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Let’s Talk Hiring

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Featuring Courtney Berg, SBDC HR Consultant

The Great Resignation, The Great Reassessment, The Great Reshuffle, there are many names for the unique movement in the labor market right now. Whatever you want to call it, it is safe to say it is presenting serious challenges to employers and especially small business owners who depend on their employees to keep operations afloat. Courtney Berg, HR consultant with the SBDC and owner of CourtSide Consulting, recently presented a webinar session on helpful trends in the world of hiring.

Employee resignations can leave business owners feeling powerless and defeated. While you cannot control an employee’s decision to leave, it is important to remember what aspects are still within your control. Courtney’s presentation focuses on maintaining that mindset. Improving the aspects of your business that you do have control over will not only provide the best experience possible for your current employees, but will also foster a welcoming and enticing environment for new employees. Read on for Courtney’s top tips on creating a healthy work environment in this new era of workforce.

Job Candidates

What are candidates seeking?

Courtney describes the need to offer flexibility to job candidates. In a recent study, workers were surveyed on the reasons they had left their position or were considering leaving their current position. Some of the most common attributes candidates are looking for in their positions are: work/life balance, flexible hours, remote work, mental health resources, and meaningful work. Candidates are demanding a more holistic approach in their employment. They do not want to just be valued for the job they can perform, but also for who they are as a person. Consider ways you can offer support to your employees to address their overall well-being.
 

What can you control with candidates?

1. Respond to their application or resume

You cannot control who applies for your positions, but you can control how you respond to interested candidates. Make sure you are communicating with them to let them know you appreciate their interest in working with you and update them on the status of their application.

2. Build trust

Initiating communication with candidates inherently helps build trust. Candidates and employees want to feel you are being transparent, consistent, honest, and that you are honoring boundaries. If you hold yourself to a high level of integrity, these qualities will become very apparent to your candidates. Changes and delays happen in the hiring process, but the more you keep communication lines open, the easier the candidates will adjust to these changes.

Courtney gives a common example: If you say you will get back with a candidate about a hiring decision by a certain date make sure you follow up on that, even if it is to say you need more time. Courtney stresses, “communicate honestly, appropriately, and frequently.”

3. Articulate how your business meets their needs

Find out what the candidate’s priorities and needs are. Courtney advises that you focus on understanding how working for your business can help candidates achieve their goals. Then give specific examples of how your business will meet those needs and communicate this throughout the entire interview and selection process.

4. Be a candidate’s employer of choice

Build an employer brand. We often think about the value proposition we offer to customers, but it is equally important to think about the value proposition offered to employees. Think about what value your business brings to employees and then communicate that loud and clear to your potential candidates. This will help attract more candidates that could fit well with your organization.     

Employee Engagement

What do employees need?

In addition to the flexible work options mentioned above, Courtney stresses the importance of results-focused management, especially in a remote world. Employees need to feel trusted to do the work they are given to do and a micro-managing approach will deflate their sense of empowerment.  Courtney suggests setting very clear expectations of how productivity will be measured. Experiencing a diverse and safe work environment is also very significant to employees and cannot be overlooked.

What can you control with employees?

1. Values

Courtney describes the hard truth that when employees become disengaged they leave. Fortunately, there are many ways to foster engagement and making employees feel valued is paramount. A feeling of purpose and contribution to a common goal is a basic human emotion that all employees need to feel.   

2. Compassion

Small businesses move very fast and there is naturally a lot to juggle. Even in this fast-paced environment, you can’t forget to see your employees as people before you see them as workers. If an issue needs to be addressed, Courtney suggests starting the conversation asking if the employee is okay and relating with them before offering correction.

3. Meaningful dialogs

Create a culture that welcomes feedback regarding workplace issues as well as mental health issues. Make a space for conversations beyond workplace matters. Employees need an opportunity for connection, especially if they are working remotely.

4. Actively listen

Employees want to feel heard, acknowledged, and understood. It is important to listen with the intent of understanding rather that just the intention of responding. Sometimes employees have unrealistic ideas, but it is important to create a relationship where they feel they can safely bring all their ideas. 

5. See them

Take the time to really notice your employees. Identify when they are having a tough day, need help or support, and need some extra encouragement. This will help employees feel cared for which leads to higher levels of engagement.

Culture

You can control how your culture is shaped

Courtney describes a workplace culture as “the shared values, belief systems, attitudes, and the set of assumptions that people in the workplace share.” Courtney describes four steps in creating a workplace culture:

  1. Agree on workplace values
  2. Discuss acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the workplace
  3. Establish tenets of how people will work with each other
  4. Implement the tenets so all are aware

While these steps seem very basic, actually following through on each step is critical and likely requires a meeting to develop the tenets as a group. The goal is to walk away with a set of beliefs that everyone agrees with and that everyone can hold each other accountable to.

Communication

You can control how you communicate with your employees

The employer-employee relationship is a very influential component of a workplace experience. And as with all relationships, communication is key. Courtney describes effective communication as “a message being sent and understood accurately.” So, what are some practices to ensure effective communication is taking place? Courtney notes a few prime examples:

  1. Be respectful
  2. Listen actively to understand
  3. Pay attention to non-verbal cues
  4.  Be personable 
  5. Be empathetic
 

Where to go from here

Have more questions about hiring or managing your workforce? You can view Courtney’s full webinar here and for more specific guidance you can request a one-on-one consulting session with Courtney here

courtney berg

About the Author:

Business humorist Courtney Berg turns typical HR and management issues into fun learning experiences. She draws from her years of human resources and operations management experience to bring boring employment concepts to life. Courtney has built HR departments from the ground up and has experience from front line supervision to vice president in both HR and operations in a variety of industries. Her goal is to bring her knowledge and experience to business owners, making management easier for them.Courtney is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). In December 2008, Courtney was featured in a “How To Conduct Annual Employee Reviews” in Inc. Magazine. Courtney is also a 2009 Denver Business Journal “Outstanding Women In Business” nominee. She received the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce “Chamber Champion” award in 2011. Courtney has a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management from the University of Northern Colorado.

Courtney’s areas of expertise are:

  • HR issues
  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Employee Relations
  • Unemployment claims
  • Background checks
  • Company culture
  • Time management
  • New hire paperwork
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