Hiring Practices to Reduce Turnover
You’re running a successful, busy practice. Congratulations! But – oh no! – one of your best employees just put in their notice. While it’s an obvious inconvenience, this isn’t the end of the world. You can just put out a job posting, interview a few candidates, and you’re good, right? Well, it isn’t (read: shouldn’t be) quite that simple. Let me explain.
When an employee leaves, the process can seem straightforward: find someone new. I admit this is a crucial step in the process, but it certainly isn’t the only one. As a practice owner or manager, you must ask some important questions to refine your hiring practices.
Why is the employee leaving?
This question is critical and very rarely asked. Most employees will state that they’ve found another opportunity and, while this may be entirely true, you should ask why they were considering other opportunities in the first place. This brings us to the first tip: always complete an exit interview for voluntary turnover. In my management experience, I’ve found that conducting a low-pressure, open-ended exit interview with employees will elicit very insightful feedback. I’ve been clued into problems I had no idea existed. I’ve also discovered what worked and what didn’t in my management style. Remember: they’re leaving soon, so they’re much more likely to be honest in their feedback.
Are we offering a competitive compensation package?
Offering a competitive salary and benefits is a large part of employee satisfaction. Nobody is happy if they can’t pay their bills. It’s nice to receive a pizza party every month, but that isn’t going to keep the lights on. When an employee leaves, you should conduct a competition analysis. If the employee is joining another practice in the same role, are they being paid more? If so, this should serve as a big red flag that you may be underpaying. There are multiple resources online to compare your compensation package against other practices in your area. Salary.com and Indeed.com should serve as initial resources. Once you’ve determined the average pay for each position, you should set a competitive pay range that still allows for a healthy margin for your practice.
When it comes to hiring a new employee, finding the right candidate can be a challenge. I have some good news: it doesn’t have to be. Use these steps to help find a qualified candidate that will fit in with your existing staff.
Know who you’re looking for before you start searching.
This sounds simple, but it should take quite a bit of thought. You already know what the position requires, but that doesn’t really tell you who you’re looking for. To pick the right person, you need to know your existing staff. What kind of personality meshes well with your current culture? Do your current employees work collaboratively or more individually? Are you looking for someone with substantial experience or do you want someone fresh that you can train to your own standards? Taking time to understand the person you’re looking for will make the interview process smoother.
Have a method to quickly sort through applications.
You probably already know the qualifications you’re looking for with the position, and you don’t want to spend a month interviewing dozens of candidates. Having a simple, effective method to sort through resumes will allow you to swiftly move to the interview phase. I recommend using the A-B-C method wherein two people go through the applications and rate them either A, B, or C. If there isn’t a consensus between the two rating parties, a quick meeting should help resolve the conflict. Once all applications are rated, you then start with the A-rated candidates and schedule the interviews.
Have standardized interview questions.
The only way to truly qualify candidates is to put them through the same interview process. Asking different questions between applications is like comparing apples to sailboats. It’s OK to ask clarifying questions, but the interview should be based on a set framework. The questions should be a collaboration between your own needs and the insight from your staff that currently perform the job.
Okay, you’ve found the right candidate. That’s great, but we’re not done yet. We all know that first impressions are critical and it’s no different when you onboard a new employee. It’s tempting to expect the employee to start adding value on day one, but that is almost never realistic. It’s imperative that you give the new hire a structured, supportive period of training and acclimation. This requires a plan. How long will it realistically take for a new candidate to become familiar with our practices and rules? What do I need this person to know now verses in a month? What do we do differently than industry standard? Who will oversee the training and how much time can they allocate to their success? Starting the new employee on the right foot will pay dividends for the entirety of their employment.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to let people know how they’re doing on a regular basis. Most people crave feedback, especially in the infancy of their employment. For new employees, you should set 30/60/90-day milestones. Set a meeting for each milestone date and ask the employee how they feel they’re doing. Offer supportive guidance and feedback based on your point of view. They will feel like you care…because you do!
For existing employees, it’s best to set a regular review cadence. Most studies show that a quarterly review process works best. It’s enough time for employees to show improvement and self-growth while keeping everything relevant. Annual reviews are difficult and often ineffective as challenges and goals set a year ago may no longer be relevant. Annual reviews often feel “scripted” or “by-the-numbers” instead of genuine, constructive feedback.
There is so much to hiring and turnover management, but I hope these tips get you started. I can’t say they work for everyone, but they’ve worked well for me over the last decade. I hope they work for you, too.
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