Do Your Hiring Practices Need Some Help?

Hiring is an inevitable part of running a business. Even if you have the lowest turnover on the planet, at some point you’ll need to fill an empty position. Or 10.

Whether it’s due to growth, retirement, or good old-fashioned attrition, eventually you’re going to have to bring on some new people. But if your hiring practices aren’t up to snuff, your new hires won’t be either. 

Investing in good hiring practices is an investment in your business. If your hiring processes are efficient and well defined, you’ll find the right candidates much faster. And if you hire the right people at the get-go, you’ll spend way less time trying to manage square pegs into round holes.

Developing an effective and strategic recruitment process will save you time, money, and headaches.

Who are you looking for?

Are you hiring for skill, culture, or attitude?

Many companies get too wrapped up in specific skill sets, looking for that perfect person who can do it all. But in the quest for skills, we sometimes forget that having likable, motivated team members who are happy to be on staff can go a long way toward making the workplace more pleasant and productive.

Busy managers may be drawn to the idea of hiring for skill based on the assumption that minimal training will be required. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Employee training and onboarding are key components to new hire assimilation. In other words, spending time with new hires isn’t a bad thing. Not only will you make sure they are executing their skills how you want them to, you’ll also go a long way toward helping them feel welcome and supported, which are critical to employee engagement and retention.

Hiring for skill set is also tempting because it’s easier to define. You simply look for skills A,B and C. When you find them, it’s a match!

Hiring for attitude and culture is more nuanced. In order to effectively incorporate these things into the hiring process, you’ll need to define what they are, based on your current culture (if you’re happy with it) or the kind of culture you want to build. Take a look at your company culture, where it is now and where you want it to be. Identify key people within the organization who best exemplify your culture and assess the qualities they have that make them such a good fit.

Hiring for attitude doesn’t always mean hiring the perkiest person in the room. In some office cultures, this would be hinderance to success. Meanwhile, hiring for culture doesn’t mean you should only hire carbon copies of your current staff. To do so is to miss out on different perspectives, diversity, and the cultivation of a well-rounded team.

They key here is to figure out what kinds of skills, attitudes and qualities work best in your culture, and then weave those things into your talent search.

How to find your best fit

One way to make sure you’re looking for the right people is to create an ideal candidate profile.

Tell the story of who you want on your team. What kind of person are you looking for? Which traits are most desirable? Once you know who you’re targeting, it will be much easier to conduct your search. How can you connect with candidates that match your description? What social channels are they on? Where would they go to look for new opportunities? What kinds of incentives will they find motivating?

Another way to find ideal candidates is by crafting the ideal job description.

Work with your hiring manager to determine what the job currently looks like and what it should be moving forward. Does the position still make sense as is or would a little restructuring do everyone some good? What skill sets are mandatory? What skills are optional? What skills can be taught or learned?

Update the job description and tailor it toward your ideal candidate. If you’re looking for a creative, flexible, extrovert, say so. If the position is geared more toward someone who enjoys following a predictable daily routine, say that too. The more information you can include in the job description, the more apt you are to attract like-minded applicants.

How not to miss out

Finding awesome candidates is only half the battle. The other half is winning them over.

If you’re excited about your applicants, you can bet other companies will be, too. Sometimes, we fall into the trap of thinking about hiring strictly as a competition between candidates, and we forget that as employers, we’re also competing with other organizations.

When jobs are scarce, the tide turns in our favor, and the job is the prize. But when unemployment is low or talent is scarce, we need to flip this model on its head. The prize is that high performing new hire.

Here are several quick ways to lose the battle for talent:

  • Make candidates jump through too many hoops
  • Withhold details about the job, company, benefits, or compensation
  • Fail to keep applicants informed about where they are in the process
  • Take too long to schedule or complete interviews
  • Be indecisive or get stuck in committee
  • Wait too long to make an offer
  • Lowball your candidate to give you “leverage”
  • Demand they accept or decline your offer immediately

Don’t be on the losing end of the talent war. Define who you’re looking for, then revamp your hiring practices so they align with your company values and are attractive to those you want to recruit.

The hiring process is often a potential employee’s first peek into what it’s like to work with your organization. Make sure you’re looking good.


Photo by Kheng Ho Toh 

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

Employee Surveys: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

People who care about their personal health often see their physicians for regular checkups. During these visits, the doctor will take your pulse, listen to your heartbeat, and check your weight. The idea is to catch anything that might be brewing before it becomes a bigger, potentially irreversible, problem.

