One of the most expensive aspects of running a business is paying employees. But just as great employees can be a real asset, underperforming employees can be a real drain on resources.
Hiring employees is all about choosing people who are going to add value to your business. While there is no exact formula, there are strategies you can adopt to set you up for success. This article discusses some of the best strategies available to help you tackle the hiring process like an expert.
Be clear about what you need
First thing’s first, you need to give some deep thought about what you need from a future employee. Whether you are aiming to fill a gap in your business, or simply hiring for greater capacity, you need to be clear about what you will want them to be doing.
To start with, look at your needs and the goals for your business. Figure out what you are looking for, both in the short term and also in relation to your long-term business aims (such as branching out, expanding, gaining expertise, etc). Think about the qualifications or experience a prospective employee will need to have to meet these requirements and objectives.
Then give some thought to the nature of the role. For example, what work hours will the employee need to do to meet your business needs? And what key tasks and duties will they need to perform?
Lastly, consider what the key performance indicators (KPIs) or objectives for the new employee will be. One way to do this is to make a ‘dream list’ of how the employee would be able to contribute to your business, and then use the list to create a realistic set of performance expectations for the job role.
Know your obligations
Before you even advertise the role, you should have a clear understanding of what working conditions the role entails. For example, working conditions such as the hours of work, pay rate, work duties, meal breaks and overtime should all be considered from the outset. These conditions all help to properly classify the job under an Award (if one applies), and ensure that you meet all your obligations regarding employee pay and other benefits.
If it is your first employee, you may also need to register for PAYG and set up payroll tax processes.
You should also take the opportunity each time you hire a new applicant to ensure that your workplace policies and staff manual/handbook are up-to-date. At a minimum, the documents should cover the important issues relevant to your industry, and should specify the offences or conduct that would result in dismissal or disciplinary action.
Attract quality applicants
This is definitely easier said than done. But there are a few simple tricks to use to attract the right sort of people for the job.
First, your job ad should be clear, concise and carefully drafted. Nothing turns off quality candidates like sloppy job ads that are badly formatted or rife with spelling errors. It gives the impression you don’t care, and it means that potential candidates won’t care, either.
Your job ad should outline the key duties of the role, as well as giving some insight into the perks of the job. Remember that you are trying to sell the job to potential candidates. Recruitment websites and bulletin boards are usually overloaded with ads, so yours will need to stand out. Properly articulating what is on offer – and why the role is a great one – will help.
If possible, you should also try to convey a sense of your business in your job ad, so that the potential candidate gets a feel for what the organisation is like and who they will be working with. You are trying to attract like-minded people, so emphasise the things that best define your workplace (e.g. your client-focused approach, tech-savvy team or flexible work environment).
Finally, be smart about where you choose to advertise. Posting your job ad on every recruitment website is likely to be expensive, and you may find that your ad becomes part of the white noise of the site. Look for whether there are recruitment websites that specialise in your industry. Also look into whether there are opportunities to publish your job ad in material or on websites that will be accessed by people within the industry. For example, a good option can be to advertise on the website of a relevant professional association. If your job ad is for a relatively junior role, consider contacting the training centres or career centres that service your industry and see if they are able to target your ad to new trainees or graduates.
Ace the interviews
Job interviews are notoriously difficult and time consuming for all involved. The key to getting them right is preparation.
Our first tip is to review each candidate’s CV, application letter and any other documents submitted as part of their application (e.g. academic transcript, qualification certificates) ahead of their interview, so you can ask targeted questions. You will find that doing your homework on the candidate will make the interview more efficient and will enable you to get the most out of the time available.
Another tip is to prepare a set of ‘tried and true’ questions that give you a real sense of the candidate’s personality, attitude and aptitude for the role. You want to ensure you have a mix of questions that go to each important element of what you are looking for. The right questions will be very much dependent on the nature of your business and the job role, and the key skills and traits that the ideal candidate would have.
For example, some common pre-prepared interview questions which suit most businesses are:
- Why did you choose this line of work?
- What do you love most about your work?
- Why are you leaving your current position?
- Why do you want to work with us?
- Why do you think you are suited to this role?
- What is something you have done or achieved that you are most proud of?
- What do you consider your biggest strength?
It is also a good idea to ask candidates to provide real-life examples for their answers to questions. If a candidate says that their biggest strength is the ability to work well under pressure, ask them to give you an example of a time where they have demonstrated that ability. A candidate who is well-prepared, insightful and genuine should have no problem giving you a rundown of some real-life scenarios they have faced.
Depending on your line of work, it may also be appropriate for you to ask your candidates to undertake a psychological evaluation, take an aptitude test, or provide you with some work samples. If you think these additional steps are relevant for your business, you should make it clear to candidates from the outset that the interview process will involve the additional testing.
Get the paperwork right
Once you’ve chosen the right person for the job, you need to seal the deal. It is important to get the terms of the employee’s employment offer in writing. Some businesses choose to do this via a letter of offer, some businesses prefer employment contracts, and some do a combination of both.
Generally, we find that an employment contract is the best way to record the terms of the employee’s employment offer. This is because an employment contract is a more comprehensive document than a letter of offer, so it is easier to cover off all the employment terms in the contract. You also want to ensure that the employee signs to acknowledge their acceptance of the offer terms, and often a letter of offer does not prompt the employee to sign. And in the future, an employment contract will provide a ‘one stop’ document for you and your employee to refer back to.
The other important document to provide with or incorporate into the employment contract is a detailed position description. This may be very similar to what you used to advertise the job role in the first place. The position description should outline the key duties associated with the role, and any qualifications, licences or special skills required to perform the role. It should clearly set out the performance expectations and any KPIs that apply to the role. You may also want to touch on the ‘softer’ things required to satisfactorily perform the role, such as good people skills and the ability to work well in a team. The position description for the job will act as the benchmark that you review and manage the employee against, so you need to treat it as both a recruitment and HR tool.
You must also remember that all employers are required to give new employees the Fair Work Information Statement published by the Fair Work Ombudsman service. The statement provides an outline of the National Employment Standards and other employee rights. You need to ensure that you are using the most up-to-date version of the Fair Work Information Statement, as a revised statement was published in July 2016.
Going forward, you also need to ensure that you keep comprehensive records relating to the employee. You must keep records relating to all aspects of an employee’s employment with your business, including the employee’s employment terms (i.e. their contract and any variations), timesheets and pay slips, and records relating to super contributions, leave entitlements, work health and safety incidents, and any performance or disciplinary issues. Record-keeping is not only a legal obligation that you have as an employer, but it is also good HR practice. Without adequate records, you may find it difficult to discipline or dismiss an employee in the future.
This information is provided as a guide only and is not intended to constitute advice whether legal or professional. You should obtain appropriate advice concerning your particular circumstances.