Employers: Setting Clear Expectations for New Hires Saves You Money

Posted by Des Sinkevich on April 25, 2019

High employee turnover is a growing issue in a myriad of industries, from manufacturing to retail, and can cost a company over 30% of annual wages per vacant position. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that it takes forty-two days, on average, to fill an open position and the cost-per-hire hovers around $4,129. Recruiting and retaining quality candidates is a priority for employers and, in order to find top talent that will offer a return on their investment, some are using a sense of exclusivity to cull the herd of applicants. However, in order to hire and keep employees who are passionate about what they do and who will grow with the company, transparency and inclusivity are a must. "Find a reason to hire a candidate," Marie Davis, Penn Foster's Director of National Employer Partnerships, says, "not a reason to turn them away."

Transparency during the hiring process can have a positive impact on retention rates

In a recent interview, Marie breaks down why hiring managers should emphasize transparency in the hiring process.

Penn Foster: When employers are searching for talented new hires, what is the number one thing they can do to source as many qualified applicants for the role as possible?

Marie: Remove questions that prevent applicants from completing the process. Many recruiting teams have the ability to track at which point there is an increase in drop-off rates during the application process. That's the point of no return, when a company loses a candidate by creating perceived barriers that shouldn't exist so early in the process. Recruiters and HR hiring managers should continuously evaluate their application statistics to assess what questions are preventing potentially terrific applicants from moving forward.

Some other barriers that could stall talented hires from applying include:

  • Requesting specific previous work experience. While pertaining mostly to entry-level positions, requiring a certain amount of previous work experience turns away so many talented, motivated, ready-to-work applicants. There may be candidates who've completed a skilled trades program, who have the skills and the desire to work, that are taking themselves out of consideration before they even speak with someone at the company.
  • Emphasizing particular scheduling requirements or availability before speaking with a candidate. This is a great "excuse" for hiring managers not to move forward with a candidate. However, it also prevents a one-on-one conversation with applicants to assess whether or not that person is a terrific fit for the role despite the schedule. Schedules can change or there may be certain circumstances that need to be explained in person, but hiring managers don't give the applicant a chance to talk through what is on their application.
  • Unnecessary assessments. There are some jobs that do require an assessment of skills prior to scheduling an interview, such as certain skilled trades roles. That makes sense and is necessary to make sure potential employees are able to be successful based on his or her abilities. However, asking applicants to take personality quizzes or behavioral assessments prior to an interview takes the responsibility of hiring and making an informative decision away from the hiring manager without actually taking the time to know the applicant's strengths. When these assessments are part of the initial application process, there's a greater chance qualified candidates will back out of the process entirely.

Penn Foster: What do many hiring managers get wrong about the qualifications they want their applicants to possess?

Marie: Within every company, there are employees who exemplify the meaning of "top performer." These employees have unique stories as to what makes them valuable within a company and how they achieved their current success. It's important for HR teams and hiring managers to dig deeper to find common traits and characteristics of these individuals and build qualifications around the makeup of their current top performing employees. When managers think about what qualifications or characteristics they are looking for, they should ask themselves the following:

  • What was this top performer's background, training, and experience when they were hired?
  • Was most of their advancement and progression a result of internal support, training, and guidance, or did they already possess the skills before being hired?
  • What characteristics do all top performers at the company have in common?

By turning an eye inward to examine these solid and valuable employees, companies can remove the barriers in the hiring process that prevent talented applicants from moving forward. The responsibility of creating leaders within the company is then shared with managers and supervisors, not just the reliance on potential hires having the skills prior to being hired.

Penn Foster: How can employers develop job descriptions that clearly articulate what's expected for the role?

Marie: Involve those that are actually doing the job, along with their front-line supervisors. In all job descriptions, it's essential to share what skills are needed to be successful in the position, but so is sharing how the company is involved in ensuring a new hire is set up for success in that position from day one. While open positions can be listed with the same exact title, companies should strive to make it more personal and more specific to their needs and include the specific career pathways available within the job description to ensure the company stands out.

Important things that should be in an impactful job description include:

  • Type of work environment
  • Tasks to be completed
  • This doesn't have to be in-depth, but offer an overview of the typical activities during the work day
  • Expectations and definitions of success within the open position
  • Types of support, training, and potential for advancement within the position and company
  • Short, but interesting information to build curiosity to push a potential applicant to actually apply

Penn Foster: Without taking into account a specific industry, what skills are important for applicants to possess in any role? What skills can be learned over time?

Marie: In any position, soft skills and developed communication skills are important. In fact, for some positions, skills attainment is something that can be taught through on-the-job training. Something that has stuck with me for years is a comment from a Financial Aid Director who was hiring new financial aid officers for his college. He said, "We need to hire social workers and teachers, people who care about others. We can always teach them the financial aid process."

Soft skills, customer service, and problem solving are critical to success in numerous positions, while certain processes can be taught through training once hired.

Penn Foster: What impact does being transparent about the skills they're searching for have on the number of applicants an employer will get to an open position? Should that make a difference to how the company recruits new hires?

Marie: Companies should look internally in various departments, like human resources or management, to decide what they are willing to provide in training and development before listing the skills they're seeking in new candidates. For example, if a small company needs someone skilled and experienced in construction or roofing who can jump directly into projects without additional support or training, the company needs to be upfront about that in the job description. By not being transparent about the level of skill needed, the new hire may not be able to confidently complete the tasks assigned and time has been wasted on unproductive interviews.

Another example? A larger company ramping up for roofing season has the flexibility and the human resources to provide additional training to entry-level roofers with minimal experience. The expectations are set ahead of time regarding how many less-experienced hires will be partnered with current employees. They are willing to take time to hire pre-season and provide the additional training before the company's busy season comes to set up the entry-level hires for success.

Penn Foster: How honest is too honest? Is there a limit to how transparent a company should be in the hiring process?

Marie: If a company is growing and needs to hire a significant amount of employees to expand, that should be mentioned. Being too selective or out of reach will turn applicants away. It goes back to inclusivity. Example: Our company is looking to interview and hire candidates with traditional and non-traditional work experience who have the drive, general skill sets, and perseverance to impact business and support our team.

Get applicants excited about the company and the positions advertised. They become your biggest advocates to other potential applicants.

Penn Foster: Can a lack of complete transparency in the hiring process effect overall retention once the person is hired? How can this impact an employer's productivity and revenue goals?

Marie: With high demand for any and all workers across several industries, companies cannot afford to hire employees under "false pretenses." Applicants have options and aren't worried about leaving for another company soon after being hired if they believe the role doesn't match the job description they were hired for at the time.

Employers need to go above and beyond in setting the new hire up for success from onboarding forward. If employees leave at any time during training or right after training, productivity suffers, and hiring costs sky rocket since that one person's actual recruitment and training costs didn't see any return on investment.

On another note, the new hire's experiences can make or break recruitment efforts and campaigns just based upon word of mouth or social media. Glassdoor and other channels are direct connections with millions of others seeking jobs. A candidate's interviewing experience and/or hiring experience has a major impact on whether your applicant pool increases or decreases.

Investing in upskilling and workforce development can help a company grow

Aside from job and company transparency, which make a significant impact in an era where informed applicants research their potential future employers (7/10 agree that if there's no information about a company's reputation online, they automatically distrust them), giving employees the opportunity to rise up in the company through internal hiring and upskilling can make a difference. Career development is a common reason good workers become dissatisfied and leave their current workplace for other opportunities. By offering honesty in the hiring process, coupled with a developed upskilling and training program, hiring managers can see a return on investment with each new hire.

Recommended for you: 5 Ways You Can Retain Employees You Upskill