Employee Referrals and Well-Defined Job Descriptions Boost Employee Retention

Reducing costly turnover is a focus at any equipment dealership. Jared Nielsen, chief human resources officer at Stotz Equipment, a John Deere dealership that serves Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming, explains that a strong employee acquisition process can have a real impact on employee retention.

Current Stotz Equipment employees help drive the talent acquisition process at the dealership. Nielsen says their company uses its intranet for an employee referral program, which includes bonuses for employees who refer new hires.

“We use something called a depth chart, where employees can put a referral’s name and contact information,” says Nielsen. “It becomes a pipeline of potential candidates for open positions. When we have an opening, the order that we prioritize candidates is first internal, next employee referrals from the depth chart and then external job postings.”

The depth chart and employee incentives emphasize candidates who are not only highly qualified but also would be a good match for the company’s culture – an approach Nielsen says has been successful for Stotz Equipment. Overall, the company has low turnover, even in positions that are typically harder to fill in the industry, such as service technicians jobs, where there is a lot of competition.

To bridge the transition from acquiring talent to retaining employees, Nielsen suggests fully developing a job description and defining not only the skills and experience needed for the position, but also the specific characteristics the person in that role must possess.

“Often times hiring managers don’t take the time to determine what skills and behaviors are needed to fill a role,” says Nielsen. “Too often there is a rush to fill a position, so it is posted with a very vague description and what is really needed for that role isn’t identified. That only increases the chances of poor hiring decisions. Putting together a good job description will help you deliver better value on that role. Getting employee acquisition right is going to increase the chances of retaining employees later.”

Nielsen also says companies should spend considerable time training management on how to be effective leaders. This includes teaching managers how to treat employees and deal with performance problems. Nielsen also recommends a strong strategy for investing in employees.

“One thing we do at Stotz Equipment is require our employees to have 40 hours of training every year in their area of expertise,” says Nielsen. “This includes every position, from HR, to accounting, to service members and store managers. By doing that, we show employees the company values their development and wants them to continue to grow.”

And while these techniques work well at Stotz Equipment, Nielsen says there’s no one mold for a company to follow in regard to employee acquisition and retention. But by following a few best practices, you can find what works best for your dealership.

“Training and development is very important,” says Nielsen. “It’s also important to regularly identify market trends in compensation and be honest with yourself as an employer whether or not you’re being competitive. Finally, don’t take shortcuts in your hiring process. Take the necessary time to identify what your need really is. It’s not perfect every time, but it only increases your odds.”