February is a great month. It’s the shortest month of the year, it’s the gateway to Spring, and it’s the month of love. Valentine’s Day is February 14th, so there will be chocolates, gifts, flowers and other special romantic deliveries made to the office. As long as it doesn’t become too much of a distraction, it’s fine–just soak it up. In fact, it’s rather inspiring. You should want your office spaces to be full of love and happiness. To take it one step further, what if you were in love with your employees?
We’re not talking romantic entanglements here, just a little of that warm fuzzy feeling. But how do you fall in love with your employees today, with engagement at an all-time low? It’s reported that employee disengagement is anywhere from 60% to as high as 70%. Add in the fact that more than 70% of current employees are looking for new jobs. A recent article from SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) states, “Results from a January 2014 survey show that more than one-third of HR professionals will likely seek new jobs in the near future.” The same report says that of the 33% of HR professionals seeking new jobs, 94% will remain in the HR profession. This means they love the job, but not the boss or the workplace. So how can we fall in love with each other again?
I have an answer. It goes back to your recruiting and hiring processes. Hiring decisions are critical, and not only because of the cost and investment involved. The right hire can be a building block to organizational success, but a bad hire can be a stumbling block that leads to unhappiness and low morale, which can spread to other staff members. Most companies do not see a return on hiring investment until 3 to 6 months have passed. For executive positions, it can take a year a more before the company reaps any benefits. That’s a lot to consider. I remember reading Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, in which he says that “getting the right people on the bus” is vital to organizational success. Whether you’re a fan of his or not, many recent findings agree that making the right hiring decision is hugely important. You can’t have a love-fest at work if you don’t have a lovable staff.
One way to ensure that your employees show and feel the love within your company’s culture is to hire for “fit.” This doesn’t meaning hiring only physically fit individuals—it means selecting the candidates who best fit in with the culture and brand of your company. Filling positions based on fit means you must first identify your core/key competencies, then see if they meet them. Online assessments can help you in this process, but they should be customized so that you can create the kind of screenings, interview questions, and recruiting programs that mirror the values that are most important to your business and its culture. A great case study in hiring for fit is Zappos!. They even pay employees who don’t fit in with their company culture $2000 to leave after the initial training program.
By focusing on your core values and adding relevant screening assessments to your recruiting process, you’ll be able to hire only those individuals who share those values. Then, once you hire them, if you woo them with onboarding (orientation) programs, and compensation, benefits, training, and workforce development policies that value them for their individual contributions, you’ll have happy, engaged employees who’ll be so much easier to fall in love with.
As in personal relationships, most employees just want to know that their employer has their well-being in mind and will listen their concerns, comments, and requests, and treat them fairly. And when you set the tone for a happy partnership, it’ll be so much easier for them to love and appreciate working for your company in turn.
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