At one of my recent workshops, I had the pleasure of meeting Beth Miller-Herholtz, VP of Corporate Communications, and Tom DeWitt, CEO, of SNVC, a technical and engineering firm that serves the defense industry. The more I learned about their company – particularly its strong focus on recruiting, retention and internal recognition – the more impressed I became. Beth graciously allowed me to interview her and share SNVC’s experience here. Today’s post describes SNVC’s recruiting and onboarding programs. Next week I’ll cover the firm’s employee recognition strategy.
Founded in 1998, SNVC is a veteran-owned company that provides technical expertise in program management support, technical and engineering services, and geo-spatial information services to military and federal agencies. Nearly half of its 85 person professional team are veterans and/or former civil servants. Revenues of this Fairfax VA-based company top $18 million. SNVC also operates a wholly-owned subsidiary, CDS Telecom; both firms are registered under ISO 9001: 2008.
SNVC’s core values of “integrity, strong leadership, and commitment” apply to both clients and staff. According to Beth, “We care for our clients by caring for our team … applying our same values of integrity and leadership to reward accomplishments and ensure outstanding performance.” She shares her insight into how SNVC makes this happen.
QSM: Tell us about SNVC’s peer-based recruiting and retention approach.
Beth: In a service-based company, it’s all about people. Our clients need service and support, and they need a company who can deliver that quickly and consistently, a company who can retain its staff over time. So recruiting and retention are extremely critical to us. Two years ago, we hired a dedicated recruiter to support our operations requirements. Then, we added a special incentive to our awards and recognition program that incorporates several actions:
- the first time any employee submits a resume into our internal Resume Repository, that employee receives a personal hand-written thank you from our COO and a $25 gift card.
- each quarter, we reward the person who has contributed the most resumes to the Repository.
- each time we hire someone who has been referred by an employee, there is a finders-fee paid to the referring employee, regardless of how long that resume has been in the Repository.
Measuring our success here is been very rewarding. First, we have seen our total cost per new hire drop by 85%. Second, we have seen our pool of vetted and qualified possible recruits soar to nearly 1,000 resumes, which means we often have more than one candidate who can fill a position. And third, the retention of people who have been hired out of our internal Resume Repository is outstanding – close to 90%. When the industry average is between 70-80%, we believe this program has helped us tremendously.
QSM: You also invest heavily in your orientation/onboarding of new employees. How does it work at SNVC?
Beth: We believe that onboarding begins with recruiting as the first touch-point on behalf of the company. During the recruiting process, most of the emphasis is on the position and the client – it’s usually a very tactical discussion. Then the conversation turns to company benefits, so it’s very important that we have both competitive and extensive benefits to compete in our industry. To that end, we’ve added a couple of new benefits this year – Tuition Reimbursement and Transportation Allowance – in addition to our great health & dental benefits, leave program, and holidays.
About four years ago, we realized that our new hires were getting a great appreciation for their specific client project and their role on that project, but perhaps they weren’t getting a good appreciation for our overall company. That’s when we created “Freshmen Orientation” in which new hires at SNVC are invited to a reception where they meet our corporate staff and Leadership Team. We encourage all our project managers to attend, too, so that some cross-pollination can take place between teams. Tom DeWitt, our company founder, President & CEO, takes about 20 minutes to provide our corporate vision – it’s here where we continue to emphasize our recruiting process, our education programs, and our awards program so that our new hires leave with a good understanding of where we are going as a company, how all of us contribute to our corporate growth, and what that means for us as employees.
We hold two Freshmen Orientations each year, and we present each “Freshman” with the company leather padfolio with their name embossed on it. The padfolio also becomes a way for us to be identified at our client’s site and reinforces SNVC’s branding. Each month we welcome the new hires in our e-newsletter, and after each Orientation, we have the “class photo” posted to our internal portal and spotlighted in the newsletter. [Note: employee family members are welcome to sign-up for the company e-newsletter.]
Our orientation receptions are well received and continue to be improved. We are looking at new ways to tell our new hires about the company and our emerging capabilities, so there will be new training programs that emerge over the next year or two.
QSM: I’ll have more of Beth’s interview on how SNVC applies recognition for employee engagement next week.