Attracting and retaining quality employees is not easy. You may be so worried about just filling a vacancy that you don't have time to worry about employee quality. I completely understand that mindset, but that thought-process won't work. Hiring is expensive. Did you know that in some industries, hiring a worker could cost as much as $5,000+ per hire? That's a lot of money! The cost to hire isn't the same in every industry, obviously, many times this cost can be much lower. Either way, though, you are still spending quite a bit to hire talent.
Bad hires impact our companies more than just by leaving a vacancy. When you are short-staffed, this could lead to:
Negative employee morale
Negative client interactions
That's just the tip of the iceberg! You need to hire quality employees because your company depends on it, especially if you work in a small business. So, let's figure out how to attract and retain those quality employees.
Before We Get Started
I recorded a podcast version of this article for you, if you ever want to listen to this article on the go:
Also, if you ever need any human resources content written for your company, don't hesitate to reach out to me. I love researching this topic and writing helpful guides just like this one.
Related Reading: Fifteen Effective Human Resources Blog Post Topics by Amanda Cross Co. (hey, that's me!)
How To Attract Quality Employees As A Company
First, let's talk about how to attract those employees to your company. If you want to attract high-quality talent, you need to focus on culture, stellar recruiting, and the benefits you offer employees.
Evaluate Your Company Culture
Company culture is everything! No one wants to work in a toxic environment, no matter how much you pay them to do so. They may stick around to collect their check, but they will not be staying long much longer after they have found a new place to work.
I know you may have had a job with unspoken rules. Rules like:
That group of people is always promoted.
Reply all should never be used.
We always celebrate all our birthdays once a month.
You should never approach that person with questions.
Not all of your company cultural practices are good. You may have a fantastic company culture or a less than stellar one. If you want to retain quality employees, though, you have to work on the culture and politics of your work environment.
Related Reading: 5 Simple Ways to Assess Company Culture by The Engage Blog
Make Your Company Vision, Values, And Goals Known On Your Website And Social Media Pages
Now, it's time to be honest with your potential employees. You need to sit down and set your company vision, values, and goals. What does your company look like? When you set your company vision, values, and goals then proclaim them on the internet, you will attract the talent that agrees with those statements.
Do not lie when setting these items for your company. You have to be able to follow through on the vision, values, and goals you have for your company. You don't have to be there yet, but you can't be so far off that those statements aren't even on your radar.
An example of lying to attract employees? Maybe you say that you value ambition, but the company structure you have stifles it through a lack of ways to be promoted. You may have those issues when you sit down to proclaim your values, but once you say something is a value, you need to act like it.
Related Readings: How To Create Your Company Vision by Cleverism; 190 Brilliant Examples of Company Values by The 6Q Blog; The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Goal Setting by The Balance Small Business
Create A Referral Program For Employees
Your employees know best! An employee referral program will give your employees the tools they need to refer their friends and acquaintances to work for your company. If you already have an amazing batch of employees, why not let them take the wheel on recruiting for you?
When you create these referral programs, you are giving your employees the chance to become brand ambassadors for your company. We know that hiring can be expensive, so you may even want to provide them with a bonus if someone they recruited is hired.
So, how do you make sure that employees are acknowledged as being the person who recruited an employee? Well, you could give the employee a form to fill out with their recommendations so you can reach out to the potential employee, or you can put a "Were you referred by an employee? If so, who?" question in your job application. Either way, you want to make this process as easy as possible for everyone, that way you are guaranteed to receive quality referrals.
Related Reading: How to Create An Employee Referral Program by Emplo; 6 Ways To Build An Employee Referral Program That Works by Workable
There are many usual places to recruit, but you never know when you may find someone who would be an excellent fit for your company. You should create a recruiting-themed business card using a site like Moo or Vistaprint. When you have a conversation with someone you think would be a great fit for your company, give them a card.
You never know when you might go into recruiting mode. You could be in the line at the grocery store, at the library, or even at a coffee shop. It's important to recognize those people who could be hidden gems for your company. Once you find those hidden gems, talk with them, and get them to at least fill out an application so you can learn more about them.
Related Reading: 29 Creative Ways to Find Employees Online & Off by FitSmallBusiness
Pay For Quality Employees
While I have and will talk about how money isn't everything, you still need to pay your employees appropriately. If you want to attract quality talent, you need to pay them a decent wage. Salary is significant because if your employees don't have enough money to survive and thrive, it's hard for them to get excited about your job.
If you are a smaller business, it may be hard to provide fantastic compensation. Along with a decent salary, offer a path to yearly promotions, and maybe even a tiny percentage of the company if you have a small, scrappy team. This will help you create some salary incentive without paying everything up front.
