Finding quality employees is tough

Last updated on May 25th, 2022 at 02:39 am

It’s tough to find quality employees in today’s market

Like many companies, we’re having a hard time hiring qualified workers. We’re also seeing a trend in which employees we hire don’t stay with us very long. This means that we’re continually filling the same positions, which makes it pretty hard to build any kind of consistency or teamwork. Do you have any suggestions about what we can do?

Your situation is an increasingly common one. Unemployment remains low, particularly in southeastern Wisconsin. Job seekers, especially those in “hot” fields such as computing, often have their choice of positions.
From the point of view of the employer, this often means that they have to “sweeten the pot” in order to attract the candidates they desire, sometimes at a higher compensation level than they’re comfortable paying.
A recent survey of employers in Nation’s Business magazine revealed that 80% indicated that they were having difficulties finding qualified employees over the past year. So, you are not alone.

Interestingly, the same poll indicated that attitude and work behavior were the areas in which job applicants were deemed to be weakest. That suggests that people are being hired primarily on the basis of their technical or subject matter expertise.
Yet, the ability to work effectively with other people is at least as important as job know-how. That highlights the importance of the training/development function of the organization which I have discussed in some of my recent columns.
As a starting point, I would suggest that you examine your present employee-selection practices. Do you have a clear idea of the position requirements? With frequent changes in work technology and processes, job requirements sometimes outpace job descriptions. As a result, as we solicit job applications we may be out of touch with what the demands of the position really are. That can lead employees to become disenchanted when they come on board and find out that the job is more (or less) than they bargained for.
What are the competencies which are critical to success on the job?

That focuses on the human dimension of the employment equation. The basic thrust here is to make sure that the attributes which you are targeting are the ones that really matter.
As the survey we discussed above makes clear, job know-how matters; most employers say it is the most important thing they look for. Yet other attributes which must be considered have to do with the context in which the person will operate. For instance, a strong team environment demands that interpersonal and communication skills be assessed during the screening process. So, be careful to avoid being one-dimensional in your approach.
Is everyone involved in the hiring process (e.g., HR, department manager, interviewers) “reading from the same book”? Sometimes employee selection is “owned” by more than one individual or department. Human resources might develop the position advertising and do the initial screening, including one or more interviews. Subsequently, the manager who will supervise the individual will get involved and conduct a Pre-Employment Assessment before hiring a candidate. Some organizations make use of team interviews in which employees (peers of the person ultimately chosen) carry out the entire selection process. Some organizations make use of external consultants who interview or test prospective employees at some point in the application process.

Regardless of what approach is used, it is important that agreed-upon criteria guide the process so that “apples” can be compared with “apples.”
Does performance during the selection process correspond with performance on the job? If you are making use of sound selection strategies (e.g., reliable, valid interview approaches, simulations/work samples, etc.), then the way an individual “looks” as a candidate is likely to be the way they “look” as an employee.
Of course, when good candidates are few and far between, the inclination may be to lower standards just to get a “warm body” in the door. However, employing “pulse rate” criteria brings along with it great potential to be disappointed. It’s been my experience that very few candidates who come across as corpses develop into superstars once they have been hired.

Set a standard below which you will not drop. Painful though it may be, my sense is you’re better off in the long run sticking to your guns, as opposed to bringing on board candidates who are “projects,” at best.
You may want to consider some non-traditional approaches, as well.
How are you obtaining applicants? Are you making use of the Internet to solicit applications? Is your organization a participant at local job fairs? In light of W-2, are you looking to former welfare recipients as a pool of potential employees?
Are you offering your incumbent employees a bonus or reward for attracting new employees to the organization? Are you paying employees an incentive once they’re on board for performance and/or regular attendance? How does your compensation package compare with the competition?
Although these suggestions may be anathema from your vantage point, in light of the present employment climate, you may do well to explore them.

HR Connection is provided by Daniel Schroeder, Ph.D., of Organization Development Consultants in Brookfield. Small Business Times readers who would like an HR issue addressed in this column can contact Schroeder at 827-1901, fax is 827-8383, or via e-mail at
June 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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