Want to hire great people and keep them from quitting? 4 strategies that work

Sep 21, 2021 /

This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.

The Great Resignation — a tidal wave of people quitting their jobs in search of better opportunities — continues to march on through many organizations and may very well strike yours. However, the hope is you can use this as an opportunity to recruit fabulous new people while at the same time retaining your top talent.

This means you need to focus on the recruitment and retention strategies that actually work. In terms of order, I suggest that you focus first on retention and then on recruitment. If you can retain your employees, that will reduce the work you have to do to recruit new ones. But remember, too, that good recruitment also means fewer problems with retention. Getting the right people into the right jobs means they’ll stay with you longer. 

Here are five ideas that work: 

1. Hire for potential, not experience

“You must have a college degree and five years of experience in X.” These types of requirements are standard in job postings, but researchers found that for many jobs, employees will still need to learn 10 additional skills within the next 18 months.

In other words, even if your new hire meets all the job requirements today, that means 10 new skills will be needed as they settle into their new role.

If you are insistent that every candidate has every single one of those skills, you may end up with a very short list of candidates — and you’ll be hiring someone whose skills may be obsolete in a month anyway. Instead, you should look for people who have a solid and versatile foundation and the ability and desire to learn new things.

Keep this in mind for a recruitment and retention strategy as well. Too often, companies don’t want to promote from within because they want someone in the position that can “hit the ground running.”This strategy denies reality because the position will change anyway. Retain your best employees by promoting them into stretch roles.

2. Ask your employees questions

Do you know what makes your current employees happy? Do you know what makes them miserable? If you can’t, you may find yourself struggling to hold onto good people. 

Margaret Rogers, vice president at Pariveda Solutions, says that while companies invest in training and development, they often do so without consulting the employees.

You need to know what your employees want and need before you develop your programs. Here are a few questions she recommends when conducting employee surveys are:

  • What parts of your job are most interesting and rewarding?
  • What areas are you finding most challenging right now?
  • What are you doing to reach short- and long-term career goals?
  • Are there any other projects, committees or additional responsibilities you would like to be a part of?
  • Is there anything else you’re curious about that you haven’t been able to explore yet?

Knowing the answers to these questions helps you to tailor your training and development programs to not only what will benefit your company but what will benefit your employees. You won’t retain people if they don’t see growth potential at your organization, so make sure you know what they want and figure out how you can help them get it.

3. Keep an eye on your competitors

You may think that your salaries are at the proper market rate because they were last year and you could hire just fine. But it’s 2021, and there’s a labor shortage all around.

Remember: Your hiring and retention competitors are not just the people who make and sell similar products and services; they are also anyone who hires people similar to your employees. For example, every business needs an accountant and a customer service person. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need to pay attention.

In addition to salary, people are looking for flexibility. Whether it’s working from home, a hybrid situation or shifts that fit their lives, other companies offer those. If you want to keep your employees and hire new ones, you need to keep up.

4. Study your results — and act on them

While this may not seem like a recruiting or retention technique, it will lead you to correct your processes. Peter Capelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School of Business in Pennsylvania, points out that very few companies do detailed tracking on recruiting and retention.

“Imagine,” he says, “if the CEO asked how an advertising campaign had gone, and the response was ‘We have a good idea how long it took to roll out and what it cost, but we haven’t looked to see whether we’re selling more.’”

You won’t improve your retention or recruiting if you don’t know what works and what fails. That’s why you need to keep data on them.

And if you aren’t thinking about recruiting and retention strategies now, you need to be. Otherwise, the great resignation will hit your company, and others will snatch up your best people. Don’t let that happen to you.

This post was originally published on the Workable site. Go there to read other great business content. You can also go to Suzanne Lucas’s website, Evil HR Lady, to find more of her other writing. 

Watch her TEDxBasel Talk here: