HFA-Member retailers explain how to modernize strategies to hire faster,
better and reduce turnover.
by Kaprice Crawford, HFA
If your company is struggling to attract and retain top talent, you’re not
alone. The job market has undergone significant changes in recent years. The
Home Furnishings Association (HFA) spoke with Carl Nyberg, Vice
President/C.O.O., HOM Furniture; Max Klaben, AVP, Talent Management of
Morris Furniture Co, Inc.; and Seth Busby, Talent Acquisition Supervisor at
Kittles Furniture—all with HFA-member stores—who offered practical advice
for improving recruitment processes and staying ahead of the competition.
The Changing Job Market
One of the key takeaways from these retailers’ comments is the need to adapt
to the changing job market. With the rise of remote work and more jobs in
the marketplace than there are workers to fill them, traditional hiring
practices are no longer effective. As a result, they are turning to new
methods and evaluating their compensation structures.
“If applicants are turning down nine out of every 10 job offers you make,”
Nyberg told HFA, “it’s clear that you aren’t offering the correct wage; that
is just the reality in the marketplace right now. HOM Furniture lets
applicants know upfront how we pay and are transparent about how raises are
determined. When you tell people you are prepared to increase their salaries
in a reasonable time, they’re less likely to jump ship for an additional 50
cents more per hour somewhere else.
“Our call center staff is an entry-level job. These workers primarily handle
scheduling remotely from their homes, which has solved some of our staffing
problems. We also have level two coordinators who have additional
problem-solving responsibilities in coordination with HOM’s service
department. It’s a hybrid position with some flexibility to also work from
“Overall, we’ve had to build in more flexibility and scheduling options. We
now offer part-time sales positions, something we would not have previously
considered. Also, we have more weekday-only work schedules. Some of our best
producers don’t work weekends. That’s a big change for just about any
Speed and Efficiency
“In today’s job market, speed and efficiency are essential. Candidates have
more employment options than ever before and are unlikely to be patient with
a slow and cumbersome hiring process. Companies need to move quickly, be
responsive to candidates’ needs, and work to keep them engaged. This means
streamlining the recruitment process and using technology to automate
repetitive tasks wherever possible.”
“Speed and competition continue to be a challenge. Amazon can process
an application within four hours and make a job offer without talking to an
applicant. It’s incredibly competitive.”
Nyberg noted that to address this current reality, “HOM Furniture took a
closer look at what it takes to find qualified applicants, get them
screened, interviewed, perform background checks as needed, and ultimately
fill positions. We set up a system designed to be bottleneck free. It moves
the process along and exceeds the expectations of even the most impatient
“We took hiring responsibility for all but management-level positions away
from our managers. Warehouse and sales managers are on the front lines of
our business. They always need to find new people but don’t always have time
to focus on the hiring process. Now, one person in Operations and another in
Sales oversee hiring. They back each other up when necessary.
“Nowadays,” he added, “people don’t respond to phone calls or emails. We
find that the best way to schedule an interview is by text. Making phone
calls and leaving voice messages are just too slow. We do, however, do
phone, Zoom and FaceTime interviews. These methods help us get through the
processes and extend an offer within 24 or 48 hours for entry-level
“Kittles has a two-part interview process. First, the applicant meets
with a manager, then immediately gets passed on to the HR team. This makes
it convenient for candidates, who do not need to show up for two separate
“If we don’t get back in touch with a job candidate within 24 hours,” added
Morris Furniture’s Max Klaban, “we’ve already fallen behind. In our
marketplace, good candidates apply for many other jobs and are being pursued
aggressively. The speed and competition continue to be a challenge. Amazon
can process an application within four hours and make a job offer without
talking to an applicant. It’s incredibly competitive.”
Find Candidates in the Right Places
In addition to adapting to new hiring processes, knowing where to find the
best candidates is essential. Our panel of furniture retailers recommended
using platforms like Indeed’s enhanced programs, LinkedIn messaging,
employee referral programs, recruiting cards and their own websites to
attract top talent. Here are some of their observations:
“We use Indeed Sponsored, which helps us boost our posts, as well as
Indeed Proactive, which gives us access to a resume database that
enables us to hunt for talent vs. just posting and hoping people apply.”
- Max Klaben, Morris Furniture.
