As a staffing firm, you rock at helping your clients grow their teams with top-of-the-line talent. However, have you considered the role of your own employees in your success? If you’ve dismissed the importance of your own team, you’re failing your people – and, in turn, failing your business.
In our recent Crushin’ It In Staffing webinar with Amy Bingham, Amy shed light on the top of failing your people and how staffing firms can effectively reverse this mistake. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
“If you’re turning people over, then there’s likely a leadership problem, or there’s a rotten apple among the bunch, somebody who’s creating a toxic environment, perhaps with the recruiters and sales staff or both, that is causing turnover.”
In a nutshell, turnover in any staffing firm is a major killer of success, with turnover in the staffing industry over 25%. As Amy goes on to explain, “When somebody leaves, they take client relationships and candidate relationships out the door with them. It takes up to two and a half times their annual salary to replace them. So, don’t get into a situation where you’re going to have high turnover by not doing these things, starting with making the wrong hires to begin with.”
So, what steps can you take to combat turnover? Let’s break it down.
Develop a hiring model.
While many staffing firms acknowledge they aren’t great at hiring for themselves, it often comes to light they have no hiring model in place. Amy emphasizes the importance of establishing an extensive hiring model that starts with hiring criteria. Take some time to think about the type of person that’s an ideal hire for your firm. From there, you must have a vetting and interviewing process that allows to get to know candidates. This may begin with a one-hour conversation that leads to an in-person interview at your firm. You may even consider having candidates spend a couple hours at your office during the interview process, giving them an opportunity to see your environment and learn about what you have to offer. Then, let them decide if they still want the job. Amy even encourages you to “try to talk them out of it,” as this will help you see how badly candidates want to be part of your work environment.
Conduct thorough vetting of candidates.
In the staffing business, it’s not enough to simply interview and meet with candidates and hope for the best. Because staffing is predominately a sales business, it’s critical that you take every step possible to thoroughly vet talent. This often includes behavioral interviewing and sales assessments. Amy explains, “I recommend my clients give everybody a sales assessment, even incoming recruiters. They are selling. They’re selling to candidates. You want people in your organization with sales personalities for any front-office role. If you get that sales personality, it’s likely you’re going to get a higher energy person.” The key to this process is not to rush. While you may be tempted to accelerate the hiring process, this will only lead to rash hiring decisions that leave you back at square one, scrambling to find somebody new when your new hire quits.
Evaluate your leadership practices.
When it comes to turnover, it’s important to remember that people don’t leave jobs, they leave people. Amy explains that ineffective leadership is one of the biggest culprits of high turnover, especially in the form of poor managers who are not positively engaging their teams. There are many pitfalls that cause ineffective leadership; the key is to pinpoint what areas of your leadership are lacking so you can address these issues with your managers.
In many cases, the missing piece to the puzzle stems from failing to set expectations for your employees. Though you may believe you’ve hired a qualified person to do the job, they still require and deserve ample training not only on their job functions, but how you expect them to perform and the results you want them to achieve. Setting expectations is easier said than done, requiring a sustained effort from your leadership team to be present and actively engaged with all your employees on a regular basis. If you’ve taken a backseat and only come to the office on occasion, you’re demonstrating signs of an absent or disengaged leader.
Also, the culture you’ve created (or lack thereof) can make or break your ability to retain top recruiters and salespeople. Of course, a culture of respect and engagement is paramount. However, it’s not enough to simply have a “culture of nice” (as Amy describes it) and hope that things progress. Many staffing leaders believe they have a great culture; however, they aren’t seeing their business grow and prosper the way they’d like. As Amy points out, “If you’re the owner executive and you are running a happy culture and business isn’t growing, it’s time for you to swing the pendulum a little bit further to the metrics management, high-performance model that has you really driving some activity. This is a production business, so your recruiters need metrics. Your salespeople need metrics. Then, you need to oversee them or hire somebody who is going to oversee them and be visible in the firm.” Fortunately, if you’ve built the foundation for a culture of respect, it won’t be a struggle to begin managing your metrics and setting specific expectations with your team.
Now, to run a “production-centered environment,” you must invest in training.
Don’t be alarmed – you don’t need to hire expensive trainers to do this! You do, however, want to provide ample opportunities for your employees to learn and feel connected to your culture. Whether it’s through monthly lunch-and-learns or weekly all-team calls, giving your staff these collaborative outlets will instill a greater sense of culture among your team. Additionally, you need to invest in people’s growth and advancement. This requires that you establish career growth paths within both the recruiter track and sales track. Giving your employees a structure for advancement will motivate them to perform their best and reach their fullest potential, keeping them engaged not just in their jobs, but in you as their employer. By offering a clear-cut growth structure, coupled with other culture-building activities, you’ll improve your employees’ performance and give them incentive to stay with your firm for the long haul.
While there’s no one formula for employee engagement, combining the factors above into your retention strategy is a surefire way to improve turnover and elevate your firm’s culture. As Amy recaps, “You expect high performance, you inspect that performance, and you provide lots of opportunities to learn and visibility to move forward. That is how you run a high-performance team.”
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