Develop an Effective Workforce

As an employer or business owner, you are concerned with results: making a profit, increasing your return on investment (ROI), and expanding the strength of your brand. But your greatest asset in achieving these goals is not your product or your business plan: it's your workforce. Your workforce consists of your company's employees: from entry level workers to administrators and upper level executives. Thinking of creative ways to nurture your workforce can help your business thrive financially and socially.


Recruiting and Hiring a Strong Workforce

  1. Identify your business's weaknesses. Whether you have just one employee or a workforce of hundreds, consider what the weak points of your business might be. Truly engaged business leaders are honest about their company's flaws and take steps to tackle them as opposed to ignoring them or minimizing the complexity of their problems.[1]
    • Conduct a SWOT analysis to address your company's weaknesses honestly. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Perhaps your company excelled in sales last year, but lost a number of employees to a competing firm. Maybe you had the opportunity to partner with a nationally renowned brand but you lost the partnership due to shareholder pressure.[2]
    • View hiring and recruiting as an opportunity to tackle some of your challenges as opposed to simply filling a need. Identify what goals you have as a company and look to your employees as stakeholders in your company's success.[3]
  2. Decide when you will hire new talent. The timing of recruiting might seem unimportant, but it can actually have an important impact on your business. Most employers hire during an upturn in the economy, but research has shown that hiring during a downturn -- a practice called counter-cyclical hiring-- can also help your business.[4]
    • Although you might be most concerned with minimizing costs during a downturn, this period can yield highly qualified applicants who will be a great investment for your company in the long term.[4]
  3. Craft a compelling job ad. Attracting highly qualified talent will require some effort on your part, especially if your company is smaller and not as well known as your competitors. Your job ad should be a broader reflection of your company's values and broader culture.[5]
    • Hook your reader at the beginning. Why is your company a great place to work? What are your core values and in what ways do you value your employees? You can cover this quickly, in just one or two sentences. Lead with this in your posting.
    • Clearly define the requirements of the job. What kind of work with this person be doing? Will they be working in one specific team, or working with a variety of departments in the business? Will they be writing reports, managing projects, analyzing data, etc.? Will they be required to travel?[5]
    • Revise and update the job description. If you have previously hired for this position, it can be tempting to just plug in the same description you've used for years on your web site or on a job search engine. But take the time to update it. Does the job description reflect the current state of your company? Have you grown since your originally wrote it? Have the demands of the job changed with emerging technologies or a different target market of customers?[3]
  4. Spread awareness about your job opportunities. Posting the job ad on popular job engine sites like Monster, Glassdoor, Indeed (or OpportunityKnocks and Idealist if you are non-profit) might seems like an obvious place to start, but you should also consider if you have any potential candidates on file already. Has anyone expressed interest in your business or profession when you weren't hiring?[6]
    • Looking at resumes that you have already on file might be helpful because you won't have to sift through hundreds of resumes you will receive when you post the job publicly.
    • If you belong to a trade association or other professional organization, advertise the job through them as well. Let your network of colleagues at other companies know you are searching for new talent.
    • Ask your employees if they know of friends or family members who might be interested in the job.
  5. Conduct effective interviews. It can be difficult to get a truly in-depth view of a candidate over the course of an interview. But you should prepare for the interview so you can use it to its fullest potential.[7]
    • Review the candidate's materials (resume, cover letter, writing sample, portfolio, if applicable) before the interview. You can then have a sense of how you will structure your questions and what areas of the candidate's experience you would like to discuss further.
    • Ask questions to get a sense of the candidate's personality. How have they handled stressful situations? What accomplishments are they proud of? How have they solved complex problems in the past?
    • Do not ask questions regarding the candidate's age or personal situation (i.e. if they are married or if they have children). These questions are illegal to ask.[8]
    • If you can, try to have other evaluators conduct the interview with you so you can get your colleague's opinions in addition to your own.[7]
    • You might also consider doing pre-screen interviews over the phone or via Skype in order to get a sense of the candidate before you bring them into your office for a secondary interview.
  6. Clearly communicate your company's story. At each point of the recruiting and hiring process, make sure you have clearly expressed your company's core values and goals. Define what you stand for and what kind of culture you create for your employees.

Engaging With Your Workforce

  1. Build trust with your employees. The most effective method for doing this is to clearly communicate with your employees instead of withholding important information from them.[9]
    • Explain the decisions you make with your employees and include their input. If you are taking the company in a new direction or pursuing a different venture, discuss this with them and make sure they know why. This will increase their own investment in the company. [10]
  2. Mentor your employees. Mentorship programs can have significant benefits for employees, from promoting retention to increasing productivity. Establishing a mentorship program between senior employees and newer hires will help your employees feel connected to the broader goals and values of the company.[11]
    • In addition to providing guidance and advice, mentors can help keep mentees accountable for meeting certain targets or completing different projects.[12]
  3. Evaluate your employees. Establish a method of measuring employee performance so you can continuously make accommodating changes in staff, training, resources, or project structure. Keep in mind that developing a workforce is always a work-in-progress.
    • Make your expectations clear. If you require that your employees reach a certain sales quota or win a minimum number of grants, then make this very clear to them early on in their hiring.[13]
    • Prepare your employees for performance reviews. Do not spring these reviews on employees out of the blue. Instead, you should have a standing date (say, twice every year, one in March and the other in October), so your employees will have time to prepare. Maintaining these forms of internal communication will help your employees contribute their best work to your company.[14]
    • Clearly communicate with your employees when they are not meeting expectations or when they could improve.[9]

Sustaining Your Workforce

  1. Protect your workforce from potential crises. While you probably have a clear vision for the growth of your company, you should anticipate potential pitfalls or obstacles. Anticipate ways you could restructure departments or merge different roles in the event of significant profit loss.
  2. Value continual learning. Your employees will get more meaning from their work when they have the freedom to learn more and acquire new skills. Additional training should be positioned as a means to challenge your employees and to trust them with more responsibilities and a broader knowledge set.[15]
    • Encourage your employees to participate in conferences, seminars and even take extra courses or pursue an higher degree in their field.
  3. Foster a social environment. Employees are far more likely to thrive in environments where they feel a personal connection to their colleagues and administrators. While you don't have to be close friends with your employees, you should foster an environment where your employees feel comfortable around each other.
    • In addition to the standard holiday parties, consider having more informal happy hours, bowling nights, or outings to local places such as museums, theaters and sporting events.
  4. Create a socially responsible culture. While your first focus is on making a profit and meeting your shareholder's expectations, you should consider the broader social imprint of your company. Valuing social welfare and making a profit are not mutually exclusive goals. [16]
    • Consider participating in corporate philanthropy programs with local non-profits or area foundations.
    • Establish a volunteer program for employees where they can take a day every quarter to represent your company at a local non-profit.


  • Keep in mind that it can take a long time to change your company's culture and improve the overall workforce. Be patient and make sure your employees know that you respect and value their contributions.

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Sources and Citations

  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. 4.0 4.1
  5. 5.0 5.1
  7. 7.0 7.1
  9. 9.0 9.1