Episode 014: Your Team’s Work Makes Your Dreams Work (Recruiting and Retaining Employees)

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No two organizations are completely alike. Businesses have different offerings, different values and different goals, but they all have at least one thing in common.

They all need people to make it run successfully.

With the unemployment rate at a low, your business may be realizing that, not only are your best candidates for your open roles already in other jobs, but your competitors are increasingly recruiting people who are employed at your company.

So with fierce competition, few applicants and many unmet business needs, how can you build the right team for your company? Once you’ve found them, how can you keep them?

In this episode of The Wrap, Paul and Kim talk with Derek Johnson and Whitney McFee of Warren Averett Staffing & Recruiting to discuss how businesses can not only identify the right team members to recruit, but how they can keep them around for the long haul.

After listening to this podcast episode, you’ll be able to:

  • Take strategic steps to keep your team members engaged with your company long after the novelty and excitement of orientation wears off
  • Foster interactions geared toward retaining your top talent after you’ve recruited them
  • Ask targeted questions in interviews to identify candidates who truly align with the role and your company
  • Understand why seeking a “well-rounded” employee might not actually be good for your business

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  1. What exactly does our low unemployment rate mean for employers?
  2. How can employers attract their A+ talent?
  3. Now that the employee is hired, how can business leaders retain this talent?
  4. What should employers look for when interviewing?
  5. The best qualities to look for in candidates…Well-Rounded?
  6. Benefits of using recruiting agencies?
  7. What are the best resources that companies are using to find talent?

Intro (00:00) Welcome to The Wrap, a Warren Averett podcast for business leaders designed to help you access vital business information and trends when you need it so you can listen, learn, and then get on with your day. Time is tight, that’s why our advisors have wrapped up today’s most timely topics into a podcast with actionable advice. Now let’s get down to business.

Kim (00:22) Hey Paul.

Paul (00:23) Hey Kim.

Kim (00:24) How are you?

Paul (00:25) I’m good. How are you today?

Kim (00:26) I’m doing excellent. I’m excited to have another podcast episode and this one is always a hot topic amongst anyone that I talk to.

Paul (00:35) The war on talent, creating a good team, interview and finding that right mix of folks for your office.

Kim (00:41) Building a strong team, having a strong team, something that every business owner is focused on.

Paul (00:47) Absolutely. And today with us from a staffing and recruiting is Derek Johnson and Whitney Mcfee. Welcome.

Kim (00:52) Welcome to the podcast.

Derek (00:53) Thanks for having us. Very excited to be here.
Whitney (00:55) Yeah, very excited guys. Thank you.

Kim (00:57) So Derek, we hear pretty much every day in the news, the unemployment rate being, I think I saw that it was the lowest that it’s been since the late sixties. And so all my clients, their number one priority is trying to find and retain talent. What does that really mean to employers when unemployment rate is so low?

Derek (01:22) So let’s talk about that three and a half percent. Throw it out the first Friday of every month for the trailing month. December 6th, we got the new number, three and a half percent. And you’re right, it’s been a half century. It’s incredible. So longer than I’ve been alive at least. With that at three and a half percent, it’s unemployed. They’re not going to work. Who is that unemployed person? Well, the unemployed person means that they have for the past four weeks, tried to find a job, however, they’re completely capable and able of going to work. Alright, what’s full employment? Economists think it’s around 4.1 to 4.7% unemployment rate. We’re below full employment. So what the heck does that mean, Kim? You know, and what do we do now? We’re forcing one point some odd percent of folks to go to work every day, right?

Kim (02:10) That ordinarily wouldn’t be going to work.

Derek (02:12) They wouldn’t be there. They wouldn’t, you know, if they had the choice, they would not go to work. We’re getting them into these jobs anyway. So now let’s roll that up to what most of my clients are asking for, which is a high-level technical type person that can come in and be precise into a certain job that pertains to their business. Right? It’s very hard to find that person. That’s what this unemployment rate means – you’re digging from a pot of resumes that is just not there. So you’ve got to get creative and you’ve got to figure out your differentiator in the market to attract that talent. Right?

Paul (02:45) So what, what’s the problem ultimately? That I can’t find the right people as is, they’re not leaving jobs or it’s going to take too much to get them? I mean, what is, when you’re talking to your clients, what is that problem that you’re solving and how do you approach them about solving that?