“One thing Indeed allows us to do is see how we rank in the post
listings. It’s important to read other posts in our market area to see
what other businesses are offering. I can’t stress enough that it’s
important to be relevant with wages and benefits.” —Carl Nyberg, HOM
“Kittles Furniture uses Indeed, Zip Recruiter and Glass Door. Plus, we
make sure that our review ratings on these platforms are high and focus
on bringing in candidates who are attracted to Kittles Furniture’s
company culture. That’s why we encourage new hires to review us, let
others know about our training process, and share all the other ways we
support new hires to ensure that they are prepared to succeed. We keep
the career page on our website up-to-date with information and photos
about what we are doing in our community. For example, we had an ugly
Christmas sweater contest and posted pictures to let people know that
our stores are a fun environment and culture to work in.” —Seth Busby,
“HOM Furniture finds that those applicants who apply through the careers
page on our website have higher rates of being hired. These tend to be
more genuinely interested in working for us. We also have an employee
referral program that provides recruiting bonuses because birds of a
feather flock together.” —Carl Nyberg, HOM Furniture.
All three HFA-member retailers said they encourage their teams to carry and
give out recruiting cards with QR codes that go straight to the careers
pages on their websites. They hand them out anytime they receive excellent
service or see a potentially great employee.
We took hiring responsibility for all but management-level positions away
from our managers. They always need to find new people but don’t always have
time to focus on the hiring process.
Refine the Interview Process
To ensure that the best candidates for a job are recruited within a given
time frame, it’s become more important to refine and optimize the interview
process. This includes crafting an engaging approach that keeps applicants
motivated while their credentials are thoroughly evaluated. Make sure that
your job descriptions are up to date and that interviewers are fully
prepared so that no stone remains unturned when making final selections!
Here’s what the retailers had to say about their interviewing practices.
“Kittles has a two-part interview process. First, the applicant meets
with a manager, then immediately gets passed on to the HR team. This
makes it convenient for candidates who do not need to show up for two
separate interview sessions. It also solves the problem of applicants
who don’t show up for a second interview because they forget or take
another job.” —Seth Busby, Kittles Furniture.
“Our team members’ calendars must be kept up to date. When I’m excited
to move a candidate along following a favorable phone screening
interview, I want to be able to schedule the next steps immediately.
And, if possible, grab a manager right away to keep the process moving
along.” —Max Klaben, Morris Furniture.
“We try to keep in constant contact with candidates throughout the
evaluation process to keep them engaged, let them know we care, and want
them to join us.” —Seth Busby, Kittles Furniture.
”At HOM Furniture, we’ve refined our background check process to ensure
that the checks we perform support what we need to confirm about
applicants for each position. For example, we used to do education
background checks for all entry-level positions. During COVID, the
schools didn’t respond. That prompted us to ask if these education
checks were necessary for sales associate positions. We decided they
weren’t, and we now just do relevant skills testing for sales
associates.” —Carl Nyberg, HOM Furniture.
“Taking the time to carefully define job descriptions for every position
is a first step for any retailer. It ensures they know what
qualifications are needed before they start looking for people to fill a
position. Regarding background checks, based on an audit we performed
about a year ago, Morris Furniture identified specific background
packages required for each job description. This has reduced the time
necessary to get backgrounds back, and substantially decreased costs.”
—Max Klaben, Morris Furniture.
Create an Effective Onboarding Process
All the HFA-member retailers emphasized the importance of having an
effective onboarding process. Once you’ve hired the right candidate,
ensuring that they have a positive experience from day-one is essential.
Comprehensive onboarding plans include training and development
opportunities, one-on-one time with department managers and regular
check-ins to ensure new hires are settling in well. Every new hire you can
hold onto is one less you have to hire.
“The way we onboard new people,” explained Carl Nyberg, “has changed
significantly in recent years. We created a Job Matrix for every front-line
job that includes about eight pages of data with everything we want a new
hire to do. Management responsibilities for onboarding are laid out as well.
This includes scripting how department managers spend time with new
employees face-to-face every week to ensure there’s a good fit. Employee
surveys are performed after 30 days to collect their thoughts about our
onboarding process. The result has been a considerable drop in turnover.
If you haven’t reviewed your recruitment process recently, consider
following the practical advice and insights from this panel of HFA-member
furniture retailers. It will help you to modernize your recruitment process,
attract top talent and stay ahead of the competition. Remember to keep up
with the latest trends and techniques, focus on speed and efficiency, refine
your interview process and provide a positive onboarding experience to
retain new talent. Good luck!
The Home Furnishings Association is proud to serve the industry with the
latest education and information that impacts your business. Learn more
about membership and resources at
www.myhfa.org or by calling