Quarsh Blog

Is recruitment taking up too much management time?

Why is this a problem?

Time that managers spend on recruitment is time they’re not spending on their day jobs. This is often a metric that’s overlooked in terms of hard data, but that many companies “feel” is probably an issue, if only because whenever the subject of recruitment comes up at a board meeting, it’s met by a collective and pained sigh. It’s a problem because, on the whole, managers aren’t trained to recruit, and often aren’t the best people to select new people for their team. The scale of the problem very much depends on what recruitment tasks your managers are carrying out. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to quantify, and there are lots of things you can do to reduce it.

What will happen if you get it right?

Recruitment can be hugely distracting, especially if it’s done infrequently, and has a heavy weight of associated admin that needs to be both accurate and timely. With most of the work done centrally, you’ll not only liberate your manager’s time, you’ll improve the quality of hires as recruitment becomes more consistent, and you’ll also improve your reputation as an employer and the quality of candidates will go up too.

Hold on...are you saying managers shouldn’t be recruiting for their own teams?

I’m not suggesting that team members should be selected by someone else with no management input, more that the early stages of sifting and assessment could be carried out by someone who is dedicated to finding the right cultural as well as technical fit for the business, and also has a focus on what the company needs over the long term as well as immediately. Managers often hire in their own image, which, if your business is also suffering from cultural problems or has a high churn, might not always be the best outcome.

Useful tip

Draw up a recruitment flowchart and assign time to each stage. Don’t forget that it takes longer to read a CV if you’re not doing it all the time. Work out which parts can be done by HR or someone in administration, and make sure managers can see the benefits so they’re on board and not tempted to do their own thing.

What is the impact on our business?

There are a few distinct impacts. First, as mentioned, managers aren’t doing their day jobs, which can have some serious knock on effects, especially if they’re involved in anything revenue-generating or strategic. Second, as time goes on, they’ll either start to get frustrated and make a snap decision or agonise over whether to make an appointment. Third, if recruitment isn’t a focus, unsuccessful candidates might not be responded to adequately.

How can I analyse how much time is being spent?

In part three of this series, we analyse time to hire, which is a great starting point. In summary, take each part of the recruitment workflow, from briefing agencies and writing candidate materials through interviewing, feedback and offer management. Assign each task a likely timeframe (eg reading a CV takes about 2 minutes) and don’t forget the hidden time – such as feeding back to agencies, emailing unsuccessful applicants - and then extrapolate across the number of hires made over a year, or a month if you have relatively flat hiring patterns. You can correlate this with salary for an associated cost, and then with a bit more effort you might be able to correlate this with opportunity cost.

How should managers be involved in recruitment?

The best thing you can do is to make their lives as easy as possible. Many managers find recruitment both painful and slightly intimidating, especially the interviewing and assessment part. Ideally, a manager’s role in recruitment should be limited to a final interview with the final candidates, three or four at the most, with all of the pre-screening and profiling done already. An assessment pack summarising the results of the recruitment process so far is ideal.

How can I change things?

The most difficult environments to change are those in which managers are wholly responsible for their own recruitment, and who just go out to recruitment agencies they’ve worked with before every time they have a vacancy. Give managers an effective and reliable alternative, though, and they’ll thank you for taking an irritating and time-consuming process out of their hands. If they don’t, ask why – maybe they haven’t got enough to do…

Useful tips

Create templates for frequently used documents and revisit them regularly. Provide interview training and competency frameworks with scoring criteria to make assessment both comparable over multiple recruitment exercises and easier to execute. Include sample topics to cover during interview. Get to the bottom of why managers don’t want to change their processes. With enough information, you’ll be able to help them come around to your way of thinking or address any deeper issues. Introduce assessment methods such as online profiling and assessment centres to give managers more “meat” to analyse, and get your recruitment partners – whether in house or external – to provide summary documents on why a candidate is right.