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What exactly do we mean when we talk about an ‘efficient’ hire?

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12th Sep 2016
Editor HRZone
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Steve Smith is Director of Sales for background screening company Sterling Talent Solutions, where he has primary responsibility for engaging businesses throughout the UK and EMEA in discussions around the outsourcing of background checks. Steve will be appearing on an upcoming webinar on 5 Tips To Improve Your Hiring Efficiency on September 22nd. If you're looking to hire better and faster, sign up today.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What exactly do we mean when we talk about an ‘efficient’ hire?

Steve Smith, Director of Sales, Sterling Talent Solutions: When we refer to an ‘efficient hire’ we usually mean the time taken to fill a vacancy, which for a lot of businesses is considered a key metric.

Generally speaking the quicker the hiring process the more efficient it is for the business in terms of minimising any loss of work productivity and limiting the number of hours the HR resource has to spend filling the vacancy.

Of course, this should never be to the detriment of the end result however – a fast hire which ultimately proves to be unsuccessful cannot be deemed efficient.

Fortunately there are a number of other considerations, such as employment background checks, which can help to ensure an efficient yet successful hire 

  • A focus on retention rates and success rates post-hire will help to evaluate the efficiency of the initial recruitment process. A successful hiring programme will positively influence retention.
  • It is also important to avoid a hiring process that duplicates effort during the cycle, whether internal or external. An efficient hire will have a clear process owner at every stage that can drive momentum. 

So what employers really mean by an ‘efficient hire’ is not simply a speedy recruitment process, but one that is robust, compliant, effectively engages candidates throughout the journey to prevent drop out or counter offers and ensures the new starter begins day one full of enthusiasm.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Why are organisations taking time to focus on the efficiency of their hires?

Steve Smith, Director of Sales, Sterling Talent Solutions: Despite Brexit and an uncertain economy the UK still has a competitive hiring market where there’s a race in many industry sectors to engage, background check and onboard the best talent.

Understandably there’s a commercial drive behind most businesses to reduce cost while improving hiring effectiveness and this is why organisations are investing in more efficient hiring programmes.

A fast hire which ultimately proves to be unsuccessful cannot be deemed efficient.

It isn’t easy for those on the hiring frontline however, with internal stakeholders becoming more demanding and having greater expectations from HR and resourcing than ever before.

This is resulting in a growing need for transparency and accountability in all areas of the recruitment process – without the tools and services to report on these functions it is difficult to analyse success.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What’s the organisational imperative behind this?

Steve Smith, Director of Sales, Sterling Talent Solutions: Put simply, it’s about the balance of Cost and Time to Hire. The quest is to successfully engage and develop the best talent, and do so efficiently in order to achieve commercial goals.

People are a company’s greatest asset, but while many organisations these days prefer to talk ‘people’ and not ‘numbers’, it remains important to measure the value of talent.

This can be done by examining cost hire in terms of time, resources, and direct cost pre-hire against the measure of value post-hire.

Post-hire value can be measured in a variety of different ways dependent on role or function, however the medium to long-term output value of an excellent employee would generally offset a more ‘expensive’ hiring process.

HR teams should consider the level of ROI by role and function to drive commercial recruitment, attraction and retention.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: In which areas should HR focus initially when looking to improve hiring efficiency? Where can the biggest gains often be made?

Steve Smith, Director of Sales, Sterling Talent Solutions: One of the first things to do is to determine which activities are currently owned internally that could perhaps be outsourced, and which activities should be brought back in-house?

Some of the most significant gains in hiring efficiency can be made by outsourcing the more complex and time-consuming processes – employment background checks are a good example – to a reliable vendor.

Major efficiencies can be made through the use of new or improved technology which can streamline, automate and ensure consistency.

Outsourcing is not the answer for all activities however, so this needs careful consideration.

Similarly, major efficiencies can be made through the use of new or improved technology which can streamline, automate and ensure consistency.

A good tip would be to engage your marketing team to build your brand story and educate your recruiters to tell that story in the market.

For some larger organisations it may be worth taking things a step further by clearly articulating different ‘stories’ per vacancy or department to truly engage candidates throughout the process.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Are there any ‘red herrings’ when it comes to looking at hiring inefficiency, for example areas where organisations spend a lot of their time but that actually aren’t correlated that significantly with hiring efficiency?

Steve Smith, Director of Sales, Sterling Talent Solutions: Firstly, try not to track metrics for metrics sake.

Often HR can be overwhelmed with data hampering its use in effective decision making, either by making the wrong choices or by making no decision at all thanks to paralysis by analysis.

Another ‘red herring’ can be where HR departments seek cosmetic improvements to a candidate experience (i.e video interviews, etc), but neglect the fundamental things which candidates really care about such as clear communication and transparency throughout the hiring process.

I’d also refer to my previous comments about the danger of outsourcing the wrong elements of a recruitment process or the other extreme of running the entire process in-house.

Organisations need to consider where their strengths lie, the complexity of different part of the hiring process, and of course the cost in relation to benefit of outsourcing v’s in-house.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Any top tips for HR directors looking to analyse where their currently hiring practices may be inefficient or sub-optimal?

Steve Smith, Director of Sales, Sterling Talent Solutions: In order to find the areas to improve, employers should walk through their hiring process from the perspective of a candidate as well as the resourcing team and hiring manager.

In particular, they should consider where there may be a duplication of effort, where the process might hit a bottleneck and what the cause of that issue might be?

Does it relate to process, technology, or people? Question also the impact for pre and post-hire and work with a cross-functional team to review and identify the biggest wins.

Try not to track metrics for metrics sake.

Keep your analysis as objective as possible and use ‘exit interviews‘ where possible to help reveal the reasons for turnover.

Decide what, and how you want to measure efficiencies pre and post-hire on an on-going basis.

Create KPIs and SLAs which are visible across the business and hold line managers and resourcing professionals accountable for success in each area.

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