staff want to work with other good staff. Ask yourself, ‘Would I want to work here? If I were looking for a job, would this be a place I’d want to work?’

Communicate effectively with your team. Have staff meetings on a regular basis (once a month) to structure higher level business feedback, plan forthcoming activities and provide information. Keep the meeting short (45 minutes), create the agenda and distribute several days before the meeting, to give everyone time to prepare. Stick to the agenda and don’t get side-tracked.

Putting the right team together takes time, focus and effort. So be rigorous about the recruitment process and when you have to found the right people, cherish them and take steps to keep them well-motivated and wanting to stay with you.

Good luck!

Further reading on hiring staff

Related Topics

Managing Staff

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