3 Ways to Begin Better Hiring

The way we recruit and onboard has to change. A run through of some recent research* tells us that:

  • 85% of HR decision makers admitting that their business had hired someone who proved to be a bad fit for the job
  • 1 in 5 of HR decision makers say that they don’t know how much a bad hire has cost them
  • Up to 25% of new starters leave within their first six months
  • 90% use their first 6 months experience to determine longer term commitment
  • Only 19% see a strong alignment between what their employer says about itself and their actual experience working there
  • 55% would consider changing jobs this year – 74% of them would stay for interesting work, 69% for recognition
  • 70% of unsuccessful senior hires give a poor grasp of how an organisation works as the main reason for their failure
  • Nearly half of experienced hires admit they failed to fully grasp the business model they were joining

Meanwhile qualitative research tells us that new hires are more likely to leave early if they don’t like the job or find that it wasn’t what they expected from the recruitment process. One senior manager from a large hospitality and leisure sector employer recently told me that almost half of their new trainee intake for this year had already left because the job wasn’t what they expected – not in terms of the actual duties but in the hours, dedication and working structures.

We need to get better at how we attract, hire and develop people. This all points towards the need for different approaches to the way that work is organised, employees are managed or directed, how retention is viewed and how we go about hiring. I can think of three ways we can immediately start changing. There are plenty more but these will do for a start…

Firstly, how we market jobs. I use the word market because I think we can accept that recruiters need to think like marketers. Rather than advertise for a perfect fit, or list a series of notional achievements and duties that we want someone to have already achieved, lets start talking to people who might be interested in our company and the type of role we are looking to fill. This requires an understanding of what the role is, the skills and knowledge that would help the role to be performed effectively, and the way that a new hire can grow and develop with us. And some proper market knowledge of how and where to connect potential candidates and of the kind of conversations we should be having with them and the content we should share.

Secondly, how we select the best person. Find out about the real person, what their strengths are, their character, durability and agility. Approaches to learning and development and how they tackle challenges and situations that might be new. This won’t be found by series of Q&A interviews, peppered with set-piece situational questions, trick questions or asking them to run through their CV for the umpteenth time. They all point to a lack of preparation from the hiring manager which can indicate a real lack of commitment to finding the best fit person or understanding of the role and how it can develop.

Thirdly, how we bring someone in to the business. Start the induction early, make them feel part of the organisation with clear objectives and timelines around roles and responsibilities. Make it a social experience, new hires who establish early social connections with their colleagues are more likely to settle quickly and feel part of a team. No one should start doing a new role and be unclear about what the job is, what it will take to be successful, who has input to the role and the formal and informal internal networks that will help support them in getting their work done.

There’s plenty more we can do to make hiring better but these will make a good start.

(* Findings taken from recent research published by REC, Korn Ferry, Egon Zehnder, IBM, Achievers, Weber Shandwick)

Exceptional Talent – the book I co-wrote with Matt Alder – is available now, published by Kogan Page. In it we look at the New Talent Journey and offer examples and case studies of how, and why, businesses are evolving the way they attract, hire, retain and develop the people they need. You can hear me talking about it on this podcast 

Time to Redefine What we Mean by Talent

The way we attract, hire, retain and develop the people our businesses need is changing. And so are the roles we want them to do and the way we operate. Yet too many organisations continue recruit as they always have, reporting skills shortages and costly unfilled vacancies. This needs to change.

Firstly we need to start redefining exactly what we mean by the word ‘talent’ – for too long the most overused and misleading word in the modern labour market. Many HR and recruitment professionals use it to describe a high skilled, high potential candidate who is in some way special. This narrow definition leads to poor recruitment practice, with recruiters chasing mythical candidates who tick all their boxes and seem ready made for their vacancy.

These people rarely exist, nor are they likely to be successful. When they are hired and identified as high potential they can fall into a ‘talent curse trap’, feeling trapped by others’ expectations and feeling a need to prove themselves worthy, attempting to live up to a perception of what a high performer should be like. This is rarely successful.

In an evolving commercial world where new jobs will often require skills that have not been hired before, these narrow definitions also fail to take into account the many ways that employees can develop and use their initiative and capabilities to help companies meet business challenges.

Most successful specialist hires step in to a role that will stretch them and help them grow and realise potential. Everyone has talent. It is finding the people right for the business and the role, irrespective of background and work trajectory, that organisations need to focus on.

Redefining what we mean by ‘talent’ also means we should select people for what they can achieve in the future rather than what they have done in the past. Previous performance is often an unreliable predictor of future potential and nowhere is this more prevalent than when looking at emerging roles and digital skills, which evolve and change at a rapid pace.

Selection processes have to change from a gladiatorial approach that resembles the Labours of Hercules, and seem designed to trip people up and exclude them from selection. These should only be used if they reflect what your culture is really like. Instead we should create opportunities for people to show what they can do and how they can contribute to the organisation’s future success.

Rip up job descriptions based around a previous incumbent’s profile, and stop drawing up wish-lists of ready made capabilities and achievements. Break vacancies down into tasks and rebuild them around what actually needs to be done. Some of these actions can probably be covered by people already in the organisation by either having their own roles re-imagined, or through secondments or stretch assignments.

