The buzz on HR blogs, studies, and surveys revolves around maintaining necessary levels of staffing for 2015. An improved economy brings a more desirable job market. With unemployment hovering near 6%, many people who settled for lower paying jobs want more. And if they can’t find it at their current place of employment they’ll look elsewhere. But it’s not only about money. Retention begins by recruiting the best person for the job and then offering them reasons to stay.

Recruiting

Hire for Character – I was chatting with a young manager who expressed her disappointment in a new hire. The new employee didn’t have a strong work ethic. She said, “I guess we can’t all hire for character.” I told  her I’d made hundreds of mistakes attempting to hire for character and tried to learn from each, but what I relished was when I uncovered questionable character traits in an interview. For example, the lady that told me when asked what upset her at work, “Working with minorities.” Or the interviewee when asked what they liked or disliked at work rambled on about everything they hated. I dodged bullets both times.

Look for cultural fit – Recently a friend took a position as a copywriter. He was assigned an office that fit his needs. It was quiet; a good place to write. Only after he accepted the position and began work did he discover there was no internet in his office. The only internet was in a shared space. Be up front and open about your culture and management structure. For example, someone used to an ad-hoc environment may not be a good fit for strict bureaucracy.

Offer Training – When training is offered the number of qualified candidates expands allowing consideration for hiring a good fit over someone who may not fit but has the skills.

Complete background checks – Background, reference, and sometimes credit checks may reveal more about character and cultural fit than any interview question.

Be a 21st Century recruiter – Post jobs on social media, on your website, and online job boards.

Be transparent – Don’t hide anything about the job. There is no such thing as a perfect job so share the pitfalls in the interview. Wouldn’t you rather know if the position is a fit before the job is offered?

Retention 

Show appreciation– The second week of January our December employee of the month asked me about his certificate. It was on my to-do list. He had received a $50.00 gift card but wanted the certificate, it was recognition. He had a place on a wall at home for it. Don’t ignore the importance of recognition to retention. He received his certificate that day.

Give responsibility – Most people want to feel they matter, that they’re important, and one of the best ways to achieve this is share responsibility. Ask others for their opinions and advice—give them a voice and assign tasks.

Offer flexibility – If you can fit work schedules to lifestyles you’ll retain a happier and more motivated workforce. Allowing team members the time to attend school, get the kids ready in the morning, or leave early when the work is done, can go a long way.

Share a vision – Part of that is a vision for the organization—people want to know what they do matters. And part of it is sharing a vision for the individual employee’s future. What do they want and how can you help them get there.

Expand benefits – Yes, health and retirement benefits are critical to retention, but people are looking for more. Wellness programs, outside training, and product discounts are all sought after benefits.

Fit the Job to the team – Understanding and utilizing the talents available can make for a more productive and satisfied workforce. Don’t try to force round pegs in square holes.

Are you Prepared to Face the Challenge?

For 2015, and beyond, recruiting and retaining the best talent will be a challenge. The ability to hire and keep the best employees will be, for a large part, the difference between successful and struggling operations. The key is to hire for the best fit and offer what makes employees happy.  Happy team members aren’t as likely to be looking for a new position.