Leaders who care about the health of their companies would be wise to go through the same process on a regular basis. Take the pulse of your organization, listen to the internal workings of the team, and check to see what things might be weighing them down.

The goal of organizational check-ins is to catch any unhealthy symptoms before they have a chance to spread and get worse. If you uncover some unpleasant things happening in your business, you’ll need to start working on a cure.

Looking for symptoms

There are many ways to go about getting important feedback from your team: during performance reviews, through exit/stay interviews, and in meetings and focus groups. These kinds of mechanisms can provide great information, but mostly in the form of anecdotal stories. If you want aggregate data, you’ll need to ask everyone the same questions in the same format.

Attempting to do this one-on-one is a grand idea, but depending on the size of your organization, it could be virtually impossible to conduct and document these sessions in a timely manner. And depending on what’s going on in your organization, it could be literally impossible to get people to tell you what they really think in a face-to-face format.

This is where employee surveys can be extremely useful. As long as you’re committed to getting them right.

Methodology matters

When done well, employee surveys can gather important information, even from a large group, quickly and anonymously. And, because everyone is being asked the exact same questions in the exact same way, you’re getting apples-to-apples responses as opposed to nuanced stories and answers.

Unfortunately, many organizations are conducting employee surveys that aren’t done well. They’re asking questions that are irrelevant, misleading, or confusing. They’re designing surveys that are obviously slanted toward a particular outcome. They’re creating “anonymous” surveys that contain key identifying questions. And sometimes, they’re just asking WAY TOO MUCH.

There is a right and a wrong way to conduct employee surveys. If you’re going to go through the trouble to do one, you’ll want to make sure your efforts are fruitful, not futile.

How to design an employee survey that works

Slapping together a random survey will yield random responses and random results. To get the most out of your information gathering, design your research in a way that maximizes participation, honesty, and reliability.


Define the goal of the survey – What do you want to measure? What indictors will you use? How will the results be analyzed? (NOTE: Employee surveys should never be used merely as a vehicle to pat leadership on the back. If that’s your main purpose, stop right here and save yourself the time and money.)

Check your toolbox – Have you conducted similar research before? Do you have benchmarking data? Can you pull questions from previous surveys?

Think design – Will the survey be conducted in-house or outsourced to a third party? Are you committed to keeping results anonymous? Is it strictly an online endeavor or does your staff require other options?


Create your questions – Will your questions be open ended, multiple choice, or a mix? No matter what format you choose, there are some basic rules you’ll want to follow:

  • Make sure each question serves a distinct purpose. Irrelevant questions will give you irrelevant data.
  • Arrange questions in a logical sequence. Avoid jumping back and forth.
  • Keep it simple. Each question should addresses one thing only. Avoid multiple-part questions and complicated jargon. Make each question clear and concise. If you must use complicated terms or acronyms, include an explanation for each one.
  • Keep it positive. Avoid negatively worded or biased questions.
  • Keep it neutral. Toss out any partisan language or leading questions.
  • Keep it short. No one wants to answer a 75 question survey. Or even a 25 question survey. Research has shown that the more questions you ask, the less time respondents will spend on each one. Strive for a 2 – 8 question range, or a completion time of 10 minutes or less.
  • If you’re going anonymous, go all in. Avoid any personal and/or identifying questions, and use a system that doesn’t track response dates and times, or respondent email and IP addresses.

Explain the why, how, and what – You’ll need to communicate with your employees about the survey prior to sending it. Tell them the purpose of the survey, why it’s important, and how they will benefit. Give them details on when it will arrive, what it will look like, how they should fill it out, when it needs to be returned, and how the results will be used. If you’re going incognito, explain that all results will be completely anonymous and confidential. Thank them in advance for their time and effort.

Test it out – Never send an employee survey without running it through a test group first. You’ll want to make sure there is consensus on what the questions mean, how to fill it out, and that it actually works. You’ll also want to check all spelling and grammar, not only to avoid confusion and loss of credibility, but because there are always plenty of people who love to send emails pointing out these kinds of mistakes. Bottom line: If there is any kind of problem with your survey, you’re going to create significant frustration and a flurry of unwanted questions and comments.

Send it out – Because you’ve explained why the survey is being conducted, what it looks like, and how it should be filled out, this process should be smooth. Remember to include all of this information again with the survey so respondents have all of the information they need in one place.

