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Jul 13, 2016
This article is part of a series called Higher Performance Workforce.

Many companies — from multinational mega-corporations to neighborhood markets — are still using outdated hiring techniques. Clinging to the ways of the past when constructing a workforce leads to high turnover, stagnant engagement from staff, and quarterly reports in the red.

In some cases, it is as if they are staffed by a host of HR drones. These businesses are going about the practice of hiring in a completely automatic, unconscious manner.

Solving the hiring problems of the 21st century requires a spirited, connected system that makes selecting the right candidates for the job easy.

It requires a conscious hiring process.

The premise is that conscious hiring is the linchpin of workforce optimization and engagement and employee retention, as well as an overall boost to your customer service efforts. Hiring consciously means awareness around the role, the purpose, and outcomes required to successfully validate the role’s existence and cost to the organization, as well as mindfulness about who the right type of person is for the role. With a conscious hiring mindset, all of these parameters are defined at the beginning of the search. It means making keen hiring decisions that are geared toward the organization’s strategic needs. over and above the key words listed on the resume and the frenzy to fill the job fast.

When people are hired and on-boarded into an organization that they are philosophically aligned with, and they are hired into roles that are matched to their strengths and talents, simply said, they perform — and they perform well. When you open your hiring mind and take a conscious approach in your “people on-boarding” methods, you streamline your operation; you optimize your workforce, maximize employee retention and engagement, and begin to provide stout customer service.

Workforce optimization

When you look at hiring like you look at improving your running, tennis or golf game, it only makes sense to hire people who raise the bar and make everyone better in the process. High performers focus on doing the right things, achieving outcomes and, depending on their role and interests, they focus on making improvements to products and the business. An optimized workforce means that the right people are focused on the right things. The right things might look like increased sales, operational efficiency, innovation, customer experience and sustainability, as these are the pillars of any long-term successful organization.

Employee engagement

There is tremendous chatter in the media about the lack of employee engagement in the workplace and a large emphasis in leadership circles on raising workforce productivity — both of which can be solved through a conscious hiring mindset. When the majority of people on a project team are high quality engaged workers, it raises the energy and output of the group, and when the opposite occurs, it lowers the energy and output of the work.

Most people are like sponges; those around them affect their work attitude. Positivity breeds positivity, and so forth. Work production improves under the guidance of engaged, inspired and competent people; as opposed to when you unknowingly hire someone who is not competent, not engaged and their attention is bifurcated, you get a sub-par work product. It’s the law of physics.

Hiring is a tricky game. Most people know they must put their best foot forward in an interview. However they don’t know the effect they have by being ill-equipped for actually doing the work. It is the business manager’s job to know and be aware of the impact, and to head off these problems before they arise.

Employee retention

A conscious hiring program helps business owners streamline hiring efforts and maximize hiring effectiveness because it begins with the end in mind. Before any advertising is done, or any recruitment begins, the role is assessed and analyzed for a solid understanding of purpose and linkage to strategic outcomes. Often, too much time is spent with candidates who have spot on resumes yet lack the fundamental traits to effectively execute the role. In the end, neither the person nor the role delivers.

Organizations want to keep the right people — the people who contribute and move the business forward. When managers focus on developing the best people, encouraging the best in them, and shepherding them to the next level, they improve the retention of their high-potentials.  Likewise, when management focuses on fixing and preventing errors, it creates a culture of risk avoidance and stagnation. Consciously hiring affords managers the time to focus on elevating the work challenges and opportunities for the right people, which leads to stronger employee retention.

Customer service

The customer experience improves when the person in the customer-facing role authentically cares about service delivery, is a proactive problem solver, is detail focused, and has a natural talent at follow-up. Consider how you feel when you have to wait for assistance while the staff stands around talking. That’s the same experience your customers have when they call but don’t feel served.

In sharp contrast, organizations that match their hiring brand with their customer brand attract and onboard the type of people who deliver results for customers consistent with what was promised when the customer signed up. When you match your company values to the values you look for in your service people, they naturally deliver in a manner that honors those values; your message and your service brand are strengthened.

When your company breaks free from the fetters of archaic hiring methods, turns on its brainpower and begins to recruit and hire in a conscious manner, it has an organization-wide benefit. Turnover drops, employee engagement improves, workforce productivity increases, and your customers and clients are more apt to return and increase their business.

This article is part of a series called Higher Performance Workforce.