Building a team, be it a business team or a sports team, requires the ability to select players who have the qualifications AND can blend well with the rest of the team. Yet, so many organizations treat recruitment as a third rate activity and then wonder why they have productivity and/or employee problems.
Recruitment is the first step in the employment relationship. The word relationship implies a two-way channel: both the employer and employee have expectations and obligations. This is usually where the recruitment process falters even if, and especially if, an employer has snagged a really well qualified team player. Gone are the days when people simply ‘should be grateful to have a job’. It’s now about clear expectations and obligations. An employer that cannot clearly express what is expected of employees and what is offered to employees to comprise the total employment relationship, will make bad hiring decisions over and over again. Being able to confirm what the expectations are is crucial to finding the right candidate and making the right hire. Hiring well qualified employees in the absence of clear expectations and obligations will either soon drive those employees away or, worse, they will “quit and stay”, and both scenarios have serious negative consequences for an organization’s productivity and culture.
Typically, employers do not correlate the negative consequences to the recruitment process but do wonder why employee issues consume so much of their time on a regular basis such that they seem to be forever clouding their day. If this is you, if employee issues are distracting you from your organization’s goals, then your Human Resources (“HR”) practices are working against you.
Sound basic HR practices are essential to effective employment relationships, during the recruitment process and moving forward. They are so powerful when applied well and consistently that most companies don’t need anything else to attract and retain the employees that they need and want. Following basic HR practices need not be complicated or expensive:
- Written employment policies: These are the equivalent to ‘Game Rules’. They define the employment relationship and address essential areas of interest to both the employee and the employer.
- Established compensation and benefits practices: Ensure that they are consistently applied, promote fairness, and reduce ‘mystery’ and subjectivity.
- Proper recruiting and selection processes: When diligently followed, they promote best results and minimise risk. Employees are the engine of an organization’s success, so getting the right person into the right job is critical.
- Basic performance management processes: These will help track the progress of business goals and of employees, will set expectations and promote communications.
- Managers who are trained to manage people: Poor managers are the main reason for employee problems and turnover. People often quit their bosses not their jobs.
- Communication: Open communication will ensure the success of HR practices.
Your organization’s HR practices greatly influence the kind of employee that you attract and keep. Weak or lacking basic HR practices cause constant, recurring and costly problems. They are often the reason for:
- Business underperformance
- Absenteeism, injuries, turnover
- Internal conflicts / lawsuits / grievances
- Customer dissatisfaction
- Productivity loss, overtime, theft
An organization’s HR practices can represent a range as illustrated below:
- Few practices exist in writing and these are inconsistently applied. An assumption is made that employees already know the company goals and their job. Managers are then forever dealing with the same issues and getting nowhere. These employers tend to have difficulty recruiting and retaining the talent they need and want.
- Solid, written HR practices that are communicated well and consistently applied. Attraction and retention is usually not an issue.
- Cumbersome, painstaking practices, executed to ultimate paralysis, wind up suffocating all staff in a bureaucracy. These employers frighten away people who have initiative and, if they happen to be able to hire them, they too become paralyzed once on board.
Successful employers have the right balance of HR practices and enjoy a strong, engaged workforce with minimal ‘HR firefighting’, and this results in strong productivity and business results.
Unfortunately, recruitment tends to be the weakest link for many organizations. Yet it doesn’t have to be. Start with reviewing HR practices and establish whether they help attract or deter employees. Also reflect on the kind of employees who are being attracted and retained. Consider whether the organization has been able to hire the employees it really needs and wants.
HR practices can influence the kind of employee that an organization attracts. Organizations that are clear in their expectations and obligations hire well qualified team players who, equally importantly, fit in with the team. Like anything of quality, the initial set up may take a little longer but sound HR practices are worth the effort. The upkeep and maintenance are minimal, and the investment pays for itself over time.
By Irene Lis, ASSOCIUM Consultants. Irene has over 25 years of extensive human resources experience focussed on helping organizations ensure that their people practices support, and are aligned with, their business.
Through our collaborative approaches, innovative HR products and customized advisory solutions we impact four leadership priorities: managing risk, driving productivity, strengthening talent capabilities and supporting your bottom line. Let’s connect to find out how ASSOCIUM Consultants can help your organization.