Is High Quality Workforce Important?
High Quality Workforce – Where Does the Need Come From?
For someone to discuss with objectivity if high quality workforce is important, we need first first to look into what drives (or should drive) organisations towards securing a high quality workforce. “Securing” as a verb has the definition of obtaining someone or something whilst using a lot of effort (Oxford Dictionary). Why should organisations require a lot of effort?
The world’s 20 largest economies, namely “G20” (Council on Foreign Relations), in a summit held back in 2011 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, highlighted the global demographic changes. Specifically, the world’s working population (ages 25-59) will lessen in the more developed regions by 2050. The new generations cannot fill the gap due to declining fertility trends. Where will nations rely for their economic growth? Maybe on the increased productivity of their workforce?
Is the Talent Pool Shrinking?
Though, the world hasn’t run out of good employees yet, has it? I can argue that this is a macro-trend that will affect economies around the world, right? And still, organisations from their “individual point of view” might not even be in a position to realise the facts. Don’t you agree? But that doesn’t change the facts how the pool of talented employees is getting smaller. Industry-wide there is an intense fight for new recruits and that hiring talent is still a main concern of organisations. Isn’t it obvious how talent, individual skill set and quality connect with the job?
Combining all the above with the elements like employees being a major and important asset for organisations which can be transformed to a competitive advantage, one could support that acquiring and retaining talented employees, thus a highly quality workforce, is something that organisations should strive for. Who has the important role of acquiring it?
The “HR” Role
In the past, the role of Human Resources operations was seen as supportive. But as the talent pool shrinks it needs to become a high priority of strategy not only for acquiring new employees, but also for retaining existing ones. So, we should systematically analyse an organisation’s needs in advance because the majority of businesses cannot afford a bad hire. Do you disagree?
Simply put, by realising beforehand what job position(s) we need to fill, we know where and how to look for it; and higher chances of getting it come along if we have the right processes in place. Since HR Management is one of the basic functions of “managing”, the processes of recruitment and selection are of extreme importance in any organisation. For organisations to succeed, HR should identify capable people that are flexible, mature, compatible and with strong moral principles; that is, suitable to fit a corporate culture.
What are the steps an organisation should follow and how are these translated to practice for different contexts? For the purpose of examining various methodologies for recruiting and selecting the most suitable candidates, the steps of the factsheet of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) will be followed. The path starts with defining the role, attracting the applicants, managing the application and selection process, and making the appointment.
Defining the Role
Before the “hunting” begins we need good preparation. For the hiring process to have an objective basis, a job analysis is required. This procedure determines the duties and skill requirements of a job and the kind of person who should be hired for it. Based on that analysis we should form a clear job description that clarifies in detail – to any potential candidate – the job requirements, objectives and responsibilities of the vacant role as well as functions and relationships of reporting. It is essential that a job description should match organisational needs. Further down the line, in correlation with the vacant job, we should define the personal characteristics of the ideal candidate (the “person specification“).
What is important in the so-far process is to be objective and avoid bias between genders, race, age and so forth. The latter principle should apply for the preparation of the job advertisement of the vacancy, which is the last step of the role definition. In what lense should we view things though?
Lenses of necessity, importance and urgency of needs should apply for the ultimate scope of securing the appropriate applicants. Once the role is clarified in any HR practice, the next step is building up an applicant pool. How? Through the recruiting process of course.
Attracting the Applicants
When it comes to this step of the process, various methodologies are available for applicant attraction. Depending on the role defined and if the vacant position is new or not, organisations can leverage internal or external sources. Some suggest that most positions should be filled internally through promotion. Indeed this practice can also strengthen employee security and loyalty. Referrals can also be leveraged for attracting talent. Arguably on the other hand, external sources cannot be neglected. Especially since the internet has become an integrated and essential tool in today’s business world. These sources can vary from an organisation’s website or social media pages, to recruitment agencies or job centers, professional network platforms, internships and so forth. Statista purely demonstrates nowadays dominant sources of job applications worldwide. Undoubtedly technology is unavoidable in the process of attracting applicants.
Has the pandemic of Covid-19 affected this process?
In the last 12 months, colossal changes occurred in how and where we work, and the technology we use to stay connected. In parallel Covid-19 shifted workforce’s attention towards freelance and contract work, with rising trends. Internal and external workforce ratios change. With similar trends, HR attracting practices change as well and emphasis is given on digital content. Advertising material is designed to attract candidates who feel ideal for the job, since applicants should be approached as potential customers. This part of the process is not only about attracting the right applicants. The potential candidates need to see themselves matching with the vacancy and the organisation. Either they are active or passive job seekers.
