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Happy Employees = Happy Customers

How to hire, train and retain to increase profitability

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Four of Honolulu’s top employment and human resources specialists offer advice to create a winning team: take your time and hire for fit. From left, Debbie Padello, director of human resources and client services, Altres HR; Kathryn Inkinen, president,Inkinen & Associates; Signe Godfrey, president, Olsten Staffing Services; and Jo-Ann Kaita, director of human resources, ProService Hawaii.
Photo: Rae Huo

Several years ago, one of Debbie Padello’s small-business clients needed to hire an in-house human resources manager. Padello, director of human resources and client services for Altres HR, a company that helps other companies manage their personnel, advised her client to take his time, conduct the necessary background checks and get a good feel for the candidate before making a permanent job offer. Nonetheless, the client panicked and decided it was more important to fill the position quickly.

This happens all the time.

The hurried hire was let go three months later, after demonstrating unethical business practices, irate behavior and a lack of professionalism, among other things. But the damage was done. Three years and six figures later, Padello’s client is still entangled in litigation with the disgruntled former employee.

“It’s just not worth the risk,” says Padello. “Sure, this is probably the worse case scenario, but it happens. That’s why employers need to take their time, hire the right person and do whatever they can to retain the good ones. And if they don’t have the skills or knowledge to do it, trust the experts; that’s what we’re here for.”

Plain and simple: Happy employees equal happy customers, which translates to increased profitability. When employees are not satisfied, your company’s reputation could be at stake. “HR Secrets for Hawaii Employers,” a leaflet compiled last year by Altres HR, says that, while it can be painful to leave a position unfilled, the cost of a hasty bad hire is much more painful.

Signe Godfrey, president of Olsten Staffing Services, says employers must figure out exactly what they want and need before they begin the hiring process. “When a position is vacant, that’s the perfect opportunity for a company to really assess and fine tune the job functions of the position and think about what kind of person they’ll need to meet those requirements,” Godfrey says.

Padello describes hiring as an intricate form of matchmaking. As in real-life love, most solid unions in the workplace don’t result from a single blind date, and the courtship sometimes means multiple interviews.

“It’s all about getting the right people on the right seats on the bus,” Padello says. In her mind, it’s much more important to hire for fit and train for skills. “It’s all about attitude,” she explains. “Hiring for fit is 1,000 percent more important than hiring for skill. I’d rather have someone who has the desire, the motivation and the ability to rise to the occasion versus someone who is the best at what they do, but doesn’t have all the things that are in line with the goals of the organization.”


Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

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Apr 9, 2009 06:52 pm
 Posted by  crafty808

I absolutely LOVED this article! I hope MANY business read this and apply the useful tips these ladies had to offer.

Workplace morale is important. I don't think a lot of companies consider this to be of importance. They quickly blame the employee for bad morale. This is why I think more companies SHOULD survey their employees and then FOLLOW UP. How do you fix it if you don't know it's broken?

Why don't ALL companies participate in the Best Places to Work Survey?

Apr 16, 2009 07:12 pm
 Posted by  BrownTurtle

Great article. From my experience, the hallmark of a good company is measured by the turnover rate - plain and simple. The turnover rate is the most obvious way to know if the management cares about its employees and not just the bottom line.

I would recommend that job seekers stay away from local companies that are constantly advertising their job openings for the same positions all the time. There is a reason why people don't stick around.

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