Episode 12: How To Recruit and Retain Geeks and Humans with JJ Rosen
CEO and founder of Atiba, JJ Rosen shares how his hiring practices allow him to find — and keep — the right employees for his company.
Atiba was founded in 1992 in Nashville, TN as a one-stop-shop for IT services, software development services, website design, and tech consulting.
Since then they have worked for over 1600 clients of all types and sizes throughout the U.S. providing tech services for businesses ranging in size from one to over 10,000 employees.
They have a dream team of IT professionals, software developers, web designers, UX specialists, digital marketers, and project managers to help you with all your tech needs.
JJ Rosen has been in the tech industry for decades. In that time, he’s learned to market his computer solutions company, Atiba, not only to clients but to the talent he wants to recruit.
Finding talent who is the right fit for the company has been a key to his success.
“We’re recruiting every day constantly,” said Rosen. “At night, I’d be reaching out to people on Linkedin, through friends of friends, on Slack channels. Everything, just constantly.”
In this episode, Elliott Noble-Holt and CEO and founder of Atiba JJ Rosen explore how a company can attract the right talent, and more importantly, how to retain those employees. Rosen shares the methods he’s used to making Atiba the right fit for the workers he needs.
Understanding employees’ needs
The best way to begin the process of recruiting employees is to understand what kind of support your workforce may need to succeed.
In order to get a better understanding of what his prospective employees value, Rosen involves himself in every single hire for the company. Sometimes he finds that applicants are surprised to be talking to the company CEO during their interviews, but Rosen said it’s important to know exactly who he will be collaborating with.
“When I’m initially talking to someone who might be a good fit, I’m just trying to get to know them,” Rosen said.
One of the ways Rosen gets to know his employees is by asking what kind of employee perks would benefit them the most. Rather than offering a standard package for every employee, Atiba offers employees the chance to choose what they will need to succeed at the company.
“We came up with this idea to have a ‘personal perks plan’,” he said. “We literally meet with every single person every year and ask them what perks they would like, what would help them with their life, work or personal.”
He’s found that this gives his company a competitive edge against larger businesses that are unable to offer a custom plan for each employee. Most of all, it shows his sincere dedication to his employees.
“I think a lot of stuff in business and culture is about being sincere and trying to be very real with someone,” Rosen said. “I’m hoping that people see we’re different and trying to help employees with things even unrelated to work.”
Once you have a better sense of what prospective employees value in a workplace, you need to start to actively show them that your company culture reflects what they want.
At Atiba, flexibility and support are two of the company’s pillars. That’s why they offer an office-optional work setting and a goal-oriented approach to working. Rather than designating a specific amount of PTO hours, Rosen said he sets specific goals for each of his employees.
“You manage your own time, essentially,” Rosen explained. “The real thing is to meet these goals that each year we set together.”
The clearer sense you have of who you are as a company, the easier it will be to articulate those values to prospective employees. And, the easier it will be to determine whether they share those same core beliefs.
An active approach
Even with attractive policies for employees in place, you can’t be complacent in your recruiting. Rosen said business leaders should look for workers before they even need them.
“We decided to basically be constantly recruiting,” Rosen said. “If you find the right person, whether you need them or not, just go ahead and hire them. Even if they were just on the bench essentially or working on an internal project for a bit.”
By actively reaching out to qualified candidates, even when you’re fully staffed, you’re never going to find yourself in a pinch when positions do open up.
A big mistake many employers make is not investing enough time into the hiring process, resulting in an employee that doesn’t quite fit the company’s needs. The advantage of actively recruiting and casting a wide net is the opportunity to see a wide range of talent and personalities.
Rosen said it’s important to be picky — don’t make light of the decision to bring someone onto your team.
“Hiring the wrong person is much much worse than hiring no person at all.”
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