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Just Another Warm Body: Hiring advice for Leaders

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

"I will take anyone with a pulse", is the answer I got yesterday from a client during a staffing strategy consultation when I asked what his ideal candidate looks like. If only I had a nickel for every time I heard that from a desperate hiring manager. I understand the frustration all too well, however it is critical to recognize the importance of hiring well, and retaining well, to minimize the risk of additional turn-over costs.

Studies that I have reviewed, including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Customized Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Reports and the Center for American Progress (CAP) have suggested that an employer can expect a minimum cost of 12+% of the position's annual salary to replace an employee. I have done the math on multiple occasions and this figure has held pretty true with my results ranging between 15% - 22%. I don't know about you but I can think of a lot of other ways to spend $7000 instead of filling a $30K/year position.

To hire well, employers need to find qualified applicants and be prepared to offer an attractive employment package. With a consistently low unemployment rate in many parts of the country, creativity is necessary in order to stand out from all of the other companies competing for qualified job seekers. New method, incentives, and benefits may be needed. Consider sign-on bonuses, employee referral bonuses, 'headhunting' targeted individuals, partnerships with your local educational institutes, and offering apprenticeships or internships. Review your benefits to assure they are appealing to your valued workforce. Depending on the generational dynamics of your team, if you want to keep them working for you, make sure that your dollars spent on benefits matches what they value most.

After attracting applicants, take the selection process seriously and do it right. Drill down the applications to interview those that have the skills, knowledge and abilities (SKA's) that you require for the position. Involve a well trained hiring team, ask proper questions, demonstrate active listening skills, document accordingly, and trust your gut. Red flags can be camouflaged by impatient decision-making.

And finally, when you have a workforce complete with qualified and valuable employees, take the time, effort, and finances to ensure they want to stay. This may take the review and revision of your benefits, corporate culture, leadership commitment, and workforce development. Retaining great employees is also a huge factor in attracting new great employees.

The bottom line is, spending money now to find and keep the right employees can save your company tons of money down the road. Now go forth and hire those great, talented, and qualified warm bodies with pulses, and keep them.

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