Learning & Development, Recruiting

Open Hiring 101

We know the search for good talent is tough, but could you imagine hiring the first person who walked in the door and applied for a job? That’s basically the strategy one company has adopted in order to fill its vacant roles.hiring

The company is The Body Shop, and while that’s not entirely its hiring process, it is along those lines. In an article for Fast Company, Adele Peters breaks down The Body Shop’s hiring strategy. “This summer, the Body Shop will become the first large retailer to embrace a different approach, called ‘open hiring,’” she writes.

Peters goes on to elaborate more about what “open hiring” is. “When there’s an opening, nearly anyone who applies and meets the most basic requirements will be able to get a job, on a first-come, first-served basis,” she says. And this concept isn’t all that new.

Greyston Bakery—founded over 37 years ago in Yonkers, New York, by Bernie Glassman—has developed and fine-tuned this hiring strategy. The Greyston Foundation was then created to help build thriving communities through the practice and promotion of Open Hiring®. The main goal of the foundation is to help disadvantaged workers find jobs.

How Does Open Hiring Work?

According to the foundation’s website, “Open Hiring® is hiring with no questions asked, no resumes, no interviews, no background checks. It gives people who want to work, an opportunity to do that by replacing scrutiny with trust.”

Yes, you read that correctly! When implementing Open Hiring, you don’t have to conduct a formal interview, you don’t need to scan a résumé for prior experience, and you don’t have to conduct a background check. Jobseekers can simply walk in the door, answer three yes-or-no questions, and be hired on the spot (assuming there’s an open position).

Is There an ROI?

Greyston Bakery has been using this model for decades, and it says the proof of its success is in the pudding. “This revolutionary hiring practice enables us to supply 7 million pounds of brownies to Ben & Jerry’s and partner with Whole Foods Market. It is also what makes us one of B Corp’s top performing businesses, and why we continue to be ranked as one of Fast Company’s most innovative organizations,” touts the foundation’s website.

After consulting with Greyston and implementing this hiring strategy in 2019, The Body Shop saw a quick return on investment (ROI). Its distribution center saw a decrease in turnover rates—14% in November and 16% in December, compared with 2018, when the turnover rates were 38% in November and 43% in December.

In years prior, The Body Shop would work with up to three temp agencies to help fill vacant roles, but after implementing open hiring, it only had to work with one.

“At the Body Shop, the money saved in recruiting, screening résumés, interviews, and background checks will be redirected into training, employee benefits, and programs to support new employees with challenges such as transportation issues that can make it difficult for employees to get to work on time,” writes Peters.

This hiring strategy benefits not only the company but also jobseekers hired by the company. According to Peters, these workers were so thrilled to find a job and thankful for the opportunity to work. Seasonal workers were telling supervisors, “I’ve been struggling to find a job. This is one of the only places that would hire me, and I’m not going to mess this up.”

“When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it,” says Andrea Blieden, the general manager of The Body Shop for the United States. Throughout the summer, The Body Shop plans on rolling out this hiring strategy to all its locations ahead of the holiday rush.

How Can It Impact CX/EX?

For some employers, open hiring sounds like a great idea to fill vacant positions quickly, but when doing so, you must take other factors into consideration, like the impact these new hires will have on the customer experience (CX), as well as the experience of your existing workforce.

Increase in diversity and inclusion. “Open hiring practices bring a nontraditional approach to growing an organization’s workforce and the potential for positive impact on many levels, including diversity and inclusion,” says Derek Belch, Strivr CEO, in an e-mail to HR Daily Advisor.

“The open hiring strategy operates off of the premise that anyone who applies and meets the most basic job requirements (eligibility to work legally in the United States, physical ability to stand for 8 hours, and physical ability to lift heavy items) will get the job,” he says. “This means that people from a variety of backgrounds—those who may not have had relevant job experience or had other types of barriers—will have an opportunity to succeed in the workforce.”

Increase/change in training protocols. “While open hiring practices can certainly introduce employment advancements by lowering the barrier to entry to employment, it is yet to be seen what impact open hiring practices will have on employee performance and customer experience,” Belch says.

He suggests that companies using this hiring strategy will likely see an influx of employees who do not have prior industry experience or experience interfacing with customers, necessitating enhanced and accelerated training programs.

“Many current learning and development programs are based off of old hiring models that assume a certain level of experience and specific skill sets,” Belch adds. “Because of this, it will be important for companies to identify ways to provide engaging, safe, and scalable learning opportunities for employees joining under this open hiring model.”

Belch suggest this hiring strategy could pave the way for more virtual reality (VR)-based training investments, like giant retailers (such as Walmart) have implemented in the past.

VR-Based Immersive Learning Can Make Open Hiring Successful

“To ensure no disruption in customer service, companies will need to adequately prepare employees who may not have prior experience or skills in the role they are hired to perform,” Belch says. “It will be important to make sure new employees have the training and confidence in their skills to succeed. Customer-facing retail jobs are prime examples of this, as they require exceptional soft skills and knowledge of operational tasks that are extremely important in order to provide good service.”

“Immersive learning can help bridge the skills gap with open hiring,” suggests Belch. “Leveraging virtual reality, employees are able to learn both hard and soft skills in a ‘learn by doing’ training experience. They are fully immersed in real-world scenarios to get reps handling high-pressure situations that they may encounter in their roles in a low-risk yet realistic environment.”

“VR-based immersive learning has also been proven to keep employees more engaged, help them be better prepared, and aid them in developing new skills faster, all while shortening training times and reducing costs in a scalable way,” Belch adds.

If you are reluctant to try open hiring, keep in mind all the ways you can train new hires to be successful in their roles. As with any new hire, proper onboarding and continuous training will set these workers up for lifelong success with your business or organization. So, are you ready to hire the first person who walks in the door?