Good employees are a scarce commodity. But what do companies do to find qualified individuals? Many companies resort to searching desperately. We are constantly looking for good employees as well, but we have realized that desperation alone just isn't enough.
Based on my experience, I would recommend the following five steps, which I suggest, are key criteria for successful recruiting. Many personnel managers in large corporations probably already know this information, or it doesn't apply to your company. This information is targeted at startups or small and middle-sized companies to help them distinguish themselves by applying other companies' criteria.
1. Good Products
It might sound simplistic, but it is often overlooked: good products and services are the foundation for attracting employees. No one really wants to work at a company with poor products or services. It isn't something you can talk about with your friends. "You work there? Isn't the product getting bad reviews lately?" Of course, you'll find people that have to work for you, but they're not the type of employees you need to grow your company.
2. Attractive Workplace
The average full-time worker spends eight to 10 hours per day at work. That means he or she spends more active time at work than at home. One would think that employers would make every effort to make the workplace a place that employees will be comfortable at and want to go to.
Far from it. Many companies inhabit dull, boring buildings and take little to no care in decorating the office space. Of course, you can argue that not everyone can afford high-end locations or designer furnishings are too expensive. And you're right - that isn't necessary. Boring office buildings dominate ‘high-end' locations, anyway. Why not move into an old factory or ‘art nouveau' building? Great furniture doesn't have to be expensive, either. Let your staff -- especially the ladies -- pick it out!
What else makes a workplace attractive? At Paessler AG, soft drinks, coffee, sweets and fruit are free, and we even have a shower, with free towels service, as well as a relaxation room with lounge chairs. Of course, staff can bring their own drinks and snacks or maybe an apple, but most of them don't, which leaves them dehydrated. Even compared with the added costs for the company, this has a huge "wow" effect for employees!
I don't just mean flexible work times, although I did learn the hard way that forcing software developers to work from nine to five is not productive. Many of our developers do work during these times, but it's just a coincidence determined by their preferences. If someone programs better between 11:00 am and 9:00 pm, then he or she needs to be free to work during those times instead of the typical nine to five. Our marketing and sales staff work during regular office hours. Sales staff that work better later either have the wrong job or should be assigned different time zones. If the circadian rhythm calls for a break, our relaxation room with luxurious lounge chairs are ready and waiting. Flexibility isn't restricted to time for us; if you're waiting on your plumber or an important package, we offer the opportunity for our staff to work remotely (although I generally do not like home-office workspaces). I'm sure you can think of other ways to organize your work times specifically suited to your products and services as well.
If an employer dictates every crossed "t" and dotted "I," he can't be surprised to find himself surrounded by staff who works to the minimum and doesn't think for themselves. All he needs are employees that are willing, vicarious agents in order to maintain the status quo. However, this attitude doesn't help a company grow. Entrepreneurial employers, however, recognize the potential in their employees and encourage and challenge them accordingly in their assignments. An employee who is able to take on responsibility, develop ideas, and make contributions to the company tends to be more driven and intent on its success than an employee who is given neither freedom nor responsibility. Each employer has to decide how this culture of responsibility can be implemented in his company. At Paessler AG, this is implemented through horizontal organization, broad areas of responsibility and ‘long leashes'. We also have an ‘Employee of the Month' program, although it's rather a witty, exaggerated honor for individual performances. You might even work with your staff to determine the best way to get employees involved to take on responsibility.
5. Appeal to your staff's social network
Every company must know by now, especially with the uprising of social networking, that the average employee doesn't just work, eat and sleep. Most spend a hefty dose of their free time with friends and acquaintances - who, in turn, pursue a variety of different careers. If I have convinced my staff of myself and my company with a good product (see 1), an attractive workplace (see 2), flexible work times (see 3) and a job with high personal responsibility (see 4), I can assume that: their real or virtual networks only hear the best about me and my company, and that they'll tell qualified applicants about the company. In the best case scenario, you've gotten a new employee served to you on a silver platter - and recruiting and recommendation didn't cost you a cent!
Christian Twardawa is the Chief Operating Officer for Paessler AG. Paessler AG leads the industry in providing the most powerful, affordable and easy-to-use network monitoring and testing solutions. The company’s suite of just-right software products deliver peace of mind, confidence and convenience for businesses of all sizes – from Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) to large enterprises, including more than 70% of the Fortune 100 companies. For more information, visit www.paessler.com.
Edited by Brooke Neuman