Employee retention relies on investment in hiring process

March 15, 2008

Set aside thoughts of employee retention for a moment. Essentially, what happens before an employee is ever hired makes all the difference in whether that employee can be retained for the long haul.

Tyler, TX-Set aside thoughts of employee retention for a moment. Essentially, what happens before an employee is ever hired makes all the difference in whether that employee can be retained for the long haul. Preparation is critical.

That's the message Denise Lind of Heaton Eye Associates in Tyler, TX, imparted during her presentation, "Hiring and retaining good staff: Is there an easy button?" Her presentation was sprinkled with nuggets of advice concerning hiring, maintaining employee satisfaction and efficiency, and building strong communications.

Lind said the bottom line is that if practices do their homework before starting to hire, logic would follow that there would be less work once you hire someone. Her self-proclaimed famous saying goes like this: "You can hire easy and manage hard, or hire hard and manage easy."

Consider first the importance of job descriptions, the foundation for a promising hire.

"Your job is to find the best fit," Lind explained. "You're not judging the person; you're judging whether his or her personality set will work in your office."

Next are interviewing skills. That's an area practices often don't pay close enough attention to, according to Lind. When interviewing:

"Never lower your standards to fill a position," she said.

When drawing up job descriptions, consider two critical items: primary job requirements and physical requirements.

Because many people have health issues, Lind advises having a copy of the physical demands of the position ready for the interview.

Likewise, the job requirements must be made known prior to the interview. Specify your minimum requirements; preferred requirements to hire; and requirements that one must obtain. Also note the experience you are seeking, as well as specialized training, and computer skills.

Other key items on every job description: general office maintenance, personal growth and development, expected to attend meetings and training, guest and employee relations, and customer service.

"There's a lot more to doing your job than doing your job. Safety, attendance, reliability, and punctuality all play into it," she said.

Establish pay grades and let potential candidates know upfront. "Also, before a candidate accepts, let him or her know you don't give pay or annual merit increases until employees have been there for a specified amount of time (1 year at her practice)", Lind said. "I want you to come into the position happy with the pay you're going to receive and the position I've hired you for."

Where do you find your candidates? Perhaps you can start with an internal referral program. As Lind noted, "Typically your really good people know some people they've worked with who would make a good fit. You can offer financial incentives for the recommendation."

Another place to find good candidates for some employers is the newspaper. Just be specific in what you want and don't want. For example, no phone calls please.

The newspaper ad enables Lind to conduct phone interviews to screen the first round of candidates. "If they do not do well on a phone interview, they're done," she said.