HR & Personal Development

How to find and retain the right employees for your team

It will get increasingly challenging to find the right candidates. The labor market is changing and so is the way we recruit. In this article, we explain which employees you should target, how you integrate them most effectively and how they can recruit qualified candidates for you in the future.

Boston Consulting Group’s analysis, The Future of HR in Europe, emphasizes five main challenges that will affect HR and recruitment in the future.

  1. There are fewer skilled employees in the future so these will be even more sought after.
  2. The workforce is declining. Big generations are nearing their retirement and will leave a void behind for smaller generations to try and fill. We will experience a loss of knowledge as well as capacity.
  3. Learning and educational programs will become a bigger part of our organizations due to globalization and change.
  4. Work and private life will merge, and more people will choose their jobs based on how well it fits their personal circumstances, goals and values. Work must be flexible and meaningful.
  5. The number international workers is increasing and the boundaries between different markets will become fluent. Organizations and their culture must be changeable.

As such, it will become more challenging to find the right employees from now on, and we need to locate and retain them in our first try. Therefore, these four considerations are important when you decide to recruit the right member for your team:


1. Go for diversity

Far too many of us evaluate and hire based on inappropriate parameters. We read applicants’ résumés the wrong way and forget to be objective.

A serious concern when recruiting – also through network and referrals – is that we get more of what we already have instead of what we really need to further grow.

Our brains tend to make us choose people who are like ourselves. And perhaps it’s nice to know what we are getting, but it’s not good for our bottom line. On the contrary, diversity is a tremendous strength for a team’s make-up and productivity.

That’s why more and more tools are developed that allow recruitment officers to remove all data in a résumé and an application, that reveal age, gender, race, religion, social background etc. You can find a list of such tools here.

According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, organizations that target a high level of ethnic diversity do 35 % better economically than their competitors, while organizations that target gender diversity do 15 % better. Diversity increases your competitive abilities.


2. Go for specialists and range

Employees with extensive knowledge in a certain industry or technology are worth their weight in gold. They provide expertise that we are lack and need, and as such they are an important supplement to the rest of the team.

Besides specialists, it’s good to have interdisciplinary or general employees to strengthen your team. They can often act as all-round workers and know how to balance between several sets of competences according to your needs.


3. Ask unexpected questions and test communication skills

An unexpected question during a job interview, for instance a mathematical problem, can interrupt the candidate’s comfort zone and reveal thought patterns. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person can actually answer the question correctly, but it’s interesting to see how they approach the challenge. It shows how they handle the unexpected, how they interact with others, how they think and how they approach unprepared tasks.

If you need a specialist, tell him or her to explain a complex issue from their field of work in a way everyone can understand. If the specialist has to interact with customers, partners or even colleagues from a different division it’s important that he or she is able to communicate with them.

To get a clearer view of which candidate profile your organization needs, use our new employee preparation tool.


4. Go for personal and cultural match

Despite diversity being important, it’s equally important to find people whose personality fits the rest of your team and organizational culture. They must function as a part of a team and in different situations.

(Read more about how a DISC analysis of employees and candidates work)

Explain and discuss your culture as well as what the new employee wants from his or her workplace. Does your workhours fit the employee’s lifestyle? What about vacation and holiday planning? Salary, compensations and benefits? Values and goals? Would they actually prefer working somewhere else or in another industry? An honest conversation is an excellent platform for a successful collaboration. Chemistry and satisfaction are crucial if your organization wants to grow.


It’s a good idea to make an effort of those aspects and to hire the right person in your first try. In fact, a study conducted by Leadership IQ reveals that 46 % of new employments don’t last more than 18 months. Only 19 % of hires are unequivocally successes. And the reason for all those failing hires is pretty much never the lack of professional skills or bad performance. Instead, its problems with feedback (26 %), emotional challenges (23 %), lack of motivation (17 %) or wrong attitude or temper (15 %)


How do we integrate a new employee the best way possible?

But the challenges don’t necessarily stop when we find the right candidate. He or she must be incorporated effectively in their new workplace. If not, it doesn’t matter whether we found the right candidate. That person will probably leave us anyway.

A study conducted among 390 professionals by Human Capital Manager Practices in late 2016 showed that to more than 50 % of new hires it takes more than five months to reach their full potential at their new place of work. So, it’s important that we do our best in order for our organization to include new coworkers quick and painless the best way possible:

  • First and foremost, it’s important what your new employees are able to see themselves in the organization’s culture Mission and vision must be shared because many ships sailing in the same direction is a necessity. If new coworkers don’t quite fit the culture, you should offer help or guidance. To get the most from our employees we must all share our mission and vision.
  • It’s important that new employees have the necessary resources at their disposal from the beginning to complete their tasks the best way possible. Their tasks should be prepared for them so that they can dive right into their assignments. This way, they don’t feel that they’re wasting their time. Instead, they can build up an efficient flow.
  • HR can develop a plan for the new employees’ activities the first couple of weeks if it’s relevant to the positions in question. Such a plan ought to highlight what the organization is working towards so that the new employees can recognize their own role and efforts in the organization’s progress.
  • The social aspect is vital. If the new employees aren’t happy among their new colleagues the cooperation is likely to end prematurely. Especially during the first couple of weeks it’s important that new employees feel safe enough to reach out and ask for help. If this don’t seem appreciated, or if there’s no one to ask for help, then a sense of isolation and frustration can easily occur. And this is a sign of a bad workplace.
  • Activities, presentations and such during morning meetings or lunch can be a good way to integrate the new employees into the community. Relationships must be established as soon as possible. For instance, you can give them to a mentor or a tutor to show them around, explain them the culture, the habits and the tasks.

(Templates and programs for the hiring process can be found here).


Employee referral: Let your employees recruit for you

Our organizations can even save money by going the extra mile on retaining new (and old) employees instead of using resources on finding replacements.

Career- and recruitment expert Heather R. Huhman is a firm believer in the use of employee referral, which implies that your employees act as ambassadors of your organization. Huhman sees this as an efficient method for attracting and retaining qualified employees as well as creating a healthy business.

Which is why the organization's culture must be nurtured. What’s the first thing employees communicate about their workplace? What are the boss and the colleagues like? The work environment and the tone? Trust and influence? Pressure and rhythm? In an organization with a strong culture, employees are happy to recommend their workplace to their friends and family.

That’s why it is an advantage to have a common language so that the employees branding of the organization is as much in sync with your desired profiling as possible. And don’t worry, of course your employees are interested in having the best colleagues, so you don’t have to worry about them recommending someone who is unqualified.

However, it’s important to remember that employees are not fulltime recruiters, talking up your organization is not their job. You cannot expect them to spend hours promoting their workplace to friends and on social media. Yet, you must appreciate their effort. Employee referral is not a duty, it’s a dedication to the organization, its values and culture.

Resources spent on advertising or recruitment can be spent on employees in order to get the best possible employee referrals.

Hire the right profiles and keep them happy and dedicated. It pays off. Also on the bottom line.


Don't forget the ones you don't hire             

The people who apply for a job at your organization shape their impression of your business based on your response. That's why it’s important to answer and provide feedback even to those who don't get the job. Not answering is the like turning around and walking away after someone has just given you a compliment. And a job application is one of the greatest compliments an organization can get.

Each applicant is a potential co-worker, a potential employee at your competitor or even a potential customer. Respecting their efforts is not just the right thing to do, it can be worth a lot of money too.

It’s not just the people who work for you who might talk about your organization, and a bad reputation spreads fast and efficiently. This could easily turn into bad business for you in terms of finding new employees.