1 Question to Better Recruit and Retain Employees

1 Question to Better Recruit and Retain Employees image DATE: January 17, 2020

Most organizations are scrambling trying to figure out how to better recruit and retain employees. What’s the answer? I’ll shoot you straight as always — a quick-fix solution doesn’t exist here. However, I do have one question you should start asking that will automatically shift your trajectory toward greater success.

1 Question to Better Recruit and Retain Employees

Leaders across the country, across industries, are struggling with recruiting and retaining the best-of-the-best employees. Some are leaving for more money, but many are leaving for reasons other than money! Employees are leaving for increased flexibility, a better leader, a more socially conscious organization, a shorter commute, a more technologically advanced company, etc. Regardless of the reasons for the past losses, you as a leader need to know what current and future employees want if your goal is to recruit and retain the highest performers. I have one question to help you figure that out.


“…the least important thing…”

I was listening to a national restaurant owner talk recently and they said they finish off their interviews in their restaurant by asking employees this question, “What will it take for money to be the least important thing you get from us while you are here?”.

Think about that for a minute. It hit me deep. I stopped me in my tracks and wrote it down. How often and for how many decades have we asked our people questions or say statements like:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How’s everything going?
  • Are you happy in your current role?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are you looking for in a new position?
  • Do you need anything?

That’s just a small sample of the things leaders are saying and asking that aren’t giving answers that will really equip you to actually be able to hire the right people and engage them in a way that will make them stick around and go all-in for you! Those questions don’t break down walls and open doors for the opportunity for people to be honest and get real with each other.

When you rephrase all of those questions into 1, you change the whole game for yourself! With that question, you are opening the door for them to give you a roadmap to exactly what you and the organization need to do for them in order to harness the most value they can bring to your table!

You may be thinking, “Hold up. This organization is not here for them.” My response is this, in today’s multi-generation workforce, Gen X, Millennials, and especially Gen Z are coming in hot with a bleeding desire to work for people who care about them personally and professionally. I feel certain that the most successful companies and leaders will be those who choose to adapt and take on a very individualistic, service-type, approach when it comes to employees.


Recruit and Retain Employees by Taking Money Out of the Equation

Most, if not all, your employees are working because they need money, right? We all do. Sure, there are a handful of employees in the corporate world who are working just for the joy, mental stimulation, or socialization aspects of the job. However, most would not be there if they were not getting paid. So, before you ask the question you have to make sure that money is not an issue. If you are still having money talks with an employee, you are so far from getting them to go all-in. The fact of the matter is that if money is the issue, then as soon as someone waves more money in their face then they will be gone! Get your employees to the point where the money is not the issue. When money is not an issue, employees are able to relax more. They are less likely to make unethical decisions. They are able to think and work better!

I have a business degree and I’m a realist. I understand we must manage our business and that includes finances. I’m simply urging you to do everything you can to make money a non-issue. If your employees are barely getting by at home, they’re likely to do what they must to barely get by at work.

Now, once you’ve taken care of the employee from the perspective of their financial needs, it’s time to move on to more important wants and needs. Before asking them the important question, tell them that you want money to be the least important thing they ever get from you and your organization. Just be straight up! Take that concern out of their minds for the moment and for the future.


Recruit and Retain Employees by Learning What they Really Want

Up to this point you’ve taken the most basic concern out of the recruiting and retention equation. Now it’s time to learn what else it’s going to take to get them in, keep them in, and earn their very best performance.

Say to the prospect or employee, “What will it take to make money the least important thing you ever get from us?”

Then, pull out your pen or your laptop and start writing!

Be aware of the fact that they may be taken off guard. They likely aren’t expecting you to ask them this question. Give them time to think. Tell them you want to achieve long term success for both of you and you know that it will take you being honest and putting in the work to make that happen. Explain that this is just the first step to a constant process of making this the place where we help people achieve their goals! Of course, put that in your own words. But, I want you to realize that companies that will be successful in the future will be the ones who focus on helping employees achieve both their personal and professional goals.

Want more insights into how the multi-generation workforce is changing the leadership game? Let’s talk!

The answer they give you to this question will likely be your specific, individual playbook for how you lead and make decisions in regards to that employee going forward. Will this be difficult because employees want different things? Maybe. Is it impossible for you to successfully execute? No, it’s not impossible — it’s possible! It will be those leaders who do this and take action that will be most likely to reap the benefits of success for years to come.


Recruit and Retain Employees by Following Through

What if the person answers with things I literally cannot do? Respectfully, heartfelt, and with appropriate detail tell them why you cannot do it. You need to be honest with them all the time. This will help them trust you going forward. They might not leave you because of it, instead, they might stay with you because you’re honest with them. That’s not always easily found these days!

On the other hand, if what they tell you they want is somewhat in the realm of possibilities, do what you can to make it happen. If you’re going to be bold enough to ask the question, you better be smart enough to follow through. Choosing to not follow through is choosing to create an environment that breeds failure. If you don’t follow through, that’s on you as a leader. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.


Level Up Your Leadership

From here you have a choice to make. Will you help solve your recruitment and retention issues by asking your people the question, “What is it going to take to make money the least important thing you ever get from us?” Will you follow through with the action steps you’re given?

You have an opportunity to ask the question it in the next interview you do, the next performance evaluation you give, or maybe you even schedule special meetings with your team to get answers now. The opportunities are endless which means the answers to your needs are simply waiting to be sought out. You have the tool to help yourself now. My hope is that you level up your leadership by taking action to get better results. #LevelUp

#recruitingstrategies #retentionstrategies #leadershiptips #2020success #multigenerationleadership

alyson van hooser

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn.

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