Focus and Human Resources

Finding and keeping the keepers

Herman Miller shares HR tips for recruiting and retaining talent

May 10, 2013
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Finding and keeping the keepers
Surveys indicate that 36 percent of employees intend to leave their jobs by the end of this year while only 47 percent feel a strong sense of loyalty to their companies.

Herman Miller Talent Acquisition Manager Jodi Royse shared several tips with attendees of the 101 Best & Brightest Company’s to Work For audience last week about recruiting and retaining talent.

Royse said she has two main goals at Herman Miller: to find the best talent for the positions and to keep those team members from leaving the company for someplace else.

She noted that 36 percent of employees hope to leave their current positions before the end of 2013, while only 47 percent feel a strong sense of loyalty to their company. 

That means companies have some work to do if they wish to avoid employee turnover.

One of the first things Royse pointed to in her strategy is to create a branding profile for recruitment. Even a company like Herman Miller, with offices in 140 countries, doesn’t necessarily have a high-profile reputation on college campuses. She joked that many students have glanced at the company logo and thought they were talking to Motorola.

For that reason, Royse has helped Herman Miller create a brand specifically designed for recruiting talent that shows off the reasons someone would want to join the company and also highlights the variety of positions available.

Once a company finds the best candidate for the job, it then needs to focus on how to keep that person, she said.

At Herman Miller, the average time it takes to fill an open position is 41 days. In that time, the open position can have a negative impact on other employees’ workloads and on morale. Studies have found that, when someone leaves a company, they often take two other employees with them. The cost of a position’s turnover has been conservatively estimated at 25 percent of the first year’s salary for that position.

To retain its best talent, Herman Miller starts by offering a competitive package, which includes a generous retirement benefit and 100 percent tuition reimbursement. But Royse acknowledges that money isn’t everything, and there are plenty of other companies competing with those same or similar compensation items.

Where Herman Miller really seeks to stand out is in its culture and how employees are treated.

For many jobs, work can be accomplished anywhere, and the company acknowledges that a typical 8-to-5 schedule isn’t necessary or always conducive to getting the best work out of its people.

When allowed some flexibility — both in when and where work gets done — the employee is able to create a more fulfilling work-life balance.

One of the best indicators of employee happiness — and therefore the likelihood that an employee will stick around — is engagement: How engaged are employees in the job they are doing?

Herman Miller conducts employee engagement surveys that then are reviewed so it can respond to any issues that might be leading to a fall-off in employee engagement. It attributes these surveys to helping solve employee issues before it’s too late.

Additionally, the company conducts “stay interviews,” in which it asks: “If you were to win the lottery and leave your job at Herman Miller, what would you miss most and what would you miss least?” along with other questions formulated to discover employee engagement and contentment.

Re-recruiting is also a key component of the HR function at Herman Miller. Re-recruiting is when a company assesses the skills of its current employees to determine if they might be a good fit for recruitment to other positions within the company. 

Employees likely may have their own advancement plans and hopes, but it can be validating to know that the company is concerned about their advancement and career trajectory.

By focusing on both employee development and position succession planning, all the way down to the staff level, a company can better handle career moves by its employees within and outside of the company.

Royse said Herman Miller takes the time to understand all of its employees’ professional goals, and credits that effort as one of the reasons it experiences a low turnover rate.

To help employees who want to move into positions for which they need additional training, Herman Miller offers tuition reimbursement and a handful of mentorship and training programs to help its staff develop leadership skills for progression within the company.

Royse pointed to the reality that companies need to train their own pipeline, not just rely on the education system to do it for them.

By focusing on recruitment, retention and re-recruitment, Herman Miller creates an atmosphere where its employees feel engaged and valued — two of the key elements in an employee’s desire to stay with a company.

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