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Three steps to better retention through improving workplace satisfaction

Photo Credit: Glenn G, Flickr

According to the recent Hays report on Fit and Retention, nearly half of Canada’s working population are unhappy in their current role which means employers have a retention risk on their hands.

The second part of Hays “Fit” Series takes a look at the impact that finding your ideal fit has on workplace satisfaction and what factors could contribute to someone’s dissatisfaction. It’s a challenging balance to have both the right fit as well as career progression and salary to keep your employees happy.

We’ve all hired someone we think is a good fit, but after the “honeymoon stage” they’re less engaged, and less productive – and they might be considering moving to another company in hopes of finding something fulfilling long-term.

What can you do to improve retention?

Before you hire:

1. Make the most of the interview process

Encourage hiring managers to see the interview process as a two-way street – make sure candidates get an accurate information about the work culture so they can also make better decisions. Include questions about management preferences, social behaviour, and preferred work environment. The Fit report also shows that only one in five employers are using behavioural or psychometric testing. These tests can be an excellent addition to your hiring toolbox.

2. Involve the team in the final decision

When considering a new hire you’ve considered how well they will fit with the existing team and their direct manager. Arrange an opportunity for them to interact informally with the team. The number one contributor to an employee feeling they fit in was their direct manager so encourage the manager to take them to coffee to have an informal introduction before making a final job offer to make sure you’re on the same page about the role and their career.

 For your current employees:

3. Ask the right questions

Instead of trying to brainstorm why someone may be unhappy in their current position there is a more straight forward approach to take: ask your employees directly. Identifying the problem and taking steps to address it can inhibit retention issues. Hays has an annual global employee survey with a more than 90% participation rate and our HR team actively looks for ways to improve any issues flagged.

 4. Be seen taking action

When you have the results, release an overview of the findings, and offer specific actions you will take to address the main concerns. The Hays HR team ensures they communicate with all employees to let them know that they’ve been heard, and that changes are in the works. It takes time to implement new programs, so being seen to listen and make changes based on suggestions can go a long way towards re-engaging your workforce.

Get more insight from the Hays “Fit” Series 2: Fit and Retention including a practical exercise for assessing workplace satisfaction.

Hays Canada division manager Rachel Finan has more than 14 years of experience working in HR recruitment, She excels in making the right match and brings expert insight into market trends, employer needs, and candidate requirements.

Wanted: creativity, diversity and realism in job postings

Can we please try and take a good hard look at the way we write job postings? Almost all postings for HR positions are eerily similar. It seems that all we do day after day is scour the internet to read each other’s job postings and then copy and paste to cobble them together. The latest trend is to ask for ‘x years of progressive HR experience’. And I’m thinking, progressive, as opposed to what? Is there such a thing as regressive HR experience? And if that exists, what is it exactly? I don’t know too many people who regressed while in an HR role – my thinking is, if you show up for work every day and put in a decent effort, you can’t help but progress in your profession.

Why do job postings invariably contain the words ‘complex’, ‘challenging’ and ‘rapidly changing and dynamic’? Organizations tend to hype their work environment as dynamic and fast-paced, while from personal experience and anecdotal evidence it is obvious that a number of them are, in fact, static and slow-paced. Companies tend to state something like ‘ABC Inc. is a progressive organization that focuses on continuous improvement and innovation. We offer a collaborative team environment with a dynamic culture and standard of excellence’. New hires usually find out that the reality is much different once they are on board and end up frustrated.

Why do so many managers and recruiters still interpret movement as progress? If we’re serious about being strategic, creative and forward-thinking, a job posting should include something like ‘Required to sit back an hour each day and think about better ways of doing things’.

We’re drowning in jargon. HR job postings tend to ask for effective problem-solving abilities (as opposed to ineffective), the ability to translate business needs into HR solutions, we need to reinforce a collaborative high-performance culture, make impactful recommendations (as opposed to?), champion and execute programs, be proactive (instead of lethargic), be a thought leader, attract and retain critical talent (but not too critical), build and sustain an engaged workforce, improve HR workplace efficiencies, be both strategic and tactical with the ability to see the bigger picture, be results-oriented, develop innovative solutions, act as a thoughtful coach and partner with leaders to develop team workforce strategies to ensure alignment with strategic priorities. Oh yes, the word strategy – every posting needs that at least three times.

Be careful what you ask for. If you state that you offer a dynamic, fast-paced, inclusive work environment while your organization is stagnant, sluggish and cliquish, there’s an issue when dozens of vibrant entrepreneurs apply for the position. Same thing if we parachute a dynamic, results-oriented HR guru into a bureaucratic, process-oriented organization where dozens of tenured people look at new ideas the way chickens look at storm clouds. Also, don’t state that the HR Manager is expected to be able to work independently and implement strategic HR decisions if the CEO thinks of HR in terms of payroll and birthday cakes.

