Human Resources: Five Steps to Hiring Successfully in a Competitive Environment

by Merrick P. Dresnin

Welcome to 2022 – the year of multiple open positions and not enough applicants to fill them. Roles take longer to fill, current employees are overworked and continuously pulled in different directions. With a desperate need for finding and retaining new employees, what is the best way to accomplish this? 

Hiring the first person that answers an ad or walks into the human resources office is tempting. Taking a chance on someone who really does not fit within the organization may seem okay in these challenging times. Sometimes taking a chance works, however, most of the time it does not. If taking that chance goes poorly, the costs are painful. Think about the amount of time and money spent on advertising for roles, training new employees, and the disruption caused by bringing in a new person. Now imagine that person failing because they were not the right fit.

Compounding the cost of a bad hire is the very expensive cost of harm to a property’s brand in the community. When a guest has a poor experience, they tell their friends who tell their friends, and the property’s reputation suffers. The same is true in the recruiting world. If someone leaves with a “bad taste in their mouth,” their entire network of eligible applicants will know and the cycle of needing help and unfilled open positions continues.

According to Lisa Frye, in a 2017 Society of Human Resources Management article titled, “The Cost of a Bad Hire Can be Astronomical,” finding and hiring a new employee can cost as much as $250,000. A bad hire means a dual waste in investment – the recruiting expense and tackling the hard and soft costs of exiting someone who you just spent time bringing to the team.

Even when desperate, pressed and pained, it is essential to take ten deep breaths and exercise the following steps when recruiting that desperately needed new person.

Exercise an Extreme Amount of Patience 

People are tired of seven day workweeks and have had enough of doing the work of two or three people. Someone applies for a job and they’re wanted yesterday. No one disagrees with the need to fill openings, but a “warm body” in your casino, hotel or office who is doing nothing but sucking in more
oxygen is not helping the situation.

It is advisable to wait as long as it takes to find the right person. Those who do not listen often end up back in the HR office within three to four months seeking advice as to how to get rid of that person. Do any of these complaints sound familiar?

• The employee is not catching on.
• Motivation is a problem.
• They are bringing down the team.
• Instead of lightening the workload, more work is created.
• They are costing the department more time, not less.

There is no need to vary from a well-thought out, meticulous hiring process. Typically, human resources should screen the candidate using behavioral interviewing questions (ask how the candidate has handled certain situations in the past, as past behavior predicts future performance). HR should not be the decision-makers when it comes to identifying the right employee. After the HR team’s screening it is essential that the candidate’s future boss interviews the applicant. HR is not working in the operation and should not be the final decision-makers. In some properties, that step may not be enough – the general manager may want to meet the applicant before an offer is made. Regardless of the length and complexity of the process, stick to it. Take the time needed and hold to what has worked for the organization. Such consistency will help ensure the person ultimately selected is equipped with the skills best suited for the position. This may not work out 100% of the time, but sticking to a consistent process ensures a high likelihood of the homerun hire.

Maintain a Sense of Urgency and Act with Speed and Decisiveness  

Patience and adhering to the organization’s process does not mean that there should be any delay. There are fewer candidates for a flood of openings. Any viable candidate should be interviewed as quickly as possible, within the parameters of the
organization’s hiring and interviewing process.

The best approach to successfully filling roles is to respond to candidates as quickly as possible. If your organization delays, some other organization will not. It is important to reach out to applicants and get them into the process as quickly as possible. This is not where you exercise patience. Reaching out immediately is critical, and only after they are within your application process do you exercise methodical, process adherence.

As the applicant flows through the process and if they are the right fit for the opening, it is time to offer the role without delay. Make the offer verbally and follow the verbal offer up quickly with a written one. It is effective for the verbal offer to come from the hiring operations manager, with an immediate forwarding of a written offer letter from the HR team. Regardless of the organization’s preference, when it’s the right fit, move at lightning speed.

Onboard the Person Right 

Once the offer has been made, the onboarding relationship starts immediately. It is a good idea to give a deadline to provide an answer as to whether or not they would like to accept the offer. Assuming it is 48 to 72 hours, perhaps the operator or HR team checks in sharing their enthusiasm and excitement that the candidate is considering joining the team. The check in is an opportunity to stroke their interest and offer to answer any questions. The person reaching out can measure their enthusiasm. If they sense hesitation or ambivalence, draw out questions and find ways to answer any questions (or connect the potential addition to the team with someone within the organization who can address questions or concerns).

Once the candidate sends the signed offer letter, it is time to craft the intended welcome. Operations and HR should schedule the new person for any formal orientation and arrange initial introductory meetings. Obviously, in times of understaffing, it is easy to overcommit. It is important to only promise and schedule what the organization can complete. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. Onboarding and welcoming must happen, but within the resources the organization has available.

Training and Setting Expectations 

Onboarding is the first step to the employee’s start with the organization. A topic for another day is the all too common problem of early prep and then losing the employee. HR may set up the perfect onboarding process and orientation, but then day one in the operation is the end of any type of preparation or training. This leads to early departure and dissatisfaction.

It is important that every operational department has a training program where individual employees are taught expectations and educated as to standard operating procedures. In other words, after onboarding, training should be ongoing. It is important to continuously develop employees from day one of their joining the organization.

Keep the Welcome Going 

The new person hired should receive considerable welcome and appreciation from the team. When should welcoming of the new person stop? Whether the person is new or a multi-year veteran, the organization should strive to always make them feel welcome and appreciated. In these days of multiple openings with few qualified applicants, people are constantly courted by competition. It is important to make sure that they are proud, comfortable and continuously welcomed in the work place. Continue to express appreciation for their hard work and contributions. Sometimes “thank you’s” mean much more than we realize. They should be given out for measurable contributions and when something goes right, be sure to point it out specifically and thank those responsible for such success.

Bottom Line 

Hiring in 2022 is a challenge, but take time and follow a logical, methodical hiring process to identify the right person. Once you believe you have the right person, there is no more time to waste – grab them. Once you have them, welcome them, onboard them, ensure they are appropriately trained and keep welcoming them every day. Do not be in a rush to hire, but do rush to grab and hold the right person.

Cherish those working for you, as it is with patience you found them, with speed you hired them and with great effort and consistency, you welcomed and trained them.

Merrick P. Dresnin is a Senior Human Resources Executive with Cote Family Destinations, an organization with resorts and related activities in Minnesota and Arizona. He can be reached by calling (312) 919-3993 or email [email protected].