Derek (03:02) Yeah, great, great question Paul. The problem is we don’t have enough people to work all the jobs we have available. That’s another report the BLS puts out, Bureau of labor statistics that is called a jolts report. It’s a job opening labor turnover report and what that shows are the amount of jobs that are available and open that people need to have filled versus the amount of people that are actually filling jobs. And the newest report says there’s about 7 million jobs that are open and there’s only about 5 million folks to go around. So you got 2 million jobs that are open.

Kim (03:36) That’s a lot of jobs.

Derek (03:37) Hey, you don’t have the 2 million people to go through. So you’re right, you’ve got to find out how do you become an agent for your company and convince someone that’s winning for the other team to change that Jersey, fight your mission and your calls for your business and join your team.

Kim (03:52) Right?

Derek (03:53) Very difficult.

Kim (03:55) So Whitney, what does that mean for the people that are looking for a job? Or maybe they aren’t looking for a job, but those are the candidates that the employers need because there is that 2 million jobs deficit, right? Those 2 million jobs that we need someone to fill, but those people are not unemployed, meaning they have a job. So given that the labor market is so tight, unemployment is so low, what can I do as a business owner to attract that a plus talent?

Whitney (04:23) Well I’d say I think you know, strong, thorough communication with your employees is key. You know, they want to know that they have opportunity for advancement in their current role, they want to know there’s personal, professional growth available to them. Skills development. A lot of the intangible things mean a lot.

Derek (04:38) Yeah, that’s great. I’d say the companies that I partner with that do this the best are those that are known entities. And what I mean by that is everyone knows who Apple is. Then everyone applies to Apple. Same thing for Google. We could go down the list, right? But our smaller, mid-size growing companies, they may not always have their name plastered on the side of an arena, right?

Kim (05:00) They don’t have brand name recognition.

Derek (05:02) Sure. You know the kid coming out of high school going into college doesn’t want to grow up and necessarily code for, this 50 person/50 employee company, right? They want to go to Tesla, right?

Kim (05:15) Sure.

Derek (05:16) So the companies that do the best that I partner with, they’re known entities regardless of their size, they get out there. And that’s a couple of different ways, right? You can go through Facebook, LinkedIn, you can business journal articles, your marketing team gets involved. You make it an issue. If it is an issue, if talent is an issue for you, you make an issue that you fight for and you resolve. So you get out there, your Glassdoor rating. You work hard at that. You work hard at becoming a number one place to work for in your area so that you are not, this unknown company.

Kim (05:48) Just like Warren Averett is known as the best place to work.

Derek (05:50) We are side plug, no big deal.

Kim (05:52) That’s right.

Derek (05:53) But I think that’s okay. It sounds easy, commonplace, but there’s so many clients I partner with or that asked me these questions, and when I go and I look and do research, it’s hard to find much. And sometimes what I find may not necessarily shine the best light or even be up to date.

Paul (06:11) And it’s the brand – not just the product and the service – it’s the brand of the people that work for you. They’re your ambassador to the world, and if you treat them right, they’ll attract folks who want to work there as well. And so that’s the brand piece that you’re kind of talking about.

Derek (06:27) 100%. And that branding sometimes is not just look at our gadget, look at a how cool our services are, it’s a little bit more about who are they as a company? How deep can you go with that? If that’s out there and you’re on LinkedIn and you’re showing what you’re doing for a day of giving back for the community. That speaks volumes to potential employees without ever saying anything about how cool your gadget is or any or anything otherwise. Right? So it’s about how you show up. It’s the people, it’s the teams and the big misconception is people leave bad bosses, and I can get on a soapbox with this, but people leave bad teams, bad environments, bad experiences with the groups that they work within at a company. So having potential employees see these things and understand where you’re at in your market without necessarily plastering on the side of an arena, that does wonders for your brand and it does wonders for your inflow of candidates and the response that you get when you’re doing outreach to bring in new and better talent.

Paul (07:30) When we’re talking to talent, I always say we don’t live to work – we work so that we can go live and enjoy life. Life happens and we want you to be a part of that life and work is just a means to get there. It’s not the other way around. And I think that’s what you want to portray as an employee. No matter where I go or what I’m doing, whether I’m on vacation, whether I’m working, whether I’m traveling for a client or for the firm, I am my firm and I want to portray that. I don’t want to go around yelling at a bunch of people and they go, “Oh well he works at so-and-so and why would I ever want to work there if they’ve got folks like that?” And so that’s really what you want to try and not attract to your organization.

