The people are the business, so you want to find and retain staff who are a great fit for the vacancy. How can you make yours an aspirational workplace for top employees? We look at top tips to recruit the right candidate, retain and develop staff to build a strong loyal team which can drive your business success. Learn how rewards and incentives play a major part in staff retention, and that there is scope here for companies to differentiate themselves as exceptional employers by offering a flexible range of benefits.
Staff recruitment and development are vital to the success of a company. The staff are the company. If you don’t recruit the right people, lead and motivate them well, develop and retain them, then the company will not reach its full potential.
Recruitment is the first step. This is time consuming and expensive, and if mistakes are made and the wrong people recruited, damage can be done!! Unhappy staff never perform well in a business and may affect the morale of others.
High staff turnover can affect operational performance and in turn, customer satisfaction, as well as taking up management time and effort. Some staff turnover is normal and can be healthy as it allows for new recruits with new ideas, but a higher than average turnover is damaging for a business, and expensive too.
When a potential new position is identified it is important to develop a job description. This usually includes a job specification, and a person specification, and the competencies required for the role. The specification will be developed by the Human Resources (HR) department if there is one, but in a smaller company it may be developed by the line manager for the position.
If there is an existing job specification it is worth making sure it is up to date and reflects the current and immediate future requirements. Most jobs evolve over time as new technologies are adopted, and it is important to attract candidates who are able to deal with the technology.
Recruitment may be handled in house by HR, or may be outsourced to specialists. The selection process will vary depending on the seniority of the position, the size of the company, budgets etc.
There are many types of interview and stages in the selection process. These will also vary according to the vacancy.
Interviewing is often in several stages, with HR or retained outsourcers performing a first filter, and the line manager doing second stage interviews for a shortlist.
It is a good idea to put some planning into the format of the interview, making it job –appropriate if possible.
Interviews can vary from a single interview to a series of interviews culminating in a panel interview for more senior positions. Some interview processes include inviting candidates to an assessment centre for a series of selection tests and activities.
Here are some of the more usual interview formats;-
Online tests are sometimes used to help develop a shortlist.
Telephone interview – often by appointment.
One to one interview -first stage .Often carried out by the Human Resources or Personnel Department.
One to one interview – second stage. This will be more detailed and may include some skill based tasks or exercises. This is usually carried out by the line or departmental manager who will have management responsibility for the selected candidate.
Panel interview. Often this is used in the final stage for senior roles or Public service roles.
Lunch or Dinner interviews often used where the role will involve some hospitality with clients, such as Buying or Selling.
Group interview Sometimes this involves a day at an assessment centre to select a short list. The day may include icebreakers, team building exercises, or practical skill/job related exercises carried out in teams, or individually. For this type of exercise, there is usually a group of facilitators from within the business. Each of the facilitators may be pre-allocated a couple of people to observe and report on at the end of the day de-briefing.
On completion of the exercise the facilitators may be involved in scoring candidates, not just for performance in exercises or tasks, but for their behaviour. For example they will be assessing whether the candidates are a leader, or a team player, are they able to persuade others that their view is worthy of consideration, or are they argumentative or difficult to work with.
Competency or behavioural based interviews
This is a very popular technique as it provides a template for the interview and allows the interviewer to get a good “feel “ for the candidate, because behavioral interview questions are more focused than traditional interview questions.
In preparing the job description the company will have identified the skills and competencies needed for the role, and the interviewer will ask questions to find out if the candidate has those skills. The candidate needs to respond with related examples of how they have handled situations in the workplace to demonstrate those skills or competencies
The candidate is expected to have relevant and engaging stories for the interviewer that demonstrate that their application can be backed up by actual anecdotes about their work and life.
Competency or behavioral based interviews are an incredibly powerful tool for the interviewer because it immediately gives them an insight into the candidates past behavior, and therefore likely future behavior.
Typical competencies and behavioral Interview questions could include the following;-
Competency identified – Goal oriented
- How do you set goals and achieve them.
- Did you ever fail to meet your goals? Why?
- Give an example of a goal you reached and say how you achieved it.
- Give an example of a goal you didn’t meet and say how you handled that.
Competency identified – Communication skills
- Do you listen? Can you give an example of when you did or didn’t listen?
- Competency identified – team skills
- Give an example of team working.
Competency identified – change management
- Have you ever had to persuade a team to work on a project they didn’t want to?
- How did you do it?
Competency identified – influencing skills
- Have you ever handled a difficult situation with a client or customer?
Competency identified – managing performance
- Do you have an example of how you motivated staff?
- Have you handled a difficult situation with a member of staff?
There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. The interviewer is trying to understand how a candidate has previously behaved in a certain situation, and establish whether they exhibit the required competencies.
The interviewer will use the responses to determine if there is a fit between the candidates’ skills and the position the company is seeking to fill. They will also consider the candidates’ likely fit with the company culture.
Once a candidate is agreed on, the package needs to be negotiated and accepted. There are many factors, other than financial, that can make a package attractive to the selected candidate and it is good practice to discuss other factors with the candidate at this stage.
These may include flexible working in terms of hours and location. Holidays, health care, company car, phone, and laptop may all be included in the negotiation. Different aspects of these factors are important to different people and a successful result here can affect retention.
Then references should be taken up and a start date agreed on. An induction should be organised for the first day. Employees should be made to feel welcome, perhaps with a “buddy “nominated to show them around and take them for lunch on the first day.
New employees should be given a clear brief as to what is expected of them, when, and how, and a nominated person to go to with queries. This should help to reduce the high number of people who leave a job in the first few weeks.
It is a good idea to arrange some form of feedback from the new employee after the first couple of weeks, whether as a formal survey, or an informal chat with the line manager. Any points made should be considered and actioned for future new starters.
Open communication with staff is a great idea for all line managers. A good line manager should know all their staff by name, and something of their personal life –enough to ask “How are the children?” “Did your wife enjoy your holiday? “”How the wedding are plans coming along? “without being intrusive.
This kind of relationship can be built up by daily communication. A quick chat with everyone each morning to check their plans for the day allows a line manager to informally “take the temperature” of the team, inform themselves of everyone’s progress and workload, understand issues, correct priorities, and maybe balance workload.
This also sends a message that the managers “door “ is open , and gives people an opportunity to bring up any issues or difficulties, giving the line manager a chance to foresee and avoid potential problems. So a few moments with each employee first thing is time well spent by a line manager, and should not be construed as gossip.
If there is not the opportunity for this, perhaps because of working conditions, shift times, or virtual teams, then the line manager should find a way of instigating regular informal conversations with their staff, and not wait for formal annual or six month appraisals to discuss performance and development.
Ideally there will be a two way process in place so that staff are kept updated with reports on business performance, strategy, changes likely to affect them, and potential for career progression .This will enable them to feel engaged, and input to new ideas.