Successful staffing: part one

 Recruitment is a challenge requiring care and consideration.

The staff cycle starts with advertising. To recruit effectively and within the law we prepare a job description and person specification that defines the skills, qualifications and experience we are looking for.

When recruiting we look at what the business needs as whole, not simply at what role we are re-filling. It’s about the demands of tomorrow not yesterday. Once we have reviewed our need we take the simple approach to advertising by placing an advert in our window. We have tried local newspapers in the past, but found that they cover too wide an area.

The next step is the application form. Our staff are briefed about all current vacancies so that when potential applicants enquire they know what to do. We set an application deadline and once this has passed short-list candidates to be invited for an interview.

Structured interviews

Firstly I look to find out about the applicant, their past and their aspirations.

Next I explain the job and our passion for great customer service – In effect the start of the induction programme for successful candidates.

Finally I answer any questions the candidate has about our business and working for us.

I always make notes on the application form, as when dealing with recruitment one needs records to be able to justify why one candidate was successful and others were not.

When I have seen all the applicants I review each one and make my decision. I always ask:

  • Will they fit in with the team?
  • Are they are capable of doing the job?

I contact successful applicants by phone to make the offer and agree a starting date. I then send them a formal offer letter. I also send a letter to unsuccessful applicants. If there are any that we wish to keep on file for future vacancies I send a letter explaining that.

Employee packs

The offer letter – created with a mail merge program to automate the task – is just the start of the 20 page pack which includes:

  • The terms and conditions of the offer
  • The contract of employment
  • A letter about selling of alcohol
  • A uniform guide.

I believe that it is full and thorough, but it is something that I update whenever there are new regulations.

We endeavour to have a stable and reliable team and measure the success of our staff policies by monitoring both staff turnover and absentee rates. For us, these are both low.

Our budgeted staff costs are a little over 7% and we therefore need to have the flexibility to match the needs of the changing way that our customers use us. We have a deli counter that demands a high level of staff hours than the self service part of our store, but this is covered by a higher margin on the products sold off it.

In the second part of this article, I will look at how we undertake staff induction and early training to ensure that our new members of staff are both happy and productive.


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