Derek (08:07) Sure, sure. And that’s such a good point there, Paul. that what do you do? And if you lay it out there and such a technical elevator speech, then sure, that’s what you do. Who are you?

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Kim (08:33) So with knowing how many jobs are needed out there and you work so hard to bring that talent in, what do you do as an organization to retain that talent once you’ve got it?

Derek (08:46) Tricky, tricky point because it’s sometimes the red carpet in and then they start and they get all the new tee shirts and polos and tumblers or whatever they may be, but then three weeks, four weeks, two months, nine months on the job, back in the grind, right? And all of that passion that was exuded throughout the interview process, the courting period, where did it go? So many times we talk to employees, potential employees for clients, and that’s an issue. Again, people don’t necessarily leave bad jobs, because they have the passion for the company, people leave those bad teams. So it’s important that you create a culture of showing the teams that these individuals are coming on so there’s immediate bonds, not only from an emotional standpoint, but from a professional standpoint. It’s important for that new employee to know that their skill, or their proficiency, is absolutely needed and going to move the company’s mission forward once they get on that team.

Kim (09: 45) And it’s what Whitney mentioned earlier, the people that you’re hiring, that a plus talent, they want to see there’s opportunity, growth, that the company’s investing in them. Those are all things that once you bring them in the door, that’s where you have to perform in order to retain them and grow them and not find yourself in this cycle of constantly having to recruit and bring in new talent.

Whitney (10:10) Right.
Paul (10:11) And when you have multiple locations, that’s a whole other issue because you’ve got to create that culture remotely, replicate it, and you don’t want anybody feeling like they’re on an Island –you want them to feel part of the team. And so that creates another adversity to what you’re trying to create as a culture.

Derek (10:28) It does. And you mentioned the dollars – look, anybody can leave a company for more money, right? We’ve seen it. It’s a bidding.

Kim (10:34) Sure.

Derek (10:35) It’s a bit of an auction sometimes for whomever the best talent is can go out and pick their price, but we all know that’s extremely short lived. The big question I receive a lot is “What can I do outside of that? Knowing that anyone can leave for money and I’ve got this great talent, how else can we keep this person as passionate as they were when they first joined our firm?” And for me, it sounds fairly simple, but I always like to tell people that you have to stay competitive elsewhere, right? We talk about feedback, rich environments, etcetera. Feedback mostly is met with a negative connotation. They won’t feedback to help change you. What about just the attention? What about just good positive attention and interactions that you deposit with your teams and your employees to create a healthy environment amongst those different teams? There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your wins, celebrating your close wins – there’s still a lot of good work that goes into that. Feedback doesn’t always have to be this interaction of, “Well, I know when I leave this meeting with Paul and Kim, I guess I’ll have something to go work on, something to fix. Something that maybe I did or didn’t do that just does not resonate with what we’re doing as an as an organization, right?” It’s positive interactions that will absolutely help keep your person there. We all like attention, we all do. So many employees, when we talk to them, they feel unwarranted, that they’re not heard, the company doesn’t know what they’re doing, they’re not working on any new projects, they feel they’re just a gear in this machine. People think that’s for big companies. It’s for small companies too. If you ignore your employees, well they’re going to ignore you and they’ll answer the call.

Kim (12:16) And just like you have a strategy as a business for growing, you have a strategy for your product or your service – you need to have a people strategy and make sure that all of your leadership is buying into that and that you’re living it out, right? So if you go interview and you pitch this amazing culture and people strategy, you need to reflect on that and make sure that you’re actually living those principles out.

Derek (12:44) Yeah. And think about that interview process, you’re really wanted as an employee, but boy, you’re getting all of this attention now. You know, let’s show him this, let’s show her this, let’s take them down to the gym, let’s show how awesome our cool free sandwiches are at lunch. It’s all this attention, attention, attention, and it gets them on board and then you forget about them. You set it and forget it? That just doesn’t make sense. That’s not a winning recipe, at all, I believe. If I can, let me take a side road here. A lot of the time, the attention is just given to low performers or those middle of the row. We often hear up and out or upper out, why even focus all of your energy and time on keeping those employees the most happy. Right? We just forget about our high performers, right? And let them just go because they quote unquote, get it or understand it. Pay attention to them. Give them the love. Show them that you know they’re there, that you know they’re doing a great job. Ask them what they need. How can you help them? How can you make their lives easier or better? Paul mentioned it. How can I keep you passionate without just saying that I come to work everyday, right?