Related Reading: 7 Reasons You Should Pay Your Employees Above-Average Salaries by Inc.; The Importance of Pay Philosophies by Salary.com
Offer A Nice Benefits Package
What will you offer your employees besides financial benefit? Money is fantastic, but as we covered earlier, even a decent salary won't keep quality talent. Here are just a few benefits you might consider:
Education Budget: Will you invest in your employee's future education by allowing them to take college classes, online courses, attend conferences, etc.?
Technology Stipends: Technology is critical for employees. By providing a technology stipend, your employees can get the pieces of tech that will make their jobs easier.
Healthcare: We all know that healthcare isn't cheap, providing decent healthcare can be an amazing benefit to your employees.
Paid Time Off: We all want to take a vacation now and again. By providing PTO, you are helping your employees soak up the sun in financial peace.
Maternity/Paternity Leave: It's not all about the mothers, both moms and dads want to be home with their children for a while, without fear of losing their job.
Work/Life Balance: Your employees shouldn't have to carry a ton of baggage home with them. Make sure they can leave their inbox and problems at work!
Related Reading: Top Workplace Incentives Your Employees Actually Want by Aventr
Create A Breezy, Informative Application Process
Have you ever lost a quality employee because you didn't keep them informed during the application process? As a potential employer, it's your job to make the application process as comfortable as possible.
What does this mean? You need to keep your employees updated on your company actions! Lucky for you, there are a lot of ways to automate this process. One of the biggest things you can do is send out an automated thank you note soon after you get an application from an applicant. In that note let them know that you are excited about their interest, give them a brief overview of the hiring timeline, and let them know you'll be in touch.
I know that managing hundreds and sometimes even thousands of applicants can be overwhelming. Communication with applicants is vital, though, because you never want to lose a great employee to a competitor because you didn't keep them in the loop.
Related Reading: 5 Steps to Improve Communication with Applicants by ApplicantPro
How To Retain Quality Employees As A Company
Now that we have talked at length about attracting quality employees let's talk about keeping them at your company. It's not just about attracting high-quality talent; your company needs to be ready to keep those talented people once you have them. Let's see what it takes to do just that.
Create An Amazing Onboarding Process
Onboarding is essential. The way you introduce an employee to your company sets the tone for how the rest of their time with you will be. You want to make a strong first impression!
So, this is where you need to work closely with the HR department to get your employees up to speed with your company culture, trained to do their job, and excited about the months ahead.
Now, many tools can help you with onboarding. You need a tool that's easy for you and your employees to use. You also want something that makes it easy to gather all your paperwork in one place. New hires take a lot of paperwork, and you don't want to miss anything.
WorkBright is a potential tool you may want to consider using for your company. It helps make the onboarding process more manageable and paperless! You can upload all your necessary documents, it sends your new employees reminders to fill out paperwork leading up to their hire date, and it just helps your process move much faster.
Remember, onboarding doesn't stop in the first week of an employee being there. You need to create a more intensive program so that you understand the needs of your employees and you can watch them grow!
Related Reading: New Employee Onboarding Guide by the Society for Human Resources Management
Invest In Your Employee's Education
Now that you have a wonderful set of new employees onboarded, you need to invest in their education. You should never want employees who cease learning when they get in a position at your company. Your industry is continually changing, and if your company doesn't become a leader, you become a follower. Worse than a follower, though, your company could become obsolete. It's important to keep up with the Jones' in a sense, but more so when it comes to education, over which CEO has the fanciest car.
Here are some ways to invest in your employee's education:
Offer an education budget (like we talked about earlier in the benefits section.)
Create online courses that teach your audience more than just how to do their jobs correctly.
Get a monthly speaker to come to your office to educate your employees about industry topics.
Host a yearly retreat for your employees with lots of education built in.
Produce a monthly educational industry newsletter for your employees with the information they need to know.
Related Reading: Why It Is Essential To Invest In Employee Education by CultureIQ
Create A Mentorship Program For Your Employees
I know what you are thinking, "My employees will naturally find their mentors, why do I need to offer a program for this?" Well, because not all of your employees will naturally find a mentor, and even if they do it could take weeks for that to happen. What happens during the first few weeks of their employment when they feel that they don't have anyone to talk to?
You should create a simple six-month to a year mentorship program for your employees. Here's a timeline of how that six-month program might work.
Note: This is just a suggestion, not a definite mentor plan. You want to research mentorship programs so that you can make the best decision for your company.
You pair up your employee to a higher-up employee that you think they will get along with based on the interview process.
