HIRING the right people is one of the most crucial steps in ensuring productivity and continuity for your business. Only with the right resources can you confidently support your organisation's continued growth targets and competitiveness.

It is critical that leaders not only hire people who are good at what they do, but who also are a good cultural fit within the organisation.

The impact on organisational success associated with losing top performers is well-documented and is forcing businesses to reassess their recruiting and retention strategies.

While the key to successful recruitment is in the hiring process, a lot has to do with the company's existing culture.

Human capital management firm DBM's research shows that the top two reasons people leave their jobs and subsequently take on others is to ensure career development and recognition for their efforts.

Forward thinking companies are realising that hiring and keeping talent comes through matching business goals with employee goals. The most common reason people leave jobs is not due to a failure to meet job requirements but the failure to fit into the organisational culture from the start.

It is helpful to benchmark your best performers and identify what attributes make them a success for those specific roles. Also look at how they compare with the top industry performers.

Armed with this information, organisations can effectively measure where their workforce populations are, compared to where the company wants them to be in the future.

They are also better equipped to adjust their corporate culture to ensure it entices the talent and helps to drive future recruitment programs.

Is the fit right?

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of recruitment, there are a number of strategies you can employ. Let your team know you are looking for staff. Tapping into local networks is ideal, and ask your staff to spread the word among their friends and colleagues in similar industries.

Determine what attributes make up the ideal candidate before you start the hiring process. Develop a job description, working collaboratively with the relevant team members and human resource (HR) personnel.

Define the desired experience and behavioural and personality characteristics for the position, and ensure the brief and job listings reflect these attributes.

In the interview, avoid dominating the conversation. While it is important to communicate what is expected of the candidate, let the applicant do the talking.

Observe their communication and presentation skills. Take into account body language, and overall confidence. Does the applicant look you in the eye during conversation? Does he engage everyone in the room, making sure to include all present in the conversation?

Ask behavioural-based questions such as, "Can you tell me about a time you had to resolve a difficult client situation?"

Ask the candidate about the highs and lows of his career, and why he is leaving his previous position. These types of questions are useful in identifying behavioural characteristics.

While qualifications are important, it is also necessary to consider personality and whether the individual will work cohesively with the current team and fit into the culture of the organisation.

"Hire for attitude, train for skill" is the adage that many organisations are increasingly abiding by. Thus, hiring and training practices that promote cultural fit is one of the key elements in retaining staff, an investment that will save you from the ongoing battle for good staff in the long term.

Design and implement an orientation programme that aims to promote affiliation with the new hires. In this orientation program, avoid inundating them with too much company information but rather encourage activities that promote feelings of belonging.

Due diligence

Take notice of the background checks you will be conducting. Many employees or HR personnel have already made up their minds by this stage and are only contacting referees as a formality. It is important to take into account what previous employers say about your candidate.

Ask the right questions and specifically address your applicant's weaknesses. If the applicant has refused to provide a referee from their previous place of work without an explanation, question this and take it into account. Feedback from previous employees will also provide more behavioural information on the candidate.

Be smart about hiring new staff for the future. Having a proactive approach pays off. Even if you don't have a position currently available, rounding up a pool of readily available contacts will help in the future when you need staff quickly. Even if those immediate contacts are not available themselves, they will have contacts for you.

To remain competitive, companies need to hold on to their high achievers. The most important thing to remember is that this struggle begins at the hiring process.

Avoid high replacement costs and retain your "top performers" by hiring smart in the first place, and keeping cultural fit at the top of your mind.