The Supply House Times Business Center: Topic of the month: Recruiting, hiring, retaining great employees
- After-hours job interviews. Top-notch employees are in great demand nowadays. For the most part, the best ones already have jobs. You want to include those people in your recruiting efforts, not just focus on people who may be out of work for one reason or another.
Many good people who are presently employed are dissatisfied with their current jobs and scanning the want ads for better opportunities. However, they face the dilemma of having to take time off from their current jobs in order to interview for others. Be willing to schedule early morning or after-hours interviews. Put a line in your want ads saying so. Doing this will expand your recruitment horizon beyond the unemployed.
- Arbitrary numbers. The classified pages are filled with want ads specifying "3 years experience," "5 yrs. exp." as an employment condition. Think about this for a moment. Does it make any sense to tie the job to an arbitrary number like that?
It's understandable that you may want to hire someone who can hit the ground running rather than a raw novice in need of basic training. However, no matter what the job, there are some people who perform better with one year under their belt than with three years or five. Conversely, veterans of 10 years or more may be poor performers who are constantly changing jobs.
If you run an ad looking for someone with "5 yrs. exp.," good people with 3 or 4 years under their belt will be discouraged from applying. Instead, simply say, "Experience wanted." Don't put a number to it.
- Encourage referrals. Newspaper want ads generally attract the least desirable job candidates. The best come from referrals by current employees. Take steps to encourage these referrals before you spend money on newspaper classifieds, as follows:
-- Offer bonuses to employees who successfully recruit new employees. Be generous. When you factor in what you save in classified advertising and turnover cost, you can come out ahead paying even $1,000 for new employees who work out. Make the payment conditional on the new employee lasting a full year, or pay it out in increments.
-- Whenever you have a position open, advertise it via notes in employee paychecks. Highlight the bonus payment.
-- Job postings by the pick-up counter is a common supply house practice, and a good one. They would work even more effectively if you cut the plumbers in on your bonus plan.
- How to attract good truck drivers. Reliable truck drivers always seem to be in short supply. The best ones are looking not only for top pay and benefits, but a good working environment.
Are you proud of your delivery fleet? Do you keep your vehicles in mint condition and regularly washed? If so, put up signage on your trucks saying: "You could be driving this truck. Call 555-5555."
- Drug-testing for fun. If your company has a drug-testing policy, take some of the sting and mistrust out of the practice by making a game out of it. Al & Riley's Air Conditioning of Casa Grande, Ariz., implements a drug-testing program whereby one employee is drawn at random each quarter to undergo the testing. To put a positive spin on the program, they developed a raffle of $1 per month for each employee that chooses to participate. The employee whose name is drawn for the test gets to keep the raffle money - assuming s/he passes, of course.
- Reference-checking tips. Checking references is difficult nowadays. Defamation lawsuits have made many employers clam up about past employees other than to confirm dates of employment. Here are some tricks H.R. professionals use to get folks to open up.
-- Don't just call names on the list of references provided by the employee. Contact people not on the list who were likely to have had dealings with the applicant, such as past supervisors, co-workers, sales clients and so on.
-- The best question to ask when checking references is a simple, "Would you hire this person again?"
-- Call the referred party during off hours when you are likely to reach the person's voice mail. Leave a message saying: "If you think so-and-so is worth hiring, please give me a call back." Failure to return the call shouldn't by itself disqualify the job prospect, but it ought to signal that more background research is advisable.
- State dress and grooming codes up front. When you first contact job applicants by phone, letter or e-mail, make sure to inform them right then of any grooming and dress code policies your company might have. No sense wasting your time and theirs in a job interview only to find out the prospect values his ponytail and nose rings more than the job you offer.
- Building team morale. Matt Weinstein, author of Managing With Fun, tells of a neat incentive program by the Wells Fargo Bank in which every employee was given a $35 gift certificate. The catch was, nobody could cash his own. The certificates could only be cashed by a co-worker who was given the certificate by another employee as a reward for supporting that employee on the job. Some people ended up with multiple certificates.
- A quit smoking program. Plumbing contractor Robert L. Pann Co. of Boston awards an additional week's vacation to any employee who successfully quits smoking. If 15 people in the company quit, everyone gets a week off. Imagine the peer pressure to quit!
- Peer reviews. During the final stage of the hiring process when you have narrowed down to one or two candidates, arrange for the department supervisor or a trusted co-worker to take each candidate to lunch. Applicants have their guard down in these relaxed settings, and will often open up to reveal attitudes and information that didn't come out in the formal job interview.