3 Keys to Hiring Quality Staff

Building a Great Work Environment Starts with Hiring Quality Staff

Help Wanted sign in a store window.
Image (c) Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Building a good work environment starts with hiring quality staff. Unfortunately, the statistics show that hiring success rates are no better than 50% in many industries.  Maybe that’s because many small businesses have no formal hiring practices and/or tend to employ family members - both of which can lead to undesirable results for the business.  To improve your odds of hiring the right people, be sure you do these three key things:

1) Develop a Simple, Straightforward Hiring Process

-Work up a profile of the employee you would like to hire.

-Make a list of the basic job requirements and include this in any job posting. Make sure you review the list with any potential applicants. Many small business positions require the employee to wear multiple "hats". If this is the case, make the potential employee is well aware of the requirements for flexibility regarding the job description.

-Advertise the position in the appropriate media such as newspapers, professional groups, and online with employment sites such as Monster, CraigsList job postings, or using social media such as LinkedIn.

-Review job applications and come up with a short list.

-Interview short listed candidates. An initial phone screen can be useful to further shorten the list.

-Background check the short-listed candidate(s). This normally includes employment references, education, checking for criminal records, etc.

-Make a job offer to the selected candidate.

Be honest and straightforward with potential employees and treat them the way you would wish to be treated if you were in their position.  Communicate with them and keep them updated on the hiring process. 

2) Remember That Hiring Family Members Is Risky Business

The advantages of hiring a family member or friend are numerous.

First, you’re familiar with the person. You probably have a pretty good idea of their strengths and weaknesses, making it easier to place them in the right position in your business.

Second, they’re probably going to be more loyal than the average person hired off the street. Friends and family members are more likely to tolerate ups and downs in the business, particularly during the business startup phase.

And hiring a family member "keeps the money in the family" and has a number of tax and estate planning advantages.

Unfortunately, there are also some serious drawbacks to hiring friends or family members:

-The person may not be suitably qualified for the position and may require extensive training.

-Married couples who work together can carry relationship issues into the business, and vice-versa. In a worst case scenario the business can be severely affected in a divorce settlement.

-Sibling family members tend to relate to each other in terms of the childhood pecking order. This can become an issue if, for example, a younger sibling hires his older brother to work in the business.

-An employee who is a friend/relative of the business owner is often viewed with suspicion by other employees who rightly or wrongly may think the person is getting preferential treatment.

-If it becomes necessary to dismiss a relative from your business the family repercussions can be severe. Imagine sitting down to Christmas dinner with brother John after giving him a pink slip.

3) "Test Drive" New Employees

-Consider hiring a prospective employee on a temporary contract basis. This will give you the opportunity to evaluate the person on the job over a period of time. Learn more about the pros and cons of hiring contractors rather than employees.

-Establish a probationary period for new hires (the standard is three months). Note that the terms of the probationary period must be clearly spelled out to the employee and if the employee is deemed unsuitable for the position and is terminated at the end of the probationary period, the employer is required to inform the employee of the reasons for the termination.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Successful hiring takes work and time that small business owners, who don’t have human resources departments, are loath to spend.  But the worst waste of time and energy is having to do something twice. Follow the tips above and you’ll considerably increase your odds of getting the right person in the right position the first time.