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Checking the box on hiring and retention

Make a copy of the Google template

Introduction

Hiring is time-consuming

Keeping your business staffed is a full-time job—except you have a million other
things on your plate, too. This leads many managers to do the bare minimum. They
throw together quick job descriptions, post them in one place, and cross their
fingers that they’ll get enough qualified candidates in the door. Spoiler: They don’t.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to generate a steady stream of
candidates, so we’ve put together a collection of checklists you can use (and
customize) to help you stay organized and remember best practices for not only
hiring but onboarding and retaining your employees. Copy the Google template above to customize each checklist to fit your unique company needs and print it for easy access away from your computer, or save this page as a reference!

Writing job descriptions

Whether you’re creating a brand new position or need to refresh an older job description,
work your way through this checklist to ensure your post is optimized to attract applicants.
*Remember, you can customize this to fit the unique needs of your business and the role by copying the Google template above.

  • Pick a job title

    • Include keywords to help your job post rank on search engines

    • ⭐ Bonus: Include a benefit or perk next to the title to make it more enticing like Restaurant General Manager—Never work Sundays 

  • List compensation expectations

  • Indicate hours of work

    • Full-time or part-time

    • Typical work hours and shifts

    • Days of the week

    • Overtime expectations (if applicable)

  • Indicate expected start date

  • Describe the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of the role

  • List the skills and abilities needed for the role

  • Describe the work environment

    • Indoor

    • Outdoor

  • Describe the physical demands of the job

    • Bending

    • Sitting

    • Lifting

    • Driving

  • List required education and experience

  • List any additional eligibility qualifications

    • Certifications

    • Industry-specific experience

    • Experience working with job-related equipment

  • Compose an Affirmative Action Plan/Equal Employment Opportunity (AAP/EEO) statement

  • Review your job description and trim it down so it’s clear, but concise. Remember, 60% of applicants search for jobs on their phones.

    • Condense information into bullets where possible

Promoting your job listing

Once you’ve optimized your job description, it’s time to get it in front of as many potential applicants as possible. Review these promotion recommendations to extend the reach of your job listing.

  • Post to job boards

    • Indeed

    • Zip Recruiter

    • Monster.com

    • Google Jobs

    • Glassdoor

    • ⭐ Bonus: Many job boards will let you sponsor your job by listing it at the top of the search results for a fee

  • Set up text-to-apply, a system that allows job seekers to start their application by texting a unique code

    • Print posters and display posters featuring your text-to-apply code

    • Include your text-to-apply code on flyers you give out with your product/service

    • Send your text-to-apply code out in email

    • Add your text-to-apply code to the bottom of your receipts

  • Post to social media

    • Share on your personal accounts to engage people you know

    • Find social media groups related to your role (e.g. a Facebook group for cooks)

    • Find social media groups for your local community to attract people in the area

  • Offer your employees an incentive if someone they refer gets hired

    • Encourage employees to share your open role on their social media accounts to increase reach

Preparing to interview

Your applicants have passed your screening and scheduled their interviews. What’s next? Use this checklist to make sure you’re offering the best interview experience for each candidate while also screening for the best possible employees.

Week before the interview

  • Review the candidate’s application, and make note of any questions you may have about their job history, gaps in employment, changes of career, etc.

  • Double-check your questions to make sure they’re appropriate and not offensive and/ or discriminatory

  • Organize all your questions, including behavioral and culture interview questions. If interviewing as a panel, make sure each participant is aligned and has the list of questions

  • Make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about your organization, team, culture, etc.

  • Know the next steps in the interview process so you can communicate that to candidates


Day before the interview

  • Reserve a space to conduct your interview

    • Make sure it’s clean and free from distracting and/or confidential materials

  • Review job description and required skills and competencies for the position

  • Get ready to take notes, whether that’s on a notepad or via your phone or tablet

Preparing to make an offer

Time to review your interview notes and make a job offer. Use this checklist to make sure you’re thinking critically about who to hire.

Complete your due diligence before selecting a candidate

  • Gauge the interest level of the candidate after their interview

  • Let the candidate know what next steps are and when they’ll receive an update

  • Review your notes and eliminate any candidates who were dishonest about their qualifications or failed to pass the screens

  • Identify top candidates

  • Call references

  • Make your final decision

    • If no candidate feels right, review your applicant pool again or repost the job listing

  • ⭐ Tip: Throughout the entire interview and selection process, stay in touch with candidates via text message to keep them interested

  • Partner with your Ops and/or HR team to determine the final details of the offer

  • Extend a formal offer of employment to the selected candidate

    • A phone call is a nice, personal way to share the news

Onboarding new employees

After your offer is accepted, it’s time to collect all the right forms and signatures to properly set them up for employment.