Your higher-up employee reaches out to your new employee during their first week to set up their first meeting.
For the first month or two of the mentoring program, your employees meet weekly and chat over email/text (whichever they prefer.)
During month three and four, your two employees meet at least every two weeks and have email/text conversations
During the last two months, your employees meet at least once a month along with discussions via email/text.
At the end of six months, you and your two employees have a conversation to address the mentorship program, how it went, and how it could go better.
Your employees can either decide to continue with the mentor relationship, be friends, or whatever they'd like to do.
Related Reading: How to Design an Employee Mentorship Program That Doesn’t Suck by Hubspot
Provide A Path To Success For Each Employee
After each employee has been at your office for a few months, you and their immediate manager should be able to understand more about who they are and how you can help them.
At this stage, after your employees have settled into their new roles and you can evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, you should sit down with each employee to develop a path to success with them. In this conversation, you can ask them things like:
What do you struggle with that you feel wouldn't be a struggle if we had more effective policies and procedures? How would you fix those issues?
Is there any part of your current job that makes you particularly excited in the morning?
Have you gotten to see what other people do in the company? Are there any jobs they do that excite you?
Do you have any programs that you'd like to see implemented in the office?
What is your vision for your department or this company in three years?
Once you get them talking about what they love, their struggles, and their hopes/dreams you will get a better picture of how they can succeed at your company. Maybe you have a scholarship program they should apply for, or you may even want to slightly change their position or build a role for them to go further in your company.
You should prepare you and your employees for this conversation. You may find some answers you don't want to hear, but you could also find more clarity in your business.
Related Reading: 5 Steps To Creating Employee Development Plans That Truly Work by Insperity
Listen To Employee Feedback And Act On It
When people are told to listen to feedback, often they listen, but they don't act. You can listen to complaints and feedback until the cow's come home and do absolutely nothing about what you are hearing.
Employees don't want to just be heard, they want to be acknowledged, and they want you to make changes to your company based on that feedback.
Employee feedback isn't always easy to implement. Sometimes it takes time, and employees understand that. The best thing you can do is say something simple:
"Thanks for your feedback about _____. We are currently working with _______ to figure out how we can resolve this issue. I will update you in ______ with more information."
If you need more time on that date, alert them with a more actionable date. Don't use this to keep kicking the can down the road.
You don't have it all together. You can pretend that you do, but when real life takes hold of our ideas, it often shakes it up. Listen to your employees and use that feedback to grow your business!
Related Reading: How To Get, Process, and Act On Employee Feedback by Process Street
Find Ways To Acknowledge And Reward Quality Employees
People are not praised for a job well done enough. It's easy to talk to employees about what they are doing wrong, but have you ever stopped to think why we don't encourage and praise employees enough? Think about your last few interactions with employees: how many of those were neutral or negative, how many positive?
There are a few ways you might go about implementing this positive acknowledgment. You might strive to have at least 3-5 positive, reward-themed interactions with your employees each day, or you might use technology to help people feel appreciated.
One Slack integration that I love for feedback and rewards is Disco. Disco allows anyone at your office to give stars to other people for a job well done. On the backend, you can see who your companies rising stars are as well as the people supporting their coworkers with lots of stars. Disco isn't free; you pay per employee per month or year. There is a free trial so that your team can sign up to see if it's right for you!
Related Reading: 39 Thoughtful Employee Recognition And Appreciation Ideas For 2018 by SnackNation
Check In With People Who Seem To Be Disengaging
Did you know that only 1/3rd of the American workforce is engaged in their work? Now, this isn't always a bad thing, but you want a workforce that is as involved as possible.
One way to retain employees is by reaching out to people who seem to be disengaging. It may have nothing to do with your company. Your employees may be they are dealing with issues at home that bleed into work! You still need to check in on your workers though. You don't want them facing problems when they could just as quickly come talk to someone who works at your company.
Approach the topic delicately. Don't call anyone out in a public meeting. Call your employee into your office and have a serious conversation one-on-one. Give them a space to chat about their issues, and help them come up with a plan to move forward and re-engage with your company.
When it comes to engagement, an outstretched hand is your best weapon.
Related Reading: 10 Employee Engagement Statistics in 2017 You Can’t Afford to Ignore by Aventr
Whew! We talked about a lot of topics today! Attracting and retaining great employees is critical for the growth of your company, and I hope today's blog post has helped you grow closer to that.
Employees are your greatest asset. Instead of treating them like pawns in a chess game, you should treat them like humans who will help you advance your companies vision. You cannot run a company by yourself!