Now what?

Now you wait. And collect. And send out multiple reminders.

Once you have a good portion of the surveys back, you can begin to analyze the data and results.

There is one caveat here. And it goes back to the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for.”

If you don’t like the results you’re getting, you can’t just shove them in a drawer somewhere. You’re too far in now. You did your homework, you set your goals, and you designed your questions carefully. You (and your employees) committed to this process and you need to follow it through all the way to the end.

Staff will be expecting to see something from leadership about the survey responses and what changes they should anticipate as a result. Don’t let them down. Share what you learned and how you plan to incorporate that information into organizational processes moving forward.

After all, wasn’t that the whole point?


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How Employers Can Offer Dependent Benefits

Guest blog content provided to Q4iNetwork Consultants by freshbenies freshbenies-Logo.jpg


With skyrocketing healthcare costs, how can employers afford employee coverage and still offer dependent benefits? This is a very real challenge facing employers today. 

Most companies follow a similar pattern when offering employee benefits. They start off with health insurance, paying 50% or more of the employee premium, and allow employees to add their dependents at their own cost. Some employers will also pay for dental coverage, life insurance, vision insurance, and disability coverage – usually in that order, though it can vary based on what benefits the employer thinks are important or believes the employees will appreciate.  

Due largely to costs, most employers no longer pay for dependent coverage. The employees’ family members don’t work for the company, and providing benefits to the whole family would be really expensive, so they leave that up to their workers. Plus, we’re even seeing a new trend developing among larger companies to limit participation of spouses in the health plan when other employer options are available.

But, let’s remember most employees get up in the morning to provide for their families. Not including benefits for the ones they love most can leave hard-working employees feeling like an adult stuck at the kids’ table. If a company can figure out ways to extend a few of the benefits to family members, employees will appreciate those benefits even more, which means the company will see a higher return on its investment.

It’s probably not practical for most companies to pay 100% of the cost of health insurance for employees, their spouses, and their children. But then again, health insurance isn’t the only benefit out there. Here are a few ideas for companies that want to provide some cost-effective benefits for the whole family…

1. Contribute to a Health Savings Account

Employees can use their HSA funds on themselves, their spouses, and their tax-dependent children, even if they’re not on the health plan. This is a point that brokers and employers should emphasize during the annual enrollment meeting. With the employer HSA contribution, parents can take their kids to the doctor or the dentist, get them glasses, or pay for monthly prescriptions. They’ll appreciate the employer’s benefit plan every time they use their HSA card.

2. Pay for Ancillary Benefits

For some reason, employers get it in their minds that they have to be consistent in the way they pay for the various benefits they offer. However, the truth is that they can leave the dependent health insurance costs up to the employees and pay for lower-cost benefits like dental or life insurance. Dental insurance is about one-tenth of the cost of health insurance and people value it almost as much, so it’s a great benefit for a company to pay for (one with orthodontia benefits for the kids will be especially appreciated). And group life insurance is cheap, so employers can provide a base level of benefits for the employee, spouse, and children and then allow them to buy up if they want.

3. Allow employees to purchase voluntary benefits

Even with no employer contribution, there’s value in offering voluntary or worksite benefits like accident or critical illness insurance. Why? Because it’s a lot less expensive than health insurance and can help to offset high medical bills. This means that an employee who can’t afford to cover his family members on his health plan can still reduce their exposure with these relatively inexpensive products.

4. Educate employees about CHIP

The Children’s Health Insurance Program offers quality coverage to low-income families at a very affordable price. The cutoff level, costs, and benefits vary by state, but here’s a quick example of how it works. In Texas, families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, or $50,058 per year, can qualify for CHIP. For those who qualify, they can cover all of their children for just $50 per year or less. Spending a couple of minutes explaining the Children’s Health Insurance Program during an enrollment meeting and handing out a free brochure is a great way to help employees at no cost and with almost no effort. Why wouldn’t an employer want to do that?

5. Offer telehealth!

While almost all employee benefits have an additional charge for family members, telehealth benefits are often good for the employee, spouse, and tax-dependent children (and/or tax-dependent parents). This is especially important for employees who can’t afford to cover family members on their health plan. While telemedicine is not insurance and not intended as a replacement for insurance, it does provide family members with access to health care.