  • Send your new hire an official offer letter and new hire forms

    • W-4

    • E-Verify

    • Form I-9

    • Direct Deposit form

    • State Tax Withholding

    • Company handbook

    • Uniform policy

    • Phone policy

    • ⭐ Tip: Whenever possible, send digital forms and accept e-signatures. This makes it easy for employees to complete their paperwork quickly and even easier for you to keep track of it all. Workstream can help.

  • Schedule your new hire’s start date

  • Ensure they’ve completed all their onboarding forms

    • ⭐ Bonus: Text reminders are an easy way to nudge employees to complete their paperwork.

  • Register your new hire for orientation if applicable

  • Send rejection letters to candidates who were interviewed and not selected.

Rejection letter template

Once you’ve made an offer to a candidate and they’ve accepted, it’s time to let the other applicants know. Rejections aren’t fun, but timely communication with applicants who’ve interviewed with you is important. It shows respect and professionalism and leaves the candidate with a good impression of your business and brand. On the following pages, we’ve also included sample rejection letters you can use as starting points when crafting your own. Important: Run your rejection letters past your HR or legal team before sending them to ensure you’re following company policy.

  • As soon as you know the candidate isn’t suitable for your position, begin putting together the rejection letter and send it. Don’t leave anyone hanging
  • Acknowledge their interest in the position and the time and effort they’ve put into the interview process
  • Personalize the letter

    • Use the person’s name and the title of the position they applied for

    • Bring up points from their interview that reflected well on them

  • ⭐ Optional: Include feedback

    • Be gracious and careful so it doesn’t come off as insulting

    • Offer to provide individual feedback and allow the candidate to follow up if they’d like to receive it

  • ⭐ Optional: Invite them to apply again if you see potential in the candidate

  • Review your letter before you send

    • Is it professional?

    • Is it concise and to the point?

    • Did you run it by your legal and/or HR team?

Rejection letter: Applicant will not get an interview #1

Dear <Applicant's First Name>,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to apply for the <role title> at
<company name>. It was great to find out about your achievements, skills, and
qualifications.

There were a large number of applications for this particular role, and it was difficult
to choose between the many experienced and qualified applicants, and we regret to
inform you that you were not selected by our team to go forward.

However, we will still be keeping your details in the event that other openings arise in
future, which we believe you would be a better fit for.

Thank you once again for your interest in <company name>, and we wish you all the
best in your job search.

Best regards,

<Sender's Name>

Rejection letter: Applicant will not get an interview #2

Dear <Applicant's First Name>,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to interview for the <role title> at
<company name>. It was great to find out about your achievements, skills, and
qualifications.

We wanted to let you know that although your resume was very competitive, our hiring team reviewed your application and has chosen to proceed with another candidate as they are a better fit with the team.

However, we will keep your resume on file and get in touch with you about future
opportunities that may be a better fit for your skills and experience.

Thank you once again for your interest in <company name>, and we wish you all the
best in your job search.

Best regards,

<Sender's Name>

Rejection letter: After an applicant interview #1

Dear <Applicant's First Name>,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to interview for the <role title> at
<company name>. It was great to find out about your achievements, skills, and
qualifications.

It was difficult to choose between the many experienced and qualified applicants and
we regret to inform you that you were not selected by our team to go forward, as we
have chosen to proceed with another candidate who <reason for selecting other
candidate>.

However, we were impressed with <positive aspects of candidate>, and we will still
be keeping your details in the event that other openings arise in the future, which we
believe you would be a better fit for.

Please feel free to contact me should you want detailed feedback about your
interview process, or if you chance upon other opportunities that may be of
interest to you.

Thank you once again for your interest in <company name>, and we wish you all the
best in your job search.

Best regards,

<Sender's Name>

Rejection letter: After an applicant interview #2

Dear <Applicant's First Name>,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to interview for the <role title> at
<company name>. It was great to find out about your achievements, skills, and
qualifications.

We wanted to let you know that although your past work experiences and
achievements were very competitive, the hiring manager has chosen to proceed
with another candidate as <include reason why other candidate was chosen>.

However, we were impressed with <positive aspects of candidate>, and we will still
be keeping your details in the event that other openings arise in the future, which may
be a better fit for your skills and experience.

Please feel free to contact me should you want detailed feedback about your
interview process, or if you chance upon other opportunities that may be of
interest to you.

Thank you once again for your interest in <company name>, and we wish you all the
best in your job search.

Best regards,

<Sender's Name>

Conducting performance reviews

Checking in with your employees on a regular cadence is essential to resolving issues early and increasing retention. Performance reviews also provide an opportunity to recognize the work of high performers and give guidance to under-performers. Follow these checklists to make sure you’re ready to have productive check-ins with your team.

