Thursday, April 10, 2008

What is your People Strategy?

A strong team is often the result of a recruitment strategy that goes well beyond HR.

A people strategy is a well-thought-out plan of attack that will help your firm attract, hire, develop, retain and grow your workforce. It consists of five areas: culture marketing; recruitment and selection; orientation and training; communication and feedback; and compensation and benefits. This article is designed to provide a brief overview of each element within a people strategy.

Culture Marketing: Attract the best people
In order to attract the type of people that you need to grow your organization and add value to your open positions, you need to identify the attributes that make your organization unique. Following are a few questions you need to consider.

- Who are your best performers and why do they like working at your firm?
- What attracts candidates to your firm?
- What words would you use to describe your firm? (i.e. entrepreneurial, energetic, professional, team-oriented)

Organizations typically have marketing strategies designed to create demand in the market through creative messages about the unique attributes of their products. However, with the changing and competitive job market beginning to heat up, organizations need to consider developing marketing campaigns to attract talent. Culture Marketing is the process of identifying the distinguishing characteristics that make an organization a great place to work and packaging these in an intriguing and appealing message.

Recruiting and Selection : Find the people
The key to a successful recruitment process is the ability to understand the skills, talents and personality traits needed for your firm. For each hour you spend developing and defining the role and responsibilities of an open position, you reduce your length of time to fill the position by eight days! A well-written and accurate position description can dramatically increase recruitment success as well as improve performance reviews, career development planning and even succession planning.

How creative are you with sourcing candidates? What type of tools do you use to attract candidates? Your goal should be to cultivate an organization of recruiters. Everyone in your organization should have a vested interest in hiring the best and brightest. Many of today's successful firms leverage multiple recruitment tools such as employee referral programs, agency partnerships, college scholarships, electronic job boards and even open houses.

How skilled are your interviewers? Now that you have creatively attracted the best candidates, you cannot afford to lose them. The interviewing step should focus on identifying the skills, knowledge, education, experience and personality of each candidate. Your interviewers should understand the company's culture as well as the specific roles and responsibilities of the position. They should also use this opportunity to sell the unique attributes of your firm. Be sure they make a positive impression on each candidate, even if the applicant is not a fit for the position. Finally, select the candidate that is best suited for the role and focus your efforts on bringing him/her into your organization. An effective recruitment process should measure the quality of new hires, days to fill, cost per hire, and strategic impact to the organization.

Much has been written about the recruitment process over the years. However, the evolving job market forces firms to rethink how they attract, find, and hire talent. My objective is to challenge the status quo and develop and implement recruitment practices that will help you find your next strategic hire.

Orientation and Training: Develop your people
What type of orientation program does your company offer? Did you know that the turnover of employees who have been with the firm one to two years could have been avoided through an effective orientation program? Based on my research, I found that new hires leave after one to two years because they never felt they were a part of the organization.

An effective orientation program will help cultivate employee loyalty as well as increase individual productivity by providing the new employee with the specific tools to help them succeed. An effective people strategy also addresses personal and professional growth. How do you plan to grow your staff and provide opportunity? Your strategy should include a career development process, leadership development tools, as well as succession planning. This section will delve into cost-effective ways to develop your staff and dramatically increase employee commitment while at the same time reduce employee turnover.

Communication and Feedback : Listen to your people
I am not referring to the suggestion box in the break room. Your people strategy should encourage knowledge and information sharing throughout your organization. In addition, communication and feedback programs should solicit ideas and thoughts from your staff that could grow the business and improve productivity as well as provide your staff with an opportunity to make a difference. You pride yourself in hiring the best people; now leverage their skills, talents and abilities beyond their title or position. I will explore effective feedback programs that could replace traditional performance reviews and provide tools that you can use to actively engage your workforce while positively affecting your firm's profitability.

Compensation and Benefits : Reward your people
Compensation administration is often viewed as a necessary evil that all of us have to deal with. However, if approached from a holistic perspective, a compensation and benefit program can attract and retain your best performers. Your people strategy should approach compensation and benefit administration from an employee's point of view. Your staff is interested in receiving a fair market wage and benefits with an opportunity for financial rewards.

As part of your compensation analysis, you should consider base salary or wage, as well as variable compensation such as company bonuses and individual performance. Your analysis should be based on market research, employee performance levels, value to the firm, and individual productivity.

Your benefits should be tailored to your staff's needs and based on market research and employee feedback. Many firms overlook this area of their people strategy and miss an opportunity to add value to an employee's overall life, while also positively influencing the firm's bottom line. With the rising costs of health care, creative benefit programs are beginning to become mainstream and provide the employee with individualized coverage while saving the organization time and money.

As your firm strives to become an employer of choice, you will need to address all areas outlined in this article. By developing a detailed strategy, you will be able to help your firm dramatically improve the way it attracts hires, develops and retains people.

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