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How To Make Smart Hiring Decisions And Retain Your Best Employees


Today we have Jennifer Bekedemor Imarhia who has over 11 years of experience in human resources practice to discuss how you can make smart hiring decisions and retain your best employees. She is currently the human resource head at Lagos Bus Service.


I have been in human resources for more than 10 years. It is something I do passionately. I have worked in a couple of places – international and local brands.

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

Hiring right

For every organisation of any size, an important thing to think about is hiring and hiring rightly. In my experience, for most of us in this part of the world, our hiring decision is based on what we see on the CV. We are wowed and this influences our decisions. Most experienced recruiters will insist on making behaviour and personality important factors to look at.


Tools for recruitment:

  • Have a clear job description (the skills of the person wanted) and profile (the kind of person – ability to work under pressure or take decisions without supervision)
  • Person’s specification for the job

Some companies have pre-employment personality tests online to have an idea of what type of person is applying for the job. Applicant can lie but a detailed employment process with tricky and smart unexpected questions are employed by the interviewer.

We tend to hire based on qualifications. But character and attitude are more important.

It’s also important to know the best tools to use in filling any particular position. A business can employ the services of a professional recruiter – online and offline. A company’s website could also be a place where people are encouraged to drop unsolicited CVs. If the position is such that can be filled from within, then the company’s database of staff can be used.


Hiring by self-advertising, referrals and outsourcing: which is the best approach?

Startups have peculiar challenges. Recruiting is not the expertise for the small business owner. Moreover, the employee determines the next level for the business. It is best to invest a little bit more to get an experienced recruiter to get the best hands for the job. The business owner also has to be part of the process. It is important to spend time looking for the details of the person to be hired. Different approaches are apt for the different types of vacancies.

Vetting or background checks are very important. Getting character references from more than one previous employer is also important. Most employers will tell the truth about a previous employee’s character. A potential hire’s claimed qualifications should be properly checked; same with claimed achievements in previous employments.


Attracting potential hires organically to an organisation

Every business has a reputation. It is important for job seekers to find out information about the company – work culture, salary payment etc. – from websites or staff of the company (even a cleaner).  I was once attracted to and worked for a small company whose vision statement said: We do not owe salaries. Transparency to staff about vision, timelines, participation and contributions, and rewards for their participation gives a sense of ownership. Communication is key to showing empathy to employees. This builds a good reputation for the company.


Rectifying wrong hires

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

One has to be very sure that one really hired wrongly and that the reason the employee is not functioning properly is not one. The right environment and tools (coaching, mentoring, or training) has to be provided for the employee before you conclude that you made a wrong hire.  To let wrong hires go, it is important to have first communicated through a performance appraisal or monitoring system. This monitors and gives feedbacks to employees. Really bad behaviours attract queries and other disciplinary measures. When the employee keeps performing poorly, then they can be let go.


Getting employees to be committed to and even multitask for the company

I advise people to take the opportunity to work for a startup, especially if the people behind the startup are reputable. Most of my 11 years of experience has been in startups and I’m extremely proud of what I have been able to achieve. Working in startups, no one sticks to their job description. One would do all kinds of work outside one’s job description.

For a fresh graduate and the inexperienced, working in an SME or startup is a great way to garner experience. I once worked in a management consulting firm with a team of less than ten. I was the PA, but I was also a marketer. Our collective effort and our ability to multi task grew the company.

Working in big companies restricts you into being skilled in only one area. And it is easy for one to be a target of downsizing. It is exciting to be with startups with the idea of being part of an organisation that will be big in the future.


Retaining good hires

ARDE – Attract. Retain. Develop. Engage

It is important to understand that employee retention determines how healthy the company is. A high attrition rate points at something being wrong. The culture or the strategy might need revamping. To retain an employee, he has to have a clear expectation. Don’t expect that employees coming to work automatically know what they are to do.

There also has to be quality supervision so the employee and company are not going in different directions. This prevents staff from doing their own things.

Sense of ownership

There has to also be a sense of ownership. There has to be open communication with employees if things like owing of salaries are going to occur. Senior management always should plan for random townhall meetings. Sessions with lower ranked staff (maybe in the factories) every six months reinforces a sense of ownership in those workers.

Helping the employee discover their talents or potentials is another way of building the sense of ownership. Always give credit to an employee who brings in profit and the like. Treat people with fairness. People leave managers; not the company. The manager that doesn’t treat an employee with fairness or empathy will lose the employee. Also provide the right tools (computers, internet access, etc.) to employees to work with.

An enabling environment

Employees should never feel threatened. Employers should not assume threatening stances with their employees. Some employees feel horrible going to work because the environment is not conducive for them.

Let employees see a path to grow in. Provide growth opportunities and remove barriers in their career paths.

Appreciate staff with personalised messages or emails for their contributions to the company. It is not always about giving employees money. As an appreciation, the company can pay for staff and their spouses to spend a night in a hotel, for example. Gestures like this create loyalty with employees.


This text is derived from a live video broadcast from Wary Pen at ReDahlia Workspaces, 43B Emina Crescent, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja.

If you run a successful business and want us to feature you on our platform then send us an email on contact@redahlia.com or give us a call on 08188122223.

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