Before the meeting

  • Outline an agenda and schedule enough meeting time to cover all topics

  • Ask employee to complete a self-evaluation (optional)

  • Review employee's self-evaluation (optional) and job description

  • Review employee's performance targets

  • Gather your thoughts and all the data to meaningfully discuss:

    • The goals and objectives of the review

    • Employee’s performance over the past X months (what was done right / what can be done better), particularly as it relates to goals set during the last review

    • New goals and targets

    • Career development aspiration

 

During the meeting

  • Give the employee context on what the goal/purpose of the employee review is

  • Start the conversation on common ground by reviewing the employee’s responsibilities together

  • Discuss the progress they’ve made toward their goals and assessment of competencies

  • Discuss potential roadblocks or undocumented contributions by employee, asking the employee for input and insight

  • Discuss and get aligned around what the next phase of goals will be

  • Ask the employee about their career aspirations and outline a plan for working toward it

  • Thank them for their contributions and for being on the team

  • Set up another meeting if there is insufficient time

 

After the meeting

  • Modify or update performance review based on conversation

  • Finalize and sign employee performance form

  • Run through final performance form with employee and obtain their signature

Keep reading to learn how to best support high-performing and under-performing team members.' , 

High-performing employees

  • Take a look at their self-evaluation (if you had them complete one)

    • Make note of how they view their own performance

    • Have they identified any struggles you should address?

  • Recognize their effort and work related to their responsibilities

    • Call out moments they’ve gone above and beyond their responsibilities

  • Discuss ways they can grow

    • Ask about their professional goals and if there are any roadblocks or additional resources they may need to be successful

  • Set new targets based on previous performance

    • ⭐ Tip: Let this be a discussion. Allow your employee to suggest targets too!

  • Wrap up

    • Congratulate them on their performance and encourage them to keep up the good work

 

Under-performing employees

  • Take a look at their self-evaluation (if you had them complete one)

    • Take note of how they view their own performance

    • Have they identified any struggles you should address?

  • Bring up potential areas of improvement

    • Create a list of items you’d like to discuss

    • Frame your feedback as what can be done to improve rather than weaknesses or deficiencies

    • Be direct (but kind) rather than generic

    • Make it a dialogue between the two of you vs. just talking at your employee. Ask them questions. Seek context.

    • Give the employee time to absorb what they heard

  • Acknowledge the areas where they performed well

  • Offer help and advice

    • Share personal experiences where possible. This allows feedback to be more authentic and meaningful and conveys empathy

  • Don’t be mean. Your goal is to help them improve, so show you care and guide them in the right direction

  • Wrap up

    • Set realistic goals they can work on

    • Reinforce that while there are things that need to be worked on, learning is part of the journey and you’re here to help

Surprising and delighting employees

A little recognition goes a long way in making your employees feel appreciated and proud to work for you. Tying rewards to milestones like anniversaries or good performance reviews is a great way to ensure you’re consistently showing your team some love. But we also recommend throwing in surprises here and there to delight employees when they least expect it. And remember, recognition doesn’t always need a price tag. Work your way through this checklist to reward your team in new ways all year round.

Milestone rewards

  • Take a moment to celebrate your employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries

    • Gift card to their favorite store or restaurant

    • Movie tickets

    • The day off

    • Special treats like cake

    • Celebratory lunch

 

Performance rewards

  • Acknowledge great performance, whether that’s during a performance review cycle, or a standout moment when employees go above and beyond

    • Donate to their favorite cause in their name

    • Give them some extra company swag

    • Custom trophy or plaque (This is a fun way to award an Employee of the Month too!)

    • Bonus

    • Shoutouts on your social media pages or company-wide emails

 

Team and peer rewards

 

  • Celebrating as a team is a great way to build camaraderie. Celebrate great teamwork at least once a year

    • Give the team new swag

    • Do an offsite activity together like a night of bowling, group lunch, or tour of a local attraction

    • Take a wellness class together, live or virtual

    • Participate in a charity activity together

    • Learn a new skill or hobby together like pottery or origami

  • Acknowledge special occasions and holidays, especially if your team has to work during them

    • Bring in treats

    • Decorate your business

    • Host a team party

    • Encourage employees to dress up their uniform to match the occasion

  • Implement a peer recognition program

    • Enable employees to vote on who is the Employee of the Month

    • Create a space for employees to shoutout each other whether it’s on paper or during team meetings

 

Surprise rewards

 

  • Find opportunities to surprise and delight your employees at least twice a year. It’s often enough that it doesn’t feel rare, but not so often that it loses its impact.

    • Bring in treats

    • Give employees new swag

    • Set up an at-work scavenger hunt for employees to discover throughout the day (This could be as simple as hiding gold coins on St. Patrick’s Day.)

Your business relies on the strength, health, and happiness of your people

Managers juggle a lot. But when it comes to how you manage prospective and current employees, you can never drop the ball. Each interaction is an opportunity to attract an employee to your business or reinstate an employee’s loyalty to where they work. We hope this resource helps you check all the boxes when it comes to keeping your business staffed and successful

What’s even better than a checklist to help you hire and retain hourly employees? Learn how Workstream’s all-in-one HR, hiring, and Payroll platform helps streamline HR tasks, reduce labor costs, and simplify operations.