Employee Retention 101 …

Blog Art 1   Recruiters essentially ask potential candidates basic, yet structured questions and then listen very carefully to their answers. If part of that conversation reveals that somebody is not jazzed about what they are currently doing or they disclose that they don’t care for who they are working with/for, presenting an alternate opportunity might be enough to get them to seriously consider a move. Admittedly, my style is to ask them directly if they’ve tried to work things out where they are and much of the time I successfully get them to remedy things on their own. I would rather somebody stay where they are if they can work it out and find enjoyment, but I am not sure why I’m the one encouraging them to take this step. Why this is not part of the culture where they are the amazes me.

With approximately 20 years of technical recruiting under my belt, I’ve come to the conclusion that employee retention practices are likely part of some seminar handout gathering dust versus part of a company’s active employee advocacy/retention program, culture or corporate vision. Regardless, this blog entry is not intended to be a swipe at HR or management – but if you think about it, a recruiter’s perspective on the topic should be of interest to them because we are often the only ones talking to their employees in this way. Being an ex-hiring manager myself, I would have loved a recruiter’s perspective on the topic when retention was my responsibility. 

In reality, the vast majority of technical professionals I end up placing are already employed, and for a number of reasons (often having nothing to do with compensation) they are open to something else because ultimately there is something they are not content with or some concern they have is not being addressed by their boss and/or HR – so they’re open to finding satisfaction someplace else. In the end you may not be able to completely satisfy any given employee, or even know that they are not satisfied, but the solution to retention is not rocket science at all.

TIP – Prior to even pulling the trigger on a new hire, I’m encouraging that the person in charge of the hiring/interviewing process assure that all interviewers involved cover the question of “why are you specifically interested in our company?” If candidates are currently employed ask them “specifically why are you currently evaluating other opportunities if you already have a job?” As a matter of fact, the latter is the first question I ask any currently employed person that I’m courting. The key is to compare notes in your post interview debrief and look for consistency (or inconsistencies) in their responses with the other interviewers who met the same candidate. Additionally, if a generic answer is provided, be bold and drill down until you reach something concrete. My advice is to continually unpeel that onion by asking them to expand. This is absolutely the time to probe for intent so it doesn’t bite you after you hire them.

TAKE AWAY – My suggestion is very simple  and is based on what I personally do after making a placement. To make sure that each and every candidate that I place in a new position is happy, content and likely to stay put I ask them how things are going on a regular basis and act to remedy if I discover that they are not thrilled. Here is what I do post- placement for the first 180 days of employment … and suggest you do the same.

  • At the end of day 1 one: I chime in with “how did everything go today at your new home?”
  • At the end of week one:  “How did your first week go and do you have any concerns or do you need anything?”
  • 30 days / 60 / 90 /120 / 180: Ditto

This may not seem like rocket science, but I’ll bet it’s something that most employers are not executing in a structured and organized fashion and it’s crazy as it does not cost a dime.