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Use Your Team for Recruitment: A Retention Strategy

Roles for Team Members in Recruiting Employees

By *Tom O'Leary

Use Your Team for Recruitment: A Retention Strategy

When More Employees Are Involved in Interviews, Coworkers Own the New Colleague

Dean Sanderson

Selecting and retaining great staff is key for business success. Talented people who continue to develop skills and increase their value to your organization and to your customers are your most important resource. Here's how to select and retain these people and create an environment in which they continue to thrive.

The primary elements of any plan to improve the quality of the staff you employ include improving the quality of new hires, identifying and retaining superior employees, and developing employees (especially those with high potential for growth). A performance development approach to providing job expectations and feedback will assist with this process.

At the same time, you need to take a look at underperforming staff. Ask whether each individual is in the wrong job. Determine whether you have provided specific and clear requirements so the individual knows what you expect from him. Make sure you have provided feedback against goals and objectives so the person knows he is not meeting expectations.

Decide if a performance improvement plan will help the individual contribute within your organization. If you have done your part to create an environment in which an individual can succeed - and the person is not succeeding - let the person go. Your organization will be better off for his absence and the individual will have the opportunity to locate a job in which he can pHow to Improve the Quality of Your Workforce

How would you like to increase your pool of candidates for selection, add value to your interview process, heighten employee loyalty, build supportive peer relationships, and improve retention rates simultaneously? By implementing a team recruitment strategy, you will achieve all this and more. There are four steps in the team recruitment process:

  • defining manpower needs,
  • finding and enticing quality candidates to respond to those needs,
  • interviewing and selecting the best applicants, and
  • orienting newly selected employees into the business.

The most effective team-recruitment approach will include employees at all four stages of the process.

Involve Current Employees in Recruiting Employees

While there are myriad methods of involving employees in the recruiting process, this article highlights the three most common strategies: employee as agent, employee as contributing evaluator, and employee as sponsor or peer mentor.

Employee as Agent in Recruiting Employees

Establishing a modest recruitment incentive program will encourage positive public relations and improve employees' perceptions of their relationship with the company. An existing employee adds value to an employee recruiting campaign for several reasons.

  • Because employees have an operational understanding of the various roles and responsibilities of the business, they will be more likely to introduce candidates who match position requirements.

  • Increasing candidate selection will reduce reliance on external agency services and save time and money.

  • Employees will feel valued when a personally recommended candidate is considered.

  • Positive public relations will manifest naturally when employees know that they can benefit from attracting others to the business.

  • Participation will foster a spirit of contribution to the big picture.

Normally, an employee is offered a modest monetary incentive in comparison to external agency fees. Half of the amount is paid after the contract is signed, and the balance is provided upon successful completion of a probationary period (encouraging peer support even after the initial offer is made.)

Employee as Contributing Evaluator in Recruiting Employees

Inviting employees to participate in the interview process as contributing evaluators augments employee perceptions of value and offers front line insights regarding candidate suitability and fit within an existing team structure. While employees may or may not participate actively during the interview session, their post-interview comments to managers can be very helpful in evaluating first round interviewees. This method of inclusion has a wide range of benefits.

  • Gives a voice to the departmental members who will work with the new employee.

  • Increases employees' perception of value through inclusion.

  • Fosters positive working relationships between managers and reporting staff.

  • Serves as a practical training exercise for interviewing skills.

  • Supports a spirit of cooperation across organizational levels.

  • Provides key, front-line, operational insights regarding a candidate's ability to respond to position requirements.

  • Supports ownership and empowerment of departmental activity.

    There is nothing more unsettling for a new employee than to show up on her first day of work with little knowledge about what she is supposed to do, how she will fit in, or who the key people in her team are. The lack of information and support is a major cause of stress for new employees at every level.

    While a good orientation process might help to lessen that stress, employee sponsorship (sometimes referred to as a "buddy system") will prevent it from occurring. Employee sponsorship is normally associated with very large organizations. The U.S. Air Force uses a sponsorship program to help new recruits adapt to both their new position and community. The same approach can, and should be used, for small and medium sized private companies and organizations. A sponsorship program benefits both sponsor and new employee in many ways.

    • Initial perceptions of new employees are improved - taken care of from prior to day one.

    • Sponsor feels valued as a contributing member of the organization.

    • Sponsor is periodically reminded of company policies, goals, mission and vision.

    • Peer relationships based on team support are fostered.

    • Communication skills of employees are exercised and improved.

    • A sense of community is created and nurtured.

    • New employees understand the big picture and how they fit in prior to their first day/

    Components in an Employee Sponsorship Process

    A basic sponsorship program includes a letter and information packet sent from the sponsor to the new employee's home address prior to the first work day. The package might include information relating to:

    • the history of the company;
    • key biographies and roles and organizational chart;
    • position descriptions and how they support business goals;
    • welcome letters from relevant managers including the president;
    • administrative comments and policies;
    • social opportunities described;
    • benefits summary; and
    • area information such as maps, Internet sites, restaurants, clubs, attractions, and so forth.

    The sponsor personalizes the package with a cover letter providing contact information, key dates and times for personnel processing and induction, and general comments.

    How to Select a Sponsor for the New Employee

    Sponsors are usually selected from the new employee's peer group. For example, a new graphic artist would be assigned a fellow graphic artist as a sponsor.

    A different sponsor should be selected for each new recruit, until everyone in the department has had a chance to sponsor. This should be done at every level of the organization. While most of the information in the sponsorship package is canned, it should be personalized to the greatest extent possible for each new employee.

    The introduction of the "buddy," prior to the new employee starting work, will help the new employee feel welcome. The sponsor provides a focal point for the new employee to get help and information. The sponsor provides an early notification system for potential problems and lost opportunities to integrate the new employee effectively.

    Summary of Team Member Roles in Recruiting Employees

    By incorporating these three team-approach recruiting methods, retention efforts will be simultaneously strengthened through the improved perceptions of new recruits and the active participation of existing employees. Fostering a sense of community by inclusion will make recruiting and retention efforts more effective.

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    *Tom O'Leary is a Staff Development Consultant in Ireland with over 15 years of business and staff development experience. His philosophy is simple: "Be efficient with things, effective with people."erform.

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