Getting the right people the first time

Small businesses such as Gordon Bailey and Associates Inc., an advertising and marketing agency based in Atlanta, have found traditional methods of recruitment to be inadequate in the presence of the shrinking labor pool and increased competition. All of a sudden we were faced with having to terminate several of our new hires in our account services area, recalled Jeri Christopher, vice president of human resources. It wasn’t good for our credibility with clients. Plus our training costs sky rocketed. It seemed we were always reinventing the wheel.

The human resources difficulty was the source of problems within the company, so managers examined their procedures. We had not been doing the kind of hiring job we should have, admitted Gordon Bailey, president of the company. In small businesses, sometimes your ‘need’ horse gets ahead of your good judgment horse. We were hiring people too quickly and they just weren’t working out. Bailey therefore took a new approach to hiring, one that recognized that the process is inherently lengthy. You need to get all the information you possibly can, counsels Ed Ryan, president of MPR Consulting, Chicago based human resources firm. Interview them. Take them to dinner, take them to lunch. Take their spouse to lunch. And check references. There are no shortcuts.

After recognizing this, Gordon Bailey implemented a successful hiring program. It’s a solid program, asserted Christopher. But you can’t corners. In the initial stages, we had an urgent need to fill a couple of positions So we ignored the warning signs, went on pure instincts, and made two very bad hiring mistakes. We ended up terminating both employees. After that, we became firm believers in this system and practice it extensively. Today, we literally don’t have any turnover. We aren’t making wrong hiring decisions anymore.

Recruitment from within: Many firms still have a policy of recruiting or promoting from within except in very exceptional circumstances. This policy has three major advantages. First, individuals recruited from within are already familiar with the organization and its members, and this knowledge increases the likelihood they will succeed. Second, a promotion from within policy fosters loyalty and inspires greater effort among organization members. Finally, it is usually less expensive to recruit or promote from within than to hire from outside the organization. There are some disadvantages to internal recruitment, however. Obviously, it limits the pool of available talent. In addition, it reduces the chance that fresh viewpoints will enter the organization, and it may encourage complacency among employees who assume seniority ensures promotion.

Legal Considerations:

In the early 1960s, the growing civil rights and women’s movements called national attention to the discriminatory impact of existing human resource practices. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were attempts to rectify the situation. These efforts were later expanded by the courts and most state legislatures as well as through various federal amendments and executive orders. The implications of such legislation for human resources policies and practices are still evolving and being clarified through court decisions and administrative interpretations. Although the median annual earnings of women at work have increased significantly in the past quarter century, the ratio of women’s to men’s wages varies widely from one occupation to another. Moreover, although there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women in some of the higher status, higher paid occupations, the proportion of women in those occupations is still low. For example as Janet L Norwood, US Commissioner of Labor Statistics, noted, the number of women lawyers increased more than five fold over the last decade, but there are still less than 100,000 in the legal profession, and make only 15 percent of the total.