We’ve all heard that much quoted management conundrum about staff retention:
“What if I train them and they leave?”
“What if you don’t and they stay?”
It’s a tricky one for smaller businesses. In our discussions with clients there are two things we hear all the time.
- We need help finding good quality people
- We need help retaining the good people we have
So how can we make sure we have the workforce we need and deserve? Retaining the good people starts with hiring the right people.
We’ve covered the hiring process in detail in a previous post but this is an area where so many mistakes are made by business owners that are completely avoidable with a little outside assistance and planning. It is so important to find the right people with the right skills and attitude for every role. So why do we get it so wrong so often?
In most businesses it is a combination of lack of experience and expertise in recruitment, and a poor recruitment process that leads to performance or culture fit issues down the track. Most large businesses would never allow managers to recruit a family member or close friend into a role they are not qualified to do, nor employ a friend of an employee “who seems nice and can start tomorrow.” So why would you?
You should cast your recruitment net as widely as possible. Don’t settle for the first person who comes along with a half decent CV and who can start immediately. You wouldn’t marry a complete stranger so why hire one – this is not Hire at First Sight?
That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money either. Advertising a role on a job board such as Seek or Trade Me will cost you around $250. You can screen and shortlist your applicants within the job board and also contact them directly. It’s easy and saves you heaps of time. No need to clog your inbox with dozens of CV’s. Compare that with the cost of a traditional recruitment agency who will take away the administration but charge you a minimum of 12% of the salary of the new person.
Start with a good recruitment plan:
· How/where are you going to attract the best candidates?
· How much are you willing to pay as a salary? A bit of market research is needed
· Make sure you have time available the week after applications close to do shortlisting and interviews
· Prepare your interview questions based on what you are looking for – don’t “wing it”
· Who is going to communicate with your candidates?
· What is the process you are going to follow?
It’s important that you move things along quickly so put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and think about the experience they are having of your company.
As a minimum you should conduct at least two face to face discussions with the best candidates, one done by the direct manager to establish the ability to do the role, and then perhaps a meeting with the team or person your candidate would be working most closely with to make sure they are a good fit. Finally, you should also conduct thorough reference checks with a current or recent line manager(s) and ask about any things that you might have concerns about or want verified from the interview process. Make sure your decision to hire is based on clear evidence of suitability from three or four sources of information, not on gut feel.
And if that still sounds hard, ask us to help you with all of the above. Our Recruitment Toolkit has everything you need to hire with confidence.
So now you’ve found a real star, how can you make sure you keep hold of them for the long term?
There are a variety of good practice tips that will make a difference for your employees and make them feel they have a long-term future with you. While you may not be able to offer the sort of fast-paced career path and benefits a large organisation can, you can offer many things they can’t so play to your strengths.
1. Take a real interest in your people and their career development. With a smaller business, you can take the time to really know and understand your people. Check in with them regularly to make sure the work they are doing is interesting, challenging and developing them, and you know what their medium-term plans and long-term career goals are.
2. Provide training and development opportunities where you can. See it as a sound investment not a cost you will never recoup.
3. Think about future roles they could do in the organisation, look to promote from within and set them on an agreed path to get there. Often in smaller businesses the need for specific roles change regularly as the business matures. Look to grow your people with the business.
4. Involve them in the business. Be transparent with them from the start about your vision, how the business is performing and how they can contribute to that. People want to feel a sense of purpose wherever they work.
5. Make it easy for them to perform. Don’t weigh your business down with unnecessary approval processes, systems and bureaucracy. Make sure all of your people can work quickly and effectively to get real stuff done.
6. Pay as well as you can. If you employ people with experience, you need to pay what they are worth in the market. If you pay well at the outset, they are less likely to look for higher paid work after a few months. If you can, also offer additional low- cost benefits like flexible working and additional or unlimited leave. But remember, everyone is different and motivated by different things. One size doesn’t fit all so ask your people what benefits they want at the time you hire them and personalise the package.
7. Have a great culture! This goes without saying. If they don’t like the culture of the company, they will leave regardless of what you do. Treat people well, give them responsibility and flexibility, and watch them fly.
We can’t promise you will always get it right. Even the most experienced managers make occasional bad hires. But the more you put into the process, the better your chance of long-term success and holding on to the people you need.
Contact the team at Cinch HR if you need more information and advice, or check out our Recruitment Toolkit.