4 Problems That Plague Small Business HR (and How to Solve Them)

HR thought leaders frequently mention best practices that large companies utilize (think Google and Boeing). Every company has unique hiring practices, but companies like Zappos and Starbucks take recruiting and retention to advanced levels. They have found unique ways to attract and retain the ideal people for their teams.

Small businesses might not have the time to “reinvent wheel” when it comes to HR. Instead, take few tricks from the industry top dogs, and incorporate their HR processes into yours!

Problem #1: Not Finding Qualified Applicants

When anyone walks into a Starbucks, they expect nothing but the highest quality of customer service and delivery. How are they finding applicants that can deliver such high service? Starbucks educates applicants about applying for a position before the candidate submits an application! Starbucks provides applicants with interview and resume tips on the company website. This lets applicants know right off the bat what the company is looking for. If the applicant is willing to put in the time to create his or her application, Starbucks offers the recipe for success.

The baristas that customers enjoy the most are the ones who know the Starbucks product lines; Starbucks encourages applicants to do research beforehand. There are an infinite number of ways to format your resume. Since there are so many options, you might yourself going through resume after resume with too much (or little) information. Starbucks coaches applicants on exactly what the resume should include. This way the hiring manager is not searching for the information he or she needs, which cuts down on valuable recruiting time.

Problem #2: Interviews Not Identifying Top Candidates

Google has interviewing candidates down to a science. “For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability,” Laszo Bock of Google notes. While your candidates certainly may be extremely “book smart” and have the 4.0 GPA, there is much more than grades to be considered when picking a new employee. Try asking behavioral interview questions that can help you see how a person reacts to the question.

A “Google” question would be, “Your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find who has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds who does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. Would you accept the wager?” Granted, your questions do not have to be so out of the box. The theory behind asking questions aside from “Why are you a good fit for this position,” can force the applicant to think on his or her feet. This way, you can evaluate the applicant when a scripted answer was not already prepared. Try questions like, “What was a mistake you made at work? How did you fix it?” There are tons of interesting interview questions out there for you to try!

Problem #3: Recent Hires Aren’t a Good Cultural Fit

A lot of applicants are not looking for a career, they are looking for a paycheck. These are the most detrimental hires to your company. Happy and engaged employees will do a better job. However, not everyone would thrive in an energetic culture, which means a person’s ability to fit into your organization’s existing company culture is critical.

Companies, like Zappos, have a reputation for an enthusiastic culture, which is probably why they have such top notch customer service. Since fitting in with Zappos’ culture is so important to the management team, if an employee does not think he or she is a good fit, Zappos offers them $2,000 to quit. Only 3% of employees have taken them up on this offer, which shows they are good at identifying cultural fits from the start. Be upfront about what it is like to work for your company from start to finish. This can help you eliminate those who will quickly leave before they are hired.

Problem #4: New Hires Leave Quickly

Being in sync with an organization’s culture is important. What if the culture is a good fit, but the employee is having difficulty adjusting? Even if an applicant has landed his or her dream job, it will still take some getting used to. That is where your current employees can help. A mentoring program, like Boeing’s, can pair up veteran employees with your new hires. New employees might not be familiar with others outside their department. That is what makes Boeing’s program so successful. Boeing will pair up employees from different departments and from different levels on the organizational hierarchy.

Matching your new employees up with veteran ones is two-fold. Not only can your employee have someone to “show him/her the ropes,” but also the seasoned employee can impart wisdom on your new hire. Not only is it a win for keeping your new employee in the short term, but it also helps in the long run, as a veteran employee’s talent doesn’t leave the organization upon his or her retirement.

You can take the recruiting, interviewing, hiring and retention practices of the Fortune 500s to help with the current HR problems you face. Part of what makes those companies so successful is the team that they cultivate. Careful screening and other top notch HR techniques continuously allow these companies find (and keep) the best employees on their payroll. Incorporating a few of the elements that industry giants do can help you get on track to performing at their level!