Hiring and Retaining the Right Employees


Hiring and Retaining the Right Employees

Attract, hire and retain the right team, legally.

Congratulations on growing your business! Hiring employees is a big step in your entrepreneurial journey. Whether you’re bringing on your first team member or your 20th, it’s important to do it right.

Having procedures in place will empower you to find the best candidates and get your ideal hire onboarded easily. They’ll also ensure smooth sailing as your business continues to grow. Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you build your team.

How to prepare to hire employees

Hiring employees adds a layer of complexity to any business. There’s a reason some attorneys dedicate their careers to employment law. Local, state and federal laws can come into play whenever a business has even just one employee. And the U.S. Department of Labor administers more than 180 employment regulations. Employment law is serious business.

That’s why the first step in hiring is building a solid human resources foundation. It should include:

  • An employee identification number (EIN). This is like a Social Security number for your business and is used for tax administration. You can apply easily online with the IRS.
  • A system for payroll and employment tax records. Be kind to Future You and start out with a clear, organized system. Businesses are required to keep employment tax documents for at least four years. This is in addition to regular income and expenses bookkeeping. Learn more with the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance. If an employee gets hurt on the job, your business could be liable. Workers’ comp protects everyone involved. Each state has different regulations. Learn about Kansas workers’ comp or Missouri workers’ comp.
  • Benefits, such as health insurance. Insurance is a huge selling point for many employees. A good place to start is with your state’s department of insurance. Learn more with the Kansas Insurance Department or the Missouri Department of Insurance. Keep in mind that some Chambers of Commerce offer group health insurance to their members.
  • An employee handbook. You can’t play a game if you don’t know the rules — and the same is true of employment. Everyone should know exactly what’s expected and what processes are in place. An employee handbook should always be a work in progress, but make sure it includes details about:
    • dress code
    • business hours and attendance
    • equipment guidelines
    • drug and alcohol policies
    • holiday and inclement weather guidelines
    • vacation and sick leave
    • benefits like health insurance
    • discrimination and harassment policies
    • performance reviews
    • disciplinary policies

This might seem like a lot of homework before the actual hiring process. But employee retention starts now. And the great resignation of 2022 indicates that the pandemic has made employees more apt to leave jobs than ever. Smart business owners understand the big picture.

How to find good employees

Hiring employees falls into four distinct steps.

1.      Outline the job.

As an overwhelmed business owner, it can be tempting to throw up your hands and just ask for help — any help. But you need to articulate exactly what kind of help you need.

Write a job description that outlines duties and expectations. Be clear about the skills and  background needed. Then, determine if this is a temporary need, a part-time position or a full-time leader.

Next, determine the type of position. There are three options:

  • nonexempt employee
    • paid hourly or salary
    • eligible for overtime pay
    • only paid for actual hours worked
  • exempt employee
    • paid salary
    • not eligible for overtime
    • wages can’t be reduced due to quality of work
    • can be charged paid time off (PTO)
    • makes a minimum of $684 a week
  • 1099 worker
    • independent contractor considered a vendor
  • pays own taxes
  • receives 1099-NEC instead of a W-2
  • doesn’t receive benefits
  • chosen by many small businesses that don’t have a budget for HR

Once you can articulate exactly what you’re looking for and what you’re offering, it’s time to get the word out.

2.      Post the job.

Make it easy for potential employees to find you and your opportunity. Use a common and accurate job title, and use the job posting to sell your business, too. Your venture is growing, and that means opportunities for employees to grow with the company. That’s a big selling point.

Go where the people you want are. Sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, Ladders and ZipRecruiter may be good fits, depending on the type of job you’re posting. Seek out any sites that cater to people in your specific industry. And let your network know about the opening. Friends and colleagues may know just the person you need.

Depending on the type of role you’re looking to fill, staffing agencies and executive recruiters may also be good options.