For example, an uninsured spouse can pick up the phone and call a doctor (for herself or her child), get a prescription if necessary, and then save on the cost of that prescription at the pharmacy. She can also email a specialist to get her medical questions answered, consult with an advocate when searching for lower-cost providers, and get help reviewing, organizing and negotiating medical bills. That’s a lot of benefits!

Ultimately, employers offer benefits to attract and retain employees, and for this to work they need to provide benefits their employees truly appreciate. Any benefits that the employer can make available not only to the employees, but also to the employees’ family members, will be doubly appreciated.

Keep this in mind when you’re designing your organizational benefits package. If your goal is to get the most out of your benefits dollar while keeping your employees and their families happy and healthy, considering these options is a great strategy.


Photo credit PublicDomainPictures

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

Are Critical Conversations Still Critical?

Once upon a time, there were very few ways to effectively communicate. And most of them involved actual, real-time conversation. Now that we have a plethora of ways to send and receive messages, you may think real, live, in-the-moment discussions have gone the way of the dinosaurs. But don’t be a dodo bird.

Critical conversations are still very necessary, both in business and in life.

Yes, there are plenty of occasions where alternative methods of communication will do. But there are also a ton of instances where interactive conversation is a superior way to work things out and get things done.

But we can just write, right?


Written communication can be great for quick messages, how-to explanations, and documenting specific details, but it leaves a few key things missing. Vocal tone, expression and delivery are conspicuously absent, as are any signs of facial cues or body language. Emojis may try to fill in the blanks, but when it comes to critical conversations, they are no substitute for genuine emotions.

And speaking of emotions, written communication removes a couple of key ones: fear and accountability.

Communicating electronically or in writing makes many people much more willing to say things they would never say in person. And, because this medium allows the writer to continue uninterrupted and on their own schedule, it’s really more of a one-way conversation as opposed to an open, collaborative dialogue. So while messages may be streaming back and forth, they aren’t necessarily resulting in a constructive conversation.

Conversations still matter

Yes, talk can be cheap, but it can also be communication gold. True conversation is a two-way interchange, where information is both given and received. It’s not just about talking. It’s about connecting.

If you’ve got an important problem to solve, issue to discuss, or situation to deal with, it could be well worth your while to talk it out.

Here’s how to make the most of your next critical conversation:

Prepare ahead of time – Collect your thoughts, determine key points of discussion, check your facts, and have some positive outcomes in mind.

Encourage new ideas and different points of view – Acknowledge and be open to what others are thinking and feeling. Recognize that people come from different situations. Viewpoints may depend on a multitude of factors including, age, race, gender, past experience, etc.

Ask questions – Good conversations require good information. Make sure you clearly understand what others are saying. The following questions can help:

  • Tell me more
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What do you mean by that?
  • How would that work?
  • Why is this important?

Listen – Constructive conversation requires a little bit of talking and a whole lot of listening. Listening does not mean waiting for your turn to talk. It means being patient, having empathy, and making a concerted effort to understand what others are saying—and feeling. Pay attention what is being said verbally as well as what is being through body language and tone.

Stay on track – Listening is important, but if someone gets too far off topic, they can take your entire conversation with them. Sticking to specific details instead of painting broad generalities will help keep things focused. Example: “You’re not performing well.” vs. “You’ve missed your last two project deadlines.”

Maintain a balance – The goal here is information sharing. Not information dumping. If any one person is monopolizing the conversation, it’s going to affect the integrity – and the outcomes – of the conversation.

Make your next conversation count

The next time you’re tempted to blast out an email or send a quick text, think about the effectiveness of the method based on the outcomes you’d like to see.

Investing in some constructive conversation might actually be the quickest, most effective way to accomplish your goals. 


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5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

3 Hiring Myths That Are Sabotaging Your Talent Search

Way too often, potential job candidates make assumptions about what an employer is looking for. Then they decide to take themselves out of the running based on those assumptions, whether they’re valid or not. Many talented applicants have sold themselves short by giving up on a position before even applying.

Sadly, job seekers aren’t the only ones thinking inside their little boxes and missing out on potential opportunities. Plenty of employers also make assumptions and generalizations that keep them from hiring amazing talent.

Here are some common employment myths employers buy into during the hiring process:

1.) We have to make this a full-time position

Do you, though?

If the job can be done in 30 hours a week, why hire someone full time? Sure, that person might give you another 10 hours of miscellaneous help in other ways. Or, they might find a way to spread their 30 hours of work out into 40.

