Personality focus boosts staff retention

Dave Rees

A New Zealand finance company’s recruitment and HR policies have boosted staff retention during a time of growth.

A focus on hiring people whose personality and values are aligned to the company culture has seen Fisher & Paykel Finance attract and retain top talent, as well as reduce overall turnover.

Sarah Mannion, Chief People and Operations Officer at Fisher & Paykel Finance, says the company has been on a journey over the last 4-5 years which started with clearly articulating their values and people expectations and then aligning their attraction and recruitment strategy to match.

For leadership and specialist roles, Fisher & Paykel Finance conducted extensive analysis to discover which personality traits would be most desirable in prospective employees and ensure the best new hires were the right fit. These included being self-driven, agile, prudent, sensitive, open to change and ambitious, qualities the company tested for in candidates using a combination of profiling tools. They were then able to compare against similar industry norms.

“As a company we have grown significantly over the last few years. We are hugely ambitious and want to ensure that people who join us really have the attributes to be part of this journey. We have had the added challenge of being up for sale recently so we relied heavily on selling the future story to candidates.” Mannion says.

“One of the key insights we gained about our leaders was that we needed to improve our ‘emotional intelligence’. With the focus on this with recruitment we have seen a positive shift in this area. Now we can see we’re much more in line with industry benchmarks, which plays out in retention.”

Convergence Partners have enjoyed a long term partnership with Fisher & Paykel Finance which means we understand their values, culture and expectations to ensure we source the right talent for them. We believe other New Zealand companies have a lot to learn from Fisher & Paykel Finance - they have become absolutely world class in their hiring processes and they know exactly which qualities correlate with high performance, beyond the usual criteria of skills and experience.

Although the ownership uncertainty is over due to the recent sale to Flexi Group, Fisher & Paykel Finance still faces several recruitment challenges, Mannion says. “Attracting top talent is hard for any business, so when we hire great people it is vital we are able to continue to develop and retain them. We’re in East Tamaki, which works well for some people but can be a problem for those who live further afield. It’s about explaining the benefits of working for a small company situated on one site, a fast pace of change, and ability to work in very broad roles.”

Personality is key

Many companies do not adequately measure the alignment of values and personality traits in their recruitment processes. The majority of companies will claim to incorporate culture fit into their candidate evaluation but the reality is all too often an arbitrary ‘gut feel’ rather than a set of consistent and objective measures.

This can lead to candidates being selected who “tick all the boxes” skill and experience wise but quickly find they are a poor fit for the company, leading to high staff turnover.

Retention is a big area of focus for businesses in New Zealand and globally - businesses are fighting to keep their best staff. However, the most important factor in staff retention is hiring someone who is the right fit for the culture of your business in the first place.

There are tools such as personality tests available, but these need to be properly integrated into the wider recruitment process. They are only effective when companies have done a thorough analysis of the values and personal attributes they require.


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