3.      Interview smart.

You don’t have to interview every applicant in person. After you’ve sorted résumés, use 15-minute phone interviews to eliminate candidates who aren’t qualified or a great fit. These calls are an opportunity to reiterate what you’re looking for, confirm résumé details and answer any questions the applicant may have.

After you’ve narrowed down the list of applicants, it’s time for in-person interviews. Think beyond the résumé and prepare a list of questions that ask candidates to provide examples.

And don’t forget to sell yourself and your company.

Want the inside scoop on effective interviews? Get our top 7 job interview questions.

Keep in mind that hiring calls for consistency. If you ask one applicant to take a test, then you must ask all applicants to take the same test. At the end of the interview, allow time for the applicant to ask questions.

When you determine your top choice, call with a verbal offer. Follow up with a written offer and a timeline for acceptance. If it’s relevant, run a background check.

4.      Onboard like a pro.

The first day on the job comes with its own unique set of to-dos. When you’re onboarding a new hire, be sure to:

  • Have them complete I-9 and W-4 tax forms, as well as applicable state and local tax forms.
  • Gather direct deposit data and emergency contact information.
  • Provide information about and get your employee enrolled in benefits.
  • Share the job description and have the employee sign it.
  • Share and discuss the employee handbook and have the employee sign a document showing they’ve received it and understand its contents.
  • Make sure your new team member has access to and training on the tools and equipment they need.

Also, don’t overlook the best practices that truly make a new employee feel at home. Make introductions with other employees and vendors. And lunch is always a good idea. A warm welcome is the first step in retaining quality employees.

Want more inside tips on hiring? These six KC business owners spill the beans on what has worked for them.

How to retain employees

After the work of finding and hiring the ideal team member, the last thing you want is for that person to leave for greener pastures. That’s why it’s important to manage your business and run your human resources functions with an eye toward employee retention.

To keep quality employees, you need to know what they want. Getting feedback in one-on-one meetings, through reviews and via employee surveys can help you get specifics. But keep in mind what the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop has identified as the top items on employee wish lists:

  • career development and the opportunity to grow in their field
  • feedback on how the employee and the company are doing
  • opportunities to directly contribute to the business and be recognized for this work
  • flexible schedules that allow for work/life balance
  • good salary or wage and an opportunity to increase it over time
  • benefits tailored to their needs

Delivering on this retention to-do list requires transparency and preparation. An accurate job description, documented review procedures and an up-to-date employee handbook go a long way. But employers must also communicate well and often. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Be upfront about how the business is doing and how employees are performing. Give feedback and praise.
  • Understand generational and personality differences. After all, an introverted baby boomer will have preferences that vary from those of an extroverted millennial.
  • Ask for and act on employee feedback. When team members feel their input is valued, they have a greater sense of ownership in the organization.
  • Empower employees. Make sure they have the tools, time and training to do their best and continue to grow professionally.

Most of these practices are free. They just require focus and communication. These skills can help take your business to the next level!

Where to get hiring help

No employer has to go it alone. The Kansas City entrepreneurial ecosystem has so many resources that can help you hire the people you need. Here are some of the people and programs that can give your hiring a boost.


We hate to toot our own horn, but KCSourceLink is your one-stop shop for events, classes and guidance in all things small business. Plus, our help is always free. Start with our Hiring Checklist to get the scope of what you’ll need to prepare and do before, during and after you hire a new employee.

Our Resource Navigators are always available at 816-235-6500 or tell what you need here so they can point you in the right direction. Share some information about your venture, and they will create a free Personal Action Plan to help you determine next steps as you work toward your goal. Then, check out the KCSourceLink Calendar for all the KC-area entrepreneurial happenings.

KCSourceLink Resource Partners

These Kansas City-area organizations offer guidance on human resources, hiring, employee retention and more. But also know that you can always call KCSourceLink’s Resource Navigators, and we’ll point you to the right expert to field your HR questions.

Endeavor Heartland

Established in 2019, and later expanded into Kansas City and Tulsa, Endeavor launched in Bentonville, Arkansas to support entrepreneurs with the potential for economic and social impact in America's Heartland.

