HR for Small Business Owners: Why Recruitment Practices Fail

Business expansion often requires an increase in human capital, resulting in efforts to identify and hire quality individuals to join your organization. With a myriad of strategies available to effectively develop and grow a workforce, organizations may approach the hiring process differently and in turn experience different results. Some experience results which can add tremendous value and support long term success of the business. Others experience quite the opposite including, but not limited to, rejected offers, long delays in filling vacancies, disorganized and inconsistent processes, diminished retention and deteriorating brand reputation.

We could certainly agree on the obvious that hiring the wrong person for a position could produce negative results. However, do you understand the potential scope of impact on your business, and more importantly your business resources?

Impact of Ineffective Recruitment Practices Can Include:

  1. Financial loss of resources spent due to limited or no Return on Investment (ROI).
  2. Disappointed individuals exposed to an unpleasant applicant experience.
  3. Increased workload and strain on existing workforce.
  4. Business objectives were delayed due to lack of human capital resources.
  5. New hire turnover and retention challenges increase.
  6. Morale decreases and trust and confidence in leadership waivers.
  7. Industry reputation suffers as your products and services can be negatively impacted.

These results can be mitigated and sometimes even prevented with an effective recruitment strategy and processes. As business leaders, have you dedicated the right amount of time and secured the appropriate subject matter expertise to analyze your recruitment practices and processes to maximize effectiveness and efficiency?

Read these two scenarios of real-life situations that failed to produce the desired results. You may find yourself relating your own experiences to these scenarios in whole or part.

Scenario 1

As a business owner, you have decided to perform the task of hiring yourself, no recruiter, no human resource professional, just you. You post a job and wait for resumes to come in, without even having developed or implemented an employment application or process. Several resumes look great to you, and you begin interviewing applicants. You conduct some of the interviews on the phone, some in person, with little rhyme or reason as to why. A few people you interview sound great, so you have other people speak to them. The questions you ask range in terms of topic from their experience to what they like about your company and more. When asked by applicants about the job you can’t even remember if you told each person the same information, and often you provided more details to people you liked, and you are uncertain how others presented your business to the applicants. Eventually you select an applicant based on who you were comfortable with, present an offer, and they start working.

After a few weeks, you recognize the new hire is not meeting your expectations, so you fire them. The work of the new hire falls back on you or your existing staff, and you are back to square one.

Reasons for Failure Explained

In this scenario, there was no appropriate development of a job description outlining the essential functions of the role and minimum qualifications necessary for an individual to be successful in the role. The job posting failed to limit the type of applications, forcing the owner to read through stacks of resumes. Without training on the review and analysis of resumes, what looked good was interpreted as meeting qualifications, and so decisions were made without expertise to differentiate the applicants appropriately. An inconsistent interview process ensued, without any structure or consistency, and from what is described a lack of appropriate documentation.   Questions asked were not specifically designed to elicit responses that demonstrate knowledge, skills, experience, or competence in performing the essential functions of the role. Without a compliant structure and process in place, the owner relied on their gut feeling about the applicant they selected. Ultimately, the new employee failed to demonstrate acceptable job performance, and the owner terminated their employment. Most likely, the owner doesn’t realize the root cause of the failure was the recruitment process by the employer, not the employee.

Consider the time, resources, and effort spent on this process. Not only was there no ROI on the recruitment, but productivity was also negatively impacted on the owner and other employees who must perform the work. This experience caused tremendous frustration and without appropriate implementation of effective human resource management strategies and principles, the business will experience similar results again and again.

