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Employee Theft Drops, Loyalty Soars

The assessments reduce many of the personnel problems that affect operating costs and quality of service.

September 18, 2003
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Related Topics: Recruitment, Staffing Management
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Name: spectrum stores
Location: west point, georgia
Business: convenience store chain owner
Employees: 1,000

Spectrum’s managers believe that if they hire the best people and take care of them, the business will be successful. Customers are very loyal to the people who work in the stores, says Bob Holcomb, vice president of human resources. "We know we’re not the only people who sell Snickers and Budweiser. The thing that makes us different is our people."

    To make sure they get and keep the right people, Spectrum offers employees benefits not typical in most convenience stores, including access to health benefits for full- and part-time workers, opportunities for bonuses, and salaries above the minimum wage. But Spectrum also has a rigorous hiring process that includes criminal-background checks, drug screening, and an assessment instrument from Humetrics. The assessment evaluates candidates for honesty and for their communication and customer-service skills.

    Prospective employees complete the assessment when they fill out a job application. Before conducting any interviews, managers call a Humetrics hotline with their responses and get immediate results to determine whether applicants meet the defined criteria, Holcomb says. They receive one of four ratings: highly recommended, recommended, recommended with caution, and not recommended. Managers need permission from corporate to hire someone "recommended with caution" and are not allowed to hire people who are "not recommended," Holcomb says. The bottom two ratings eliminate 35 to40 percent of applicants.

    Holcomb gets four or five requests a year to hire people who are recommended with caution because they wowed managers in person, but he is reluctant to agree. "A lot of people are great in interviews. They tell you what you want to hear instead of being truthful," he says, which is why the assessment tool is so important. "It lets us make better decisions and it streamlines the process."

    Since the assessment was implemented, turnover rates have come downconsiderably--they are at 85 percent this year, whereas the industry average is close to 200 percent. But reduction in turnover is not the only reason Holcomb uses the tool. "It helps us hire better people who will be honest and reliable," he says. It also reduces many of the personnel problems that affect operating costs and quality of service. For example, absenteeism and tardiness rates across the company are low,and--internal shrinkage--theft by employees--is less than 1 percent. That’s less than half of the industry standard of 2.23 percent, according to the 2001 National Retail Security Survey, conducted by the University of Florida. For a company that does $300 million in annual sales, that amounts to a savings of more than a million dollars.

    The assessment also contributes to the steady increase in sales and builds loyalty among customers. "Success comes down to your people," Holcomb says. "When you have a better person in the box, you win."

Workforce, April 2003, p. 66-67 -- Subscribe Now!

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