Two of the greatest challenges for any business are hiring the right people and keeping them. Employees, and more importantly their contributions, are a business’s most important asset. So how do you go about finding, selecting and retaining the best people?

Decide What You Want

Before beginning your hiring efforts, know what you want. One way is to list the skills, experience, and other attributes you are looking for in the following categories:

  • must have – skills you do not have the time, money or desire to teach but which are absolutely necessary to the job, such as education, occupational license and experience
  • should have – sets of skills in which the candidate should have some degree of knowledge or skill
  • nice to have – what you’d love to have but can live without

Search in the Right Places

The harder it is for you to find the skills you need, the wider the net you must cast. You may choose from local media, the state’s employment center (ID Department of Labor offices), and the Internet. View any employment ad as a marketing tool for your company, making it as appealing as possible. Put a headline on your ad that describes the absolutely best benefit you can offer. Be sure to add your must-have list of skills, experience, and education. To get qualified people without having to weed through a pile of applications, be specific about what you say and very selective about where you place the ad.

Don’t underestimate the value of networking. You may choose to ask your best employees if they know someone who would fit well in your organization or use your network in the community to find employees.

Conduct a Thorough Interview

Give the applicant a complete and accurate picture of your business. In today’s market, you have to sell both yourself and your company. Through your questions, cover the job’s must-haves, should-haves, and nice-to-haves and be sure to obtain a clear picture of where the candidate is in relation to these attributes. Remember, good questions lead to good answers – the more you learn about each applicant’s experience and skills, the better prepared you are to make your decision. If you find yourself talking as much or more than the candidate, stop – you only learn about the candidate when you are listening. Don’t be afraid to press a candidate for more information – it is then that you may learn important information.

Hire the Right Person

Some tips for choosing who to hire include:

  • Go with your gut instinct
  • Accomplishments are what really matter
  • Attitude counts
  • Be objective

The three critical elements in hiring the right person for the job are skills match, company fit, and job match. Be objective in determining which candidates have the best overall fit. In terms of wages, try to be a leader in your market – think about the cost of paying a little more versus the cost of turnover (roughly 25% of salary and benefits).

Hold on to Good Employees

Employee retention is as important as the initial hire. An individual’s suitability to a particular job is the single most important factor in job performance and retention. Be sure to provide jobs that fit with the employee’s personality and then take the time for a proper orientation. Listen to them and continue to provide training and skills development opportunities. Set clear expectations, show concern for employees, and treat them fairly. Some other low or no-cost employee retention tips include:

  • Use an open management style that gives employees a sense of ownership and more control over their destiny.
  • After completion of a tough project, give team members some time off or reward them in some other way.
  • Be as flexible as possible with work hours, dress, work rules, telecommuting.
  • Try to make the work challenging or allow individuals to make an immediate difference in some way.
  • Have fun. Throw a pizza party for no particular reason; give away family tickets to an amusement park.
  • Assign coaches or mentors to help employees not only with specific jobs, but also in developing their careers.
  • Consider offering an equity stake in the company to key hires.
  • Make sure your managers and supervisors have the necessary skills to hire and keep good people.

Your business’s reputation is a key element in retaining employees and attracting new ones. Make sure you know how your business is perceived in the community and do whatever it takes to make that perception a positive one.

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