From roundup listicles about the most difficult interview questions to advice on the warning signs to look out for on resumes, the internet is full of articles about how to hire the best candidate for the job. But as essential as it is to snag outstanding candidates before someone else does, focusing all your attention on the hiring process might mean you’re overlooking a much more significant part of the process: long-term planning.
You can hire the best and the brightest in your field, but if in the end, they only stay for a year, you’ve wasted weeks of your time. Then there’s the fact that every time someone leaves, you run the risk of upsetting the balance of an entire team. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to build an employee retention strategy into both your company culture and your hiring process.
Work Personality-Based Questions into Job Interviews
When interviewing, don’t focus solely on skill set or experience. You need to ask questions about behavior that will help you gauge how a candidate approaches their work, colleagues, and priorities. Ultimately, those perspectives will determine whether they will jive with your company long-term. Here’s a roundup of behavioral-based interview questions to consider using.
Think About Competitive Pay, But Also (Maybe Especially) Benefits
A great salary will bring almost anyone to a company, but long-term, the best candidates out there are also incredibly smart people. They know that they need certain work standards to keep them happy.
Study after study shows that millennials want companies to provide benefits that match their values, whether that’s tuition reimbursement (according to Forbes, more than one in three say this is essential) or even paid volunteer days. You may have also heard about the rise of remote work and the much-cited statistic that 50% of Americans will work remotely by 2020. The more flexibility, the better and the easier it is to adapt work to whatever comes up in life.
The point is: more and more companies are getting creative about the long-term benefits they can offer their employees, and you should, too. Start by taking a look at what your competitors offer their teams. Then consider some other elements you could offer to make your company even more appealing. A 401(k) match? Work from home Fridays? Extended parental leave policies? The sooner you start the conversation, the sooner you can start implementing.
Actually Promote From Within
This may seem like a no-brainer, but do you really give current employees the opportunity to grow into roles at your company? Because they notice. Even if you say that you promote from within, if you’ve skipped over current employees for a director role every time, they’re going to get the message—and the message is “no room for growth.”
If your concern is that your current employees aren’t qualified for leadership roles, consider some ways you can help close skills gaps through on-the-job training or other techniques.
Yes, always hire the best candidate even if that person isn’t at your company currently. But don’t underestimate loyalty, either.
Build a Company with Diverse Leadership
If there’s one thing that’s certain in 2019, it’s that employees are tired of not seeing people like them in leadership positions. Whether it’s the digital outrage over an elite law firm’s white and almost entirely male list of partners, or big companies like Nike reckoning with their diversity numbers, the backlash is real. But here’s something exciting: the opposite is also true. According to Fast Company, the most diverse workplaces are also some of the happiest.
Before making your next hire, take a moment to calculate the breakdown of your own team. Then crunch some other numbers, like how many women and people of color you have in leadership roles. If those stats aren’t exactly impressive, it’s time to start talking with your leadership team and stakeholders about how you can implement some policies to change that ASAP.
Implement an Anonymous Feedback Loop
Even if it’s just a monthly anonymous survey (which you can build in five minutes through Google Forms). You don’t want to find out about problems only in an exit interview. Instead, regularly ask your team for feedback. That should include how they’re feeling, not just how they’re doing. If you start to notice a downward trend, address it ASAP.
Make Career Growth Part of Work Day Discussions
Does your company offer professional development to team members? Do you have regular feedback loops beyond annual reviews? Do managers talk to their teams about where they see their careers evolving or offer advice on areas and skills they should continue exploring?
Make it clear to your team members that you’re not just thinking about the work at hand, but also the long-term plan for the company. More importantly, practice transparency around what role you believe they’ll play in that growth. You’ll both build trust and teach your team that they can talk openly about how they’re feeling about their career goals or areas they’d like to improve. It’s a lot easier to convince employees to stick around when they can see the progress they’re making clearly.
Praise First, Criticize Second
You’re busy. Your team is busy. And so, it’s not surprising that often we’re so caught up in the day-to-day that we only give feedback when something goes wrong. But the best way to maintain a good company culture (and up that employee retention rate) is to make praise an essential part of the process.
Add a line item to weekly agendas where you discuss company or team wins and progress. Make a point of calling out good work when you see it. Say thank you (always!) when someone stays late. Simple steps like these can build a positive work environment that keeps people on track and excited.
Hire People with Drive—Even If Their Resume Isn’t a Perfect Fit
I worked a startup where we discovered an interesting pattern: when we hired for junior level positions, we’d receive dozens of emails from candidates who had resumes filled with unpaid internships at some of the best companies in our field. But the problems started when we hired them. They’d often balk at doing all those menial tasks that full-time jobs require or panic when something landed on their desk that was new or unfamiliar.
Meanwhile, one of the best hires I ever made was a woman who was switching industries. She’d never worked in a position like the one we had open, but she’d worked three jobs through school including bartending on weekends. As she sat across from me in the interview room, she told me that she was quick, adaptable and eager to learn everything she could.
Within weeks, she’d learned everything she needed to, within months, she’d climbed ranks, and I beamed as she took ownership over countless opportunities and brought new projects and ideas to the table over and over again.
So, hire the most qualified candidates with the best resumes if you like—but don’t underestimate the adaptable applicant who’s dedicated to proving she can be the absolute best if you just give her the chance. Because, in the end, that makes you the company that gave her the biggest opportunity of her life.
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