Recruitment: Number Two Priority

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The financial textbooks refer to employees as human capital. The management textbooks label employees ''human resources.'' However, the most successful companies treat employees as human beings. When revered and treated with respect, great people will take a company to the highest levels of success.

As a member of corporate America, you hear it all the time: “Recruitment is our number one priority!” While continual recruitment of talent should be a top priority—even when the company doesn’t have immediate openings—it should still be considered priority number two. At the top of the list should be employee retention because while good people are hard to find, great people are much harder to replace.

The short version of your company’s leadership philosophy should consist of two words…“Hire right.” When management hires the right people, great results follow. Few leadership techniques will ever have a lasting impact on the wrong hire. When you think about your most successful, most productive, and most enjoyable years in business, they tend to center on the years you surrounded yourself with the best people. And more often than not, it was rarely anything you did to make them great, except invite them to be part of your team.

So, how do you keep your best and brightest from crossing the street and taking the next best offer? Hiring is only the first step. From there, you need to train, coach, engage, support, encourage, recognize, reward, promote, and compensate them in ways that will exceed their expectations. Contrary to managers’ perceptions, studies show that money is not the highest motivator in retaining employees, especially in the millennial generation (20 somethings), which places greater importance on lifestyle and professional challenges.

As a result, management can no longer live by the former golden rule “Treat people the way that you want to be treated.” A baby boomer’s motivations may be dramatically different than those of a 25-year-old millennial. Therefore, the golden rule is evolving to “Treat people the way that they want to be treated.”

In a leadership role, it’s vital to understand the unique wants, needs, desires, and goals of each staff member and make sure your organization becomes a place where each can be realized. You may have superstar employees who, if left the company, could significantly impact your profitability. Provide these individuals with golden handcuffs in the form of increased salaries, bonuses, or other monetary and non-monetary incentives so they wouldn’t consider working anywhere else. While initially this may not seem entirely fair, assets to the company should be treated as such; even professional sports franchises pay their athletes proportionally to their values to their organizations.

As the saying goes, “People don’t care what you know until they know you care.” Get to know your employees and make true investments in their lives and well-beings. As a manger, there are many small yet powerful adjustments you can make to attract, hire, and retain the best and the brightest.

1. The Power of MWBA

Get out from behind the desk and practice “Management By Walking Around” (MBWA). There is nothing more insightful than spending time in the bullpen, getting to know your employees, and asking questions in an informal setting. MBWA breaks down bureaucratic boundaries and shows that you are accessible, approachable, and real.

2. The Power of Handwritten Notes

Send handwritten notes congratulating employees on recent successes and let them know, as their leader, that you appreciate their hard work—budget permitting, include gift certificates to their favorite stores or restaurants.

For married employees, send handwritten thank-you notes to their spouses recognizing the achievements of your employees and acknowledging the time they spend away from their families—budget permitting, include spa certificates, mall certificates, or other token gifts.

For younger employees who are new to the workforce, send notes to their parents, bragging about their young adults’ successes and complimenting them on raising great people.

3. The Power of Random Acts of Kindness

Practice random acts of kindness by freely delivering movie tickets, dinner certificates, gift cards, and other tokens of appreciation to employees who exemplify best practices. This could be done informally or through a program entitled “Catch Me At My Best,” where coworkers or customers are encouraged to share great experiences.

4. The Power of Attractive Benefits

Time off with family and friends can go a long way in creating loyal fans, so offer paid days off to each employee for his or her birthday. Also, provide better monetary and non-monetary benefits than those inside and outside your industry. Paying a little more in health insurance, providing profit sharing, or contributing to an IRA will be more than made up by the reduced the cost of attrition…not to mention improving overall employee satisfaction.

5. The Power of Recognition and Communication

Have peer-voted employee-of-the-month awards branded to your company with personalized certificates, including traveling trophies/banners and a $100 VISA certificate to the monthly winner. Have monthly staff meetings to recognize successes, including awarding the employee of the month and publicly reading all the reasons for his or her nomination. In addition, use these monthly staff meetings to uncover internal and external areas of improvement and set up action committees to develop solutions (inviting those most vocal to take leadership positions).

6. The Power of Living Your Own Culture

People are energized by organizational synergies and feeling part of something greater than their own contributions. Living the company culture can be as easy as renaming your associates. Disney has castmates; Starbucks has partners; Owens and Minor has teammates; but most importantly, employees and leaders alike need to live the culture you create. Calling your associates “partners” but treating them like servants will do more harm than good.

7. The Power of Thank You

Use the magic words, “thank you,” often. People appreciate feeling appreciated. Stated with true sincerity, you will receive the greatest return on investment of anything else you can do.

Depending on the industry and the position, studies show that the cost of employee attrition—which includes direct and indirect costs associated with rehiring and retraining—could climb upward into tens of thousands of dollars and could increase to much more when factoring in the opportunity costs and lost revenue. The goal is to create raving fans who have loyalty beyond reason. It’s very difficult for other employers to lure away an individual who has an “I-love-my-job” attitude. That is the bottom line.

About the Author

Michael Guld is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant who built a successful career in the broadcast industry—creating a radio group from the bottom up—and since has come to apply the same principles to business development training. His expertise lies in increasing sales performance, marketing exposure, employee productivity, and creating a world-class service experience. Michael is the president of The Guld Resource Group and author of The Million Dollar Media Rep: How to Become a Television and Radio Sales Superstar. Please contact Michael at (804) 360-3122 or visit
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