HR’s Primary Role in Recruiting? It’s Really All About Retention

HR doesn’t get as much credit for recruiting as they should. But it’s not for the reason you might think.

An organization that seemingly recruits well probably has an HR department to thank for helping to keep and attract employees.

Retention programs and efforts to create a strong culture are a couple of the most powerful recruiting tools available to an organization today. Without them, and a strong HR presence to support and continually foster them, any recruiting efforts will likely fall short.

Referrals are still king

We’ve known for years that referrals are some of the best sources for new employees. They typically fit the culture better and stay longer than someone from an outside source. However, today the name of the game is not only word-of-mouth referrals, it’s word-of-network.

Social media and the proliferation of mobile devices, have employees and potential employees connected in ways that boggle the mind. While many in HR may see this as a bit of a nightmare, it’s also one of the most powerful branding resources available to an organization.

The hard part today is that it’s as much an art as a science. You can do all the surveying you like, but a few random comments on Facebook and you could suddenly be in fire drill mode.

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They key is to balance what you are doing with what you are hearing and to continually inform executives of the importance of the connection between retention and recruiting – and the reality that things can change quickly.

Connecting and common sense

Here are two quick suggestions may help illustrate my point about the connection between retention and recruiting:

  1. Get connected to social media – This is not just so you can monitor and respond to what’s being said, but so you can assess the overall picture of your organization in the various networks. Remember, you can’t always directly influence what’s being said and you shouldn’t. Think of it more as an indication of the results of efforts in other areas. But always keep in mind that employees and potential employees are reading the same things you are.
  2. Create policies that make sense and match your culture – There’s a lot in the news today about huge retention bonuses and other benefits like unlimited paid vacation time. When you are creating new policies, make sure that what you are considering is not just a great idea, but a great idea that fits the culture of your organization. You can give out a lot of money and free vacations, but if you have lousy working conditions or untrained managers, employees won’t stay long enough to make those benefits worthwhile to either of you.

It’s foundational

To be clear, I’m not saying that retention is the only role for HR, but it’s a critical one today that might get missed as organizations rebuild from years of stripping down recruiting resources and internal recruiting competencies. As you are deciding on how you will recruit moving forward, don’t forget to talk about HR’s role in retention. There are many outside avenues for traditional sourcing and recruiting, but retention is still the foundation that belongs to HR.

Whether or not HR is actually recruiting directly, facilitating the recruiting process, or not even recruiting at all, HR still has one critical role in recruiting today: retention.