How to avoid bad hiring decisions when it matters most, according to this Houston expert
Hiring the right people for the right roles is ideal and can make an organization reach new heights. The reality is every business has made a bad hire.
Finding the wrong fit for a team or organization is not uncommon, but it is important to know what it costs the organization, which can be detrimental to company finances and its workplace culture, especially small businesses and startups where the impact is magnified.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports a bad hire can cost up to 30 percent of the employee’s wage, which would be approximately $18,000 since the average American wage is $60,000. In addition, there are soft costs of managers and leadership time during the hiring and training process, which adds up quickly.
Bad hires explained
A bad hire can simply be someone who is not the best fit for the position or the company. The quality of work may not meet expectations; however, there are behaviors that can point to a bad hiring decision. New hires who were recruited due to specific knowledge or a skillset, but they do not deliver, have a negative attitude, or are disengaged, are all signs of a bad hire.
Even though hiring the best people for the job should be every recruiter’s goal, they are sometimes pressured to quickly fill the role. Once a new hire starts, it does not take long to find out if they are a bad hire. Recruitment is vital to a company’s success, so it is important to know how to identify a bad hire before they join the organization, the red flags, and the lasting impacts to the workplace culture.
Right turns, wrong fit
Business leaders most certainly think they are bringing in the right person for the job, but the wrong fit can significantly impact the organization.
Suffering morale and reduced teamwork: Incompetent employees force team members to cover their work, negatively impacting morale. If these issues persist, it signals to existing employees that suboptimal work is acceptable, which adds stress, distraction and reduced engagement.
Unmet expectations: When a new employee exaggerates their qualifications, they may struggle to meet expectations, resulting in slow or inadequate work product, which can be especially detrimental in a small business setting. This not only impacts the company financially but also demands managers’ time for oversight and performance issue resolution.
Weakened employer reputation: Startups and small businesses depend heavily on their hard-earned reputation and brand. Employees represent a company’s values, and when they fail to embody them, it can negatively influence sales, vendor relationships and recruitment efforts. Actions of employees, both in-person and online, significantly shape public perception.
Client attrition: Poor performance or unprofessional behavior can damage client relationships, leading to business losses. These client experiences may lead to lasting consequences for the company’s reputation, affecting potential clients and key partnerships, and its bottom line.
Recruiting and training challenges: The recruiting process usually spans four to six weeks, involving tasks such as drafting the job description, obtaining approvals, posting ads, resume screening, candidate communication, interviews and offer negotiations. After accepting an offer, new employees, regardless of experience, require time to familiarize themselves with the organization, its processes and job responsibilities. If a poor hiring decision is made, the recruitment process may persist, leading to extended periods of onboarding.
Preventing bad hires
Experienced recruiters can still make bad hires, but certain measures can help mitigate risks:
- Fine-tune job descriptions. Clear and concise job descriptions aid in identifying suitable candidates and provide a better understanding of position expectations.
- Take sufficient time. Resist the pressure to fill the role; prioritize finding the right candidate to avoid subsequent costs.
- Standardize the interview process. Employ set questions for consistency and involve team members in behavioral and peer-to-peer interviews to assess cultural fit.
- Check references. Verify candidates’ honesty, skills, attitude toward work, and work ethic through thorough reference checks.
Despite the inevitability of bad hires, recruiters equipped with proper tools and training can identify red flags and take preventive measures. This proactive approach ensures better preparation for attracting top talent and minimizes the impact of suboptimal hiring decisions on the company.
Karen Leal is performance specialist with Houston-based Insperity, a provider of human resources offering a suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace.