How to Hire and Retain Employees in the Aftermath of The Great Resignation

Unless you’ve been living in a cave (and even hermits would have heard), you’re well aware of the hiring crisis besieging US companies, both large and small. Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or a big corporation, finding and securing dependable employees is hard when you have a good candidate pool to choose from; however, the past two years have been challenging because of the large number of people who have exited the workforce and aren’t planning to return.

When I had my bakery business in 2017 in the Seattle area, many employers had a hard time retaining employees, especially when the minimum hourly wage was raised to $15 an hour. While many small businesses ended up having to reduce their staff to keep their costs down, other companies were having a hard time retaining and keeping employees, even if they offered above minimum wage hourly rates for their employees.

I started brainstorming unconventional ways to hire and keep new employees to address this issue, as the cost of onboarding and hiring someone new is much more expensive than using your resources to keep your current employees. Especially in today’s market, retaining employees is at the forefront of every business. 

So when your employee isn’t happy, or they are looking for something different in their workday, are you ready to pivot and create an environment they want to keep working in? Are they excited to be a part of your team each day? If not, then read on to learn some new and effective ways that I used to retain employees for several years in my business, so you can apply them to your company to keep your workday filled with staff and team eager to be at your business!


Ask Your Employees to Refer their Friends

We all know that people typically hang around and associate with others with similar values. Utilizing this part of human nature, a great idea to find good employees is to ask your superstars to refer their friends to your company for employment. I call this technique Succeeding from the Inside Out.

There are common threads in the people you hired and those that are successful in your company. Help employees understand their unique contributions while also showing similarities. Employees that feel valued and heard make great ambassadors, and in turn recommend you as an employer to their friends and family.

This one is a kicker for some: acknowledge your employees won’t be with you forever. Rather than having this elephant in the room or people feeling terrible about leaving, celebrate the next phase in someone’s career and be a part of making the experience they have with you a positive lasting memory. People take jobs for the money and benefits but they stay because they are respected and have an opportunity to learn and grow. In my bakery days, I had staff that this was sometimes their first experience working. Through conversations, I found out a number of them struggled financially. I used to tell people, I can see if you are upset, stressed, or mad by what your cookies (or bread) look like. And, it was true! Once staff member wanted to ensure she got her own apartment by the time her baby turned one. To help her and her partner understand where their money was going and how they could save to make an apartment a reality, I hired a financial coach. Once she met with the financial planner, they were able to save enough money to get into that apartment in 3 months. Now, how much did that financial planner cost me? I can tell you a LOT less than having to retrain staff. Programs like this decreased our turnover and increased retention. A win-win on the bottom line.

Look for Employees Using Social Media

Finding potential employees through industry-specific networking sites such as GitHub, Crop, LinkedIn or Poached can be a great place to start. Once you’ve found someone’s profile that interests you, reach out to them via private messaging on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, giving your invitation a personal touch.


Utilizing Events to Meet New Recruits

Creating and attending events that draw in your ideal employee is a great way to meet a potential job candidate – and they don’t have to know that you’re looking for a new recruit! Think about events like hackathons or business startup week. These events are an excellent way to find out more about someone in a more relaxed, informal setting. In addition, you can find out who they know and see their professional circle and network. 


Finding New Recruits in Fair Chance or Second Chance Employment

Finding your workforce locally is more economical than doing a national job search. Organizations such as Goodwill can be a great source of workers whose lives can be materially improved by joining your company. In addition, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has employment specialists who can be a good point of contact. Finally, be proactive in sourcing employees from disadvantaged communities, apprenticeship programs, and partnerships with disability non-profits in your local community.

Worksource is an organization business owners often skip as they see it as a resource for workers. But the local office is a great resource for finding candidates for a number of open positions. Worksource specializes in placement for dislocated workers such as mothers returning to the workforce, veterans, disabled, formerly incarcerated, or unsheltered folks. Besides having access to a lot of workers, they provide support for both the individual and the business to ensure the employer match is a win-win. 


Tips for Attracting Employees

Sourcing great talent begins with a well-written job description. I encourage business owners to use my marketing conversion formula to create a job description that will help attract the employees they want. Make sure to utilize these prompts when writing the content for your employment application:

  • Interrupt: a headline that appeals to your ideal candidate.
  • Engage: a subheadline that provides insight on why this is the best place for them to work.
  • Educate: provide additional information on growth opportunities and what success looks like in the position you’re hiring for.
  • Offer: provide a compelling low-risk informational offer. A way for the candidate to raise their hand that they are interested but without the pressure of a 1st interview. This could be an informational interview or an invitation to sit in on a department meeting or company virtual event. 

Interview Tips 

Pick three key questions and remember that although you may get tired of asking the same questions, this gives you the ability to compare apples to apples, in terms of the responses you receive.

Assessing personality or potential can be as important as judging an employee’s suitability in terms of experience or qualifications. In your employee search, you’ll want to identify the potential within an individual to problem solve at the moment, if they collaborate well, and how they jump in when there’s an urgent task.

The Crystal Knows personality test can also be helpful in ensuring communication is smooth throughout the interview process. Knowing an individual’s personality type can give the interviewee insights on how best to ask questions and how to create an atmosphere that allows for a candidate’s personality to shine. 


The Importance of Retaining Your Team

Retention is vital nowadays, with your competitors looking to poach your workforce. Make sure to hold “stay interviews” with your team. Your stay interviews are a process in which you ask your employees questions and make sure your best employees are satisfied and engaged at your company so that they don’t jump ship unexpectedly.

An important part of understanding how to care for a team member is creating a culture of individuality and letting them shine at what they are really good at. When people work in their talents every day they are more productive and less likely to leave. To aid in this, I use Clifton Strengths. In the assessment, there’s a 1 in 22.5M chance someone has the same strengths as you in the same order. Knowing this information is powerful for managers to increase the performance of a team and team members. 

As stated earlier, the likelihood of workers staying at a company for 8-20+ years is less likely now than ever before. So, celebrate growth in your team and encourage them along on their next endevor. You’ll be glad you did when they become customers themselves or ambassadors out in the world.