How do I go about attracting, finding, training and most of all being able to retain the right employees?

Answer:   In general, there are no short cuts to recruiting, hiring and retaining good employees, and the process takes much more effort in low wage industries. These workers will quit any time a better opportunity comes along and, depending on the size of your workforce, you may spend as much or more effort recruiting new employees as you do looking for new clients. Recruits for both hourly and management positions can be found using various techniques—newspapers, job fairs, your own business website, national employment job websites, social or networking websites, referrals from current employees for example—but management employees are often groomed from within the ranks of a business’s hourly employees.

While a time consuming process, attracting and hiring good employees can be a major factor in a company being good, being great or just being there (surviving). Hiring the wrong employee can sometimes be devastating from lawsuits, to time wasted, or to losing customers, so it is advisable to take proactive steps and develop effective recruiting and hiring procedures to attract and retain good employees. For example, pre-employment screening of employees by doing background checks and drug and other testing and implementing a probationary hiring policy can help reduce the risk in hiring the wrong person.

There are many factors that influence employees choosing which companies they go to work for. The type of business, the reputation of the business, the longevity of the business, location of the business, along with salary and benefits influence a recruit’s decision in taking a job. Making sure you are professional in your Human Resource practices will also help insure that you attract and retain good employees. Employees want to work for companies they feel are fair and operate at a high standard. Having good documentation, like policy manuals, benefit plans (vacation, holidays, paid time off, and other benefits plans), and job descriptions all contribute to good business practice and employees will notice. For example, offering flexibility in work hours, casual dress code, continuing education, and certain “out of the box” perks that are low in cost may be the deciding difference in a good employee taking a position with your company.

In terms of finding recruits, online job websites and various other general advertising and social websites with job posting services have expanded the job listings well beyond newspapers, industry magazines, and the traditional want ad advertising. By utilizing as many of these job search resources as possible, employers and workers can make these many services work to their benefit by deciding which tools are best for their type of jobs, labor market, and other aspects of their recruiting and employment situations. For example, newspaper ads are still very effective for cities with an adequate labor pool, while Internet job websites may be more effective when you have to reach a larger labor pool for a particular expertise and are planning to relocate a worker to your company. Also, timing and urgency to fill a job can be a consideration with recruiting methods. You can review the following websites to help evaluate options and develop effective recruiting and hiring procedures:

Writing want ads:

Resources on attracting and hiring employees:

Pre-employment screening: Pre-employment screening is a necessary hiring practice to avoid lawsuits and costly hiring mistakes. Pre-employment screening is the process of using psychometric testing, background checks, and drug testing to determine the background and identity of a prospective new hire.

In terms of background checks, the approach to employee background checks varies based on a company’s in-house resources and the information required in connection with the job responsibilities and other factors – work experience, driving record, criminal record, financial data, drug and alcohol tests, etc. Also, laws vary regarding confidential information access, usage, and required employee written approval. Employee background checks can be done in-house or through outside agencies; however, it is important for you to be aware of the laws regarding treatment and handling of confidential employee information. To develop a better understanding of the background check process and develop your employee background check procedures, you can review information and tools for the handling of personal background checks at the following websites:

As to background check procedures, employers must ask for the recruit’s permission to conduct a background check on a form separate from the job application or other paperwork. If a potential employer wants to talk to a recruit’s friends, associates or neighbors, they must get a separate consent for what is known as an investigative consumer report. In addition, if an employer wants to see a recruit’s medical records, the recruit must give specific consent. While you can locate sample employment consent forms at websites like the following, we recommend that you have your drafts reviewed by local legal counsel to assure that they comply with federal and any state specific laws governing background check procedures.  The following are example authorization and consent forms:

While you can perform employee background checks (including reference checks) yourself and some free background information may be available from former employers, personal and professional references, the DMV or other government agencies, and other sources, paying for a professional and comprehensive background check is often a good investment. While we do not have a specific recommendation to a background screening service (and do not know what service you currently use), the following are example professional screening agency whose services and pricing you can research:

Example screening service and price comparison:

Interview questions: Basically, there is no one particular set of interview questions you can ask your recruits that will definitively predict whether they will be effective and satisfied employees who will stay with your firm for the long-term. Also federal law requires employers to steer clear of personal, private, and discriminatory questions in job applications and interviews. Questions that are legally off-limits are those regarding age, citizenship (although you can ask if an employee is authorized to work in the U.S.), race/ethnicity, disability, gender, health issues, marital status, national origin, personal finances, family information, and religion. The following are related discussions for your review:

Illegal interview questions:

Job descriptions:

Probationary hiring: Many companies choose to establish probationary periods for new hires. However, a probation period for new hires is not automatic, but must be established in a written company policy or other written communication with a new employee. You can review discussions and sample probation policies at the following websites:

Without a written probation policy, a business generally must deal with poor employee performance and terminations with employee meetings, reprimands, performance reviews, and discipline programs. Also, there are various reasons that a business can legally terminate an employee even without a probation policy. You can review discussions on employee performance reviews and find sample review/evaluation forms at the following websites:

To assure that your business does not violate federal employment discrimination laws with its job application and interview questions or other aspects of its hiring practices, we recommend that you review your hiring paperwork and processes with your lawyer.

Angela Cordle
Angela Cordle is the EVP of Tarkenton Financial, a leading insurance marketing firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, she serves as the Human Resources Director, overseeing the provision of HR services, policies, and programs for the company. She also serves as a BizCoachingOnDemand.com consultant, bringing practical and experiential knowledge of HR best practices to small businesses.