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HR & Benefits News: Key To Success—Hire & Keep The Best People

Chris Cooley supervisors
Chris Cooley

HR & Benefits News is a monthly column by Chris Cooley, co-founder of MyHRConcierge and SMB Benefits Advisors.

It’s no secret, hiring and keeping workers has significant impact on independent grocers. Its impact is second only to “competition from other retailers” say independent grocers who participated in the 2018 Independent Grocers Financial Survey prepared by the National Grocers Association and FMS Solutions Holdings.

When you think about it, your ability to hire and keep the best people has a domino effect on how well you compete with other retailers, too. Given its far-reaching impact on your business, maybe it’s time to get back to these basics for hiring qualified employees who want to stay with you? 

Hire and retain the best people

With unemployment rates hovering around 4 percent, staffing will continue to challenge grocers. Reducing turnover is one important way grocers can decrease staffing woes. For example, the average part-time employee turnover rate for independent grocers in 2017 was 53.5 percent, according to the 2018 Independent Grocers Financial Survey. For full-time employees, it was 18.3 percent.

One of the best ways to retain employees (reduce turnover) is to ensure they are a good “fit” for their position and provide then a healthy and productive environment in which to work. Here are three suggestions we give to our clients for hiring and retaining the right employees:

1. Use job descriptions to identify the right candidates

Job descriptions have many uses in workforce management. One of the primary uses is outlining the requirements of a position. A basic job description should include at least the following requirements related to a position

  • Duties
  • Physical requirements
  • Skills
  • Education requirements
  • Experience requirements

One of the first things a hiring manager should do is ensure the candidate meets the position’s requirements. We often see managers take a “warm body” approach to hiring, especially with part-time employees. Interviewing candidates can take away from a hiring manager’s other duties. They mistakenly think hiring a “warm body” to fill the position as soon as possible will get them back to more important duties, but hiring a candidate who isn’t a good fit increases the likelihood of poor performance and employee turnover. We coach our clients to interview an adequate pool of candidates and to focus on hiring someone who meets the requirements as outlined in the job description.

2. Pay attention to soft skills

While hiring an employee with the prerequisite experience and qualifications is important, hiring managers should also make sure they consider the employee’s soft skills. Are they conscientious, attentive, provide eye contact, etc.? We often see employees who meet all of the defined qualifications, but don’t have the soft skills to be successful in a position.

3. Determine how well they fit your culture

We work with many businesses throughout the country, and every one of them has a different culture. Some businesses are very policy oriented and structured, while others don’t like policies and are unstructured. Some are a mixture of the two.

Determining  what type of culture a candidate thrives in and whether that matches your culture is an extremely important part of the interview process. We all know people whose skills were prefect for a job, but it didn’t work out because they were the wrong fit for the company’s culture. Then, they go on to thrive in a company with a different culture.

When managers focus on hiring candidates that fit well in the company’s culture, they help decrease employee turnover and increase productivity.

While there are many aspects that go into hiring and retaining employees, if companies will work on the basics of hiring qualified employees with the prerequisite soft skills and give them a good environment to work in, they will have productive employees that will think twice about leaving.

Chris Cooley is co-founder of MyHRConcierge and SMB Benefits Advisors. Grocers and other employers rely on him for HR compliance and administration, contesting SUI claims, ACA compliance, COBRACompli, employee handbooks, workforce management and benefits advisory solutions. Cooley’s companies specialize in helping small to mid-sized grocers throughout the U.S. Chris can be reached at 855-538-6947, ext. 108 or at [email protected].


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