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Realistic job previews can boost retention

BY Theresa Minton-Eversole

Companies can purchase myriad assessments to test whether job applicants are qualified to do a job and how well. But you can’t buy a test to measure whether they will enjoy doing it enough to stay, said Richard Finnegan, CEO of C-Suite Analytics, during the 2012 Talent Management Conference & Exposition held April 30 to May 2.

Finnegan said that the only effective way to determine candidates’ staying power is to present them with realistic job previews that “smack their senses.”

“Realistic job previews are representations of jobs that show their attractive and less attractive parts,” said Finnegan, who is the author of the book "Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad" (Davies-Black; 2010). “The trick is to determine how we develop job experiences that smack their senses of smell, sight, hearing, touch and taste instead of job descriptions.”

Candidates can be exposed to many job attributes in realistic job previews, noted Finnegan, including:

• Amount of standing, sitting, heavy lifting;
• Use of equipment and technology;
• Extent of customer interaction;
• Speed, pace and volume of work;
• Starting and future pay levels, benefits and learning opportunities;
• Working environments (e.g., wet or dry conditions, hot or cold); and
• Schedule demands and potential flexibility.

Employers “must display the highest reasons for [the job’s] turnover, bluntly, and they should encourage some otherwise qualified applicants to drop out or show you indications of concern so you don’t hire them,” he said. “After walking through a realistic job preview, candidates who are wrong for the job should say, ‘There is no way in the world I’m going to do this.’ ”

Seven steps to success

Finnegan walked through several industry examples of job previews to describe a seven-step flow chart that companies can follow to create effective, realistic job previews.

First, learn the grittiest job aspects from the subject matter experts — the employees who do the jobs. Next, research reasons why employees quit or get terminated. But, he cautioned, “think beyond just the high-turnover jobs,” which often are “not a company’s high-cost jobs.”

Identify the best presentation methods that impact the senses, then develop realistic job previews with clear instructions and scripted messages. Also, design follow-up interview questions and a discussion guide that can be used by interviewers to learn candidates’ real reactions to the preview.

“When you ask candidates the follow-up questions, key in on the nonverbal cues that reveal their true job impression,” he said. “If you can’t do this, you are relying on them to screen themselves out rather than the company screening them out.”

Finally, track the percentage of applicants screened out by job previews.

“You should know your turnover rates,” Finnegan said. Realistic job previews are instant turnover-cutters, so credit yourself with having saved your company turnover costs each time a candidate you would have hired drops out, he advised.

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, at ToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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CNRG to open NFL Home Center in Mississippi

BY Brae Canlen

Central Network Retail Group, a chain of 36 home improvement centers, has opened a new NFL Home Center store in Gautier, Miss., on the site of the former Coast Building Supply.

The store has a 10,000-sq.-ft. sales floor with an assortment of hardware, paint, electrical, plumbing, tools, lawn and garden, and home organization items. Additionally, the store has a full-service lumber and building materials yard.

CNRG acquired the NFL Building Center in Daphne, Ala., on Jan. 1, 2012, and reopened the NFL Home Center store in Gulf Shores, Ala. on March 1, 2012. The Gautier store is 57 miles west of the Daphne store.

“The new store in Gautier is part of our plan to expand the NFL brand along the Gulf Coast,” said Jimmy Smith, chairman of CNRG. “We were presented with a good opportunity to reopen a store that had recently closed. It fit within our strategic plans for NFL perfectly.”

Boyden Moore, president of CNRG, added, “We are working on growth plans for each of the brands we currently operate as well as assessing opportunities to acquire other brands in new markets. We are excited about this step forward in our growth and look forward to more to come.” 

CNRG currently operates home center and hardware stores in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and North Carolina under the Home Hardware Center, Morrison Terrebonne Lumber Center, NFL Home Center, Elliott’s Hardware and Town & Country Hardware brands. CNRG was formed on May 1, 2011, by Jimmy Smith, president of Home Hardware, and Boyden Moore, president of Tyndale Advisors. The company said it is building a multi-format, multi-brand operating company through strategic partnerships and acquisitions.

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Lowe’s looks to technology as advantage

BY Ken Clark

At its annual meeting Friday, Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock said that uncertainty remains in the marketplace, but the Mooresville, N.C.-based company is increasingly leveraging technology to build stronger relationships with customers. 

"The consumer continues to change at an unprecedented rate, and these initiatives will ultimately create a customer experience that is both omni-channel and relevant throughout every stage of the home improvement process," Niblock said. "That’s the future we’re striving every day to realize."

Niblock said the company’s organizational changes and strategic investments, including last year’s $900 million technology upgrade, are helping Lowe’s create a differentiated experience that is simple and seamless across all selling channels.

The Lowe’s board of directors declared a 14.3% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to 16 cents per share, payable August 8, 2012, to shareholders of record as of July 25, 2012. Lowe’s has declared a cash dividend each quarter since going public in 1961.

During the meeting, shareholders re-elected board members Raul Alvarez, David W. Bernauer, Leonard L. Berry, Peter C. Browning, Richard W. Dreiling, Dawn E. Hudson, Robert L. Johnson, Marshall O. Larsen, Richard K. Lochridge, Robert A. Niblock and Eric C. Wiseman to one-year terms.

Shareholders ratified Deloitte & Touche as the company’s independent public accountant.

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