A Healthy Approach to Hiring That Actually Works

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Today’s hiring process is all wrong.

Businesses across the board are in search of  “experienced hires,” but researchers have found this doesn’t necessarily equate to satisfactory results.

The problem, according to Harvard Business Review contributor, Peter Cappelli, is that “employers spend so much on something so important while knowing so little about whether it works.” 

But one of the reasons hiring has become so hard, he argues, is that retention has become tough. 

This assertion has taken on even more relevance in 2021, with The Great Resignation underway and droves of workers quitting on a daily basis. 

In her story for BBC, Kate Morgan emphasizes how employers have played a big part in why they\’re walking away. “Foremost, workers are taking decisions to leave based on how their employers treated them — or didn’t treat them ­— during the pandemic,” Morgan writes. “Ultimately, workers stayed at companies that offered support, and darted from those that didn’t.”

This is important because I believe it directly ties into the way we approach hiring.

One of the biggest problems I see leaders make in their pursuit of expanding their teams is focusing solely on filling jobs rather than holding on to — and promoting — talent from within their organization. 

A company that doesn’t keep one eye on retention and the other on hiring will always be chasing its own tail — attempting to fill-in positions people keep leaving. 

Related: How to Hire Better Employees in Less Time for a Fraction of the Cost

Consider these two steps for healthy hiring practices

For me, hiring involves a two-pronged approach. The first has to do with always trying to keep great employees in the company. At Jotform, we’re lucky to have a low staff turnover with an annual churn rate of only 5%. This is key because I believe a calm, warm, non-threatening environment is massively important for both productivity and longevity — for new and old hires alike. 

Because of this, we constantly seek out more feedback from our teams — sitting down with some top employees and asking for their candid thoughts. We also take the time to create an anonymous survey to better understand their needs.

The second part of this equation involves a long-held practice of mine: 

Hire slowly + grow slowly

It’s really as simple as that. 

Focusing on conscious, deliberate growth over the “hire fast and fire faster” rule that many startup experts adhere to — is what’s helped me build a successful business. Here are some other key ways to approach healthy hiring:

Develop your team from within

According to Cappelli, most companies are shocked  to learn how few of their openings are filled from within. “Is it really the case that their people can’t handle different and bigger roles?” he posits. “The common sense explanation for this is that few enterprises really know what talent and capabilities they have.”

Instead of spending significant resources on hiring talent from the outside — encouraging team members to apply for new positions can give your business a competitive advantage. For one, they already have a strong sense of your organization’s culture. 

And two: you’ve spent considerable time developing trust; you know how they work and what they can bring to the table. 

Related: 9 Tips for Startup Hiring

Take time to revamp your interview process

One of the lessons I’ve learned from growing my business to millions of users is that even one bad hire can set you back substantially. In fact, The Department of Labor found they can cost a company 30 percent of its annual earnings. All the more reason to hone your interviewing process.

One of my favorite pieces of advice stems from author and professor of management at Georgetown University, Christine Porath, who notes that we should be on the lookout for signs of civility when interviewing potential candidates. 

Asking them how they managed a particular situation in the past, for example, provides more valuable insight than simply posing hypothetical questions. “Skill and talent can’t make up for the costly impact that toxic employees have on your organization; it’s better to catch that behavior before the person joins your team,” Porath notes.

To get a better idea of their civility, she recommends asking the following questions during your interview:

  • What would your former supervisors say about you — both positive and negative?

  • What are some signs that you’re under too much stress?

  • What kind of people do you find it most difficult to work with? How did you handle it?

Related: The Great Resignation is a Chance to Get Serious About Diversity

Create a strong mentorship program 

At Jotform, we’ve been lucky to find talented hires from inside our paid internship program, which welcomes more than 50 interns per class.

Our interns spend their first week in training and then “copilot” with an experienced team member afterward. They’ll generally work on their own projects — like gathering customer use cases for our mobile app — this gives us a chance to evaluate their work ethic and skills before deciding whether they’re a right fit.

But these benefits are even more far-reaching. “One of the most impressive things about an effective mentoring program is how far the positive ripple effects reach,” Naz Beheshti writes for Forbes. “A strong mentoring program is a smart initiative for aligning your employees’ individual purpose with that of your organization,” she adds. “With those two interests in sync, your workplace culture will flourish.”

Related: 3 Great Ways to Solve Hiring Challenges

Hire in line with your values

A great way to lay the foundation for growth is to focus on hiring based on value-alignment over simply filling jobs. As Alan Lewis explains in his story for Harvard Business Review, skills don’t necessarily tell the whole story.

“Every organization needs employees who mesh with its core values — the principles that define who you are as an organization and that shape day-to-day business decisions,” Lewis notes. “Employees who do not adhere to a shared corporate culture dilute it, detracting from the essence that gives your company its identity and helps it achieve aggressive goals.”

I’ve found this to be true. I’ve spent the past 15 years fostering a culture that prioritizes camaraderie, work/life balance and transparency. Maintaining that integrity and equilibrium, for me, takes center stage over any impressive skills a candidate might have. 

Ultimately, hiring good cultural matches, according to Lewis, is the best way to assure the continued success of your company — leading to higher retention, better employee engagement, and even deeper connections with customers.

Related: 5 Tips for Effectively Onboarding and Training New Hires