Action Steps You Should Be Taking to Re-Recruit Your Top Employees

Second of two parts

Editor’s note: For Part 1, see 6 Reasons Why You Need to Work Re-Recruiting Your Own Employees

The concept of re-recruiting is pretty simple: You apply the tools and strategies of external recruiting to your top current employees.

It means that instead of waiting and then having to compete against other offers side by side, a manager proactively makes a compelling internal offer first to his or her top talent.

Here are some action steps to keep in mind:

  • Make re-recruiting a goal — Start by adopting the premise that unless they are re-recruited, no one will stay at your firm longer than 18-24 months. Drop loyalty from your vocabulary and assume you must continually excite top talent if you are to keep them. Make “the best offer will come from the inside” the goal for both managers and HR. Make successfully re-recruiting a percentage of top-performing employees each year part of a manager’s bonus criteria.
  • Develop a re-recruiting tool kit — HR must accept responsibility for developing an effective re-recruiting approach. So HR must work with your external recruiting function to come up with dos and don’ts and sample templates for managers to use. This tool kit should also include a list of the possible re-recruiting options (i.e. flexibility, pick your own project, 20 percent time, pick your own leader, etc.) that managers can offer to their re-recruited employees. Also consider putting up an internal online re-recruiting forum to exchange ideas and to share problems.
  • Identify and prioritize re-recruiting targets — Require managers to identify who they would classify as “regrettable turnover” within their team. Prioritize those employees and focus your retention efforts on those employees who you would most regret losing.
  • Identify which top performers are at risk of leaving — Although re-recruiting all top performers might be a good idea, limited resources may force you to focus your retention efforts on only those individuals who have a high risk of leaving in the near future. Recruiters can help by identifying which jobs and job families are being targeted by external recruiters. HR should help by developing a list of precursors or indicators that can help a manager assess whether a targeted individual employee is at risk of leaving. Some of those at-risk indicators may include average length of time in previous jobs, the number of frustration and excitement factors, whether an individual is overdue for a raise or promotion, and whether an employee feels underused.
  • Put together a list of re-recruitment excitement factors — Provide managers with an updated list of the approved re-recruiting factors that have routinely excited employees during past re-recruiting efforts. This list can guide an individual manager so that they include enough of these factors to create an effective re-recruiting offer each time.
  • Put together personalized retention plans — Because you are targeting only top performers, you can afford to put together individualized retention plans that are personalized to meet the unique needs of an individual employee. For each target, HR must work with the employee’s manager so that they know the “frustrators” that are causing them to think about leaving, the likely turnover triggers which might cause them to begin a job search, and then the appropriate set of personalized retention actions that should be used to counter each turnover-related factor for this individual. The retention plan should also include goals, intermediate success measures, and who will be accountable for each step of the plan.
  • Approach an employee to re-recruit them — Starting the re-recruitment process can be awkward for a manager, so provide them with a rough script to guide them. Start with a phrase that says “because you are one of our most important employees, I would like to talk to you today about updating your current role so that it is more exciting, challenging, and impactful. I would like your help in identifying how we could change and update your role over the next few months so that you enthusiastically look forward to coming to work each and every morning.”
  • Identify internal re-recruiters and help sources —The very best firms, like Cisco and Booz Allen Hamilton, have designated internal “movement teams” of their own recruiters that proactively seek out and move top talent. If you can’t afford a mobility team, you should provide training on the re-recruiting process to your managers and also provide the names of your own recruiters who are willing to provide advice and coaching on how to excite a recruit (even if it is a current employee).
  • Process — Because the job market place is continually changing, your re-recruiting process needs to be continually updated and improved. In order to do that, six months after re-recruiting an employee, interview them and find out what worked and what didn’t work in order to continually improve the re-recruiting process. Also conduct a “failure analysis” any time that an employee who was targeted for re-recruiting quits.

Additional actions to consider

  • Get help in identifying “who” and “why” — Ask your current employees to help you to “keep the team together” by identifying those in the team who they feel are at risk of leaving and what would cause them to leave. “Why do you stay?” interviews with targeted employees can also be used to identify the factors that make individuals stay and the factors that might cause an employee to leave.
  • Understand external offers — Identify the elements of typical external offers for each key position by looking at the other offers that your new hires received. Ask executive search professionals to periodically update you on the offers that similar professionals are getting in the marketplace.
  • Prepare an instant response — In the cases where your employees actually get an external offer, prepare an instant counter offer strategy and action plan so that you can respond immediately and effectively.
  • Make praise and recognition routine — Without making it appear staged, periodically tell your current top employees how important they are and how much they contribute. Consider asking them for the professional courtesy of notifying you when they begin a job search or even consider an external offer.
  • Identify frustrators — Periodically ask your current top-performing employees what frustrates them in their current job. Ask what factors restrict their productivity and innovation. Use that information to remove frustrators and barriers to success. For the very best employees that you want to re-recruit, ask them to describe their dream job and where they would like to be in the next year, and then work to provide them.

Final thoughts

The concept of re-recruiting is really quite simple. Periodically “update” your original job offer (the one when they started or with their last promotion) so that it appears new, fresh, and exciting to a top-performing employees.

And don’t just settle with re-recruiting once. Assume that it will be necessary to update their offer and their job periodically if you expect people to stay loyal and productive.

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If you expect to win “The War to Keep Your Employees” you must forever bury the notion that the best employees will naturally stay at your firm without periodically taking proactive actions.

Employee retention is becoming problematic because we live in a world where the minute after a manager does something to anger or frustrate an employee, they can react negatively by instantly applying for a new job by simply pushing a single button on their smart phone. And even if they never push that application button, managers need to realize the best, because of their visibility, will be found and contacted on a regular basis by either recruiters or employees trying to make a successful referral.

Taken together, that means that in a world full of job offers, both the first and the best job offers come from inside the employee’s current firm.

Did you miss Part 1 of this? Check out 6 Reasons Why You Need to Work Re-Recruiting Your Own Employees

Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in strategic Talent Management solution. He is a prolific author with over 1200 articles and ten books covering all areas of Talent Management. Along with his many articles and books, Dr. Sullivan has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/organizations in 30 countries on six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source, including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., The New York Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, Harvard Business Review, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column and the ERE Media blog. Dr. Sullivan has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC Nightly News, NPR, as well as many local TV and radio outlets.

Fast Company called him the “Michael Jordan of Hiring,” Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industries most respected strategists.” He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management.  Adding to these acclamations, Dr. Sullivan has also served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, as well as becoming the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. Dr. Sullivan is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). Most importantly, he wants to hear and respond to your most pressing questions about advanced talent strategies.

His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and www.ERE.net.

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