It can’t be too hard to be a bit more creative, original and upfront. If your culture really is that exciting, then talk about the fun stuff. Also, be frank about the bad stuff. We all know the old HR statistic that if people quit, they quit on their first day or in their first week – usually because the job or the environment turns out to be completely different from what they expected, or were led to believe.

Consider a job posting that reads ‘Let’s face it: a lot of HR work is not that exciting. We at ABC Inc. would love to tell you that we value work-life balance and while our work day officially is 9 to 5, you, our HR Superhero, will be expected to stay until 7 or 8 on most days just to get through the backlog. So forget about dinner with your family or running before daylight fades. We offer a high-stress environment where you’ll be dealing with a lot of tedious, mind-numbing administrative work for the first six months and yes, we do have a couple of people here that were miscast in their roles and left to marinate in their own shortcomings, because nobody wanted to deal with it. So there’s your challenge! Still interested? Visit our website!’.

It is so rare to see a sense of humour come out in a job posting. Example: last year I saw a posting from a cosmetics company that included the following line: ’50% off all our products so that you feel fresh every day’. So, we can find inspiration elsewhere. I recently bought a red wine called forward and to my surprise, the label on the back stated the following: “This spot is usually reserved for a wine description. Often confusing or intimidating to some, we believe there is only one criteria: you like it, or you don’t. For those wanting more info on this wine, please follow us on Facebook or visit our website for a detailed description. We’d love to hear from you!”. How about a job posting that starts as follows: “This spot is usually reserved for a job description. Often full of irritating jargon and over-the-top to many, we believe there is only one criteria: either it’s a fit, or it’s not. For those wanting more info on this job, please check us out on glassdoor or visit our website for a detailed description. We’d love to hear from you!”. Quite refreshing.

As HR professionals, we have a key role in making sure that we don’t raise job seekers’ expectations about the company and the work environment to unrealistic levels. When a hype proves deceptive, we will likely be confronted with mis-hires and turnover. It’s our job to protect organizations by managing expectations.

Evert Akkerman is an award-winning HR professional based out of Newmarket, Ontario. He has worked extensively in the private and non-profit sectors and has broad experience in communications. Evert founded XNL HR in 2012 and can be reached at and 289-338-4001.

Do’s and Don’ts in an Interview

Good interviewing skills are crucial when trying to obtain employment. If the interview doesn’t go well, then an employer may be inclined to hire someone else. The job interview is your opportunity to create a positive impression of yourself and can be the deciding factor in landing the job. A great resume alone will not get you the job.

Here are a few of the do’s and don’ts for interviews that will help you make a great impression and land the job.

Top 5 job interviews Do’s

  1. Do be punctual. Don’t make any excuses and arrive 10-15 minutes early to allow time for possible delay and use the extra time to freshen up for the interview if you have arrived early.
  2. Do dress appropriately for the industry. Err on the side of being conservative to show you take the interview seriously. Your personal grooming and cleanliness should be impeccable.
  3. Do be prepared. Come prepared with as much information about the company and industry as possible. Prepare questions of your own to ask the interviewer. Good candidates want to know that the company to which they are applying to is a good personal fit for them as well. Research the company! The more you know the better off you are.
  4. Do be aware of body language. Maintain good posture, look enthusiastic and make eye contact with the interviewer.
  5. Do be honest. Being honest on the resume will surely shine through in the interview and beyond. Providing false or inflated information is not only unethical but could also be grounds for termination later. Don’t ever lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and succinctly. Provide as much information as needed and don’t over-answer questions.

Top 5 Job Interview Don’ts 

  1. Don’trely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. No matter how qualified you are for the position, you will need to sell yourself to the interviewer.
  2. Don’tanswer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Give explanation to your answers. Describe those things about yourself that showcase your talents, skills, and determination. Give specific examples.
  3. Don’t place a large emphasis on salary. The salary is only discussed if and when the employer is sold on you as a candidate. Your interviewer wants to see what you can do for the company, not what’s in it for you.
  4. Don’t make negative comments about former colleagues, supervisors, or employers.
  5. Don’t answer your cell phone or reply to text messages. Turn it off or put it in silent mode.

While your resume will get you the job interview, the interview is what will get you the job. Make sure your interviewing skills are impressive.

Do you have a job interview coming up? Don’t be nervous! Just follow these guidelines for a more successful interview.

Zahra Sherzay is a recruitment partner at Lucas Professional Search Group.