Our summer Growth Series, “Get Fully Staffed: Finding & Keeping Great People”, took place on June 27th with keynote speaker Eric Chester, with our largest audience ever. Eric has written six books about employee engagement, workplace culture, and the emerging generation and spoke to corporations such as AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Universal, Subway, Allstate, Harley Davidson, and more. His Growth Series presentation gave actionable steps for business owners to walk away and implement immediately, leading them to find and keep the best and the brightest in Hawaii.
If you missed our latest Growth Series, you’re in luck — here are the top 5 actionable tips from the event:
1. There is a Core Values Gap, Not A Skills Gap
Reports of the current marketplace would have us believe there is a skills gap for potential hires, but given the consensus that Eric has seen nationwide and at our Growth Series event, most employers are willing to teach skills but are looking for specific values that are difficult to teach and find.
Eric identified 7 non-negotiable core values that every business owner has and expects of their employees.
- Positive – upbeat, cheerful, happy people
- Reliable – employees who can be trusted to come to work on time
- Professional – employees that can separate their personal from their professional life and come to work dressed appropriately
- Initiative -willing to go above and beyond the minimal requirement and always give your best
- Respect – understand how things are done and be willing to do them that way
- Integrity – employees you can trust with time and money
- Gratitude – employees who are thankful to be at work and show it through impeccable service
Eric summed up these 7 non-negotiable core values into one term: work ethic. After some research, he found that work ethic was one of those things that “you know when you see it and you know when you don’t.” In order to clearly define work ethic, since that term is not in the dictionary, Eric looked at the words separately and created a clear definition:
Work ethic is knowing what to do and doing it.
2. Be the Company Qualified Candidates are Looking For
Employees have high expectations of their workplace. Employees no longer want to work for 50+ years in the same position, never ask for a raise, never missed a day of work, and do the same task day in and day out. The only way to hire and retain highly-qualified employees is to be the company they want to work for.
What are they looking for in a company?
- Compensation – this doesn’t necessarily mean more money. Eric encouraged us to think about compensation as a balance between time and money. Get creative when thinking about compensation. Here are a few suggestions from Eric:
- A number of remote work days per week/month
- 4 day work weeks
- 10% pay increase on days employees clock in early
- Student loan incentives
- Atmosphere – studies show that when people work with friends and people they enjoy, they have increased productivity, retention, and job satisfaction. Having a welcoming and team-focused atmosphere is very high on employees list of desires from a company. Some creative ways to create a fun work atmosphere:
- Holiday parties
- Recreational activities like a- ropes course, softball games, or bowling league
- Provided lunches
- Autonomy – high-quality employees appreciate full autonomy in their jobs. When employees are given autonomy in the workplace, they are more engaged, care more about the outcome of their work, and perform better overall. Micromanaging is the killer of autonomy.
- Growth – professional development is crucial to this generation of employees. They are planning for the future, and they want to know that their employers are investing in their growth. Be willing to teach your employees new skills and invest in their future.
- Communication – does your company share information on a “need to know basis”? Communication must be a two-way street. Feel free to share your goals and strategy plans with all employees, and encourage every employee to share with their managers and bosses. Effective communication goes from the ‘top to bottom’ and ‘bottom to top’.
- Recognition – acknowledgment for a job well-done is powerful and important for this generation. Eric noted that an annual performance review is not a sufficient way to recognize quality work or to correct errors. Provide quick and continuous feedback and recognition in order to engage your employees.
Simply put, employee wants + employer wants = engagement. When both employee and employer’s needs are met, you can have an incredible workplace atmosphere that nurtures employees and fosters genuine work ethic.
3. Fully Staffed: Clever Recruiting Ideas
We spent a few minutes listening to some of the most creative ways other companies have recruited a talented workforce. The answers varied wildly, but were applicable to every business in the room! Some of the ideas we heard were:
- Use social media to promote job fairs
- Utilize your network
- Meet potential candidates where they are
- Ask questions that allows the interviewee to showcase their core values
- Sponsor school events and functions — this is a great long term strategy
- Make your onboarding process easy — this is helpful for front-line jobs that don’t require technical skills
Eric asked us to answer each of these questions:
- What is the cleverest thing you’ve done to recruit someone in your company?
- What is your best interview question?
- What is unique about your company’s onboarding strategy?
- What is different about your company’s culture compared to your closest competitor?
4. Stop Fishing, Start Hunting
When you know exactly what it is you’re looking for it’s much easier to find. To find the perfect candidates you must get very specific about who it is you’re looking for. Eric used the analogy of a fisher catching all kinds of things with a wide net, and a hunter working tirelessly to catch the one perfect elk. The hunter was clear in what he wanted, he prepared every morning for the hunt, he studied the animal closely and knew his behaviors. This allowed the hunter to catch his one perfect elk, while the fisherman sifts through a net of trash and rubble. How can you begin to hunt your perfect candidate?
- Identify character traits for each position needed
- Know specifically what you’re looking for
- Use current employees as a baseline for research—where do they live, shop, eat, what are their hobbies, where did they go to school
- Let everyone know who you are looking for—share with community and customers the skills and core values you’re looking for
Ways to Hunt Your Workforce
- Offer an employee referral program to only your top performing employees.
- Reach out to high schools and colleges. Be willing to serve the students, teachers, and community. Building these relationships can be a great source for high-quality candidates.
- Encourage employees to brag about your company on social media. Offer incentives for videos made or posts publish that exhibit your amazing company culture and atmosphere.
- Find your competition’s high-quality employees and acknowledge their talent and skill. Ask if they have any friends that are just like themselves that are looking for a new position. Eric advises against poaching candidates, but encourages informing potential candidates of your needs and allowing them to choose your company on their own.
- Always be looking to hire and upgrade your staff.
5. Acknowledge What is Right
Recognition and acknowledgment at work is a huge factor of employee engagement, in fact a recent GlobeForce study found that acknowledgement “made 86 percent of employees prouder and happier at work, and 85 percent more satisfied with their job,” which leads to higher engagement and employee retention.
5 “P”s of Acknowledgment
- Personal – company wide congratulations or praise isn’t always the most effective form of acknowledgement. Also think about making it personal and specific to the person you’re wanting to praise, gift, or reward.
- Proportional – make the gifts, praises, and rewards proportional to the work done.
- Public – recognize your people as publicly as you possibly can.
- Pertiant – recognize the things that are truly important to you and your company.
- Prompt – recognition and acknowledgment should be done as quickly as possible.