Staffing Quality in One Question

Jun 20, 2005

For years now, we have been looking at the economics of talent management and specifically written on the importance of quality in the talent acquisition process. We have looked at the return on staffing, and our quality of hire report has been well read. But often people come back to us and ask us how they can start very simply to measure quality? Rather than focusing on the strategic reasons to prioritize it or make the business case to show its huge impact, this article is around the very specific first steps you have to take on this journey in the world of quality. Measuring the Process Many companies have been completing hiring manager and new candidate satisfaction surveys for years. Those include questions such as “How satisfied are you with the overall service level of your recruiters?” or, “Did the response time of the recruiting team meet your expectation?” or again, “Is the recruiting professional’s knowledge and professionalism up to your need?” All those surveys measure the different components that come into the mix to produce a quality outcome. Yet for most companies, the outcome itself is either very poorly measured or else buried inside 25 other questions, such as, “Were you satisfied with the quality of the candidates you received?” The latter question is a first step towards a qualitative measurement, but it has the limitation of only giving a general direction on the overall quality of the outcome of the process. Therefore, the first lesson is to make sure to distinguish between the measurement of the process itself and the outcome of the process. If we could choose, first measure the outcome (quality). If quality is high, very little modification is needed to the process to improve the outcome itself, so you can keep doing what you are doing. In this albeit unlikely situation, you can then survey the process itself, but after having gained a benchmark to measure where you are starting from. In other words, you ensure that any change you make afterward will bring some positive results, which you can objectively compare to previous data. Measure the Quality This is the key to going forward. Don’t measure too many data points ó such as the satisfaction of the candidate or the level of professionalism of your staffing team ó but measure only the true value driver that matters: the quality of new hires. After this, measure what you believe will impact that result. As simple as this seems, we have observed the following misstep among several large corporations: They look at the satisfaction of the hiring manager with the recruiting department as a whole rather than measuring the satisfaction with the outcome of their department. To the traditional question, “Can’t we measure both?” my recommended answer is no. If you want to measure more, measure the root causes that impact the quality of the outcome. To crystallize the idea here, it’s possible to have an excellent staffing department, meaning that it provides the best candidates any manager can even imagine, even though your staffing professionals may not be rated as the friendliest. In that case, keep doing what you are doing! Of course it would be better to be seen as friendly as well, but this is only a “nice to have.” Historically speaking, we have been very good at measuring our friendliness, without even asking if it matters. Clearly then, separating completely what should be included in a quality survey is critical. We are focusing on the quality of the outcome only. We can follow up with questions to understand the drivers of this quality, but let’s not dilute our quest. To guarantee that, ask yourself, after every question you pose, how does it impact the measurement of quality? One Question One question remains. Now that we are sure you will keep your focus on quality, how do you start? We have outlined several examples of surveys that can be used to measure quality in our quality of hire report but the one we prefer ó and one of the simplest ó is the probability that you would rehire the individual in question. Companies that linked detailed skill requirements agreed upon by recruiters and managers to their quality survey have not wasted their efforts. For instance, if you sourced a candidate with intellectual property expertise (preferably from within your industry), it is good to understand at the granular level if you delivered that well. In other words, a specific feedback at the level of the skills and qualifications requested for the job is a good practice. Nonetheless, this can make the process cumbersome and also have many managers look at the questionnaire with glazed eyes, muttering to themselves about another long, useless form to fill out. To make the process less painful and still gain 80% of the benefit, we recommend starting very simply. The question to ask is, “Would you hire this employee again?” Make use of a grading scale in your responses, so you can have an overall gradation of your different answers and base level by manager. That answer to that one question will put you a long way towards assessing the quality of your hires.

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