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Employee Retention begins with people and business alignment

What Do Josh Bersin, Human Awareness and Conscious Hiring Have in Common?

When I first invented the concept of Conscious Hiring in early 2002, I wanted to empower business leaders in growing and developing their teams. After my own struggles with growing my staffing firm, my coach shared some concepts about hiring that were foreign to me. Even with all my experience, awards and Kudos for operating an exceptional Recruiting firm the concept of analyzing what I needed from my people and digging deep during the interview process to validate it was new to me. I interviewed for skill and hiring manager fit, and I was damn good at it.


For years, I made great placements at progressive companies using my gut instinct and my ability to read people. The problem was, when it came to hiring for myself it seemed to me and my advisors that I was placing the best and hiring the rest.

When the economy was booming and hiring was fast and furious simple systems enabled my company to handle the growth with sub par employee performance. However when the world changed after 911, or at least the staffing world changed the sub par performance could no longer be masked by the top 20%. Many of our customers were laying off, some went out of business and overall in our sector, the technology staffing business dropped by 75%. We needed to retool.

In the retooling process we began by codifying our brand statement, promise and values. Then we needed to look deep at what underlying behaviors, modes of operating, thinking and interacting solidified and magnified that brand in the eyes of the customer. This is when I first learned about values based interviewing.

Once it became clear to me that I needed to hire my team not only for what they could do, I needed to hire them for who they were on the inside and how they behaved on the outside; a new world opened up for me as a business leader and an operator of a staffing firm.

The next thing I learned is that I needed to look at my company’s roles as if they are a living entity within my organization. A living entity that had a purpose attached to our brand statement and expected outcomes aligned with our overall business strategy.

While this seems simple and obvious, at 36 years old it was a new learning to me.

At about the same time, I attended a human awareness training. In that training, I witnessed over 150 people share about their life’s experiences while the coach taught distinctions of being human. My eyes were open and I learned things I didn’t know I didn’t know about myself, people and the work world.

I learned that one of the fundamental aspects all human beings have in common, is a deep seeded need to make a difference while here on the planet. People want their life to matter and make a difference.

I walked away from my first with a profound understanding that “work” is one of the most prominent avenues for people to make it happen.

Before the human awareness training my quality hiring learnings taught me about employer empowerment and after the human awareness training became conscious to the employee side of the equation.

The creation, invention and codification of Conscious Hiring was a way my team could tie our customers needs to the hearts and minds of the people who worked inside their companies.

At first, when we went to market with the ConsciousHiring program many recruiters and staffing professionals accused us of muddying the waters and making their job of placement harder.

We stood our ground and continued to march forth creating converts from Gut Instinct Hiring to Conscious Hiring; however only a handful of converts came from the staffing industry.

Our real impact was and is, directly with business leaders, CEOs, strategic minded HR and private equity investors of companies who are keen on optimizing and leveraging their workforce in service of delivering on their brand promises and values.

These innovators know that the life of their company depends on the people inside. They are very aware that there are a minimum of 5 available job opportunities (FT, contract, consultant, etc) for every qualified candidate. These business leaders understand that once they get the right people they need to invest in developing and retaining them.

They also know that it takes insight and clarity to attract, select and hire the right people, for the right role, for the right reasons.

Our customers experience Conscious Hiring and it’s accompanying tools as an easy to use system that allows them to match the core values and brand promise of their organization with the values, interpersonal and organizational competencies as well as the belief system of qualified people; and that makes sense.

As the years have progressed and the wisdom age is now upon us; people demand more in and through their work than ever before.

With human awareness and coaching training becoming main stream , open access to world events, a long awaited recovery of a stifled economy and free agent work opportunities at workers” fingertips; human empowerment with regards to Work is at a tipping point.

In Josh Bersin’s recent article on the coming age of human resources software he beautifully articulates the necessity for human resource software programs and the people using them to connect with their workforce, their people on a deeper and more purposeful level.

If you are in a leadership role and you spend time managing people, or if you are creating an employee retention program; incorporating a training or coaching in human awareness could be a foundational and very powerful element in creating a work culture that honors and respects workers as human beings with unique personalities, values, beliefs and work-styles.

If you are someone who gets that people are the fuel for your business engine its also important to articulate your brand values and how you intend on bringing those values to the hearts and minds of your customers through your people.

Lastly, if your committed to delivering on your brand promises and values through the customer experience than implementing a hiring process that validates and verifies the people you deem as qualified, naturally emulate those values and are deeply aligned with your companies mission and value proposition.

My thirty year career in talent acquisition, employee selection and leadership empowerment have taught me that employee engagement, workforce optimization and people empowerment begins with alignment.

Amazing things happen when you create your employee retention initiatives by beginning with the end in mind and working backwards.


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