Don’t be angry, don’t be sad
Don’t sit crying over good times you’ve had
Well there’s a girl sitting right next to you
And she’s just waiting for something to do
Well there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with
These are some of the lyrics to the classic Crosby Stills and Nash tune “Love the One You’re With” – #earworm. I was listening to this sometime over the weekend and it got me thinking about recruiting, HR and one of the pressing concerns we all have in companies large and small around the world – retention. There is so much focus in our industry on the attraction and sourcing of talent, and rightly so. We have all long since learned that we as a recruiters need to be effective in marketing and selling to candidates and move beyond just posting jobs, crossing our fingers and hoping great candidates see them. In most recruitment processes once we hire someone we then hand the baton to the HR departments we work with and go back to sourcing, branding and interviewing for our next great hire. Rinse, wash, repeat. As the openings we work on continue to grow though, we need to look a little deeper and understand how we can have even more impact on the companies we work for. Take a look at your open requisition list and look at the reasons you are hiring for the positions you have open. I am willing to bet a number of them are “replacement” or “back-fill” openings for people who have left or plan to leave your organizations. Hmmmm.
We see countless articles daily around “employee engagement” and how best to measure it. Companies are investing a lot of time and resources in measuring their employee satisfaction, and surveying the bejesus out of their teams to get to the magical elixir that will keep their employees “engaged”, but their real end game is keeping their employees in their jobs and thus avoiding turnover issues. While I personally believe these engagement surveys are very misleading and can often seem like a “check the box” exercise with little tangible value, that is a post for another time. One thing we have consistently known over the years that you don’t need any “engagement survey” to tell you is that people want to grow in their roles and responsibilities (or more simply put – be promoted, compensated and appreciated). Common sense 101. Instead, when we as an industry collectively think about retention we tend to think in a reactionary mode to the latest issues or concerns that pop up from employees, and invest more in superficial things like ping pong tables, yoga rooms or beer fridges. These are artificial band aids that are ignoring the biggest reason people will leave your companies and why you constantly are looking to back-fill their roles – the fact that most companies look outward for new roles as opposed to looking at your current employees first for these opportunities.
We see this every day in our work and think nothing of it, nor our potential roles in fixing this as recruiters. Your company opens a new role as a “net new” opening. The position is a cool new position in a growing area of your organization – and your hiring manager is excited about adding this position to the team. You go into epic sourcing and attracting mode and immediately start sourcing external candidates for the role. Now, let’s look at what happens on the flip side of this process with your employees. Employees in the same group see this new opening posted, look at it and wonder why they weren’t considered for this new and exciting role. They think they have the skills, and if they don’t currently possess them feel they could learn them. They think they have been with the company, performed well and possess a lot of the core traits and needs you are sourcing for externally. Most importantly, they wonder if there is even opportunity for them to get promoted or learn new things when this role was not even presented to them as a path or an option in the first place. Guess what happens next? Let’s just say it is the opposite of your coveted “employee engagement”.
This scenario plays out every day countless times over and over, and is likely one of the main reasons your company is struggling with retention – and you don’t need any fancy survey to tell you it. Like the lyrics from Crosby Stills and Nash say, love the one you’re with. Before you open these new roles and immediately start thinking externally for candidates, it should be a mandatory process to look at your current employees first as options. There is a ton of benefit to doing this, and we as recruiters can help drive this process. By looking internally first you show your employees that you are invested in their career growth, that you value them and that you appreciate their contributions – all things that help to keep people happy and “engaged” with your organization. Yes, there will be times when there might not be the right people internally to fill these roles, but even the very act of considering them and interviewing them for these roles goes a long way to showing them that there is opportunity for them at your company. When you continuously post new roles and not communicate these opportunities to your employees you are in essence helping to push them away from your company – and perpetuating an endless cycle of work for yourselves that you could have avoided.
Here are some tips as to how we, as recruiters, can help fix this and provide value not just on the front end of the process but the complete employee life cycle:
– Market your openings internally first before posting anywhere externally
– Market these for at least 1 -2 weeks before posting externally
– Implement a confidential internal employee application process for these roles to enable people to apply in confidence
– Learn from your employees applications for these roles and use their interest as a gauge to develop their career paths – these conversations can be very insightful
– Always interview any employee who expresses interest in your internally posted roles – even if they are clearly not a fit.
– Train your hiring managers on the importance of this action and why it will help them retain their employees
– Invest in learning and development to your internal employees to help fill new roles. Example – you need a new developer for a new technology that no one on your current team knows. Instead of going out and finding someone new who knows this tech and paying top of market for this skill, invest in teaching your current developers this skill. This shows your current staff you are invested in them and their careers. It also helps in “time to fill”. Typically for any hot new skill-set you are searching for months and months and competing with lots of other orgs for this talent – when if you had simply invested in teaching one of your current staff this new tool you could have a productive person in this new role in 3 months vs what can be typically a 6 month period and for less money – both for the new skill-set and for the developer you might have had to replace when she/he left for not getting the chance for the opportunity,
– Celebrate your internal hires and share this news company wide – it will help spread the message you are looking internally to fill new roles and helps build good will
– As a recruiter, insist on this being the first step in every new opening process
Now cue the tune again and realize that this very simple step can go a long way to keeping your employees right where you want them – with you.