There tons of smart, talented people struggling to balance the demands of work, family, and personal commitments. Many of them are excellent employees who would jump at the opportunity for a position that allowed them greater flexibility. Healthy, balanced lives lead to a healthy, balanced workforce. There’s no shame in creating awesome part-time positions.

Departments or organizations may fear losing clout or funding if they don’t convince higher ups that the position is important enough be full-time. This is a ridiculous notion to any true business person. Make your case based on evidence and efficiencies and you’ll have any good manager’s ear. Don’t force a square peg into a round hole if it doesn’t fit.

Dangerous assumptions:

  • We’ll get X hours of additional work out of whoever we hire!
  • No high caliber candidates would ever be interested in a part-time position.
  • A part-time position will seem less critical, less important, or less worthy of funding.

Dangerous behaviors:

There’s a fine line between offering part-time positions because it makes sense for the job and offering part-time positions strictly to avoid paying living wages and providing employee benefits. Don’t be THAT company. Design your positions fairly and pay your people what they’re worth.

2.) We need an outside expert 

No one is saying that outside experts can’t be helpful. But there is mounting evidence that inside hires are better business decisions.

Because your current employees are already familiar with the culture and each other, the learning curve is shorter. Outside hires have to learn everything from the ground up. They also tend to command higher starting salaries. And the real kicker? They don’t last as long in their positions. Internal hires require less hand-holding, fewer resources, and they hang around longer. Win-win-win.

Why so many businesses insist on overlooking the talent they’ve cultivated is perplexing. You hired these people. They’re known entities. Take your high performers and see what they can do given the opportunity. Don’t rule people out simply because they don’t have 100% of the skills they need to step into a particular role. Yes, they will require training. But so will an outside hire.

When it comes to transitioning the new person into their role, a well-respected internal hire will have a big advantage over an unknown outsider. Plus, they may even be willing to train their replacement before moving into the new position.

Dangerous assumptions:

  • We need someone with “fresh eyes”
  • No one here is qualified to step into this position
  • It will be too hard to transition an internal candidate into the new role

Dangerous behaviors:

Choosing an internal candidate can’t be done willy-nilly, or with blatant favoritism. Promoting a marketing intern to VP of Marketing probably won’t go over well, especially if she happens to be the CEO’s niece.

Establish a fair and sensible internal hiring process, and apply it evenly every time. Oh, and just because research says internal hires don’t demand as much compensation doesn’t mean you should lowball them. Make sure you’re offering competitive salaries and benefits.

Of course there may be times when you really do need to make an outside hire, especially if you’re planning on a major organizational overhaul. And that’s okay. But it doesn’t need to be your default.

3.) We can’t hire someone who Seems overqualified

Here we go again. Making assumptions.

There’s a reason this person applied for the job, despite appearing to be overqualified. Unless you way overplayed the substance and significance of the position, you should trust that anyone who takes the time to apply is actually interested in the opportunity.

If it’s money you’re worried about, here’s the question that must be asked: Are you including salary range information in the posting? This will quickly clear up any misconceptions about compensation. Just because an applicant has a lot of experience doesn’t necessarily mean they have higher than average salary expectations. It also doesn’t mean they are destined to get bored and leave at the first opportunity.

Maybe they’ve done their research and are excited about your product, mission or culture. You don’t know what drew your candidates to you. Until you ask, that is.

There may be a perfectly good reason they are interested in a position that appears to be less than challenging. Perhaps they’re being challenged in other areas of their life instead. Maybe they have an ill parent or child at home. Maybe they’re writing a novel, or training for an ultra-marathon.

The point is, that “too qualified” candidate you just put in the no pile might be the best employee you never had.

Dangerous assumptions:

  • We can’t afford this person
  • He will never stick around
  • She shouldn’t want this position. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Dangerous behaviors:

There’s a big difference between hiring an occasional overqualified person and writing job descriptions with requirements that are out of sync with actual duties.

While it’s true that an overqualified candidate might want to opt in, it’s also true that demanding a master’s degree for an entry level positon is total overkill. Make sure your job postings are painting an accurate picture of what life in that position is really like, including the compensation structure. This will make the job search much easier on both ends.

Don’t let erroneous hiring assumptions sabotage your employee recruitment. Expand your range of vision and you’ll be much more likely to spot your next best hire.


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5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook