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Recruiting New Employees
Adding the best people to your team requires a careful hiring process
By Bob Yenkner
Why do I want to come work with you? What does your laboratory offer me as an employee that I can't get somewhere else? Every laboratory must answer these questions sooner or later. A little bit of thinking ahead can help your laboratory increase the ability to hire technicians.
Studies show the total cost of losing an hourly, frontline employee ranges from 30% to 150% of that person's annual earnings, which can result in a significant drain on profitability.
Many employers do not fully grasp the demographics of today's hourly, frontline workforce. While they aim recruiting messages only to younger people, about one-third of these workers are actually 25-44; slightly less than one-third are 45 or older. Many employers also recruit for full-time positions when many hourly workers would prefer 30 or fewer hours per week.
Begin your recruitment efforts by answering this question: Do I want experienced people (those with specific dental laboratory skills), or do I want untrained people who can learn the necessary skills? Hiring skilled technicians means a shorter training period and almost immediate productivity, but the hourly wage is probably higher. If you hire untrained technicians, you can expect a longer training period and less productivity, but the lower wage that typically is paid to entry-level employees is attractive. If you are facing a sudden influx of work that will strain capacity, then experience is probably preferable. If you are in a slow, planned growth mode, then the untrained technician may be a better option. Now, the trick is to find somebody.
You need to let prospective employees know that you are a great employer. Take a look at your employee practices for motivation, accountability, recognition, work-life balance, promotion, and involvement. When you get to the interview stage, be prepared to highlight these strengths. Be sure to involve your employees in the hiring process. This means employees can help you with recommendations for excellent candidates, assist you in reviewing resumes and qualifications of potential candidates, and interview people to assess their potential "fit" within your company. You want your employees bragging that your organization is a great place to work. People will believe the employees before they believe the corporate literature. Additionally, employees who participate in the selection process are committed to helping the new employee succeed.
Now you are ready to build and maintain your candidate pool before you really need it. To recruit the best, laboratories must make recruiting more than just the reactive "knee-jerk" activity driven by the sudden departure of a technician. If you only recruit when you have openings, you can't get the best, because the pressure to hire someone immediately causes you to be less selective and can result in poor hiring decisions. Methods of finding people include:
• Encouraging current employees to seek out potential employees through their social media connections
• Enabling current staff members to actively participate in industry professional associations and conferences where they are likely to meet candidates
• Giving consideration to "job-sharing," eg, hiring two part-time people to provide the man-hours
• Screening online job boards for potential candidates who may have resumes online even if they are not currently looking
• Investing time in developing relationships with vocational technical schools, placement offices, and even temporary employment agencies
• Thinking "outside the box"-what jobs in the marketplace require eye/hand coordination, color acuity, and contouring skills that can be the foundations for learning in your laboratory?
Finally, check references when recruiting employees. The purpose is to keep you out of trouble with the candidates you are seeking (and hopefully selecting) and maybe your current employees. Ask for three references (personal, prior employment) and tell the employee that the references will be checked. You have an obligation to your business to assure that the people you hire can do the job and contribute to your growth and development, and that they have no past transgressions that may endanger your current workforce.
Every laboratory must start somewhere to improve recruiting, hiring, and retention of valued employees. The ideas presented here should help recruit the best employees. These ideas will help your laboratory continue to succeed and grow, and make the recruiting process a more effective part of your business planning.
Bob Yenkner is the owner of Practical Process Improvements (PPI) in East Hampton, Connecticut.