Thursday, 21 November 2013

Preparing for workforce growth in 2014


It’s that time of the year again! Christmas advertisements and decorations are out and I’ve already seen a few other posts starting to give advice for 2014.  Personally, I always try to avoid doing this, at least not until the start of the year.  However, there’s a good reason why 2014 should be an exception – growth!

In the UK, the Bank of England has confirmed the recovery has finally taken hold and new jobs are accelerating with unemployment set to fall potentially to 7% by the end of 2014.  It’s not all hands on pumps quite yet, but organisations will need to dust away a few cobwebs to support the new opportunities a revitalised economy will need.

For one thing, the whole focus of HR and Recruiting may need to change.  I’ve never been that sold on the idea of Recruiting as a profit centre – some functions will be able to take this opportunity but most will not.  However the idea that HR and Recruiting should focus on the value they are creating rather than costs of running the function, are totally spot on.  HR costs a small fraction of a business’ total expenses but its impact on a business is huge.  We can save pennies by watching our costs or add on pounds by providing the right people our businesses need.  Spending on HR support to enable business success has to be the right move, and the need for this contrast in approach will become clearer as the economy takes off.

You’ll see this shift in the metrics we use as well.  We need to focus on quality-of-hire (as a contribution to this value we are creating) rather than cost of recruitment. We also need to focus on time-to-hire as well. In a growing market we’ll increasingly see those functions which are slow-to-act missing out on the prize.

  • Quality of hire will always depend on a particular business’ strategy, its context, the people it is recruiting, etc. But for me, the key is to link it back to what the organisation as a whole is trying to achieve, not just a specific job.  The fact that someone can do their job is one thing, but what’s more important is improving a company’s core capabilities. Will a new hire be capable of thriving in areas like innovation, collaboration, quality of leadership and speed of execution, etc? Although quality of hire proves to be a more complicated calculation to solve than that for time to hire, organisations should strive to do both.
  • As well as being less complex to measure, time to recruit is also more comparable between organisations.  However, give careful thought to what the target should be, as this should be unique to each business.  Are you driving this towards zero? Perhaps try scouting for candidates in the marketplace, recycling candidates, or putting more focus on internal successors and alumni.  Or, are you setting a negative target? For example, are you hiring people in advance of identifying specific needs?  This is something that should be possible in many businesses in high growth mode, as the cost of doing this is often less than having a role left unfilled.

These strategies are not solely about the HR / Recruiting function – we also need to engage hiring managers in changing their role. They should become more strategic in their demands, more creative in their search, and more focused and proactive during their recruitment campaigns.  This is one reason why we need an integrated approach where HR and Recruiting work closely together. In many organisations this is going to require more effort than just good influencing by the recruiters.  We’re going to have to grasp the nettle of who gets to manage and whether they have the capabilities and motivation to manage, and also recruit.

This post is sponsored by iCIMS.

iCIMS is the leading provider of talent acquisition software for growing businesses. Through the implementation of easy-to-use, web-based solutions, the iCIMS Talent Platform helps organisations manage everything from sourcing, to recruitment, to induction all within one streamlined application 

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