How to be a ‘magnetic’ employer

Magnet attracting marbles. Illustration: iStock.com/alphaspirit
Magnetic companies put policies in place to attract and retain the best workers and repel the rest. (Illustration: iStock.com/alphaspirit)
Magnet attracting marbles
Pull them in Magnetic companies put policies in place to attract and retain the best workers and repel the rest. (Illustration: iStock.com/alphaspirit)

Unemployment is at record lows, and there are more jobs available than there are people to fill them. Given this scenario, it’s no surprise that the most pressing concern for business owners and managers nationwide right now is how to find the new hires they need and keep the good people they have.

So, how can forward-thinking employers successfully compete for the best employees in this challenging environment?

A few exemplary organizations have shown the way. Costco, Google and REI are just a few well-documented examples, but there are innumerable smaller, regional, entrepreneurial endeavors as well. Besides their success, they all have one thing in common—and it’s not paying top dollar.

These employers attach unusual significance to the hiring process. They carefully assess the traits a person needs to be successful in the position and determine which traits can be taught and which cannot. Because of this, attitudes and personality traits are more highly valued than education and experience. In other words, the emphasis is on how people think, not what they know.

These “magnetic companies” have carefully constructed an image that naturally attracts the best people. Commonly, the perception is that the work will be fun or challenging—or both—and that management respects, rewards and empowers employees.

Magnetic companies use specific systems and procedures to ensure they attract, select and retain the best—and repel the rest. And if they do make a hiring mistake, they fix it immediately. They do not tolerate mediocrity.

The systems they use also ensure their jobs are easy to apply for, but tough to get. These firms don’t just put out the “now hiring” sign and hope for the best. Because they recognize that almost all the good people who want to work are working, many companies have installed 24-hour job hotlines and online application forms so working people can apply at their convenience. Many conduct interviews on weekends or after hours. Never satisfied, they’re always looking for better ways to make it easy to apply, and they never stop recruiting—even when they don’t need new hires—because they know they will someday soon.

Magnetic companies make their jobs tough to get. They know exactly what they need in terms of mental and physical capacities, attitudes, personality traits and skills—and they never lower the bar. Whenever possible, these firms hire for attitude and train for skills. If they can teach someone with the right attitude, they’ll hire that person over another who already has skills but who also has an attitude problem.

Tough hiring standards also minimize turnover, so magnetic companies are able to consistently deliver quality customer service, decrease hiring expenses and compete effectively on the basis of service, not just price.

Can your company become magnetic? Absolutely. It doesn’t require extraordinary spending or even a lot of time—once you have a system in place. All it really takes is some planning, commitment and follow-through.

Featured photo illustration: iStock.com/alphaspirit

Avatar photo

Mel Kleiman

Mel Kleiman is the author is the founder of Humetrics. He helps companies build high-quality, frontline, hourly workforces. Reach him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.

To top
Skip to content