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Staffing Secrets from an HR Pro

Contributors: Elizabeth Williams, SHRM-SCP, SPHR

A funny thing about staffing and running a business, municipality, or any organization looking to hire and retain high-quality, highly skilled employees: When you finally reach the realization you need help in the human resources department—whether that’s an actual department, a single HR person, or a very overwhelmed, very exhausted you—your wish list for the breadth of expertise within that HR role can feel enormous, quickly followed by … impossible.

These feelings are understandable. The kind of duties that fall under the human resources umbrella, after all, are extensive. And because HR is responsible for recruiting and retaining your organization’s most critical asset—its human capital—your expectations should be high.

As you well know, competition for employees right now is immense and intense. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20 million Americans quit their job in the first half of 2022, the highest rate in the last decade and double what it was in 2012.

And while some say The Great Resignation is over, unless you’re benefiting from its sequel, The Great Regret (in which artificial intelligence job-search platform Joblist found that 42 percent of those who quit their job regret leaving), you’re probably trying to fill one or more open positions in your company or, at the very least, determined to hold on to and engage the talent you have.

Two critical questions to consider

Before you or your existing HR person or team posts another ad, hires an executive search firm, looks to a temp service agency, or spreads themselves even thinner, ask yourself these key questions:

  1. Do you simply need to get willing candidates in empty chairs? Or:
  2. Are you looking to recruit and retain the right people who will not only bring the right skills to the specific roles you have, but also thrive within your organization’s culture and contribute to its momentum and success?

If you answered “yes” to the first question, an ad, search firm, or temp service will do.

But if you want the latter, I’m going to ask you, for just a moment, to disregard your thoughts about those particular positions altogether.

Fact is, if you grasp the potential impact even a single hire can have, you recognize the power of strategy, in positioning your company to play the long game. You see the value of experience, institutional knowledge, and unique skillsets. And you understand the cost of turnover. (According to Gallup, that’s about 150 percent of an employee’s annual salary—a price that doesn’t include the unquantifiable hit to company morale and momentum.)

Which brings me to the secret of attracting (and keeping) lots of talent: Before you throw countless hours and dollars at each individual position you need filled or the individuals you hope to keep, save yourself considerable time, effort, and, yes, substantial money, by bringing on an outside human resources team first.

Wait, you’re thinking. Why pay for an entire team of HR people, or even an HR consultant, when all you need is a single controller, a retail floor staff member, or a city manager?

In short, with the right outsourced HR assistance, you get a lot more for a lot less.

The long game

If you want to stay competitive in your market, you don’t have time, money, or manpower to waste on per-position tasks. You need to shore up, support, and protect your entire organization and its most valuable players—current and potential. How? The easiest and most-effective solution is outsourcing to a high-level HR team.

There’s nothing wrong with an in-house HR employee, or even several. But the cost of these permanent positions almost always outweighs their bandwidth. By outsourcing to an always-available, highly skilled HR team—whether for specific tasks or projects in the short-term, or for a few hours a week or month, for a time period your organization elects—you can support your existing HR team (or finally have one).

What to look for? I recommend several attributes:

  1. A proven track record. Consider the level and years of experience among any and all consultants with whom you’ll be working. Will you interface with an HR executive once and be passed off to an intern or young upstart afterward? In this profession, experience matters. We recommend looking for consultants and teams made up of professionals with at least 10 years of experience and leadership with 20+ in order to maximize the value, efficiency, and insights of the consultancy.
  2. Proactive and flexible. You want HR professionals who can take an objective look at your organization, who can identify needs, problems, and—this is key—potential problems. If an HR professional offers solutions only to the issues you think you have, they’re failing you and your people. A skilled HR professional will not merely hand over a prescription based on your complaints or ever offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Like a good physician, he or she should take an objective, holistic look at the entire system to identify all symptoms and their causes, then work with you to craft a prescription your organization can tolerate in terms of budget, time, priorities, and latitude for change. You’re paying for their expertise; expect it. You should be able to pay only for those services you need, and the team you select should be able to scale up or down and pivot according to your changing needs.
  3. Depth and breadth. Will you have one person or a deep bench of expertise to rely on? Can the consultant and/or team deliver the full spectrum of HR acumen? To be worth your company’s while, an effective HR team must wear numerous hats:
    • Recruiter
    • Onboarding and employee engagement pro
    • Trainer and coach
    • Therapist and mediator
    • Benefits navigator, negotiator, and human translator
    • Department of Labor liaison
    • Federal and state employment law guru, and proactive legislative watchdog
    • Penalty and lawsuit preventor
    • In-the-trenches firefighter
    • One HR person can’t do it all, and certainly not well. But a deep team with multiple layers of expertise can do far more, exceptionally well and efficiently, for far less than a single permanent position.
  4. Availability and reliability. Will that person or team be hands-on and collaborative with you and/or your team? If your consultant is out, who will cover—and how well-versed will they be with your company and/or the work you’ve been doing together? Are they able to work virtually as well as in person?
  5. Business advantage. It’s a tall order, but if down the line you need more than “HR-specific” expertise—say, an outdated software system is at the root of some employee frustration, you suspect embezzlement or fraud, or you want to position your company to sell or develop a succession plan—is your HR team equipped to consult and connect you with other vetted specialists? They should be.

Empowering your organization

Fact is, outsourcing some or many needs to a high-level, hands-on HR team equipped to hit each of the aforementioned targets and more stands to do far more than attract and retain talent; it can empower both your organization and any existing in-house HR staff you have. It has the potential to do far more at significantly less cost than adding a single permanent position (or several), targeting efforts where you need them most, enabling you to focus on growing your business while HR devotes itself to growing your people and building the kind of business environment in which people want to be.

Business owners talk a lot about how hard it is to find talent. They’re not wrong, but the secret is simple: focus on those you have, become what I call a sticky employer—a place people want to be—and the right talent will be attracted to your organization like a magnet.

If you’re interested in learning more about Rehmann’s unique approach to human resource consulting, I’m interested in listening. Reach out to me via email, [email protected], or call 248.952.5000.

 

To get started, download our one-page guide – The Great Advantage: 5 Outcomes Your Organization Can Experience with Outside Help: https://go.rehmann.com/Solutions

 

Elizabeth boasts more than 20 years of experience spanning the full scope of human resources management, including training and organizational development, recruitment, union labor relations, benefits and compensation plan designs, company culture change and employee engagement, investigative behavioral analysis, executive coaching, as well as due diligence with mergers and acquisitions on both the buyer and seller side, and post-acquisition business integration.