Contrary to instinct, it’s more difficult to hire than it has been in years. It’s neither a buyer’s nor a seller’s market; hiring teams and qualified job seekers all have a lot of choices to make. They’re not the traditional choices. Hiring firms are evaluating applicants as the applicants evaluate them. Each side is evaluating what skills are transferable or applicable among diverse positions.
At IQMS, we’re seeing a broad diversity of applicants with oddly similar circumstances: expertise in unneeded areas, relocations related to family ties, a desire for “fit” when the history is haphazard, or a complete career revamp. We no longer hire the ideal candidate based on the resume. It takes many conversations and varied instincts to identify that quality in a candidate that makes a successful employee experience. But IQMS is doing it: our retention rate has improved double-digits year upon year even in a period of unmatched growth.
Hiring has become the critical topic of the season. Manager meetings, HR meetings, frustrating phone calls and desperate networking inquiries are all about hiring. What we casually took for granted years ago has changed with the economic times: a better educated workforce (but seldom in the desired areas), generational changes (Gen Y/Millennials mixing with senior Boomers) and social media providing velocity with the inimitable touch of transparency. The baloney meter goes off more often. Perhaps job seekers are more optimistic about themselves than we hiring professionals might advise, so it’s up to us to discern the essence.
We are more careful when hiring and our mission is ever more precious. Employee engagement has become an overused catchphrase for get 'em and keep 'em (hold 'em). Talent management is another. Performance driven engagement is a newer development in this area. We are all ever-mindful of the investment we have in our people, how we want them to succeed in order for our enterprise to succeed.
IQMS is experiencing growth because our products and services are helping other companies succeed. In order to sustain our growth, we need to keep hiring (more, faster, better) and developing the potential of our employees as rapidly as possible. We are investing in increasing our productivity by investing in our employees.
We have initiated more inter-department mobility options to increase the challenges and skills presented to employees and broaden their mindsets, like cross-training in sports. This builds more qualified successors for the path as it expands, some more “ready-now” than others, but all with better capabilities than previously. In this way, leadership skills also emerge, supporting the next layer of the organizational structure.
Ongoing employee training, for both professional skills (programming classes) and personal skills (communication), not only makes employees more productive, but enhances their trust and raises their retention. As we invest in our employees, so they repay us by improved performance (improved return on investment!).
And of course, sometimes things still don’t work out to everyone’s satisfaction, but that story can be saved for a different day. Our policies on when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em are sometimes harsh, but they are effective. Our famous philosophy is: “maybe means no.” It sure keeps employee morale high when high-performance employees are rewarded and non-performers are found to be “happier elsewhere.”
We want to create an engaging work experience for the entire team by maintaining a dynamic and rewarding model. We have to be open to new ideas (what always worked before may not be working now) and be as agile in our personnel decisions as in our programming. We have to be mindful of all of our available assets, including all those bright capable individuals who come to us through any of a myriad of sources: from the local high school SkillsUSA programs to college internships, competitors watching our progress from afar to local talent in a career shift. IQMS is competing worldwide for the successful customer experience; we are also competing worldwide for keys to the successful employee experience.
At IQMS we are making it work, balancing luck with skill and perseverance. Our great employees are a source of other great employees, their teamwork fosters the community spirit of success and their individuality enhances our ability to address the changing nature of our business. We're lucky, and we are good at what we do.