Examples for attracting applicants can be many. At the end of the day, Dhawan says that “connecting to top talent today is about reimagining the possibilities of leveraging all kinds of networks” (Harvard Business Review). Won’t the successful selected methods of each organisation result in one thing? Incoming job applications?
Managing Application and Selection Processes
This is the stage where applications are “kicking in”. They could be in a format of curriculum vitae (probably accompanied with a cover letter), a prespecified application form or even through a job social network platform. The application channel is usually the one described on the job advertisement previously formed. The CVs should be reviewed with confidentiality only by the appropriate personnel. Once done then we should select the best candidates for the job. The selection processes depend on the chosen application channel. Generally, in this step, organisations need to react swiftly when filtering, selecting and reaching out to the candidates. Why? Competition cannot wait! How is the above shortlisting process differentiated in practice for every organisation? That’s up to you to decide!
After the shortlisting, and once applicants become candidates there are various methods for organisations to select the most suitable. Those can include interviews, case studies, work samples, psychometric tests, questionnaires or many times combinations. The most widely used method is the personal interview. The interview process should provide an objective assessment of the candidate’s skills, talent and cultural fit along with an insight on the person’s motivational drivers. Interviewing approaches can be intuitive or creative or even firmly structured. Bottom line, they should serve the ultimate purpose of identifying the most suitable candidate for the job. This of course applies vice versa.
Making the Appointment
This is the last step of the hiring process for any organisation. Once we have identified the suitable candidate, and before making the appointment, what’s next? An organisation needs to check upon legal documents, validate the candidate’s qualifications, ask for reference letters, and medical examinations (if required). When everything is good, a written employment offer follows and once signed by both parties the employee’s induction takes place. The induction or onboarding process, could include an initial training, some provisional material, and explanation of basic procedures and communication channels. The scope is to assist the new employee with understanding the culture, the purpose and contribution of the assigned role. But do the aforementioned apply in practice for all organisations? Are there variations?
Is There a Correct Approach?
This blog article aims to examine how organisations apply different methodologies and practices for the selection and recruitment of suitable candidates. The four basic steps of 1) role definition, 2) applicant attraction, 3) application and selection management, and 4) appointment, have a significant part in the process. Along the way I have highlighted the important role of HR. Indeed the demographic trends that make the talent acquisition more challenging are obvious. But is there a right or a wrong approach or methodology? What should organisations do?
The key concept identified is that each organisation should have (or find) its own recruiting and selection practices. Questioning and changing them as the environment changes will always be critical. Since the context can influence HR’s effectiveness and adoption of practices, it’s up to every organisation to find out what works best under the circumstances. Organisations do compete on their workforce’s talent and skills, and employee satisfaction intermediates in every function. For this outcome HR functions must be in place. Climbing the HR ladder, the role of HR professionals is also extremely crucial not only for the overall strategy or the formation of the culture in an organisation, but also as a channel of effective recruitment. A survey conducted in 2018 covering 50 million job seekers and 10 million applications worldwide, shows the “hiring manager” as the no. 1 channel of recruitment!.
In a global recruiting trends survey by Linkedin a few years ago, 67% of the businesses don’t seem to understand the quality of hire. Scarpetta, the OECD’s Director of Employment, in the G20 meeting held in 2019, emphasises how the continuing declining working population will drag growth down by 2030… Can you understand the implications?
Do Organisations Understand the Importance?
What does the future entail for HR? Doesn’t that correlate with the drastic technological changes in organisational contexts? Will the functions of HR practices for securing a high quality workforce become more easy? How will artificial intelligence algorithms affect HR decision making? How the increasing demand for organisational transparency will affect the decision making of the candidates? Doesn’t the strategic role of HR become more critical for future success and ultimate survival? How will it need to evolve? Do questions generate answers?
Won’t the HR role become (even) more central and, simultaneously, more decentralised?
Just to sum up…
Indeed research indicates that the pool of talented employees is getting smaller. Industry-wide there is an intense fight for new recruits and that hiring talent is still a main concern of organisations.
HR has a strategic role in acquiring new employees and retaining existing ones. The right processes should always be in place and for organisations to succeed they should identify capable people that are flexible, mature, compatible and with strong moral principles; that is, suitable to fit a corporate culture.
1. A proper job analysis is always a pre-requisite. Defining the Role includes forming a proper Job Description and a clear Person Specification for the vacancy.
2. Attracting the applicants using various methodologies suitable to the organisation. Internal and external sources can be used according to the position’s characteristics and/or organisational needs.
3. Setting up the correct processes for managing the applications and selecting the right candidates. Confidentiality and speed are of critical importance.
4. The last step of the hiring process is to make the appointment. The onboarding step should never be neglected as it helps newcomers adjust swiftly.
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