HR Hero Line

Does your organization suffer from ‘hiring snooze’?

by Samuel D. Kerr

We’ve all heard the common saying “You snooze, you lose.” Put another way, if you don’t pay attention and do something right away, someone else will do it before you can and enjoy the benefit. Taking too long to complete the hiring process can have the same effect. 

Laws that may come into play
Employers must make efforts to avoid legal pitfalls during the entire hiring process. For example, job postings must not be written in such a way that they appear to discriminate against candidates in protected classes (i.e., based on their race, religion, place of origin, gender, age, or disability).

Likewise, the interview itself can create legal problems. Asking a job candidate if he owns a vehicle to determine whether he will be able to get to work may lead to accusations of discriminatory hiring practices. Similarly, asking a job candidate about any past knee pain and associated medical treatment in an attempt to determine if he can stand on a concrete sales floor all day would be inappropriate.

Even making an offer of employment can lead to legal problems. Imagine an employer offering a female job candidate a position at a lower rate of pay than a male job candidate was offered for the same position.

Some of the federal laws that employers should keep in mind during the recruiting and hiring process include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which covers employers with at least 15 employees and protects against discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, and religion;
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), which was incorporated by amendment into Title VII to clarify that pregnancy and related conditions are considered a subset of “gender” for discrimination law purposes and prohibits employers from treating pregnant women any less favorably than other employees who have medical conditions that similarly limit their ability or availability to work;
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which covers employers with at least 20 employees and prohibits age-based discrimination against people who are 40 or older;
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which covers employers with at least 15 employees and protects against discrimination based on a disability, the perception of a disability, or an association with someone who has a disability;
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is intended to ensure the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of consumer reporting agencies;
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2009 (GINA), which covers employers with at least 15 employees and prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information as well as gathering, using, and disclosing genetic information in the context of employment relationships;
  • Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which covers employers with at least four employees and protects against discrimination based on national origin or citizenship;
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. § 525), which applies to all employers and prohibits discrimination based on a history of bankruptcy or bankruptcy claim filing status; and
  • Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. § 1981), which covers all employers with at least one employee or anyone who hires another person to perform any kind of work or services for pay (thus, it applies to independent contractors) and protects against discrimination based on race or color.

Avoid unwarranted delays
A drawn-out hiring cycle may also create issues, including damage to your organization’s reputation. Recent surveys suggest that the time it takes to make a hiring decision has increased significantly since 2010. In fact, according to a study conducted by Glassdoor Economic Research, the process of getting hired in the United States in 2010 took 12.6 days. In 2014, that window of time almost doubled to 22.9 days.

The ability to secure a qualified workforce is critical for any company. Yet hiring delays can affect your ability to find good candidates. Consider the following scenario.

Marty, an HR generalist at a midsize construction company, posted an announcement for a carpentry position yesterday after he received a signed internal job order from the hiring manager four days ago. The posting will appear in the local newspaper as well as with several online job placement services. While no closing date for applications has been set, Marty estimates that he will look at the applications the company receives in about three weeks.

Frank, an excellent carpenter who recently left his position with a construction company in another community when his wife was transferred, sees the job ad online. Not wanting to waste any time getting back to work, he submits his application within two days.

Several days later, Frank notices another ad for a carpentry positon with a competing construction company that pays a similar wage. Ten days later, he accepts an offer from the competitor without ever hearing from Marty. After screening Frank’s application a week later, Marty calls his cell phone and leaves a message.

Sound familiar? Without specific deadlines for hiring a new carpenter, Marty’s company has exacerbated its difficulty in finding and retaining qualified employees. Some employers may decide to take additional time in an effort to make a “good hire” by gathering more information about candidates, extending the scope of interviews, or simply lengthening the time frame for considering final candidates. The likely result is that top candidates will be excluded from consideration because they have moved forward with another employer.

Other negative consequences resulting from a slow hiring process may include:

  • Reduced productivity. Vacant positions don’t help you get your widgets made or provide services to customers.
  • Higher cost of finding qualified employees. Undue delays could actually cost you more in wages and benefits to compete with other employers with streamlined hiring processes that are reaching good candidates quicker.
  • Lower morale. A slow hiring process can also affect morale if current employees must shoulder a greater workload to account for the vacant position.
  • Damage to your reputation. Given the speed at which news travels these days, you can ill afford to become the subject of social media darts directed at your inability to hire qualified candidates in an efficient manner.

Gauging the efficiency of your hiring process
Organizational leaders may not even realize the impact slow hiring processes have on their operations. Some organizations may try to combat “hiring snooze” by developing general metrics that track their time to hire. However, using general metrics may cloak the true reasons for hiring delays. For example, measuring the “time to fill” a position will provide little usable information because most organizations involve a number of employees who work in departments other than HR in the hiring process. The business office may be required to approve each opening before it’s advertised and OK the advertising expenses.

To properly monitor the amount of time it takes to fill a position, you should review the entire hiring process to ensure it’s streamlined and reduces hiring delays while still serving the needs of your enterprise. Having a hiring manager interview the top three candidates one week and her supervisor conducting follow-up interviews the next week might not serve your organization’s needs and will certainly add to hiring delays. Your hiring process should be as efficient as your other work flow processes.

Once you’ve reviewed your hiring process (including assigning primary responsibilities to the internal departments involved in each hiring step), you can establish the necessary metrics that will provide data that allow you to adequately monitor the overall hiring process. These metrics should be built around the various stages of the hiring process and designed to answer the following types of questions:

  • How much time elapsed from the day the position came open to the date the organization began advertising for it? This process may include approval from another department (e.g., the business office approving advertising expenses). To avoid this type of delay, you could establish a rule for the advertising parameters for each position—e.g., listing all sales positions with an approved list of employment services. That will eliminate the requirement to route approvals each time a position opens.
  • How much time elapsed between advertising the job and identifying a pool of candidates for initial interviews? Hiring managers should be actively engaged in establishing timelines to reduce lags in choosing the top candidates. Some employers avoid delays by continuously advertising for certain positions to establish a pool of candidates to fill open positions.
  • How much time elapsed from completion of the initial interviews until the hiring manager made the hiring decision? Setting aside blocks of time to interview top candidates prevents scheduling delays. If second interviews are needed, having a preset schedule will help you avoid unnecessary delays. Also, the schedule can include a time frame in which the hiring manager will make a final decision.
  • How much time elapsed from the date the hiring manager made the offer of employment until the final candidate accepted the offer? If a candidate is interviewing with other employers, she may request additional time to consider her options. You can control this step in the process by setting a firm deadline for the candidate to inform you of her decision.
  • How much time elapsed from the date the final candidate accepted the position until her first day of employment? Maintaining streamlined onboarding processes will help you reduce delays in this hiring step.

Bottom line
You can establish additional metrics to meet the specific needs of your organization. Whichever metrics are built into your hiring process, it’s essential to continuously review the data they produce. Most important, if the data indicate a pattern of hiring delays, you should be quick to make the necessary adjustments to avoid hiring snooze.

Samuel D. Kerr is an attorney with Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, P.C., practicing in the firm’s Rapid City, South Dakota, office. He may be contacted at skerr@lynnjackson.com.