Specializes in: Employee Development, Hiring and Policies

Job One

Job One enhances the lives of adults with disabilities by providing a lifetime of meaningful employment choices. We do this through entrepreneurship and partnership with the business community.

Specializes in: Employee Development, Hiring and Policies

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority connects people to opportunities through safe, reliable public transportation. KCATA is a bi-state agency charged with serving the transportation and development needs of the Kansas City region.

Specializes in: Employee Development, Hiring and Policies

The Black MasterMind Group Charitable Foundation

The Black MasterMind Group Charitable Foundation is designed to create strategies to help the Black entrepreneurial community start, stabilize, sustain and scale businesses. It educates, trains, coaches, mentors, develops and provides funding initiatives

Specializes in: Employee Development, Hiring and Policies

The Sewing Labs

The Sewing Labs is a nonprofit community resource center providing classes and jobs training in sewing-related arts in the Kansas City community. The newest program, The Sewing Salon Training Program, provides an unconventional entrepreneurial hub for marginalized and at-risk individuals to develop their sewing businesses.

The Sewing Labs is an inclusive and welcoming community teaching the legacy of sewing for employment, entrepreneurship and enrichment.

Specializes in: Employee Development, Hiring and Policies

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities, public relations and other services related to growth and development in the Kansas City region.

Mid-Continent Public Library Culinary Center

The Mid-Continent Public Library Culinary Center is a destination and resource for anyone interested in learning more about food and culinary entrepreneurship. Housed in the Green Hills Library Center, the Culinary Center features a teaching and demonstration kitchen and two shared commercial kitchens for use by startup food businesses.

Missouri Department of Economic Development - Kansas City Region

The Business Development team within the Missouri Department of Economic Development is ready to assist your existing Missouri Business.

Missouri Enterprise, Kansas City and Northwest Missouri

Missouri Enterprise is a dedicated manufacturing expert and your partner to strengthen and grow your company. The organization assists manufacturers with workforce development, technology, lean principles, exporting, quality, food safety and more.

Missouri Film Office

The Film Office is devoted to saving filmmakers time, effort and money in arranging a shoot.

Missouri SBDC at University of Missouri Kansas City

Missouri SBDC at UMKC is OPEN for business; both virtually and in-person for our trainings and counseling. Contact us at [email protected] to talk how we can help you SOAR with your entrepreneurial journey

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration provides information to business owners as it relates to issues with social security and questions about the self-employment tax.

Square One Small Business and Workforce Development Services by Mid-Continent Public Library

Square One Small Business Services at Mid-Continent Public Library supports local entrepreneurs through access to information, programs and opportunity. Whether owning a business is a brand new dream or your life’s work, MCPL is committed to helping you succeed.

UMKC TalentLink

UMKC TalentLink provides expert-led professional development and training for those seeking practical career skills and knowledge. TalentLink also works directly with local businesses to upskill employees and develop talent.

Workforce Partnership

Workforce Partnership is committed to building a workforce development system that meets the needs of both job seekers and employers throughout the Kansas City area. We operate a network of career centers in Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties offering professional expertise and funding resources to employers and eligible job seekers.

Wyandotte Economic Development Council

The Wyandotte Economic Development Council is a nonprofit economic development corporation whose mission is to promote and strengthen the county economy through innovative approaches to programs, partnerships, and leadership in industrial, residential, office and retail markets.

Kansas and Missouri employment help

Both states offer a variety of programs to help businesses employ workers from that state.

Hiring employees in Kansas:

Hiring employees in Missouri:

Human resources vendors

Business owners wear many hats, but you can’t do it all. In fact, many founders find that it makes financial and logistical sense to outsource HR. Working with a vendor can free up time to focus on your core business instead of administrative tasks. If this sounds appealing, meet with two or three human resources firms to find the one that meets your needs and your budget.

Additional hiring information

Here are a few of our favorite resources around the web:


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