Q1 2021

Finding and Keeping Your Best Employees

By John Paul Roggenkamp

To help you make the most of 2021, DLI reached out to leading Human Resources professionals for insight into how to recognize, recruit, and retain great workers. We also asked about bothersome or unproductive individuals’ red flags. Keep reading for quotes from Kendra Hoffman, HR Project Manager at Puzzle PR, and Sandy Seay (via Kylie Luff) at Seay Management Consultants.

How do you find and keep the best employees?

“There are many things that go into both finding the best talent and then, once you’ve found them, being able to keep them,” said Hoffman. “Ultimately you need to determine what level of employee you need, based on their background, skills, education, and the position you are hiring for. On top of pay, benefits, and the job itself, employees want to feel valued and respected, to feel that they matter and are making a difference in the work that they are doing.”

“At Seay Management we understand the importance of communication,” said Luff, “whether that’s regular feedback (not only negative but positive feedback and praise as well), employee recognition programs, or thorough and consistent performance reviews.”


How can you screen during interviews?

“We recommend multiple interviews or having a few members of the management team participate in the interview process,” said Luff. “Make sure your interview questions are thorough and relevant to the specific position, and make sure you have the same pre-hire process for all applicants.”

“Foremost, remember to steer clear of the questions that you can’t ask, and those are any EEO questions such as, ‘How old are you?’, ‘Do you have any children?’, ‘What is your race?’ Then you want to make sure you get to know the candidate as much as you can based on how they will do in the position,” said Hoffman. “This may be asking about their background such as past experience, skills, education, etc. You’ll also need to get a feel for how they will fit into your current culture and team, and that is where behavioral-based questions are a good fit.”


How can you determine who is meeting production standards?

“Metrics! If you haven’t researched different ways to evaluate the output of your employees based on metrics that you have developed, I would highly encourage this,” said Hoffman. “Metrics are ultimately the facts you use to determine many future items such as output for an hour, day, week, etc. Metrics can then be tied into performance reviews and even compensation.” As for underperformers hiding their lack of productivity, Hoffman continued, “I always say, “They can usually only hide it for so long,” and that is why I highly encourage there to be metrics that are developed, as these can be your baseline towards many other items. If you have underperformers on your team, they can bring down the overall morale and lead to employee relation issues if their deficiencies are not addressed.”


How important is training?

“A thorough training program is critical for a new hire’s success in any company,” said Luff. “Training should be consistent and ongoing for at least the first 90 days of employment. We also believe that any opportunity for continued education that the employer is able to sponsor or offer is highly beneficial for both employee morale and reducing turnover.”

“Training is 100% necessary,” said Hoffman. “First, training is needed to ensure that your employees are safe. Employees who feel they are not properly trained will also bring down productivity and morale; they have the right to complain to OSHA if they feel they are in any unsafe situation due to lack of proper training. You should have an orientation developed for all new hires. This should start on their first day, and employees can be in their orientation period for as long as needed, but it is commonly seen as 90 days. During this period you should also be evaluating where they are at throughout their training process to make sure they are in line with what your expectations are, and if they are not, it is best to address it now versus later on.”


How do you identify employees who are promotable to management positions?

Try to target “individuals who perform their job successfully,” said Luff. “These individuals should also demonstrate the ability to pick up new skills and new responsibilities, and complete these successfully. Also, employees who are promotable have to be able to get along with their co-workers and managers. Choose employees who show eagerness for feedback and for more responsibility.”

“The employees who are going to someday be great leaders usually start to rise to the top naturally, but they need guidance along the way,” said Hoffman. “First, you want to tell them that you see leadership skills within them and praise them for that, as they are usually the employees that help with company culture, morale, and productivity. They’re usually your star employees. Have a discussion with them about what their goals are, as not everyone who has the leadership mentality wants to lead, so make sure that this is discussed. From there, develop the next steps: additional education, more experience, hitting a goal, etc. If you fail to take any of these steps the employee might not see any career potential or growth within your company and they may leave and find an employer who has that growth for them. Transparency and guidance are key!”


How do you prevent good employees from leaving for a higher-paying job?

“To start, it is with how they feel respected, led, and encouraged by not only their direct manager but their whole leadership team,” said Hoffman. “Do you offer health insurance, 401K, education plans, paid time off? All of these items go into what makes an employee feel if they want to look for employment elsewhere.”


Hopefully, these insights will help you optimize your staffing decisions and find the right person for each job. For more information and resources, please visit us at www.DLIonline.org or call us toll-free at 1 (800) 638-2627.

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