Caroline, the head of her company’s staffing function, had met with her Abel Personnel recruiter for lunch in early December every year for the past seven years (at outdoor locations before Covid vaccinations were available). This tradition dates back to Caroline’s predecessor when company policy allowed vendors to take their clients out to lunch. Now everything is “separate checks.” The two women enjoyed having lunch together. It was a great opportunity for Caroline to give her recruiter a heads-up on planned staffing needs for the coming year, and to hear what trends the recruiter was seeing in staffing in Caroline’s company’s industry.

Once Caroline had shared what sets of skills and work experience the recruiter should be on the lookout for after the first of the year, the discussion turned to holiday plans and traditions. They each recounted how many activities that had been canceled due to the pandemic were reinstated for the first time this year, and how many (some thankfully) would not be returning. This discussion naturally turned next to the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.

“You mean ones besides ‘exercise more, spend more time with family, be kinder?’” Caroline joked.

“I was thinking of business-related resolutions, particularly in staffing,” the recruiter replied. “Those types of aspirations that often don’t make it to the company’s business plan, except perhaps how much staff needs to be hired or to improve staff retention.”

Caroline nodded at this, before observing, “As you know, we underperformed in staffing this year, though thanks to you we did better than most of our competitors for the same talent. But you’re right, there are things we could be doing better. I bet you have some ideas?”

Over the next half hour, the women together identified five “New Year’s Staffing Resolutions:”

  • Update Job Descriptions: Too often the process of filling positions is delayed as a new job description needs to be developed and approved. In many cases, the position’s responsibilities and expectations have evolved since the leaving staff member had first taken that spot. Updated job descriptions are also a good practice for performance reviews.
  • Identify Key Staff Replacements: The first response to a two-week-notice departure on critical functions is often a scramble to find someone to temporarily assume that position, typically while also covering their current position. Next, a decision is needed on whether to try promoting from inside the company, to look outside, or both. By creating a process to annually identify interim and internal replacements, the time from resignation to completing the training of the replacement is shortened.
  • Face-to-face Interviews at Workplace: The practice of having interviews online was convenient during the height of the pandemic, but should be curtailed now whenever possible, for the sake of the hiring manager as well as the applicant. In-person interviews pass along many nonverbal clues to both these people. Having the interview, as well as a tour, at the workplace allows the applicant to better picture themselves at that location, and spurs questions and opportunities that might not come from an online interview.
  • Don’t Wait to Schedule Interviews: The policy of scheduling all candidates for interviews in a single day is an ideal way to compare the applicants side-by-side. This might work in a normal employment market. In current conditions, waiting for multiple persons to be scheduled to interview on the same day may result in the first person being identified as already having accepted another job. Wanting to meet three candidates is not the same as requiring three proposals for every purchase. Interview as soon as possible, and don’t be committed to having to meet other candidates before selecting one to receive an offer. The first one interviewed may be the best candidate!
  • Onboarding Program to Keep New Hire Hired: As soon as the applicant accepts the job offer, have an onboarding plan in place to make the new hire feel welcome and confident that they made the right decision in accepting the offer. Most likely the new hire will keep receiving phone calls from prospective employers and may be tempted to “de-commit” to the offer recently accepted. Having the sense that the position they accepted will be at a great place to work often dissuades someone from the last-minute switch for slightly more compensation.

These five “resolutions” all made sense to Caroline, although for some she was unsure how to begin implementing them. The Abel recruiter was pleased to help with this, committing some time to Caroline to have these in place before the first of the year, which is when other business urgencies typically take precedence.

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