Newswise — Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer and one reason for its success is the way it recruits, develops and retains new employees and new leaders.

With nearly 2,100 stores in the United States, Mexico and Canada and new stores continuing to open, Home Depot's workforce of more than 350,000 associates grows substantially each year.

A challenge for any organization growing that fast is the recruitment, development and retention of able employees and leaders, particularly in a retail business where turnover can be quite high.

Home Depot develops most of its own leaders, says Leslie Joyce, vice president for learning. "We place almost 17,000 people in leadership positions annually and about 80 percent of those are internal promotions," she said. Leadership positions range from department supervisors to vice presidents.

"The message we send to Home Depot employees is that there are great advancement opportunities within the company," she added.

Joyce will discuss how Home Depot recruits associates and prepares qualified associates to assume leadership responsibilities during a keynote address at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology's Leading Edge Consortium entitled "Talent Attraction, Development and Retention" Oct. 27-28 at the Mariott Southpark in Charlotte, NC..

"We look within our workforce for people who are self-starters, who want to learn more about the company and the business and who are committed to superior customer service. The people most likely to move up are those who show an ability to lead regardless of their role within the company," said Joyce.

Once in the leadership pipeline, Home Depot provides a variety of training and education programs that help employees succeed. "We want them to be prepared so they can better serve customers. And to do that, we provide them with as much training and development as we can," Joyce noted.

The training is designed to be specific to the job and the needs of the associate. Each curriculum follows a consistent path for all employees throughout the country.

"The goal," says Joyce, "is to have learning for all Home Depot associates so that they can excel at merchandising, operations and leadership consistent with the demands of their roles and our customer's expectations."

Research shows that customers have high expectations for Home Depot and that's why the uniformity and consistency from store to store is important, according to Joyce.

In hiring employees, Joyce says Home Depot throws a wide net in order to attract quality people. The company uses a variety of sourcing and selection methods to enhance the quality of applicant pools and hiring decisions.

One recruitment strategy is developing partnerships with agencies that are likely sources of qualified workers. HD is committed to working with AARP and Department of Labor offices to find work opportunities for AARP members and others who are looking for meaningful work.

Another partner is the Department of Defense. "We've found that military personnel transitioning out of the service are a good fit with the Home Depot culture because of their strong work ethic and commitment to doing the right thing," said Joyce. "It's been a productive relationship. We even conduct interviews on military bases."

The recruiting, hiring and retention methods seem to pay off because Home Depot experiences less employee turnover than most retail operations, says Joyce. "Employee turnover is both costly and disruptive to an organization and its customers, so it behooves us to hire the best possible people and provide them opportunities to grow within the organization."

She will be one of several speakers at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology's Leading Edge Consortium entitled "Talent Attraction, Development and Retention" Oct. 27-28 at the Mariott Southpark in Charlotte, NC. For more information about the Consortium, including the speakers and their topics, go to and click on the fall Consortium homepage.

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is an international group of 6,300 industrial-organizational psychologists whose members study and apply scientific principles concerning people in the workplace. For more information about SIOP, including Media Resources, which lists nearly 2,000 experts in more than 100 topic areas, visit

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Talent Attraction, Development and Retention: The Leading Edge