Attracting, hiring, and retaining high-level, quality employees is one of the most challenging jobs presented to human resources professionals today. In the workplace, retention rates are averaging about four years among employees across the board, and are even lower for millennial employees. Only about one-third of employees are engaged at work. And, close to three-fourths of CEOs are concerned about the availability of critical skills in the marketplace.
So, given these challenges, how do you attract superstar candidates to your organization? You can’t sit idly and expect A-players to come knocking on your door. Companies need to strategically plan their employee recruiting process as a vital component of their organization’s success. Recruiting shouldn't be left to HR and talent anymore - this is a collaborative task, involving your entire team.
One way to improve recruiting is to involve your employees in every phase of the recruitment process. While not a guarantee, it will increase the odds of attracting top-tier candidates.
"Hire only 'A' people, and they'll hire other 'A' people."
Referred candidates are typically higher quality candidates. They’ve been pre-screened by the employee that refers them since the employee understands what the company is looking for in an applicant. Additionally, if one of your top performers referred this candidate, there’s a good chance this referral is also a top performer. And, as a bonus, referred candidates tend to stay longer at the job than other candidates. Hello, increased retention rates.
According to Ram Shriram, an early investor in Google, his advice is, “Hire only ‘A’ people, and they’ll hire other ‘A’ people.” The same goes for recruiting. Create an environment where employees want to refer outstanding friends and acquaintances to the company by treating your employees right and having an attractive culture.
Creating an employee referral program
Make sure your employees understand the purpose of your employee referral program. Encourage them to feel ownership in the company’s growth. Make sure they know the rules of the program. And, apply the rules consistently. Don’t enforce specific rules for Alice and then apply no rules to Tom. That’s one way to ruin your referral program in about 5 minutes.
Make sure that your incentive program doesn’t include just one reward once the candidate is hired. The hiring process can take several weeks. Employees can become disenchanted with the program if they don’t receive any acknowledgment for their referral until the newly hired employee has been on-boarded. Get creative with rewards. Give a more significant reward once the candidate becomes an employee. But, how about provide smaller prizes along the recruiting process way? Maybe some company bling? The CEO’s parking spot for a week? A Friday to work at home? A day at the spa? A wine tasting? Some professional development?
Ask your employees what motivates them. What interests them? You may be surprised. The more you connect with your employees, the more your employees will want to refer.
Pro tip: Inherent biases can crop up in an employee referral program. For example, when people refer people like them although you may get hard workers, you may not get diversity. You may get some employees that want to refer just for the bling. Thus, you may have to sort through some not-so-top-tier referrals, which defeats the purpose of the program. Finally, your referral program may be so convoluted that no employee refers.
One way to combat these potential negatives is to implement a referral program that allows you to locate best-fit, top talent through your employees’ social media networks. It’s easy. Using powerful search capabilities, your employees send HR, pre-approved messages to high-quality, passive candidates. And better yet, you gain access to a 10x talent pool! Still, give the bling. But eliminate the inherent bias.
Using your employees during the interview phase
Hiring managers and human resources professionals everywhere may wince at this one. After all, most hiring managers and HR professionals have had some training in interview techniques. What questions to ask. What not to ask. Interview trends. The power of silence. What a debacle if the candidate was turned over to the employees for an interview!
Don't freak out yet. Depending on your organization, your size, your industry, and your goals, you may very well want some of your employees to sit in on an interview. You might like the employees in the department for the position opening to interview the candidate. It doesn’t have to be formal. It can be more of a meet-and-greet. But, it gives the candidate a chance to meet the employees that he or she may be working with if hired.
Additionally, it's a good idea to have your employees to meet with the candidate more casually after the first interview. Your employees can take the candidate for a tour of the offices, for example. This gives the candidate an opportunity to see the offices and the culture. Your employees and the candidate can ask and answer questions, getting to know each other. Through this interaction, both your employees and the candidate will have a better idea if this job opening and your company are a good fit for the candidate.
You should request feedback from your employees after this casual interaction with the candidate to determine if a second interview is warranted. Involving your employees during the interview phase not only makes them feel valued, but also gives you critical insight into the candidate that you might not otherwise have obtained.
For the candidate, interacting with the employees gives him or her more insight into the company, future co-workers, and culture. These interactions will allow the candidate to make a more informed decision about moving ahead in the recruiting process with your organization. After all, it’s a two-way street.
Involving your employees in the decision-making process
Some employers may object to this idea on the basis that too many opinions, or too much feedback, may slow down the decision-making process. Getting everyone to agree on a candidate can seem close to impossible. Or, employees may think that they have more say than they actually do—after all, we’re making this decision as a team, right?
The benefits of having your employees voice their opinions during the decision-making phase, however, outweigh the hypothetical harm. For example, if you have integrated your employees in the rest of the recruiting process, your employees have developed a unique understanding of the personality, traits, and skills of the candidate. And, since your employees asked different questions of the candidate, and had separate conversations with them, the information they've gathered on the candidate is distinctive as well.
Gathering differing opinions doesn’t detract from the candidate’s success; it adds to the candidate’s potential for success. Having different conversations, gathering different information, and forming diverse opinions gives the company a well-rounded view of the candidate. It also gives you a better idea of whether or not they’re a right fit for the position and the culture.
After all, a company is only as good as its employees.
That’s why it’s critical that the recruitment process is part of the company’ broader business strategy. Like your general business strategy, the recruitment process requires planning and strategy. Recruiting successful, top-notch employees can lead to further growth and increased profits. However, if the recruiting process is poorly designed, it can lead to accelerated turn over, poor performances, mistakes, and a litany of other issues.
Companies need to focus on recruiting planning and strategy to reflect the workplace of today. Employee recruiting is a critical component of the broader business strategy and must involve collaborative, multi-tiered efforts, involving executives, managers, and employees. By engaging your employees in every phase of the recruitment process, you’ll start attracting top-tier candidates, and drastically improve your retention rates. Then, watch your growth and profits take-off