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How to reduce your recruitment costs



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The best way to cut down your recruitment costs is by not needing to recruit in the first place. But with engagement being such an issue in Hong Kong, how can you turn this around? By Jacqui Barratt, director of font.  

It’s widely accepted that recruiting new employees is both a significant cost and investment to businesses.

Even those who bring the function in-house will lose time, resources and revenue when they are finding, interviewing, reference checking and onboarding the new person. The return on investment for each role or company will differ but the minimum return is usually only seen at the six month mark.

So how can you keep your recruitment costs down? Well, by creating an engaging workplace culture that your employees want to work for and then don’t want to leave.

Employee engagement is a real problem in Hong Kong, which experienced the highest drop in employee engagement levels (from 58 to 50 per cent) in an Aon Hewitt study on 2013 Trends in Asia Pacific Employee Engagement, eight per cent less than the Asia-Pacific average.

In order to drive your recruitment costs down, you firstly need to understand why people are coming to or leaving your company. How is your brand perceived in the marketplace – if you don’t have the brand recognition of Google or Facebook, do your employees sell the brand for you?

You’ll need to think holistically about the brand you are creating and how you are communicating it to your employees. What are your brand values, systems and personality – and are they consistent across all functions of the company?

Your employees are your greatest salespeople and if they’re leaving work every day and talking about how great you are to work for, they will create your own talent pipeline. In order to build up this army of in-house advocates, you’ll need to create a culture, workplace and vision that staff members feel proud to be part of.

I’m not just a number!

A collaborative working environment that encourages feedback and inspires everyone to work together towards a common goal is going to have a better chance of keeping its employees than one in which everyone is just a number on a spreadsheet, sitting behind a screen, doing a job that no one else in the company knows about.

People want feedback! The old fashioned concept of no news is good news is outdated and won’t help your company grow. Ensure your managers are providing constructive feedback to your employees and creating an environment of two-way feedback. The people closest to the customer or the action can give you the best insights into how the business can achieve more.

Your staff members also need to feel as though they have the skills and training they need to carry out their role to the best of their abilities.  They are usually full of ideas about where the efficiency gains are – but very rarely feel they can give that input.

Why am I here?

Engaged staff need to feel like they are a part of the vision and that their contribution counts. Sometimes employees don’t feel they are important – in fact staff members in large companies sometimes admit they don’t believe senior management know they exist.

It’s all very well for the company to have a motto, but employees need more than that to stay motivated. Clearly communicate the short and long term goals and help each employee feel their contribution is an important component to getting there. Keep them updated and let them know how the business is performing the good and the bad!

Make sure everyone from managers through to presidents of the company take time to meet and get to know all employees, and what makes them tick. Just as we remain loyal to the friendly barista who remembers how we like our coffee, we are going to stay loyal to senior management who know how we operate and the value we can bring to the workplace.

Some companies are doing simple things like monthly CEO open-doors sessions where people can call or visit the CEO and chat about ideas or issues the business should address.

A clear roadmap

Employees who are incredibly valuable to your company are usually self-starters and big thinkers, who thrive on new opportunities and learning. These people need to be given the opportunity to step up, to attend training and they will want feedback on their performance.

As soon as they feel they have accomplished everything they can in their role, they will seek out a new opportunity – your job is to make sure that it is within your company!

Sit down with employees regularly to mark out where they are going and what they want to achieve. Be honest – make sure the feedback is clear and show them what competencies they need and the performance levels they must achieve to help them on their development path.

Telling them they are doing a great job is not enough to help them grow. What in particular are they doing well? What makes it great? Where do they need to improve? It might help to partner them with a buddy / mentor who can help them achieve their goals.

Exit interviews

You can’t help staff leaving for circumstantial reasons, but you can prevent them from actively looking for jobs by creating the kind of working environment they absolutely wouldn’t want to leave.

In the unfortunate event that an employee does leave, make sure you have an exit interview to understand their motivations. Honest feedback is the golden ticket to retaining your other staff – if the exiting employee had a gripe, it’s likely they were not alone. Were they lacking support or training? Did they feel stagnated or disempowered? Did they get along with their colleagues? These are important questions if you want to build and grow a team that works happily and efficiently.

Knowing and motivating your employees, and working together to build a culture no one wants to leave will allow you and your team to focus on growing the company, and not merely on keeping it afloat.

Turnover costs add up – are you keeping yours to a minimum?

Image: Shutterstock

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