Ever been tempted to put out a “Now Hiring” or “Help Wanted” sign in front of your business to hire new employees? While that might work for the local coffee shop, it’s rarely going to help you in finding great employees for your service business. As skilled labor becomes more difficult to hire – and retain – business owners have to step up their game to secure the right talent. Wise decisions for hiring will have them seeking you out, rather than you hunting for them.
Start with Some Housekeeping
Before you start hiring, it might be worth reviewing your company’s Human Resources (HR) polices. Completing this review with an HR consultant for an afternoon can pay huge dividends. A consultant can review how you interview and coach you as well. Just because you’re not a major corporation with an HR department, doesn’t mean you can’t access these professionals. They can help protect your business from hiring bad employees, inadvertently violating employment laws, or getting sued. And having some basic HR policies and best practices in place goes a long way in making your company a great place to work.
Offering a Great Environment
Great employees look for great companies to work for. Sure, you’re a great person, but what about your benefits package? How do you handle coworker conflict? Are the pay rates you offer competitive? Ask yourself the hard questions. If you wouldn’t want to work for you, are you sending the best hires to your competitors?
Landing a great employee can be worth far more than you pay in salary or benefits. Think about the return on your investment in your people. Even if you can’t offer all the bells and whistles of your competitor across town, if you create a dynamic environment, then you’ll attract great people who want to be respected and valued.
Word of Mouth
When you’ve created the best service business to work for in town, your reputation among potential hires will do the priceless work of spreading excellent word-of-mouth. While you can’t control what everyone says about you, you can cultivate a great reputation.
If you are known for having clear, written policies and fair wages, word will get out. If you are known as the best gig in town, you’ll have them lining up at your door with the hint of a new opening. Does word of mouth work for advertising? Of course it does. And, it works just as well for advertising for employees as it does for customers.
Students about to graduate from trade schools are eager to work. They’re fresh and trained on up-to-date equipment and regulations. Many schools can connect you with current students, to start working while still enrolled. Working for you before they graduate can help them meet graduation requirements through internship or externship programs. You get to have a trial period with them before they graduate; they get on-the-job experience and a leg up over the other students.
If your local high schools offer vocational programs, those are also a resource of motivated potential hires. Some high schools allow the students to leave early in the school day to come to your business and work part time. By the time they graduate high school, you’ve got them trained on your company’s methods. While it may seem obvious, many businesses overlook these options.
It may be tempting to only focus on experienced candidates, but the investment can be well worth it. You can avoid the new hires that learn bad habits after starting off their career with someone else’s business.
Union membership may be down from decades past, but it’s not out. Unions train their members, saving you time and money. While some business owners may pause at seeking out union hires, they are excellent resources. Also, consider that the decline in union membership has given those currently in unions something to prove. Unions and their members are eager to show they are still as viable as ever. Amongst new union members, 76% are under 35, while workers over 35 are falling in union membership rates. Securing the up-and-coming talent just might mean giving your Local a call.
The Team Approach
If you are hiring for multiple positions, then you can borrow a technique from the construction industry and hire by teams, instead of one by one. When interviewing potential hires, ask about others they know who’d like to be part of a team. This works particularly well when hiring for managers or lead positions. While you might not get a team of experienced pipe fitters easily this way, you can get a pipe fitter who knows a couple of experienced former coworkers and a group of eager to learn assistants. You’ll find yourself spending more on training than other hiring approaches, and it may not work if your business requires certified technicians.
Finding Great Employees
Hiring and keeping the right employees are two of the most valuable aspects of creating a thriving service business. Happy, valued employees send a great message about your company when they are out on a job. When you invest in the right people, your turnover decreases – right along with your stress. You can focus on all the other essentials in making your business successful.