Expert Advice of the Month: Don’t forget your existing team while trying to attract new hires

Laura Freeman is the executive vice-president of human resources and chief human resources officer at Orgill, Inc., the giant Memphis-based hardware wholesaler.

So many companies now put huge focus on attracting new hires, promising great benefits like unlimited vacation days or non-stop snacks on the job. But how do you focus on the people you already have and not take them for granted amidst all that outward-looking effort?

“When you think about your workforce and how it has changed, a lot of it has been around technology,” says Orgill’s HR lead, Laura Freeman. “Some of us think ‘Oh, that’s easy.’ We have to really think about those skillsets that not everybody feels comfortable with. That means ongoing investment in existing team members, but also finding a good fit for them.”

For example, says Freeman, “When it comes to upskilling, tech may be a tough one for some of team.”

The other thing is keeping people engaged, Freeman explains. “What does that mean? I want to be recognized for the work that I do. And it doesn’t have to be monetary.” Recognition is important, but even basic concepts like this can get lost in the shuffle. “As a manager, sometimes you just forget those things.”

That means more focus on guiding managers on your team to embrace and employ concepts like recognition that are tailored for individuals on your team. Teach your managers that people need to be valued and want to be respected, Freeman urges. It requires two-way communication: get input when change is afoot and include and explain the changes to your people.

“Take time and talk about the goals and how an individual worker is contributing to that. These are things that must be kept in mind when considering upskilling. You have to really make sure you’re meeting your employees where they need to be met.”