Scenario 2

You have a recruiter on your staff, titled talent acquisition specialist, and they are responsible for filling your vacancies. Once the recruiter screens the resumes, you find yourself also having to review resumes to make decisions on who to interview. During the interviews, you find yourself having to take control of the meeting. You must come up with your own questions, and after each interview you are left with uncertainty about the right fit. During one interview, an applicant became confrontational about a question you asked that they indicated was inappropriate for an interview. Recognizing the critical nature of the process, you ask for input from your recruiter, and are told to hire whomever you like the most. There is minimal discussion facilitated by the recruiter, and at the end of the day they added little value outside of making phone calls and performing as a coordinator for the interviews. This process did little to inform you of the experience or qualifications of the applicants and made the hiring decision challenging. To feel like the process was valuable, you hire one of the applicants, and shortly after they start you begin to observe performance problems. There is resistance to your culture, and the employee complains about information provided by the recruiter was not accurate. Either they quit or you fire them resulting in lost productivity, initiation of another recruitment process, exposure to unemployment, diminished employee morale, and a plethora or other business challenges.

Reasons for Failure Explained

The talent acquisition specialist was not involved in the development or review of the job description or job posting to ensure they clearly understood the essential functions of the role and minimum qualifications. The recruiter did not develop a comprehensive structured and documented recruitment process that would appropriately narrow down the applicant pool and limit the time and energy required by the owner or members of the management team. This recruiter lacked the expertise to take control of applicant screening against the job requirements and failed to facilitate the interview process. No training was provided to the management team on compliant interview practices or best practice interview techniques. Further, other than performing some clerical and administrative coordination tasks, the recruiter did not add value to the process by ensuring those individuals interviewed met the qualifications for the role. After the interviews, the recruiter did not provide a method for discussing the results of the interview, or for determining which applicant was the most qualified for the role. Also, obvious from this scenario, was a total lack of documentation to not only capture the activities of the recruitment process, but to support and defend the hiring decision. The owner may believe they made a poor hiring decision. It is critical to instead recognize that the recruitment process itself failed. A disorganized and unstructured recruitment process will fail to inform management effectively, leading to bad hiring decisions.

Building an Effective Recruitment Program

Secure the human resource management subject matter expertise that understands not only recruiting but also how organizational design, orientation, onboarding, culture, team building, leadership, talent management, succession planning, human resource information systems, and compliance all work together in building a successful talent acquisition program. You will want to make sure the person or entity you empower with the great responsibility of identifying and hiring talent for your organization is equipped with all the tools to achieve success. Below are some key capabilities to consider.

  1. Guidance and review of job descriptions.
  2. Establish and develop an application process.
  3. Establish and develop the job postings.
  4. Develop and implement communication strategies for applicants.
  5. Design and implement screening criteria and interview process.
  6. Conduct effective interviews using industry best practices.
  7. Recommend or use appropriate tools and technology for efficiency i.e., Applicant Tracking System and/or HRIS.
  8. Implementation of consistent documentation.
  9. Demonstrated understanding of recordkeeping requirements.
  10. Compliance training for all those involved in the interview and selection process.
  11. Facilitate and guide the interview and selection process to ensure fairness and consistency.
  12. Ensure a smooth transition from offer to orientation and onboarding for the business.

If you are hiring just one employee a year, or hundreds, the same principles are applicable to ensure your recruitment practices are effective, efficient, and compliant. The ROI from an effective recruitment program is evidenced by the quality of new hires, improved efficiency, a reduction in turnover, and enhanced risk management. A good recruitment program also leads to increased retention, which improves the intellectual capital of your workforce and positively impacts job performance and morale.

What’s Next for You?

If you have read this article and are wondering right about now if your recruitment program is comprehensive and adequate for your continued business success as your workforce grows, there are steps you can take to validate your program. The first step to take is to determine if your recruitment practices are documented. Next you will want to examine all the documentation used during each recruitment and ascertain if the records are being maintained appropriately. Analyze the process and determine if you have any gaps or exposure in your process to be effective or compliant. If systems are part of the process, make sure all the functionality, processes, and reporting has remained compliant with current regulations for your business. Audit all screening, pre, and post offer activities to ensure your practices are not exposing your business to risk. Review all recruitment practices annually, especially if you have new managers, human resource staff, or other personnel involved in the process. For anyone involved in the recruitment process, make sure you have documented evidence of their training, and I suggest refresher training annually.

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