Employers (like myself) are juggle hundreds of problems at any given time, and having a crowded head makes it much more difficult to accomplish the tasks at hand efficiently. While I’ve spent a great deal of time writing and speaking about hiring, I’ve never had to hire as quickly as I have in the past year. A high-growth company can be fun, but it also makes hiring top talent that much more urgent and time-consuming.
Here are my tips for combating the five biggest headaches that hiring managers face:
1. Nabbing Good Talent
This is most likely the top concern for any hiring manager. You get a bunch of impressive applicants when you post your jobs, but after you interview them, most of them turn out to be duds. By the time you’ve figured everything out and realized who your best candidate is, that person has probably already found another job. When 38 percent of employers report having the same problem, you know it’s not just you: You’re dealing with a troubling trend.
At Red Branch, we know it can be a big problem, and we move as fast as we can to respond to applicants (we get at least two per day, which isn’t bad for an agency of our size). In the fight to find the best talent, speed is everything. If you can get to candidates faster with the help of an applicant tracking system, you’ll be the first to recruit them.
2. Getting the Most Out of Employees
We’re constantly working to increase the productivity of our current employees, and I can admit that I’ve had more than my fair share of trouble with job matching.
The thing that I’ve learned is that, sometimes, employers hire people with the right soft skills but the wrong hard skills, which leads to a pivot. Some 40 percent of HR reps are re-skilling employees, teaching them new skills and placing them into new jobs.
While this is a pretty good fix, a better solution would be to match employees with the right jobs the first time around. In order to do so, we give each new employee a hard skills test and assess for cultural fit via in-person interviews. It’s not a perfect method, but if you combine it with regular reviews that ask employees what more they could do in their roles, you can make sure your employees are doing everything they can for your company.
3. Keeping the Good Ones Around
Next to hiring, retention might be the biggest hassle to deal with. It’s frustrating to know that 46 percent of your new hires could leave in as few as 18 months. Most often, this is because you made a hire on short notice. But the second-biggest reason (which happens about 34 percent of the time) why companies make bad hires is because the employee simply wasn’t a good fit.
At our agency, we spend a lot of time up front trying to scare new hires out of the job. Why? Because I don’t have the time for a cultural mismatch. I don’t present my company as something it’s not just to make the hire – even if I desperately need it. That’s a waste of time and money. It may take longer to recruit, but trust me: You won’t scare the right candidate out of the job.
4. Improving Employee Morale
Morale is tricky. It sneaks up on you, and it takes most employers a while to catch on to the effects of low employee morale. It may not be the flashiest problem to have, but trust me: It’s a real problem. It leads to just about every other issue on this list. Increased turnover? Check. Reduced revenue? Yep. Bad reputation? Eventually.
Morale is one of those things that you put on the back burner because it doesn’t seem like that big of a problem at the time – and then it becomes a huge one. Whether it’s because of bad job matching, a rotten apple getting to the rest of the company, or a bad reaction to stressful times, you need to check on morale as often as possible. We’ve “dipped” in morale a couple of times, and while never catastrophic, we’ve had to let go of people who were poisoning the company.
If we’d known during their interviews just how much the bad hires could affect those around them, we would have started screening a little better. More important, however, is making sure you don’t unload too much of the dismissed employee’s work onto current employees. That can serve to lower morale even further.
Instead, accept that you’re going to be less productive for a little while and focus your efforts on the most critical projects until you find someone new.
5. Keeping Everyone Honest
Micromanaging makes for bad bosses. I think everyone knows this, but they’re just too afraid of what might happen if they don’t keep tabs on what everyone’s doing. They may also be fearful of what activities are taking place outside the view of their watchful eyes.
Last year, 25 percent of companies suspected they would have to run an investigation on one of their employees’ activities, especially those in the extractive, defense, and pharmaceutical industries. When you suspect an employee of wrongdoing, you have to swiftly fire said employee and find a new one.
How on earth do you screen for integrity? It’s a problem I’ve yet to solve. Nearly everyone I’ve ever interviewed has talked a great game, but that’s no guarantee they won’t fudge their hours, steal a client, or spend work time doing non-work activities. Perhaps the best way to keep candidates honest would be to be more thorough about references, past work history, etc. And if you’re hiring for a position where the exploitation of power could be a problem, don’t let someone through the initial process unless they have solid references.
I’m hoping that by bringing these issues to light and sharing my experiences, I can inspire you to find your own solutions and maybe get through your next hire much more smoothly. There are many more problems in recruiting (trust me, there are), but these are the biggest issues I believe to be plaguing the job market as a whole.
A version of this article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
Maren Hogan is the chief marketing brain at Red Branch Media.