Stauffers of Kissel Hill shares its process for finding and keeping talent

Home Accent manager Sherri Sprout, left, rose to a managerial position after working a variety of jobs at Stauffers of Kissel Hill's home and garden center in Rohrerstown. Millersville University student Michele Rebman is a part-time cashier at the Roherstown home and garden center.-(Amy Spangler)

Some of the region’s most highly trained professionals work at the top 100 privately held companies in the midstate. They include health care experts, high-profile construction crews and insurance agents. These companies can often recruit and retain employees with promises of long-term career paths and professional development.

The list also, however, includes its fair share of retailers whose workforces consist largely of teenagers. These young workers are seldom looking to stay with a company for the long-haul. Come high school or college graduation day, they will likely move on to greener pastures — and their managers know this.

So how does a company with a constantly churning workforce create a consistent company culture, and ensure it gets the most out its employees for the short time it has them?

Stauffers of Kissel Hill has spent 85 years figuring out its best answers to those questions.

The Lancaster County-based retail chain employs more than 900 people across its corporate headquarters and eight midstate grocery and home-and-garden shops. Its workforce includes people of all ages, and includes a number of professionals who have spent decades at the company and worked their way up to corporate positions.

While the company’s leaders welcome the opportunity to help promising workers advance through the ranks, human resources manager Keith Enochs knows they might realistically be able to hang on to a part-time student employee for only about two years.

Stauffers has developed several tools and procedures to help it find and keep talent in this fast-moving retail setting. Here are three takeaways that might apply not just to the retail industry, but also to any company looking to fine-tune its recruitment and retention strategy:

1. Look beyond the resume

Finding qualified employees is tough in almost any industry. So what is a hiring manager to do when many of its applicants have never held a job?

Stauffers focuses heavily on whether potential employees will fit the company culture, Enochs said. That means making sure they have the right people skills to live up to Stauffers’ “We delight shoppers” motto.

The screening starts as soon as an applicant walks in the door. Watching how a candidate interacts with people like receptionists before he or she even meets the interviewer can indicate how that person will treat customers.

During interviews, Enochs asks questions to gauge how potential hires might react in people-related situations they could encounter on the job. Some go-to questions include, “Give me an example of a time when you showed consideration or respect for someone else,” and “Tell me about a time you had to support a decision you didn’t personally agree with.”

If interviewees’ answers show they do not fully grasp Stauffers’ expectations, or their overall demeanor during the interview does not match up with the answers they give, those applications are likely to fall back to the bottom of the pile.

Amy Spangler

2. Wages aren’t everything

Few people work in retail to get rich. Employers, though, can still take steps to help employees enjoy their time there.

Stauffers offers perks like store discounts for workers and their families, as well as service awards to recognize longer-tenured employees, Enochs said. Managers also try to stay flexible with schedules so their teams can balance their work, home and school responsibilities.

The stores also try to ingrain a culture of community stewardship into their workers through partnerships with groups like the United Way and Relay for Life.

“People want to work for a company they feel good about,” Enochs said.

3. Make employees feel like more than a number

Stauffers also takes steps to make sure employees feel valued.

Workers receive “Caught in the Act” cards from managers for actions like going out of their way to help a customer or recommending a potential new hire. These cards go into a monthly drawing for a $50 cash prize at each store.

Stauffers also makes sure to recognize milestones like employee anniversaries and birthdays, and its management team tries to get to know employees through face-to-face interactions.

“Just a simple, ‘Hi, how are you?’ goes a long way,” Enochs said.

Jennifer Wentz
Jennifer Wentz covers Lancaster County, York County, financial services, taxation and legal services. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at

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