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The Secret To Retaining Top Employees? It Starts Before You Even Hire!

I have an unusual first name – never mind my middle name – it makes Rikka look tame! My voice is pretty distinctive, I talk fast and loudly. I love somewhat crazy haircuts….I could go on and on.

This isn't free therapy, I want to make a point. I get how it feels when you don't fit in with a group.

What if we aren't describing a networking event or a party, but someone's first day at a new job? Or worse, their 60th or 350th day at that job? Fitting in and feeling like you belong is a human need. When it isn't met, things go badly.

I am talking about retention – which successful companies understand starts before you even hire someone.

Be True To You

Be true to who you are as a business. Don't pull a bait-&-switch on employees or try to be something you aren't. It comes through as inauthentic and when they start working for you they will quickly figure it out.

You want to attract and hire people who can fit in and will flourish. Otherwise, you'll likely make great hires who quickly leave. That tells you something is amiss.

Use the language you are comfortable with. Avoid terms like ninja, Jedi or wizard if you really mean (and use) expert.


Retention starts with how you position your company and opportunity – in your job ads, conversations, and interviews.

If you are into innovation and technology, make sure prospective employees know. Is your company more traditional with a solid hierarchy? Point it out. If you expect employees to move up rapidly, share it.

Whatever makes up your special sauce as an employer, lay it out there.

Define & Share Transparent Expectations

Employees want to know exactly what is expected of them. They need guidelines and goals and a way to hit their marks. If you don't know what they should be working towards, how can you guide their efforts?

Make sure you have written out a great job description for the role. Share your expectations with your teams so they know what is desired and at stake. When you talk with candidates, do the same.

Determine How You'll Communicate

Sharing your vision isn't going to be a one-and-done experience. Maintain open lines of communication with your teams. Figure out effective ways to stay in touch. I am a huge fan of using the check-in method – read more here.

Infrequent or faulty communication is a huge factor in employees feeling unsatisfied. Let candidates know how you keep in touch.

Appreciate Employees

How do you feel about your employees? Do they know what you think? Do they know when they have done a great job or when they need to step it up?

If you aren't demonstrating appreciation, you are missing huge opportunities!

You don't need to throw parades, hand out trophies or send everyone to Hawaii – although those all sound awesome! Focus on how you show appreciation daily. Don't forget to say thank you often.

As you approach hiring, make sure candidates know how you demonstrate gratitude.

Let Them Spread Their Wings

If you want someone to stick around for 4 or 40 years give them ways to grow and expand. Build career paths and provide learning opportunities. Don't force employees to figure it out – they likely will somewhere else!

Think about succession planning and guiding your great employees to bigger and better things. Offer product training sessions, mentoring programs and scholarships or education reimbursement.

Make sure you can tell prospective employees about the different opportunities you provide. Ideally, they will be a huge selling point.

When you look at retention, don't just think about how you keep who you currently have. Impress upon prospective employees how you focus on retaining your staff.

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The Building Gurus Difference

You’re probably wondering how we can deliver candidates that your in-house or current recruiting partner hasn’t been able to. Hiring great talent is a key part of your business, but it’s the reason we’re in business. We invest in tools, technology, and resources to ensure we’ve always got the best “inventory” of talent at our fingertips. Building world-class best practices and an employer brand that gets and keeps the attention of A-players is key to our success. When you hire us, you immediately benefit from the years we’ve spent building our brand and relationships with sales, managers, and leaders in the building products industry.

Here are just a few strategies we use to ensure we can deliver best-in-class building products sales, manager, and executive level talent fast:



Rikka’s articles appear in trade magazines like LBM Journal, ProSales, Remodeling, and more.



Rikka’s advice has been featured on Fast Company, NFIB, AmEx Open Forum, CBS Small Business Pulse, Huffington Post, and more.



Rikka is selected to speak at local, regional, and national conferences like KBIS and ProDealer Summit.