Image: Flazingo Photos/Flickr Image: Flazingo Photos/Flickr

There’s a company position to fill. The job spec has been posted, and a pile of nice shiny CVs is now sitting in your in-tray ready for you to read through. So how, asks Beth Leslie from Inspiring Interns, do you pick your shortlist?

If you are like most hiring managers, you will start by looking at past experience. Entry-level applicants with stellar degree from prestigious universities will be the firm favourites, whereas more senior candidates will be judged on the impressiveness of their old job title and their aptitude with a range of hard skills.

Yet while this approach will certainly find you talented employees, it may not provide the best ones for your business.

Why? Because the most important aspects of star employees are not found in their skillset, but in their character:

  • The Value of Loyalty
If you have the option between promoting a competent but unexceptional long-term employee and hiring a flaky hotshot, the temptation can be to risk the latter on the assumption that their brilliance will more than compensate for their flight risk. But this ignores the huge cost of employee turnover: a whopping £30,614 on average.

Most of that cost comes not from job adverts or interviewing time, but from lost productivity. Even the best new hire takes time to learn the ropes. According to Oxford Economics, it takes an average of six to seven months for a worker to reach ‘optimal productivity’. Considering this handicap, hiring quitters makes no sense; they may be talented but they won’t be working at that high-talent level for most of their employment.

  • The Value of Enthusiasm
An enthusiastic employee is an engaged employee; they care about their work and are committed to their workplace. But if you think that describes your own employees, you may be in for a nasty shock. Gallup’s studies suggest that just 13 per cent of global workers are actively engaged.

Disengagement is costly; Gallup also estimates that the US alone loses $300 billion every year to the lost productivity of disengaged workers. Unenthusiastic workers also miss more work days and call in sick more often than the average worker.

  • The Value of Resilience
Bill Gates apocryphally said that he’ll always hire a lazy person to do a hard job, because they’ll find an easy way to do it. He should hire resilient ones instead, because they are the people who get a job done regardless of any failures or setbacks they may encounter.

80 per cent of completed sales required five or more follow-ups. 68 per cent of IT projects fail. Just 2 per cent of business deals are made in the first meeting. Failure is an inevitable aspect of life and business, and success usually only comes after multiple attempts. People who give up easily, however, never get that far.

  • The Value of Integrity
Study after study shows that remote working, flexitime and generous time-off policies improve employee morale and productivity. So why do two-thirds of employers refuse to implement them? Undoubtedly they’re concerned by the results of other studies: 38 per cent of employees have faked an illness to get time off, and 89 per cent admit to wasting time at work every day.

But unless you plan to monitor your employees 24/7 like some sort creepy Big Brother (and good luck keeping any good ones if you do), it’s impossible to know how hard they are working. KPIs aren’t always a good measure of an individual’s worth: a clever employee could be meeting target but spending most of her day on YouTube, while a dedicated but overburdened employee could be pulling out all the stops but failing to complete tasks.

But when you employ people with a strong work-ethic, you can trust them to do their job properly. That improves the working relationship on both sides, because you’ll also become more receptive to their business inputs and their requests for flexibility.

  • The Value of Positivity
Hiring helpful, positive employees makes your whole workforce more productive. Not only are happy employees 12 per cent more productive individually, they form stronger social connections with their colleagues, boosting their collective creativity and problem solving ability.

In senior positions, empathetic leaders create higher performing teams and contribute to the sort of positive work culture that studies show translates to lower levels of staff stress, illness and turnover.

By Beth Leslie, graduate jobs writer for Inspiring Interns.

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