How To Hire Employees And Fill Those Open Shifts

Attracting shift workers is tough.

17% of hourly workers have inconsistent hours, while 29% of employees say they rarely get a reliable and consistent work schedule. Shift workers might manage more regular hours, but 56% say they get their schedules a week or less in advance while 68% of those who do the scheduling say they struggle to assign shifts that accommodate their employee’s availability while still meeting staffing needs.

These aren’t just scheduling issues. They’re hiring issues.

To make scheduling easier, you need enough employees. To attract employees, you have to have an enviable schedule without the threat of burnout. That’s not easy to juggle. The more shift workers you have, the more time you’ll spend filling job openings.

Hiring starts with the right preparation, and then knowing how to use the right process. We’ll show you how to do that, as well as take into consideration some special situations that might affect how you hire.

Preparing to hire

There are a few things to consider when hiring an employee, depending on what stage you are in your business. 

Before you even get to the actual hiring process and employing staff, you need to have a few ducks in a row. Don’t jump the gun and start interviewing potential hires without having the following things ready to go:

  • Set up an EIN (Employer Identification Number). An EIN is a unique nine-digit number, similar to a social security number, but for your business. You’ll need it to open bank accounts, file taxes, and get a business license. If your business is not established yet, getting an EIN as soon as possible is a good idea. The IRS provides you an EIN free of charge. There are websites out there that will charge you to do it, but be aware that it is something you can do for free when you deal directly with the IRS. If you want to pay your accountant or another provider, that’s up to you.
  • Get your tax documents in order. Employees need to fill out a W-4 and a Form I-9, the first of which helps you know how much to withhold, while the second has to do with eligibility to be hired. You will need to fill out the W-2 form, which details employee earnings and withholding. If you use independent contractors, you’ll be working with the 1099 form.
  • Have your employee documents ready. These are the documents you use internally. They might include a non-compete agreement, the employee handbook which outlines policies, and some kind of acknowledgment form that employees sign to say they’ve read the documents.
  • Create job descriptions for each position. Whether you create the job descriptions or use HR to do it, it’s important to have them written down. Not only does it help you when it comes time to hire in knowing which candidate would be the best fit, but it also helps employees know what is expected of them. You’re not just hiring people to fill gaps; you’re hiring the right people for the right job. Define what that job is so you know who the people will be.
  • Be ready to onboard employees. Onboarding and training should be structured so that any new hires are immediately part of a training program. Understand what each job entails and how someone needs to be trained to do it completely. This includes some things you must have set up for new employees, including passwords, time clock and/or scheduling account, intranet access, login information, etc.
  • Insurance and other legal requirements. Be sure you’re registered with your state’s labor department. And let’s not forget that you need to have the correct insurance. There is general liability insurance, of course, but there are other types of insurance that you might get depending on the type of business you run.

Before you start interviewing for open positions, you have to make sure you’ve been responsible to have these things done before bringing an employee on board. Doing any of these after the fact is unfair to employees and opens you up to a lot of potential problems down the road.

Steps to hire a new employee (or multiple employees)

Hiring an employee can be broken down into a few basic steps:

  1. Create a job listing. You may know what this should be from experience, but you might also need to research similar listings to make sure you’re covering all the bases.
  2. Review the responses and choose interviewees. Look over the resumes or applications you get from potential applicants, and decide who you want to bring in for an interview. Check their references before bringing them in.
  3. Stay organized. Depending on the job, you may get a lot of responses and not all at the same time. You need to track who’s applied, who you’re interviewing, who’s on the list to consider, who to notify that they didn’t get the job, and so on. Without organization, it’s easier just to pick someone instead of the right one.
  4. Bring them on board. New hires should funnel right in to fill out the legal and tax documents, sign statements and agreements, and begin training. That’s why it’s important to have these things ready to go before you even start looking for employees.
  5. Measure your success. Hiring is expensive, so it’s smart to measure how the hiring went. Since about 20% of new hires quit in six months, look at your own stats every six months to see if you need to refine your hiring process or hire requirements. The best way to reduce hiring costs is to keep tabs on how well your process is working. If there’s constant churn, something needs fixing. Always be fine-tuning your hiring process.

That’s a pretty basic list that any employer could use. But what if you have a small business? You’re a new startup? Hiring looks a bit different depending on the situation.

Startups lean towards agility, and the tendency is to hire quickly because you can’t leave gaps open when you’re in rapid growth. However, there’s a good reason for the “hire slow, fire fast” adage you hear startup founders speak of. 

Startups have to be as intentional about how they build their team. They shouldn’t just limit it to skills or experience, but take into account employee personality, drive, and commitment. A good culture fit is very important. Using a recruiter might not be a bad idea.

For a small business, employee turnover is especially expensive. Referrals and word-of-mouth from current customers or employees are a great way to recruit. You might not have the resources to use more expensive or time-consuming routes, so creating a referral program to benefit those who recommend someone who is eventually hired is a way to promote this channel.

Granted, with the current labor shortage, hiring is even more difficult than usual for everyone. When you need to hire quickly or in a tight labor market, there are a few ways to do that.

  • Make your benefits known. Don’t be shy about letting potential hires know about your great employee benefits. Be creative when you list them. It’s not just the obvious ones, like health insurance. It’s flexible scheduling, convenient scheduling, and communication apps like When I Work, working from home—anything that makes employees’ lives better at work. If you’re not sure what they all might be, ask your current employees what they like about working for you. You might find some “benefits” you weren’t aware you were offering.
  • Change how you schedule. Consider rethinking how you schedule and fill shifts. You may be able to accomplish the same amount of output without hiring.
  • Stand out from the crowd during search. Create job post titles that are clickable and stand out. Avoid catchy buzzwords and slang, but use the words someone actually looking for a job would use.
  • Automate and simplify your hiring process. If your process is convoluted, it’s not as easy to respond quickly and lock in a potential employee for an interview before they’ve already gotten another offer. Use recruitment tools that make posting jobs and responding to inquiries easier.
  • Consider alternatives to hiring. Using independent contractors or temp workers may help you quickly fill holes in your schedule. Staffing companies can fill in gaps while you try to find new employees, preventing your current team from becoming burnt out.

Onboarding new hires

Onboarding doesn’t need to be complicated, but there are two important parts to it.

First, new hires need to fill out required tax and legal forms. Then, they need to be given an employee handbook and any other agreements (noncompete, nondisclosure, drug testing, etc.) and after having had a chance to read and agree, should sign a form acknowledging that they’ve read, understood, and agreed to those documents.

It is helpful to have someone go over the important parts of the handbook and other documents with the new employee. That way they can ask questions, and you can be sure they understand your policies. It solves a lot of problems down the road, and is part of good employer-employee communication.

Reducing employee pain is one of the main ways to keep employee retention high, and that means starting off on the right foot. Clear communication and expectation from day one, along with the right training make employees feel better about their choice to come work for you.

Whether you’re a large manufacturing company or a local mom-and-pop business, you have the same challenge: hiring the right employees to fill shifts. Using automated tools like When I Work to help you schedule employees make that burden a bit lighter.

For immediate action, take a triage view of your employee situation. What positions must be filled? Can you use temp staffing or change how you schedule to make that happen while you look for new employees? If your current scheduling tool doesn’t make it easy to adjust your shifts, contact us and find out how we can help you with the team you have right now.

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