When the economy turned upside 2 years ago, many wineries were forced to lay off employees in an effort to streamline budgets. More often than not, many of these employees were experienced, solid team members who tended to earn a higher salary commensurate with their experience. As wineries are starting to rebound in sales, they are beginning to look at replenishing their staff.
I have been hiring for wineries for 20 years, and without a doubt, there are more qualified candidates for each position than any other time I can remember. The main benefit of this situation is that it is an employer’s market.
Due to the increased number of highly qualified candidates in the job market, it is possible to have a higher set of qualifications for a position and employers can be more selective.
The crash in the economy has unintentionally provided recruiting wineries with things an opportunity to restructure for the new market. Helping my clients do this is one of my favorite . I find it incredibly rewarding to help a winery evaluate their needs and hire accordingly. When not conducting the hiring process myself, I connect clients to agencies such as Human Resource Business Partners, run by Chet Hutchinson, former SVP of Human Resources at Constellation. In this video edition of WGHF, Chet shares his advice on hiring during these changing times.
As the economy and market continue to evolve, here are some tips on to consider when hiring with an eye on retention.
Offer the best salary you can. Wineries that are still feeling financially stretched may feel compelled to low-ball prospective employees in salary. This is a short term strategy. As Chet Hutchinson points out, it is more costly to rehire when your new employee quits after 6 months than to hire someone at the right salary.If you can’t afford to offer your perfect candidate a higher salary now, look at the entire compensation package and see where you can compromise. For example, a candidate might be willing to negotiate on salary in return for a more flexible work schedule.
Treat people with respect. It goes without saying that treating people with trust and integrity is very important. You reap what you sow. Avoid attitudes like, “you’re lucky to have this job with so many people unemployed.” Once again, this is a quick way for an employee to feel unhappy and to keep their ears open for the next opportunity.
Referrals are still key. Even with a large candidate pool, referrals are often the best way to fill a position. When I recently sorted through 300 applicants to a job I posted on winejobs.com, I still placed a high value on referrals from my deep industry connections.
Reference checks are more important than ever. I have a dear friend who is the VP of HR at a large company. He has given me sage advice about diligently checking references and conducting background checks (if applicable) in this market. According to him, desperation has resulted in an increase in fraudulent applicant information.
Keep an eye on retaining your current employees. Even with budget limitations, there are still things that small wineries can do to retain and motivate employees. Show an interest in your employees’ well-being and career aspirations. Learn about their career goals and identify ways they can reach them while simultaneously supporting the company’s growth. Employees feel more invested in a company when they feel they are valued and part of a team.