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Two Big Takeaways from 2018, and What They Mean for 2019

Collie King

 As always, I spent a lot of time last year talking to Kwantek clients in the field.

My goals in these conversations are three-fold: to gain a better understanding of the problems our clients are facing, to learn more about how changes we make to our platform impact the problems we’re trying to solve, and to determine best practices worth sharing with our broader audience.

The outcome of all of those discussions in 2018 was two major learnings.

Here’s what I learned last year, and how we plan to use what I’ve learned to help Kwantek’s new and existing clients reduce turnover and increase profits this year.

1. Getting More Applicants Won’t Fix Turnover Problems

Leading into 2018, we heard a consistent request from our clients: “We need more applicants.”

Turnover was high across the board in both the contract security and building services industries. Because of high turnover, our clients needed to hire more people. And to do that, they needed to get more applicants in the door.

So in 2018, we delivered on that request. We doubled—and in some cases tripled—the number of interested job seekers that were applying for open positions with our clients.

What we discovered: applicant volume wasn’t the core issue.

Even with more applicants, turnover remained high. And while getting more applicants in the door helped alleviate or mitigate the issue, it didn’t solve the underlying problem.

That led us to the following learning.

Retention Problems Aren’t Solved at the Top of Your Hiring Funnel

Last year, we published a blog series and webinar designed to help our clients perfect the pre-hire process. Part of that requires defining the stages in your hiring funnel.

At the top of the funnel, you need applicants. But that’s just step one of hiring and retaining employees.

There are many other stages in the hiring funnel, including phone screenings, in-person interviews, and offers. After that, new employees move into an onboarding funnel where you work to retain them for 30 days, then 90 days, and finally a year or more.

If the problem isn’t at the top of the hiring funnel—if getting more applicants doesn’t solve your retention problem—it means the problem is somewhere else in your funnel.

More likely, it’s toward the bottom of the funnel where people aren’t showing up for interviews, the first day of work, or are quitting before their first paycheck.

This makes a lot of sense if you think about your hiring funnel like a sales funnel.

If 40% of your new customers cancel within the first 30 days, would your solution be to get more sales leads? Obviously not. You would assume there was an operations issue. Something is happening that’s preventing your customers from getting what they needed from your product.

The same is true for hiring and retaining employees. If turnover is high, it’s not because there aren’t enough applicants. It’s because there’s an operations issue further down the line.

Getting more applicants may appease the negative connotations of your turnover problem for a while, but it won’t fix it.

Fixing Underlying Problems at the Bottom of Your Funnel

My goal this year is to provide more guidance on how our clients can identify and fix the issues that are truly causing their turnover problems.

We have to identify the source of the bad churn.

After all, getting more applicants may appease site managers needing new hires temporarily, but at some point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. If you’re getting 1,000 applicants a month, when is that too many? When does it become too difficult for the person who’s processing all of those applications to review them efficiently and move new applicants through the funnel?

Applicant volume is fools gold. If you’re just going to be a hiring machine and not try to improve the process, then yes, you need more applicants. But it’s better to improve the process.

In 2019, I’m going to talk a lot more about how to fix other major issues in your hiring and onboarding process, starting with the site manager’s role in retention.

We have content planned to provide you with tips on recruiting effective site managers, guidance on how to groom site managers into effective leaders, and suggestions for how to identify current employees that might do well in a site manager role.

Our goal is to help you understand the role that management plays in retention and turnover.

2. Taking Full Advantage of WOTC Requires a Mindset Shift

Another thing I learned is the companies that are taking a unique approach to Work Opportunity Tax Credits (WOTC) are gaining the biggest benefits from the program.

All of our clients who are taking advantage of WOTC are saving a lot of money. However, the companies that are seeing the biggest benefits are approaching the program with a unique mindset: they’re offering their administrators incentives based on earned WOTC credits.

One of the companies I spoke with this year installed a bonus program to encourage their administrators to maximize WOTC credits. Their credit amount went up 35% over the year.

Why is this important?

First, the benefit of WOTC goes straight to the owner of a business. WOTC credits reduce your tax liability, which means more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Second, WOTC further incentivizes retention. The longer a WOTC-eligible employee stays at your company, the larger credits you receive

Focusing on WOTC, then, not only lowers your tax bill, but coupled with a retention focus, helps you save on hiring costs. Plus, it makes your clients more comfortable with your service when they see the same faces every day because you’re not regularly rotating employees in and out.  

So in 2019, I recommend shifting your mindset when it comes to WOTC credits. Do everything you can—whether it’s installing an incentive program or something else—to make sure your administrators are on board and really driving to get the most out of this program as possible.


Want to learn more about how Kwantek can help you reduce turnover and increase your profits in 2019? Schedule a demo, and we’ll show you how we can help.

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