Kim (13:50) And make sure that your leadership team knows who that a plus talent is, right? Even if you don’t work directly with them, you make sure everyone knows that this person is a superstar and we want them to know that we are aware and know that they are a superstar.

Derek (14:07) And I’ll tell you, anyone listening that needs a high performing person on their team right now. You would love to have your competitor’s best person doing that job that you need. You probably even know that person by name. Think about that for your own team because that competitor is telling people like me to call that person. And I can tell you there’s about a 75% chance when I leave a client’s office, they’ve given me the name of who they want me to go hunt the markets that died.

Kim (14:35) Yeah, it’s a good point.

Paul (14:36) So we’ve talked about interviewing as an employer and from a job seeker. You know, what is it that employers are looking for when they’re interviewing folks for potential job?

Whitney (14:46) Yeah, I’d say to talk to candidates about their motivators. You know, what drives them to be successful. You want to listen for pretty specific examples of past professional experiences where they’ve been able to recognize a responsibility and really make things happen. You know, things when they’re talking about these past professional experiences, things they’ve liked and things maybe they didn’t like so much. You want those experiences to align with what you are looking for in this role. You know, truly listen to understand their knowledge, their skill set, their desire. This will help you to better predict if they are your employee in the future, what’s their work ethic going to be like? How committed will they be to the mission?

Paul (15:23) Whenever I’m interviewing folks for our group, I always ask, “Tell me something that’s not on this piece of paper in front of me,” because that’s something they’re passionate about, but they didn’t feel like was necessary for the conversation. And that’s what I want to hear. I want to hear that we had the same job when we were 16, I want to hear why are they sitting there? What is their why in life? And sometimes that is not always written down on a piece of paper because they don’t think that’s as important as it should be for this job.

Derek (15:50) That’s a great question. There’s nothing on their resume that’s going to show that. A lot of clients often tell me, “Hey Derek, we need someone that’s well-rounded.”

Kim (15:58) What is well rounded?

Derek (16:00) Yeah, what is it? You know, I think it’s average.

Kim (16:04) That’s a good point.

Derek (16:05) Yeah. I think it was a smooth 75, right? They’re not the best at much.

Kim (16:10) You’re good enough at many things, but not great at anything.

Derek (16:14) So we’ve been fooled. In the past 10 years, 15 years, all we’ve heard is a well-rounded employee, well-rounded team, and well-rounded this and that. No, no, no, no, no. I want someone that’s proficient, that’s really good at a thing, or two things.

Kim (16:29) A major and a minor.

Derek (16:31) More spikey that can fit like a puzzle piece into the team that I’m building or the team that I have, because I’ve got other people that are going to be really good at something and really deficient in other areas. But that’s okay. That’s okay. Garrett Cole, 300 and some 80 million contract from the Astros to go play for the Yankees. I like baseball. Sorry, stick with me. He’s never going to play any other position, but bitch. And the Yankees are willing to get that talent because they want that pitcher to come on board. And do what? Play center field? No. Back clean up? To be a pitcher.

Kim (17:03) That’s right.

Derek (17:04) Works for them. They win championships then yeah, you have to pay for it. You get what you pay for, right?

Kim (17:10) So Whitney, what are the best resources that companies are using to find this a plus talent?

Whitney (17:15) Well, more recently, what our firm has switched to is starting to use social media outreach. The average internet user spends about two hours, maybe over, on social media sites. So I personally had been more active on things like LinkedIn, also Facebook, you know, definitely takes a more personal approach to recruiting with that. I also think it’s strong to use tools in the recruiting process that also catered to mobile devices. We all see how much the use of smart phones and internet usage has grown more recently.

Paul (17:48) So for those companies that need help finding this talent, what’s the reason to go out and get some help in, in that talent and not just relying on your own HR department or somebody internally to find that talent using some sort of agency?

