Without realising it myself, I seemed to have set out on a mission to prove that there IS such a thing as a free lunch.
I mean, why else would I constantly jump to take up my friends on their sly lunch invitations? Alas…there’really is NO such thing as a free lunch!
So, last week, when three of them invited me to lunch, who was surprised that somewhere between the cream of split pea soup and the blackened mahi mahi, the conversation rushed to Hiring Right in small businesses? NOT me.
After I deliberately avoided the meandering conversation, they asked me outright: Lorna, as small business people, how can we find and keep the best employees? in other words...how can we hire right?
Admittedly, the question did get me thinking…
According to score.org, in the USA, between 2004 -2010, micro businesses (1 – 4 employees) were the big employers, creating 5.5 million jobs. What’s more, small businesses created 63% of new jobs between 2009 and 2012.
But does hiring more equal hiring right?
Apparently not. 30% of small business failures are blamed on poor hiring decisions and employee turnover accounts for 75 – 150% of salary costs. Throw in the time spent on paper work and compliance costs and now you’re getting the picture.
So, is there anything that small business can do to hire good people and keep them in the business? Yes, there is.
Here is an overview of the three areas that I focus my clients on when they want to hire right and keep the best employees.
Get the hiring right
It starts with the job description. I encourage my clients to write job descriptions for every job in the business – including the future jobs. To me, job descriptions are incredibly important, especially so as a recruiting tool. It clarifies your expectations of the employee and gives the candidate a clear description of the job they are hoping to get.
What you then look for is how closely the strengths, talents and experience of the candidate align with that job description. In other words, as part of the process of hiring right, you are determining the extent to which a candidate is the person you are looking for.
Then you must know how to do what I call “crack the resume code.” For example, get past the expensive stationery and the professional layout. What you look for is the level of detail a candidate can provide when they describe what they did in a particular position.
You’re also looking for weasel wording like “participated in”, “in association with” or “familiar with” which can clue you in to the fact that the candidate might not have the experience they claim to have.
And of course you have to check the references. Learn to ask the referee the questions that will support or expose their claims in their references.
Get the orientation right if you're hiring right
Oh! How many stories I have heard of poor or no orientation!
Yes, I know that you seldom have the time, money or other resources. But how you treat new employees is critical to how fast they settle into the job and which opinion they hold of the business as a good place to work.
In my experience, as part of the hiring right process, a good small business orientation will have the following three phases:
Phase 1 – the pre-arrival phase. This happens before the candidate arrives on the job and involves providing the candidate with some information such as operations manuals, company reports and could even include a T-shirt or key rings, etc.
Pre-arrival orientation is a unique and highly valuable approach to orientation. It just cannot be beaten in creating a professional positive first impression for the new hire. In the highly competitive small business market, it also reinforces for the candidate that they have made the right decision in joining your business.
Phase 2 - Job-Site Orientation occurs during the first and second day on the job, focusing on understanding the physical workplace. It includes pointing out key areas of the workplace (including the bathroom!) introductions, location of equipment, etc. You are hiring right, remember?
It’s during this time, if you have done a pre-arrival orientation, you can discuss any unclear policies, etc and answer any lingering questions the employee may have.
Phase 3: Job-Specific Orientation occurs during the first few weeks, focusing on details such as specific duties, the job description, budgets, tools, software, and health and safety. Alternatively, depending on the nature of the business, it can be divided and delivered in manageable information slices and tied closely to the probation period.
Get the culture of your business right!
When I was in the job market as a candidate, after I had been interviewed, I would politely ask the potential employers if I could interview them.
I wanted to find out, since they were so keen on "hiring right" if they had created the culture in their business that will allow them to capitalize on my strengths and skills while allowing me the room to grow and not stifle my ideas and creativity.
As you can imagine, this did not go down well with many potential employers. I never understood why. After all, isn't this part of the process of hiring right?
But the right culture is important for small businesses retaining talented people and standing out in a crowded business space.
James Garvin, writing for Gaebler Ventures identifies four factors you can use to decide on how best to implement a rewarding and rich culture within your business:
1. Autonomy - Allow individuals to make decisions when they are needed. Empower your employees.
2. Rewards - Create a proper metric and reward system where individuals and departments are rewarded for their specific and unique contributions.
3. Benefits - Providing benefits like health insurance, flex hours, and more are often times more important to employees than base pay.
4. Contribution - Enable employees to make individual contributions. Remove the classic informational ladder that exists in many corporations today. You are running a small business not a small bureaucracy. Make your employees feel that they are contributing to a great cause.
I entirely support these and truly believe that every small business owner can implement them. They just have to get past the belief that they must appear “big” and the way to do this is by imposing a complex, corporate structure on what should be a flexible and responsive business.
So there you have it from me: the three areas where by hiring right, you can find and keep the best employees in your small business. Give it a try, won't you?
If you need help with HR in your small business please, do contact me, but in the meantime, I have resigned myself to accepting the next “FREE” lunch.
To your "hiring right" success...
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