Recruit the Best (& Skip the Rest)

If you make the effort to find and recruit the best hourly employees, you will add value to your organization now and in the future because you’re recruiting the kind of people who can give you a competitive edge.

By Mel Kleiman, Contributing Editor

SUBWAY_StoreWhen it comes to recruiting hourly employees, the sixth annual Convenience Store Decisions/Kleiman HR Human Resources survey found that the practice deemed “most effective” hasn’t changed at all since we did the first survey back in 2008.

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For each of the past six years, hiring managers and human resources executives have ranked “in-store ads/outdoor signage” as their most effective recruiting tool.

The survey also found that the two biggest staffing/HR problems the respondents now face are: (1) recruiting new employees and (2) reducing employee turnover. These issues go hand in glove.

The only way to reduce the high costs of employee turnover is to hire to a higher standard. But, when your best source of recruits is the (mostly unemployed) people looking for work, who have seen your sign, how can you possibly expect to hire “the best?”

And recruiting quality, frontline, hourly employees is only going to get tougher. Unemployment is edging downward. The trends indicate a greater demand for workers than can be supplied because of baby boomer retirements and the declining growth rate of the working-age population. Six of the 12 major urban areas tracked by labor statisticians are reporting shortages of unskilled, entry-level, frontline workers right now.

Those are just some of the reasons why it’s high time to reassess your recruiting strategies and tools. Here are some suggestions:

Fish where the fish are. Professional recruiters don’t use signage or post-to-job boards. They are proactive in going after the people they want and they know these folks can been found one place and one place only—among the gainfully employed.

Print a recruiting message on the back of your business card and give one to every person that gives you good service during the course of your day-to-day interactions. Ask your current employees, family and friends to pass them out too. This is a great way to build a database of pre-qualified folks you can call when you have a job opening.

Former employees. When good employees leave to work elsewhere, they often discover that the grass isn’t greener after all. In fact, research shows that 20-25% of supervisory and managerial employees have gone back to work at a company they once left.

Imagine if 20% of all the good people who ever left came back to work for you. You’d have instantaneously productive workers, requiring little or no training, and little or no downtime to become familiar with the organization.

All you have to do is ask. About a month after a good employee leaves, call and ask if he or she would consider coming back. The worst they could say is “no,” and you’ve just given them a wonderful compliment. What’s so bad about that?

Birds of a feather flock together, so, even if the answer is “no,” former employees can be valuable sources for referrals. Simply ask, “Do you know anybody else who might fit our organization who you would recommend to us?”

Whenever another employer calls you for a reference on a former, good employee, you’ve just been tipped off that your ex-employee is looking for work again. It’s the perfect time to call and see if they’d consider coming back.

Employee referrals. The next best source of recruits is referrals from all the good people who work for you now.

Research shows that employee-referred candidates are three times more likely to be a good match for the job because your employees give these candidates much more detailed information about the job requirements and working conditions than you would.

As a result, candidates are only likely to proceed with the selection process if they feel they will be a good fit. Referral candidates are also much less likely to quit or be fired within the first few months.

The key is to continuously let your employees know that you need good people and what you’re looking for.

If you don’t already have one, consider implementing a referral incentive or bonus program for employee referrals.

Lots of employers do this already, but get no bang for their buck because they put the reward in the employee’s paycheck rather than making it a celebration. The other big mistake is to hinge payment of the award to the new hire’s length-of-service (usually after 90 days of employment).

Behavior that you want repeated needs to be rewarded immediately. When you put it out to a future date, you’re also telling everyone you are not sure you made a good hiring decision. Besides, you don’t pay for classified ads and job boards 90-days after they result in a new hire; why on earth would you penalize your people for delivering self-selected, quality applicants?

Whenever an employee gives you a lead, be sure to ask: “Is this a referral or a recommendation?” Add excitement and momentum to your referral program by giving employees a choice between cash and a day off with pay or make it a game (a drawing from a
variety of prizes, a “wheel of fortune” or a departmental contest).

The idea is to keep interest alive by making it fun and a win/win situation for you, your people and your new hires.

Employers-of-choice have these things in common: low employee turnover, higher productivity, higher customer satisfaction ratings, and 35% or more of their new hires come from employee referrals.

By all means, keep using in-store ads and outdoor signage if you must, but do consider adjusting your recruiting strategies and elevating your hiring standards. Don’t hire people just because you need them. Hire the people you want.


How To Find and Recruit the Best Hourly Employees

Most employers are unsuccessful in their efforts to attract quality frontline workers in sufficient numbers and retain them long enough to realize a return on their investment. Because hourly employee turnover rates historically run from 70-120% per year in most industries, it’s easy to understand why their employers have wrongly come to assume that there is nothing they can do to control or mitigate the enormous drain on profitability caused by turnover.

You can reduce turnover, however, by recruiting and hiring the best hourly workers. Finding employees that are a good fit for your company is not impossible; it just requires out-of-the-box thinking. This article describes how to find and recruit the best hourly employees.

The best people don’t just walk in and ask for a job—usually because they’re already working. If you want the best, you have to know what you need, where to look and how to recruit them.

Understanding job seekers

Attracting and retaining the best hourly workers eludes most employers because they don’t fully grasp the demographics of today’s hourly workforce. Many target their recruiting efforts toward young people, thereby overlooking responsible adults who are seeking hourly work. Many recruit for full-time positions when most hourly workers prefer part-time employment.

If the statistics below surprise you, you don’t know today’s hourly labor pool.

• While it’s no wonder that 39% of hourly employees are under 25 years old, did you know that 33% are 25-44 years old and a full 28% are 45 or older?

• More than 80% work within a five-mile radius of their homes.

• More than half (56%) consider their jobs a full-time career.

• The vast majority (74%) prefer to work 30 or fewer hours a week.

• Most apply for three jobs at once, making employer responsiveness
critical in recruiting.

• The most important factors to these job seekers are:

1. Being hired quickly (37%)

2. Pay (33%)

3. Being close to home (17%)

Another major mistake that employers make when they seek hourly employees is that they focus their energies on finding people who are currently unemployed and available to work rather than on top performers who are already working and would be open to a better job.

Recruiting the Best

The goal of recruiting is to attract positive interest in your company in a cost-effective manner. You have to pitch your organization to the right type of applicant. You want to be perceived as the kind of organization that the best people want to work for.

When you invest the time to do it right, the benefits of an ongoing, hourly employee recruiting program include:

• Less downtime when jobs need to be filled;

• Saved time and money;

• Fewer management migraines;

• Lower cost per hire;

• Reduced turnover and increased profitability; and

• Greater cultural diversity.