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When to Start Employee Retention

Employee Retention Starts at the First Interview


Business people talking face to face in lobby
Martin Barraud/ OJO Images/ Getty Images

Every employee you bring into your organization is an investment in the future. If you want to ensure you are making the best investments, the kind that will have long-term potential, you need to start with focused hiring of employees who can match your core company values and grow within their positions.

A little extra effort and consideration expended during the recruitment process can go a long way in forging lasting employment relationships.

Matching Employee Ideals with the Corporate Mission

The latest crop of employees entering the workforce is driven primarily by one thing: passion. They want to feel good about what they are doing and to be committed to a goal they can get excited about.

They also want to feel as though their voices are being heard in the path to achieving that goal. Of course, this isn’t unique to millennials – all workers tend to perform better in environments where they care about the end result.

This is what makes it so important to hire employees who can get behind your corporate mission. It also makes discussing that mission, as well as your company’s values, in interviews a good use of time.

What are you hoping to achieve as an organization, and how could this new hire help you to get there? Would he or she fit in with the corporate culture? And could the job in question spark that passion which could fuel long-term employment?

Southwest Airlines is a perfect example of this strategy. The company frequently ranks among Fortune Magazine’s Best Companies to Work For, and continues to thrive in an economy where other airlines are struggling – partially because of its dedication to hiring only employees who can embrace its core company values of providing superior customer service.

Gauging a candidate’s ability to get behind your corporate mission can mean the difference between an employee who lasts six months or six years.

Hiring Based on Potential

A resume doesn’t always indicate everything a prospective employee is capable of, and even employees who meet every one of your requirements on paper may not always be the best fit for the job at hand.

As a hiring manager, you know and understand the intrinsic qualities and values that are required for success at a specific position within your organization.

It is critical to spend some time during the interview process on understanding whether the employee will naturally accept the company values as their own, possibly because there is already a big overlap with their personal values.

But besides that, there is a scope of questions that can help with retention upfront. Will the potential employee enjoy what they do every day? Will it get boring/overwhelming/tiring or problematic in any other way? Are they going to like their co-workers?

Is the growth path and pace you are envisioning for this position in line with their expectations? All of this information is rarely visible from a resume, and requires significant time and effort to uncover. But this upfront investment makes retention much easier and more effective.

Google is frequently lauded for its hiring practices, and a quick visit to the company's website reveals that it whole-heartedly embraces the idea of hiring based on potential rather than resume accomplishments. “We’re less concerned about grades and transcripts,” Google reports, “and more interested in how you think.”

An employee’s aptitude for success within a certain position and company can play a large role in that person’s desire to stick around. Sometimes, it is about hiring for potential rather than a line-by-line match of the job requirements.

Providing Opportunities for Growth

There is a certain loyalty that is forged when employers give an employee an opportunity they feel is above their current level. Allowing them to take a step up from their current position shows that you recognize the potential they hold, and that you are willing to invest in their growth in the future. Also, employees who grow and learn new things never get bored.

This sets the stage for long-term retention. You are showing your employees right from the start that you are a company that is committed to providing opportunities for growth and success throughout your organization.

When you can do this by hiring from within, as Hewlett-Packard and many other large and successful organizations strive to do, you go one step further in proving your commitment to the success of your employees. But even when you have to hire from outside, company loyalty is something that you cultivate from that initial offer of employment.

Of course, this doesn’t mean hiring employees who aren’t yet capable of doing the job. But it does mean recognizing their potential and extending opportunities to those candidates who seem most capable of growing within your corporate structure.

Relationships are a two-way street, after all, and showing your employees that you have faith in them will go a long way in encouraging their loyalty to you – and in encouraging them to learn and grow within their position.


With the influx of Generation Y into the workforce, a group that has become known for frequent job changes, many employers have seen an uptick in turnover. Hiring and training for the same jobs over and over again is a big drain on energy, focus, and cohesion of teams – and will ultimately affect a corporation’s bottom line, making employee retention critical for success.

Managers often look at employee retention as a series of perks and rewards. Yet, if you are an employer who has just started thinking about strategies for retaining your existing employees, you are probably already too late to the game.

That’s because truly effective retention strategies begin, and often end, with the hiring process. Cultivating an employee relationship built to endure the test of time means hiring employees who are motivated by your company’s mission and equipped with the intrinsic qualities and skills to succeed and grow at your organization.

More about Recruiting Employees

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