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Spokane professionals provide top tips for recruiting and retention

Recruiting and retaining employees is a key part of maintaining a successful business, as they’re the largest part of your company. In January, GSI hosted a BizStreet workshop focused on recruiting and retention. Take a look at what four Spokane professionals suggest when it comes to these important subjects.

Alice Hardin, Vice President of Human Resources Northwest Farm Credit Services

Advice for successful employee recruitment

Your current employees can be your strongest advocates and recommend other great employees. If you don’t have one, you may consider implementing an employee referral program that provides monetary rewards for successful hires. This is just further incentive for your employees to help you recruit high-quality people.

Also, you may consider participating in a Best Places to Work competition. Since being selected as a finalist and, ultimately, winning the Inland Northwest Best Place to Work award in the large employer category, we have seen a significant increase in the number of applicants for our open positions. This award, along with our recognition for being selected as a Great Workplace by Gallup, has given us broader visibility locally and regionally as we have included these awards in our recruiting efforts. Stronger market recognition has definitely increased our candidate flow and name recognition/brand.

Advice for successful employee retention

Establish a feedback process for your employees to provide input related to your work environment, employee programs, engagement, etc. One method is to consider participating in an employee engagement survey, then share the results and actions you plan to take to improve employee engagement based on your results. Communicate progress to employees so they can see that their input is making a difference. If they know you are interested in their input and, once you receive it, that you share the results and inform them as to the actions you are taking to improve the organization, they will be more likely to want to stay with you as an employer.

We receive a lot of positive comments from our employees related to our commitment to volunteering and supporting the communities where we work and live. We offer our employees up to 24 hours of paid volunteer time each year so they are able to support a local community group that resonates with them and fits within the core values and mission of our organization.  We receive pictures of these events from those who participate and post them on our Intranet, in our annual report and in our publication that is sent to our customers.


Sarah Letsch, Talent and Culture Specialist, Imprezzio Inc.

Advice for successful employee recruitment

Successful employee recruitment begins with the job description. Post for the role that is desired, not necessarily the role that was previously held. Jobs evolve over time, so the job description needs to evolve as well. Retire the one-size fits all description that simply looks like a laundry list.

The labor market is in favor of the candidates, especially in hard to fill technical roles. Employers need to sell themselves just as much as candidates. The job description might be the candidates first glimpse of the company. Candidates should be able to get a sense of employer branding and culture from the description. It’s an opportunity to make a great first impression get candidates wanting to learn more.

The job description is a good place to include a realistic job preview. Candidates want an accurate representation of what their day is going to look like, especially for passive candidates that are hesitant to make a switch. This will also save time for everyone involved because individuals who would not be a good fit are more likely to opt out of the process on their own.

Be creative and have a good hook!

Advice for successful employee retention

Having front line managers invested in employee development is crucial for employee retention. More often than not, people quit their boss, not their job. It is common for employees that are extremely talented in their role are promoted to management despite their lack of training in managing a team. HR must partner with managers to make sure they are equipped with the tools to manage performance, develop employees, and foster a collaborative working environment.

Imprezzio encourages managers to schedule one on one meetings with each of their employees at least on a monthly basis. Another important part of the equation is conducting stay interviews. Stay interviews are a great way to check the pulse of an employee that might be feeling stagnant or hasn’t been met with in a while. Stay Interviews help provide a picture of an employee’s career goals and how they align with what they are doing currently.

Imprezzio uses an individual development plan program to keep managers and employees focused on learning that is aligned with the organizational strategy. It allows employees to be in the driver’s seat and take charge of their own development. Employees want to know how they connect to the overall mission and what that is going to look like over time. A good development plan will help provide that clarity.


Charlie Isaacs, Area President, Gallagher Benefit Services Inc.

Advice for successful employee recruitment

Probably the most impactful advice I can give on employee recruitment is to leverage your existing staff and encourage them to participate in the recruiting process. If you truly believe you are a destination employer, then put your best recruiters to work for you…your employees. They will also likely help bring in talent that shares the same “value system” your organization requires. Reward them for their efforts, whether it be compensation or some other form of recognition. Secondly, leverage formal internship programs backed with qualified mentors. We have had success at Gallagher developing a robust, paid summer internship program that gives qualified sophomore or junior college students the opportunity to experience working as an employee benefits consultant. In that environment, they are exposed to the sales process, underwriting process and many other aspects of the business. Through this experience, we [the employer] gain valuable insights into the intern’s cultural fit, work ethic and longer term career aspirations. Finally, develop relationships with local colleges and universities and their respective career centers. They can help you create a tremendous pipeline of talent.

Advice for successful employee retention

The biggest piece of advice I can give with respect to employee retention is focus on developing your own unique culture. That’s easier said than done and there have been about as many books written on the topic as there are specs of sand on a Maui beach. Perhaps the word culture is thrown about easily and has become a bit cliché when describing recruiting strategies. Moreover, it often means different things to different organizations. To my organization, we have a culture of excellence backed by empathy, shared values, mutual respect and transparency. Fine tuning it from there, we have developed a servant leadership model. This means that the mentality of the management team is to serve, support and otherwise empower their direct reports to take appropriate action and create change. This is the expectation of my management team. We have seen tremendous retention and financial results as a result of this type of servant leadership model. Of course, no organization is perfect. Organizations successful at retention are learning organizations, meaning they are willing to admit their imperfections and make adjustments as necessary to the benefit of the employee population while still managing the pressures and challenges of growth and expense management.


Staci Franz, Human Resources Director, Inland Northwest Health Services

Advice for successful employee recruitment

Recruitment starts early with industry awareness and building community partners. At an early age, we are engaging the hearts and minds of students within our community. We are exposing youth to healthcare career opportunities at all levels T24+. We are building relationships early, so that upon certification/graduation/licensure – INHS is the employer of choice. In addition, I would recommend that businesses take advantage of programs such as Business after School and Teach the Teachers workshops sponsored by GSI. These activities invite our next generation of our workforce into your business to experience “a day in the life” of any of your hard-to-fill positions.

Advice for successful employee retention

Employee engagement is the primary indicator of retention. Engagement is more than ensuring our employees are satisfied at work. It is about connecting employees to the organization’s goals and objectives, providing the support needed to optimize performance and supporting the total well-being of our employees at work. Being an employer of choice means enabling staff development, coaching for performance, providing an accountable environment and culture of continuous improvement. At INHS, we seek employee feedback on an annual basis to celebrate what is working well and develop action plans for areas of improvement.  By seeking to understand and making commitments to enhance the employee experience, we have realized a significant increase in retention.

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