Development of a transparent employment process that results in not only the best person for the position being appointed but also keeps that person by making the company accountable for all promises and, or perceptions made or implied during the process.
The issue of getting the right person for the job affects both employer and employee. Since “costs associated with recruiting, selecting, and training new employees often exceed 100% of the annual salary for the position being filled” (Cascio, 2006) it pays for the employer to get it right the first time. For the employee, the link between their “quality of life” and “working conditions and environment” (Akranavičiūtė & Ruževičius, 2007) make it equally important for them to correctly understand the environment in which they are applying to work.
While a company has access to an applicant’s CV, qualifications and references, how much does the applicant really know about the company that he or she is applying at? Also how much of the good-will, and implied potential will actually be carried over from the employment interview to the work environment should the applicant be appointed? The less than two-way transparent interview process leaves the applicant in a situation similar to that of Russian roulette; after starting in the position, he or she may discover that this position is not what it was claimed to be or what they thought it might be. The end result will be an unhappy employee who distrusts their employer. Not only can this lead to them being inefficient, or even working against the organisation (Robinso et al., 1995) but it can also result in them leaving the company (Mc Shane & Travaglione, 2007).
Given the value of an organisation’s workforce, it pays to not only get the right person and then to keep them, but to also ensure their wellbeing. As Nelson and McCann (2010) point out, this is especially important for knowledge workers (e.g. management positions). Over and above this, it would be an added bonus if new employees not only started motivated but continued to be so in the months and years ahead.
As for the psychological contract, there is a growing liability of companies abroad who fail to provide the employment experience that was promised at the time of hiring. Claims of misrepresentation and false promises are being successfully made against employers in “Truth-in-Hiring” lawsuits (Wren, Clark and Deriso, 2006).
 Someone “who produces information that other knowledge workers use in the performance of their jobs” (Moon, 2009)
 Using Rousseau’s (1989) definition a psychological contract results from the employee’s belief regarding the terms and conditions of employment as understood from the exchanges that took place at the interview.
The solution to the problem is to create two-way accountability that begins with the employment process and (should the applicant be appointed) continues to successive performance reviews. For this process to work, the company needs to be seen by the public as having a fair, open and honest culture. This needs to be further reaffirmed by any employment agents. Applicants need to be able to ask any question of the interview board or current employees without having their application jeopardised.
It’s all very well for the employer to know everything about the applicant, but the applicant should be able to ask similar questions of the interview panel. For example:
- “What are the qualifications and experience of my manager?”
- “What is staff turnover like?”
- “Can I speak to some of your employee’s privately?”
Whether or not the third question is asked, the applicant could be invited to walk through the business and select random, private interviews with a prospective colleague or two.
Should the applicant be accepted, they should be asked to draft a document which lists the attitudes and implied statements that they gained from the interview. If the employer agrees with these sentiments then this would be added as an appendix to the employment contract, allowing these issues to be addressed at future performance reviews as the need arise. In this way the employer can be kept accountable for what was implied or promised i.e. the psychological contract can be honoured.
Depending on company size and, or number of applicants, given the possible extra time that this process may take, as well as the insight that the applicants may gain of the organisation, this process might only be applied to the second round of shortlisted applicants.
Based on some of the points mentioned above, the impact on both employer and employee should be positive for the following reasons:
- Applicants will have an accurate understanding of the environment in which they will be working in.
- The employer will have an accurate understanding of what is important to the employee , what drives them, and what their long term goals are.
- Employees should be happier and more fulfilled in their positions, which in turn would lead to a positive workforce.
- Motivated employees who know where they are going and the path they are taking.
- Open, two-way communication between employees and various levels of management.
- Positive branding for the company with respect to their valuing of people.
- Demand for positions at the company.
- Less staff turnover.
This approach should definitely result in high levels of turst and hence reduced fear. With employees fully undertanding their work enviroment, while knowing the support the organisation gives them, they will be able to confidently push their boundaries for the benefit of all affected. By keeping the company accountable for the employee's understandning of their work enviroment, power to control the conditions of work is shared between both employee and and employer. It is then an easy thing to move from "a command and control" approach of leadership, to one of "motivate and mentor".
- This will only work if the company truely values
- their staff.
- Decide to trial the process on a few advertised position.
- Workshop and brainstorm the idea with the interview team and senior management.
- Brief the affected department with the new process so that they are ready to meet and answer quesitons from applicants.
- Send out a brief letter or e-mail that not only invites the applicant to the interview but sets out the new objectives for the interview as well as the applicant's scope for investigating the workplace.
- Acurately minute the interview
- Initially, in order to get a feel for what sort of pscychological contracts might develop, have all applicants submit a brief as to their understanding of the work environement i.e. what they expect to put into it and what they expect to get out of it. Eventually, should the enitre process prove beneficial, only successful applicants would be asked to do this. Legal consultation will probably need to be taken with respect to including these as appendices to the employemnt contract. In the end, the biref might simply serve as a tool to negotiate terms and conditions of employement more throughly and clearly.
- Over the next two years, these trial applicants will need to be interviewed by an independent party to see if this sort of approach has made any really difference.
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Wren, A.O., Clark, L., and Deriso, M. (2006). Employer Beware:Truth-in-Hiring May Be the New Standard in Recruiting. Business Forum, 27(2).
My wife who continues to support me through my MBA expereience and who initiated the research into this topic.
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