Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, hiring and employee retention are constantly top of mind. After all, the average cost of a bad hire equates to 30 percent of an employee’s first year of earnings. That type of mistake can be costly in the long run.
The situation is further exacerbated by employment shifts signaled in the Great Resignation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in October alone, 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs.
This begs the question: What can we as business owners do to recruit and retain quality talent in this unpredictable market?
Over the years I have found that subtle changes in my focus when it comes to hiring have yielded big results. It all began when I stopped hiring purely based on resume accolades and instead became passionate about caring, protecting and promoting my employees.
Here are three ways we can bring the much-needed change to the narrative on hiring practices.
Related: “The Great Resignation” and the Future of the Workplace
1. Stop looking for the smartest person in the room
So many organizations take a person’s resume and hire from that alone. After all, if they look good on paper, they have to be good in real life, right?
Yet, these were never the right people for my company. That’s when I discovered that the best way to hire is for culture, not for credentials. One bad apple on a team can cause chaos. A team that has each other’s backs is one that leads to success.
Now I look for someone who shares in the organizational vision and who will fit into the culture of the company. Specifically, I ask questions like:
What does work ethic mean to you?
How do you feel about ownership of tasks? Do you think everything should be on an individual basis or should everyone work together to achieve the overarching, unified goal?
How will you make this company better?
What draws you to the mission and vision of this organization?
What challenges do you see our organization facing and how do you propose we solve them?
What’s your “why”? What makes you get up in the morning?
I do this across all levels within the organization because I believe any employee can help drive the direction of my company and support its impact. I’m looking for people who will challenge and lead, not just check items off their to-do lists.
Ultimately, resumes are a fancy list of accomplishments. What they don’t tell me is if someone has a strong work ethic, if they’re willing to learn and if they’ll be a good culture fit. The best employees don’t have the most degrees or a large number of awards. They are team players who want to work because they believe in the community or product we’re building together.
2. Build the relationship
As founder and chairman of the Subscription Trade Association, I see firsthand the impact of subscription-based business models. After all, subscriptions prioritize the customer relationship and focus on repeated connection.
Employee retention should be no different. Focus on continual interaction and engagement with your employees. Be intentional about the relationships you form. Ultimately, life isn’t about you. It’s about giving to others, including your employees.
But how does this apply in business? When you pay attention to your employees as human beings first, they’ll take care of your business. There’s a deep loyalty beaming in nurtured people.
As an example, I paid for an employee’s traffic ticket because it was a way I could help in a moment of need. Later on, we had a large project with a significant deadline. That employee stayed until midnight working on the project. When I asked why, they said, “I will never forget the time you paid for my traffic ticket, just because. I’ll always have your back.”
This story illustrates a crucial point in employee retention: Good leaders work for their employees. They care about them both personally and professionally. After all, as a business leader, happy and engaged employees are what I value most.
Related: Why Employee Retention Is More Important Than Ever Before
3. Remember the “why”
Often, I talk to my employees about passion and purpose. Passion is what they love to do. Purpose is the reason why they do it. When you identify both, you and your employees can find true happiness.
Looking for my reason changed the course of my career and allowed me to do something that I love. For me and my team, the “why” is found in giving back. It’s asking how my idea and my business will impact someone else’s life.
That’s what I believe entrepreneurship is all about — changing people’s lives and building relationships. And it all starts with caring deeply about my employees and understanding their why.