Derek (18:03) Agencies can be a big help. Let’s step back to our earlier conversation about the low unemployment rate and that’s clearly indicative that we have a very hot economy. And we talked a little bit about, Paul, that companies are often just interested in their widget or gadget or service and growing that and selling that. Well when the economy’s hot, what are those people doing? They need to go out and grow and make that money and sell that widget and serve their clients with their services, right? Talent’s very time intensive, so is that, so sometimes it’s a benefit to have a group that can team with you and can partner with you – whom spend 40 to 50 hours a week swimming in the lanes of the talent that you need. Talking to individuals that are working at your competitors, individuals that might be moving to your area, getting referrals, talking with anyone that maybe has suffered a riff of some sort and having those individuals; desires, needs and wants understood so that when you have a recruiting agency working for you, there’s a reservoir of talent that they know are interested in certain things that they can immediately tap into instead of having to start something from fresh having to worry about all of these things we’ve talked about. Sometimes a recruiting agency can be a shortcut. You know, Paul, I laugh, I joke – I got married this year and we’re going to dinner. Here in Tampa, it’s quite hot. Humid, can rain anytime, right? Well she’s not always late, but we were running late this evening and I typically don’t valet park a whole lot. 10, 15, 20 bucks – I can park my own car. I’m a healthy guy, I can walk on up to the restaurant if I need to. We’re running a little bit late, starts to rain. I’m recently married, don’t forget. I kind of look at the valet guy and look at my wife and I go, “You know, I think it’s worth the 20 bucks and I’m going to take the shortcut. He may just walk right over there and park my car in a parking spot that I didn’t see and didn’t know of. Hey, that’s fine. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to get it right away. We’re going to go and we’re going to have a great dinner and my car is going to come right back to me. I’m going to have to pay a little bit for it, but it’s going to be easy and that’s what a recruiting agency should do for you. It should be a bit of a shortcut, a bit of an easy way path to a reservoir of things that you didn’t know were out there or see that were out there at all.

Kim (20:21) Right.

Paul (20:22) Kind of responds back to the talent that companies have, you want somebody that’s really good at one thing. You’re buying that pitcher for the Astros. You’re not buying somebody that can do everything. And that’s really what this is, just that resource that already knows, it has already been there, knows the pitfalls, knows where to go for talent and you don’t have to have somebody trying to figure it out.

Derek (20:44) Sure. And even think about the intrinsic value behind if they don’t have that person in their pocket, if this recruiting agency or head Hunter or whatever you’d like to call us, if they are in their market and they are subject matter experts and they understand what they’re doing and they’re worth their salt then better way to know if you’re paying the right price tag? What better way to know if your other items are up to snuff?

Kim (21:11) That’s a really good point.

Derek (21:13) It’s great to have those conversations to sit down and take a coffee and say, “Hey, am I exposed? Are my people exposed? Am I at risk of losing my talent?” because these individuals get it better than anybody.

Kim (21:27) So let’s wrap it up. What’s the takeaway for our listeners in terms of building and retaining a strong team?

Derek (21:36) Give them the attention they deserve. Take care of them, give them the positive reinforcement, it’s not always just that Delta feedback, what they need to change. Take care of them as they move along. Give them new challenges, give them new projects, give them kudos when it’s deserved, right? And then check in with recruiters that can help you understand if you’re doing it right. Am I in line where I should be with my salaries? Am I taking care of my employees? Are there things that I’m missing? Ten years ago it was ping pong tables. I can tell you that ping pong table in the corner with dust all over it is not going to get your next accounting manager with a CPA and seven years of experience.

Kim (22:13) Although we have a really awesome ping pong table in our office and it gets played a lot.

Derek (22:18) So if you are that seven-year accountant with a CPA and you love ping pong, call Kim/

Kim (22:24) That’s right.

Paul (22:25) Whitney, Derek, thank you very much for joining us. This is really good conversation on trying to build that strong team for an organization.

Derek (22:31) It’s my pleasure. It’s something I’m passionate about, so thanks for having me.

Kim (22:33) Thank you guys.

Whitney (22:34) Thank you.

Close (22:35) And that’s a wrap. If you’re enjoying the podcast, please leave a review on your streaming platform. To check out more episodes, subscribe to our podcast series, or make a suggestion for other topics to cover. Visit us at Warrenaverett.com/thewrap

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