turning around turnover

Hiring the right employees from the get-go.

By David Hyatt, Contributing Editor

When turnover is reduced and retention is the norm, retail businesses thrive.If an operator can find a sure-fire way to identify job applicants who are ableto do the job and actually be happy on the job, many later attempts at increasingstaff retention will be rendered unnecessary. Today, more store-owners are findinga way to do just that with hiring systems that include standardized prescreeningtests.

Savvy operators are making the hiring process easier, less time-consuming and more effective by establishing a systematic and objective approach. The key is turning conventional thinking upside down: You must think of the hiring process as weeding out the least likely to succeed before selecting those who look like a fit. Most employers are typically trying to select ‘in’—they have their list of questions they want a candidate to answer a certain way so the person is a fit.

Today’s hiring manager, however, needs to operate from a different mindset and find out why that candidate should be selected ‘out.’ Find out why this person will be a turnover case and why they won’t be able to perform the job.

Many operators, even independents, should seriously consider engaging a hiring system that can easily be outsourced. With such a tool, the store’s hiring manager can direct the process from application to job offer while spending far less time than previously needed.

Eliminating the Guess Work
Great hiring systems remove the lowest performing candidates from the poolwell before the interview stage through a solid application review and performanceassessments. This means that managers are interviewing significantly fewer candidatesand saving time that can be spent elsewhere. Combining this application reviewwith performance assessments and structured interviews results in eliminatingup to 95% of the guesswork in hiring, which means that a hiring system oftencan eliminate nearly all performance-related turnover. Finally, many hiringsystems are designed to be legally defensible, protecting a business from legalissues and costs.

From Application to Interview
If a hiring system is working properly, the hiring manager will only besitting down with the 35% who are statistically most likely to perform wellfor the business. At that point the manager would engage each candidate in astructured interview, which is the same for all applicants, is well organizedand asks about issues relevant to the work that the candidate will actuallybe doing.

The ideal hiring strategy is a process of elimination that identifies qualitycandidates who will perform, fit and stay. “Performance” addresses the candidate’saptitude and whether or not he or she has the skills to do the job. “Fit” includesthe hours a candidate is available to work, pay and transportation. Also considerthe company’s culture: Will the candidate’s personality provide the level ofcustomer service the operator needs? By taking a close look at a candidate’sjob history, you can often determine if he or she will likely “stay” in thejob.

Honing in on these three components is an ideal way to decide if a candidate is the best match for your business. The questions should be behaviorally based on topics like team focus, operations awareness, service-mindedness and hospitality.

Village Tavern, an eight-unit restaurant chain based in North Carolina, has seen the benefit in looking at hiring in a new way. Tony Santarelli, president and co-owner, has said using a standardized hiring system “gives us a better understanding of the individual, so we can make a better call if that person will fit in with our culture.” Before opening a new location in Birmingham, Ala. three and a half years ago, he employed a standardized prescreening test for the entire restaurant staff. Of the 30 employees that staff the restaurant, only six have turned since it first opened. This represents an enviable new store opening turnover rate of only 20%, compared to the restaurant industry’s standard of nearly 200%.

David Hyatt, Ph.D. is president and partner of CorVirtus, a corporateculture and human resources consulting and research firm based in Colorado Springs,Colo. CorVirtus has more than 20 years of experience in developing guiding principles,hiring systems and performance measurement systems for the hospitality industry.To contact David, call (800) 322-5329 or visit www.corvirtus.com

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