Holding On to Good Help: A back-to-basics approach can ensure your employees are satisfied with their careers)

Holding On to Good Help A back-to-basics approach can ensure your employees are satisfied with their careers By Deborah Siday August 2000 Deborah Siday is a Senior Human Resources Consultant with over 18 years experience in human...


When recruiting new employees, don't settle for less than the position demands. When companies were asked how they were coping with the labor shortage, 63 percent said they had lowered their hiring standards to fill vacant positions. Hiring the wrong person has a high cost. Turnover creates a loss of productivity, time, training dollars, and customer satisfaction. It also negatively impacts employee morale. Even worse, tolerating a sub-standard performer punishes your best employees by forcing them to "pick up the slack" and may even cause them to leave. Make sure you hire the right person for your culture and the work. Relaxing your standards only creates an environment where work quality and employee morale decline.

The "80/20" rule

When interviewing potential employees, I suggest using specific skill sets and Behavioral Interviewing Techniques. Using targeted questions specific to the behaviors needed for the position, the candidate is asked for examples of past performance. Examples of past actions can help to predict future job performance. In the interview, always ask open-ended questions, for example, "How did you do that?" or "Tell me about a time that..." Always practice the 80/20-rule - listen 80 percent of the time, and talk only 20 percent of the time. Do not make the mistake of telling the candidate all about the position and its requirements at the start of the interview. Given this information, the candidate can "play back" exactly what you want to hear. Remember to base your selection on the job skills and behaviors necessary for the job. Even an excellent candidate will be unsuccessful if the personality and skills are not suited to the position.

Treat everyone the same

Asking the same or similar questions of all candidates gives us criteria to accurately compare and rank candidates. As with any interview process, all hiring decisions must be based on job-related criteria. Make sure that anyone involved in the interview process is familiar with employment laws and knows the questions that cannot be asked of a prospective employee. All employees that participate in the selection process should receive the proper training. Orientation strategy Now that you have selected that perfect candidate, how do you ensure that he or she will stay? During those first 30 days of employment, the employee will form his or her impression of your company and its culture. Assigning a "buddy" from among his or her coworkers will help the new employee get settled faster and with less hassle. The buddy system is an effective way to make a new employee feel at home. Introduce the new employee to other team members and to key people in the company. Personally welcome him or her to the team. If your company does not currently have a new employee orientation program, consider adding one.

Provide effective training for the new position. Develop a training checklist for each position and make sure that new employees have mastered all the items on the list before they are considered trained.

Designate your best employees as Team Trainers. This recognizes and values the expertise of your staff and provides the new employee with quality on-the-job training.

Employee values

Companies that experience low turnover rates know that it is important to understand what their employees want and to provide a work environment that meets these needs. Many surveys have been conducted to determine what employees value and expect from their workplace. Consider conducting your own in-house survey. Results from current surveys show that employees value a workplace that provides:

• Interesting and exciting work

• Opportunity for advancement

• Immediate vs. future rewards

• Fair pay and good benefits

• Strong, visible leadership

• Flexibility

• Work-life balance

• Respect

• Fun

The real reason employees leave

If you ask most managers why people leave, they will answer, "For better pay." However, when employees are surveyed, pay consistently comes up somewhere between No. 4 and No. 7 on the list of reasons for leaving a previous employer. The top five reasons for leaving a position are:

• Company culture or work environment

• Contributions are not valued

• Don't get the tools or support to do the job

• Lack of advancement opportunities

• Better compensation

If you study this list, you will see that the top three items are a direct reflection of the manager's ability to create an empowered work environment. An employee's perception of company culture is formed by his or her daily contact with the manager. People work for people more than they do for organizations. Good managers inspire loyalty and retain their employees. If you are like most companies, the majority of your front line managers are promoted from within.

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