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Recruiting and Retention Strategies

Once you have prepared your company’s Workforce Plan, you are now ready to begin developing specific recruiting and retentions strategies to help support it. The following guidelines will assist you.

Best Industry Practices

The following is a list of some of the strategies companies are currently using in our area to contend with recruiting and retention challenges:

Look for in-house talent. Companies trying to hire in a competitive market often overlook qualified employees within their organization. Hiring from within also sends a message to employees that they too can be promoted, which can help increase retention efforts.

Redesign jobs.  If you are experiencing difficulty recruiting for particular positions, why not redesign the role. Consider converting a full-time job to two part time positions, modifying work hours, offering training, hiring for weekends only, or hiring an applicant or employee with less experience who has future potential. Simple changes can help you to cast a wider net and may even have some overall cost advantages to your company (e.g. lower benefit costs, starting salary, etc.).

Tap hidden talent. Consider benchmarking other similarly situated companies and tapping other hidden talent such as past employees, retired and older workers, disabled workers, etc. To locate best practices in your industry, consult local chambers of commerce and resources such as trade associations, AARP, Working Mothers Magazine, Business Week’s listing of Best Work and Family Companies, Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Use marketing departments or firms.  Much like selling your company’s products or services, recruiting in today’s tight market requires savvy marketing skills. Many companies are finding it advantageous to utilize the efforts of their in-house marketing team or an outside firm to develop recruiting campaigns and messages targeted toward the needs of specific candidates.

Use technology.  Many companies have found that using job boards (i.e. find a job/post a job,,,, etc.) can significantly increase the number of applications for a position. While this method can be an effective tool, be prepared to handle the barrage of resumes and provide relocation assistance. 

Don’t overlook the power of your own company’s web site either. In fact, a recent Work & Play survey conducted in our region found that the vast majority of workers between the ages 15-34 currently utilize web sites, job boards, and other Internet resources to locate and apply for positions. To be effective, ensure your site is as hassle-free as possible for candidates to find and apply for jobs online.

Use recruiting and retention metrics.  Metrics are the most commonly used building blocks upon which recruiting and retention decisions, strategies, and plans are built. Without these tools, it is impossible to develop meaningful strategies or determine the effectiveness of those strategies. So what should you be measuring?

  • New hire quality - The hiring manager should determine this metric before recruiting is initiated. Thereafter, a performance assessment should be conducted during an employee’s first 90 to 180 days on the job.  This is after the easiest and hardest periods of new hire assimilation and also before organizational influences typically impact the rating.
  • Source distribution - the number of job applicants and new hires per recruitment source.
  • Time to fill - This metric measures the number of days between when a new job requisition is opened and when a candidate accepts an offer.
  • Customer satisfaction - Most recruiting time is spent on filling positions while little, if any, time is spent on evaluating whether or not the candidate selected truly met the job qualifications.  Gathering manager preferences prior to recruiting and evaluating staffing performance post hire will help to minimize turnover and enhance the quality of the hiring process. 
  • Recruiting cost ratio - This ratio is more valuable than the traditional cost-per-hire metric because it takes into account more factors that affect cost (i.e. geographic differences, industry differences, functional differences, and differences in job level). Calculate the total recruiting costs and then divide by the total compensation recruited.  Total costs are determined by adding fixed overhead recruiting expenses, source advertising fees, recruiting fees, internet posting fees, signing bonuses, travel, relocation, and visa expenses.

Offer telecommuting and flexible work scheduling.  Telecommuting and flexible work schedules are rapidly becoming effective tools for tapping hidden talent. Potential advantages for employees include saving on transportation, parking, and clothing costs, less stress, and more flexibility to meet family care needs. Potential disadvantages include a lack of face-to-face contact and networking, employees may feel they are out of the mainstream, it can be difficult to draw boundaries between work and home life, and employees may lack discipline needed to work uninterrupted and efficiently.

Potential advantages for employers include expanded recruiting areas, reductions in overhead expenses, enhanced worker efficiency, and reductions in sick time expenses. Potential disadvantages include flexible schedules may be difficult to manage, employers must still comply with regulatory requirements governing telecommuter offices, some tasks are difficult to perform virtually, employees may be less efficient, and potential worker burnout may occur since most employees are constantly exposed to the work environment and tend to work far beyond a normal workday.

Leverage your benefits package.  Keep your company’s benefits above industry standard and add new benefits as you can afford them. Educate employees about the cost and value of their benefits so they appreciate how well you are looking out for their needs. You can’t be an employer of choice without a good benefits package that includes standard benefits such as medical insurance, retirement, and dental insurance. Employees are increasingly looking for more cafeteria-style benefit plans in which they can balance their choices with those of a working spouse or partner.

Enhance Referral Programs.  One of the most effective recruiting tools readily available to companies today is their current employees. They can recommend excellent candidates, assist in reviewing resumes and qualifications of potential candidates, and help interview people to assess their potential “fit” within your company. Employees who participate in the selection process are also more likely to be committed to helping the new employee succeed. 

Other suggestions offered by industry experts include:

  • Develop relationships with individuals who can refer applicants such as realtors and property managers who may be aware of recently relocated spouses seeking employment
  • Offer extended or non-traditional hours in which eligible candidates may apply
  • Aggressively promote referral programs using your web site, stationary, and pay stuffers
  • Spark interest in your referral program through contests that offer a big prize such as a TV or a mini vacation.
  • Train employees to recruit for you.  Teach them about the types of applicants you are searching for. Then provide them with a generous incentive plan to encourage their efforts.
  • Go to where applicants are.  Do not wait for them to come to you.

Read resumes in teams. You will find that different people will focus on different aspects of a resume, whether it is a gap in employment history or the fact that the candidate can speak more than one language. Using teams is a great way to obtain multiple perspectives and also enable process resumes more quickly.

Use behavioral based interviewing techniques. Most interviewers hire a candidate because they like the person’s attitude in the interview. “Interview behavior does not equal job performance,” says Barry Shamis, principal of Selecting Winners, Inc., a recruitment and retention consulting firm in Mercer Island, Wash. “Believing how a person acts in an interview can lull you into thinking that’s how they will act on the job. That kind of thinking can force you into a higher percentage of mistakes. The best predictor of how they will do when they come to work for you is to find out how they’ve done in past situations that most closely resemble your environment.”
Evaluate a candidate’s cultural fit.  Evaluating candidates solely on education and experience increases the likelihood they will leave the company. Many industry experts believe that companies miss the “cultural” preferences of the candidate when interviewing, which can result in an improper fit.  For instance, if you’re a formal bureaucratic organization and the candidate prefers working in a more open, loosely structured environment, that person may have trouble adjusting. Finding out what kind of organization a candidate prefers and worked for successfully will help to minimize the likelihood of turnover.

Conduct background checks.  Industry studies have shown that nearly one-third of applicants lie to some extent about their backgrounds, with the most commonly cited discrepancies being inaccurate employment dates and education completed.  While you may only be able to confirm only basic information, it can still help to uncover even minor gaps and inconsistencies in information provided by the candidate. 

Become known as a great place to work.  Becoming known as a great place to work can help to increase your attract and retain qualified employees because prospective job candidates will believe employees before they believe your corporate literature.  What constitutes a great place to work?  According to the Great Place to Work Institute Inc., credibility, respect, fairness, pride, trust, and camaraderie top the list.

Other Methods Used

?  Temporary to hire arrangements
?  On-site personal services (i.e. dry cleaning)
?  Clothing allowances
?  College tuition for children
?  Internships
?  Sign on bonuses
?  Career development opportunities

Category:Best Human Resources Practices


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