How To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent with Layne Davlin Of NetPEO

Kage Spatz
Oct 23 · 7 min read
Layne Davlin

Once you have a clear vision for your culture and company goals as a whole, it becomes easier to think about the ways in which you can build the infrastructure to become an employer of choice. Having a desirable company culture can help to naturally attract top talent.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Layne Davlin.

Layne Davlin is the President and Founder of NetPEO, a Professional Employer Organization and Human Resources brokerage firm based in Duluth, Georgia. Layne has years of experience in the Human Resources industry and was recently elected to the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations’ Board of Directors.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It all happened when I was selling cellular phones in late 1980 and got introduced to what was called “employee leasing” at the time. What was once “employee leasing” is now what we know to be a Professional Employer Organization. I got introduced to this business back in 1980 and have been in the PEO industry ever since.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There are so many great work stories that begin with “So, I had this client…” and mine is no exception. I once had a person call me, frantically, asking if they should choose Blue Cross or Blue Shield for their benefits. They were in such a frenzy, but we were able to quickly explain everything to him and get him to where he needed to be. Not without some pretty extensive explanation on who they were, though!

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

We have a new employee portal set to enable employees and employers to better view, print, and report information via smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops or any internet-connected device or computer. This new system makes sharing information for employers and employees a lot simpler, as they can get information quickly, efficiently, and at any time of day, regardless of regular business hours.

Ok, fantastic. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

  1. Be ready when they arrive. This doesn’t just mean being prompt or on-time. Be sure you know what type of qualities and experience you are looking for and walk into the interview or meeting with the intent of hiring to fill a specific role.
  2. Review their resume before you meet. Reviewing their resume will help cut some of the fluff out of the meeting. Reviewing will also help you know which direction to guide the interview, as well as know which questions to ask the candidate. Which leads us to the third tip.
  3. Ask questions. Ask questions that are not only relevant to the role you’re trying to fill, but which also help you gain a better understanding of how that person may perform in that role.
  4. Roleplay real-life scenarios. Asking questions can only get you so far. A good indicator of determining whether or not someone can fulfill a role is to place them in sample scenarios. By presenting sample scenarios and role-playing real-life situations, you can see how they would handle a situation, critique their reactions, and also guide them a bit if you see potential in them.
  5. Call their references. Calling references is a good technique for a few reasons. First, it’s a great way to fact-check the candidate‘s experiences and previous roles. It’s also a good way to gather information on the candidate's strengths, weaknesses, and overall performance in similar roles. This is a good step to take after meeting with the candidate so that you can have specific questions to ask their reference.

Really helpful tips! With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

First, it’s important to think deeply about why someone would want to come work at your organization. Once you have a clear vision for your culture and company goals as a whole, it becomes easier to think about the ways in which you can build the infrastructure to become an employer of choice. Having a desirable company culture can help to naturally attract top talent.

The second tactic comes to play once your employees realize you have a great place to work. The second way to attract and engage the best talent is to utilize your top employees as the best recruiting tool you have. When your current employees are happy and content, they often become advocates for your company. They’ll refer people from their personal network to your company, and since people like to work with their friends, it’s likely your current employees can refer to you some new top-performers from their network.

Clear and transparent communication is the third and essential way to attract and engage top talent. People want to know what a company is about and what is expected of them. Work with your teams to keep the lines of communication open and solidify best practices between those who know the job well and the management team crafting the strategic vision of the organization.

What are the 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees?

From my experience, the top 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees are Transparency, Collaboration, and Friendliness. These three are all aspects of the company culture, and I keep coming back to company culture in this interview, but it really means everything.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? Can you give some examples of what this looks like?

Yes, I do think it is important to keep up with the latest trends. Not only should you keep up with trends in the HR industry, but you should be mindful of trends within the company. For instance, we work closely with each employer to make sure we understand the ever-changing culture of the organization. We help create policies and procedures manuals that can help shape workplace culture. So, we track the current happenings and trends of the company and are very mindful of how each organization operates, what they need at the time being, and what they hope to accomplish in the short and long-term.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Again, it comes down to culture. Each organization has its own goals but it is increasingly important for employers to differentiate. They can be flexible with benefits such as time off, stretch assignments to allow employers to try new things, pet-friendly offices, dedicated time for innovation each week and provide an enjoyable workplace environment.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Be passionate about what you do and be kind to people.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite “Life Lessons Quote” is “We are not curing cancer or saving lives in HR. It will work out.” Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in everything that’s difficult or not working out, so it’s important to take a step back, put things into perspective, and realize that as long as we put our best foot forward and work hard, it’ll all come together in the end.

We are not curing cancer or saving lives in HR. It will work out.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Elon Musk. He is involved in so many different endeavors and seems to create a highly successful and producing workplace in all of them. I would be interested to know what his magic ingredient or technique he uses to motivating people to do a great job every day.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!


About the Author: Kage Spatz went from inner-city Teacher to Forbes-featured 3x Entrepreneur — most notably Spacetwin & Milburn Shaw. Kage provides win-win-win solutions across many industries. His latest project is connecting employees (and their families) to additional HR benefits at zero cost to them or their company. Connect with Kage on Linkedin to strengthen your network anytime.

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Kage Spatz

Written by

Forbes ft. CEO & Strategist for Good @KageSpatz. Giving you more leverage, authority, and attention that actually matters to your goals at KageSpatz.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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