by Cornerstone staff
09 Sep 2020
HR’s Biggest Disservice: Hiring Employees Too Quickly
Just because you need to fill open headcount doesn’t mean you should do it fast
HR is experiencing a bit of a reboot these days. Part of this has to do with the influence of new and emerging technologies that are quickly modernizing, automating, and streamlining many (if not all) once-manual HR functions.
But another part of it has to do with a changing perception of what role HR really should play within businesses. For years, it’s been a widely held belief that HR merely plays the role of “paper pusher” across a number of administrative tasks: recruiting candidates, hiring and onboarding new employees, managing compensation and benefits, administering the annual performance review process, and mitigating conflicts between employees.
This has positioned HR as a middle man “service provider” within many companies as well as in the eyes of the many employees they serve. And this has, in turn, created an image of them as task managers versus strategic counselors who, ideally, should support their internal business partners to build, manage, develop, and grow the most successful teams possible.
One of the best ways they can do that is to help teams hire the right people. Unfortunately, given that HR is typically seen as the administrative roadblock standing in the way of filling an open headcount—one that could very well disappear in the blink of an eye—it’s no surprise that today’s hiring managers will often elicit HR’s support with “urgent” in an email subject line.
Of course, anyone who has ever had to hire employees knows that there’s an art and science to the process. On the one hand, it’s absolutely critical to hire the right person to fill an open position; on the other hand, and even more important when teams are short-staffed and drowning in a mountain of (quickly piling up) work, it becomes a question of speed.
But let’s face it: rarely does “going fast” in the hiring process equate to “getting it right.”
"The bottom line when it comes to hiring and recruitment is everybody wants somebody yesterday, and even though you have great intentions about diversifying your workforce and being inclusive, that's never a model that's truly practiced. I can definitely do a—for lack of a better term—a 'diversity hire' for you, but you have to give me the time to do it. And no one gives you the time to do it. That just doesn't happen. And they don't put the programs in place to make sure these things happen."
Andrew Hilson, CEO of Expansion Pack Search and Selection
It’s time to take a new approach to hiring
HR wears a lot of hats within an organization, but many would agree that HR’s primary role—or even more important role—is to help teams hire the right people.
Doing this doesn’t simply mean finding the first warm body (that’s willing to accept an offer) to fill a seat. It’s about finding the right person who’s not only competent and qualified for the tasks laid out in the job description but also a good match with the company’s culture.
This becomes even more critical when you’re making a point to increase the diversity within your organization, whether that comes in the form of gender (identity), race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and beyond. Hiring outside of your “cookie cutter” employee persona is no easy task. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It simply takes time.
That’s why taking the “we need to hire someone right this second” approach is short-sighted at best. Not only does it fail to give HR—and the recruiting team—enough time to source qualified candidates across a wealth of backgrounds and experiences, but it also reduces the hiring process into something purely transactional where success is essentially measured by how quickly a role can be filled. And while it’s rewarding to be able to close an open requisition whenever new headcount becomes available, speed-to-hire shouldn’t be your go-to criteria.
Unfortunately, many hiring managers have embraced the “speed dating” approach to hiring—and have encouraged their HR managers to get onboard, even if it goes against what they already know to be true about what success looks like in the hiring process.
Remember, as HR managers, you have the knowledge and expertise to source qualified candidates based on the requirements of a thorough job description. It’s your job to guide the hiring process, and not the other way around. Of course, as with all things in life, everything seems to be always needed yesterday. But that’s not an excuse to cut corners.
Would your product team do that just to launch a product? Probably not, though there are always the rare exceptions. Would your sales team do that and potentially risk losing a sale? Most likely not. Would your marketing team launch an unfinished campaign? Definitely not.
The point here is simple: HR is often held to a different standard than other parts of the organization. Why? Because, as mentioned above, they are seen as task masters above everything else. HR must take back the reins and demonstrate the value they bring to the process. They have just as much quality control to manage as other teams within the business. The only difference here is that hiring the wrong person can actually create a lot more headaches, grief, and pain than if everyone involved just took the time to get it right.
If you want diversity, make it a business priority
Not to beat this dead horse to a bloody pulp, but “talking the talking” is a far cry from “walking the walk” when it comes to conversations about diversity. If you want to build a more diverse workforce, you can’t just add to your wishlist and hope that it’ll organically take shape.
Quite to the contrary, you must make it a priority—and ensure that this rallying cry is shared at all levels within your organization. In other words, diversity can’t just be an HR initiative; your company’s senior leaders, middle management, and individual contributors must all believe in the value of diversity and support the development of a diverse workforce.
Doing so can actually drive some serious value for your business. According to a 2018 McKinsey study, the top quartile of companies that rank highest for workplace diversity are 33% more likely to financially outperform their counterparts. If you aren’t convinced in the qualitative benefits of diversity in the workplace, knowing that it can actually make a marked impact on your business’s financial performance should speak volumes about why it needs to be a priority.
But you can’t make a dent if you don’t audit and overhaul your hiring strategies to ensure that diversity of all kinds is supported and celebrated at every stage of the hiring process. Part of this should include creating a diverse hiring panel to interview and evaluate candidates. This is critical for hiring senior leaders but is valuable for hiring at all levels within your organization.
Now, if you don’t yet have enough diversity among your workforce to put something like this together, you’ll need to do your best to keep unconscious bias in check—otherwise, you could very well fall back into the “group think” rut of hiring your lowest common denominator candidate profile (i.e. white men).
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should make diversity simply a numbers game. Just because someone comes from a minority group doesn’t automatically make them the best candidate to do a specific job. Just like any other candidate vying for an open position, your (hopefully diverse) review panel should ask tough questions and make critical assessments of all candidates—and equally—to ensure the best fit always gets the job.
Show your company what HR is made of
There has never been a time in modern workplace history (than now) where the knowledge, expertise, and strategic counsel of HR needs to be placed on a pedestal. HR managers and recruiters are not merely “paper pushers.” When allowed to do the jobs they were actually hired to do, they can be a business’s greatest ally in sourcing, recruiting, hiring, and nurturing top talent. But like other parts of your business, unrealistic timelines and ridiculous “rush requests” should continue to be the exception and not the rule—especially with hiring.
The long story short: finding the best person to fill a job isn’t a question of speed but rather one of quality. Don’t allow yourself to do disservice to your business just because you constantly find yourself caught in a rut to hire fast. Remind your organization that finding the right talent—especially from diverse backgrounds—doesn’t happen overnight and that, even more importantly, hiring the wrong talent could have a lasting negative impact that very may well cause you, and the people within your organization, many sleepless nights.
Don’t know where to start? Let Cornerstone help you regain your footing, so you can play a more strategic role in hiring the best talent at all times.