According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, businesses spent an estimated $26 billion in 1996 alone on hiring hourly employees. The Department also reports that half those employees were gone within six months - an incredible turnover rate of 100 percent per year. Mel Kleiman, a nationally recognized authority on recruiting, selecting, and retaining hourly employees, addresses this issue and offers step-by-step systems and ideas for better hiring in his new book, Hire Tough, Manage Easy. "Hourly workers represent 79 percent of the U.S. labor force," said Kleiman, "and these are the front-line service providers who are closest to the customer, so hiring right is extremely important. If the president of a grocery chain takes a day off, how many customers will notice? But if the aisles aren't clean or the checkout lines are ten people deep, you bet customers will notice and they probably won't be in any hurry to come back and repeat the experience. Kleiman said the current labor shortage has led to hiring horror stores about shortsighted managers desperate for workers: In its ad for warehouse people a North Carolina manufacturing firm specifically stated, "No drug testing." Another employer discovered through random drug testing that 20 employees were using illegal substances, but they didn't fire them because the company knew it would not be able to find anyone to replace them. More than a few companies report they are not even bothering to interview or check references for hourly position. "Desperate measures like these are a recipe for disaster," said Kleiman. "These employers are risking workers' compensation claims and negligent hiring lawsuits, as well as the possibility of losing countless customers who may interact with employees who couldn't care less. Besides these risks, no employer can afford to lower the bar even an inch because our latest research shows the No. 1 reason companies lose good hourly employees is because the good ones get tired of putting up with or carrying the load for the bad ones." Kleiman's book is divided into sections on recruiting, selecting, and interviewing. Highlights include: Recruiting - Kleiman reminds employers that advertising is only the fourth-best recruiting tool. The three best sources for employees are former employees, good current employees, and every applicant who is interviewed. Selection - Kleiman reviews the different results a company can expect from hiring easy (if you have a pulse, you're hired) and hiring tough (the harder the job is to get, the more good people will want it). Interviewing -What you see in the interview is probably better than you'll ever see again. Kleiman tells interviewers how to hone their skills, ask the right questions, and better interpret the information gathered.