Internal mobility – often the last resort for recruiters and HR practitioners – should to be the first strategy before trying to fill externally. The opportunities for development and skill enhancement is an important differentiator for talent looking to join, or remain, with a business, so lets start showing what we can offer.

Whilst retaining and retraining existing employees is valuable in helping to diversify the talent pool available, it is a focus on diversity itself when recruiting new people to the organisation that will help businesses really succeed in redefining talent.

Increasing the number of women in the workplace, attracting and supporting people with disabilities, finding a way to capitalise on the talents of neurodiverse people, and giving greater opportunities to graduates, apprentices and ex-offenders, will all help diversify and enrich the talent pool. And overcome those supposed skills gaps.

 

Exceptional Talent – the book I co-wrote with Matt Alder – is available now, published by Kogan Page. In it we look at the New Talent Journey and offer examples and case studies of how, and why, businesses are evolving the way they attract, hire, retain and develop the people they need.

The Talent Challenges for HR

Attracting, hiring, developing and retaining the right people has always been a crucial part of any organisation’s success. The methods of doing so successfully, however, are evolving fast.

With growing skills gaps, uncertain trading conditions and rapid changes in technology driving new preferences and expectations in consumer behaviour, businesses need agile, curious and committed workforces. Our current and future employees have expectations of a more seamless and immersive experience when they apply for a role or join a new business. They also now have more choices over where they work and how they work, and look for companies that will offer them the opportunity to grow, develop and reach their potential.

For the HR profession the technological developments, behavioural changes and shifts in expectations and preferences that are impacting how businesses operate and grow, present unique challenges. The workplace analysts who believe that all processes should be redesigned to accommodate and attract Millennials have a powerful voice in both the digital business media and at industry conferences, yet the HR team that looks around their companies will see a more varied mix of people and interests to be catered for.

Workforces are embracing similar influences, but at a different pace and in a variety of ways. Not all employees want company-issued technology that requires them to check e-mails 24/7, or to have a constant digital presence. The modern HR team has to cater for all expectations and preferences, in a way that is both diverse and inclusive, and enables all employees to deliver their best work.

92% of workers say that technology affects their satisfaction at work, yet HR are not always part of the conversations around the digitisation process. That has to change fast. The ubiquity and speed of digitisation does however drive a need for approaches that are more relevant to how employees live, and this means recognising the importance of experience and regular communication; creating work experiences that reflect their aspirations.

The Employee Experience is now a competitive advantage, so HR teams need to balance the needs of the business today with potential changes in the future, helping to create an environment and culture in which people want to work and feel empowered and supported to give their best.

To meet the challenges posed, and make the most of opportunities created, every business needs to find and hire the talent that is right for them. That is, people with a spirit of curiosity and flexibility, who possess the skills, attitude, capabilities and potential to help organisations grow and evolve.

The word ‘talent’ is a much overused and misused word in the modern labour market normally implying a high skilled, high potential candidate who is in some way special. That definition needs to change. It drives poor recruitment practice, with hiring businesses trying to chase a candidate who ticks many boxes and appears ready made for their vacancy. These matches rarely exist, nor are the likely to be successful.

In a world where new jobs often require skills that have not been hired before, that definition also fails to take into account the many ways that employees can develop and use their initiative and capabilities to help companies meet business challenges. Most successful specialist hires step in to a role that will stretch them and help them grow and realise potential. Everyone has talent. It is finding the people right for the business and the role, irrespective of background and work trajectory, that organisations need to focus on.

Recruitment is not a one-way street and the dynamic has shifted. Candidates can tell a lot about a business from the way they go about recruiting, so a gladiatorial process full of challenges and hurdles, is unlikely to engage them, unless it accurately reflects the type of business you are and the culture they can expect when they join.

Historically there was little that job applicants could find out about what life was actually like inside the business they were applying to work for. It wasn’t until the first few days in the job that they really got a feel for culture and structure. This has changed. The company is now selling itself to the candidate they want to hire as much as the candidate is to them.

The way in which we attract, hire, develop and retain people, the HR processes and interventions along the way, will be a defining factor in how businesses succeed. The outcome is as important to individuals as the process that delivers it, while social and digital channels, powered by the constant presence of mobile, provide a real-time commentary on both the process and perception of the outcome. They want to be encouraged and treated fairly. And they want to be themselves at work.

It is the journey by which they are found, selected, oriented and developed, which needs to be reimagined for the workforce of today and tomorrow. There is now also a transparency around current thinking and best practices, and reporting of the various attempts that businesses make to introduce new working arrangements and structures that can help shed light on how others are facing similar challenges. HR professionals can embrace clear and fresh thinking, and learn from industry peers and colleagues.

Ultimately, this transparency means that workers in every company have access to what other businesses are doing. If they like what they see elsewhere, the chances are they’ll expect it where they are; or else may go out and find it for themselves. Effectiveness of the employee experience is both a business’ competitive advantage, and also the yardstick by which HR teams will be judged.

My co-authored book Exceptional Talent has been published by Kogan Page. In the book myself and Matt Alder explore how changes in technology, communication, and employee preferences are impacting the talent journey, offering practical advice on how to build •effective recruitment and talent management strategies to meet the needs of today, while also helping businesses plan and prepare for the challenges of the future.