3 ways to improve retention rates at the stage of recruitment

When you hear the phrase "employee retention," what comes to mind?

If you're like most business professionals, you probably associate it with engagement programs, corporate culture, flexible perks and benefits, and other buzzwords that are so often used today when discussing strategies for reducing turnover rates. And with good reason. These have and always will be critically important factors that need consistent attention from HR leaders and corporate executives.

However, the problem with focusing on only these aspects is that they are somewhat of an afterthought. They are solutions that affect workers only after being hired. Sure, they can be mentioned in job ad postings to spark interest among potential applicants, but they are not something the candidate will actually experience until he or she is onboarded.

Fortunately, there is a way for businesses to minimize turnover rates right from the get-go. Below are three ways you can optimize your recruitment process to improve retention rates.

1. Prioritize diversity
People want to work for a business where they feel they are represented, and that is modern in its values and mission. A company that employs a dynamic range of cultures, genders, races, backgrounds, etc. will benefit from having a diverse array of perspectives. Plus, studies have shown that the more diverse a workforce is, the more satisfied its workers are – which ultimately results in lower turnover.

"The more diverse your company is, the better it will be at attracting – and keeping – a wide range of candidates."

Furthermore, diversity has a direct correlation with the productivity and performance of an organization. For example, a study by McKinsey & Company revealed that companies that have a lot of racial and ethnic diversity see higher financial gains and are 35 percent more likely to outperform those that don't.

By recruiting from a bigger, more diverse pool of talent, you have a better chance of reaching the ideal candidate for the position you need to fill. 

One way to ensure diversity is embedded in your HR strategy is to outsource recruitment through a diversity-certified staffing supplier. Vendors that have been recognized by minority councils and organizations, for example, can guarantee that any applicant they connect you with will not only be highly qualified, but align with the values and goals of your organization's diversity initiatives. This strategy is also useful because it will eliminate any possibility of unconscious biases being present in the hiring process from internal HR professionals.

2. Enhance prescreening assessments
Employee turnover is inevitable. But sometimes the reason a person has for leaving a company could have been prevented.  It is not always easy, or even possible, to determine when someone isn't a good fit. Many times, both parties may be confident that it is going to be a great match, only to realize down the road that it isn't going to work out. But you should be doing everything possible to reduce the chances of this happening – and one of the ways to do that is through prescreening assessments.

Whether this is done in-house or through a third-party vendor, filtering candidates with the right types of testing and evaluations can ensure you are only interviewing and possibly hiring the people who are the most qualified. And while you may already use prescreening tools to determine hard skills of an applicant, such as technical capabilities, it can also be used to assess other essential qualities and traits that influence how likely they are to stay committed to your organization. Personality tests, for example, can be used to indicate what someone's leadership style is, how he or she handles stressful, high-pressure environments, if the person works well with others and whether or not the candidate will be a good fit for your business's corporate culture.

Hard skills aren't the only qualifications that can predict performance. Hard skills aren't the only qualifications that can predict performance.

By tailoring prescreening assessments and skills tests to suit the specific type of role you're hiring for, you are able to go beyond the traditional resume and application to get a more comprehensive understanding of the value a person can offer your company – and vice versa. For example, tech giants such as Facebook and Google often use coding challenges and hackathons to find and recruit the best software developers and programmers. This allows applicants to demonstrate their experience and skills in a more interactive and applicable manner than they would otherwise be able to.

3. Rethink your job listing
When crafting an ad for a job, remember that this is a chance for you to get creative. Avoid tired, overused phrases that so many companies today use. You aren't just selling the position – you're also promoting the business. Your are more likely to entice and engage top performers if you are able to portray the personality of your organization and what makes it different.

"Be as honest and specific about the job as possible so ensure you attract the person best suited for the position."

You can create a job posting that does a great job at attracting a lot of people, but the key is making sure it appeals to the right candidates. Because, when it comes to recruiting and hiring, it should be about quality – not quantity. How can you ensure that your ad appeals to the ideal applicant? First, you should be as honest and specific as possible. There's no point in sugar-coating the details of the position; the more up-front you are about the role and responsibilities, as well as the organization as a whole, right from the get-go, the more likely you are to find someone who understands what they are getting themselves into and what to expect – rather than being blindsided down the road and ending up prematurely leaving the business.

Also, keep the ad clean and concise by only focusing on what actually interests applicants. For example, research conducted by Gallup has shown that the millennial generation considers the opportunity to grow and advance more important than how much flexibility the company can offer them. Instead of simply explaining what the position will entail, you might also want to include what the long-term career outlook will be in this role and what the path toward advancement will look for them. 

Additional tips for using recruitment to improve retention
It is essential that organizations today take preventative measures to reduce turnover rates – not just for existing workers already on the team but for future and potential hires as well. To determine the weaknesses of your company's HR strategy, take the time to get a sound and clear understanding of what specific reasons people have for leaving your firm.

Also, take notice of an applicant's work history. If they have a long list of previous jobs but none that they stayed in for a long period of time, of course its understandable for you to assume this is a red flag indicating they won't stay with you for very long either. But, before writing them off, inquire about their reasons for leaving those roles. It is possible your organization will be able to give them the kind of experience others haven't. 

The more a company approaches recruitment with a long-term outlook in mind, the more likely it is to find and onboard the people who will provide it with the most value – now and for years to come. 

3 ways to improve retention rates at the stage of recruitment
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