Employee turnover and attrition are all-too-common problems in the VAR space. As a group, sales professionals are known to be more mobile and transient than other employees, and as a result, reseller firms that employ a sales staff are often at higher risk for dealing with the negative fallout of turnover and attrition.
Aside from throwing up your hands and simply accepting these problems as some of the inevitable downsides of doing business in the sales industry, is there anything that can be done to stem the tide of employee turnover and attrition? Well, according to some of the world’s leading retention experts, the answer lies in developing a stringent applicant screening program and using it consistently.
When implemented properly, an effective applicant screening program will help you separate unreliable, flight-prone candidates from their more stable, loyal counterparts right from the start. Then, after you’ve made a hiring decision, your other retention efforts will be much more likely to pay off in the long run. Here are some hints to help you devise and implement more rigorous applicant screening measures starting today.
Begin with a job analysis. Experts insist that the degree of ‘fit’ between the job and the candidate is often the single most important factor when it comes to determining who will stay and who will go in the long run. Before you even advertise an open position, make a list of all of the qualities, skills, and credentials that your ideal candidate will have. Use this ‘wish list’ to screen applicants and narrow down the field.
Start screening well before you schedule an interview. Interviews are actually fairly unreliable sources of information when it comes to making a hiring decision. Most candidates can stay on their best behavior just long enough to land the job, and this is particularly true when it comes to sales professionals, who rely on their powers of persuasion to earn a paycheck. Design a series of pre-interview screening procedures to help get a more comprehensive picture of the candidate.
Ask candidates directly about their career path and plans. During the interview, don’t shy away from tough questions about longevity and company loyalty. Sure, most sales professionals are pretty good actors, but it’s usually pretty easy to determine if an answer is fundamentally sincere. How do they feel about career mobility and job hopping? What’s their stance on company loyalty? Look beyond their verbal response and read between the lines.
Always, always, always check references. Far too many managers skip reference checks these days, some claiming that laws and restrictions have made the process of getting helpful feedback from past employers virtually impossible. But if increasing employee retention is your aim, a reference check is always worth the effort. Double-check dates and lengths of employment and listen very closely for any signs of tension or antagonism in the speaker’s voice.
Consider consulting with an expert. Today, there are hundreds of applicant screening options to choose from, and many are just a click away on the Internet. Whether you’re looking for a custom applicant screening survey or a criminal background check, you’ll be able to find a service provider online, often for less than you’d think. An experienced screening expert can help you hone in on trouble spots for your organization with a targeted screening program.
Is turnover a significant problem for your firm? What strategies have you used to address turnover and retention? Tell us your story in the comments.