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Six Steps to Improving Quality of Hire

"Quality of hire" is a hot topic for many talent and HR leaders. Companies are beginning to shift from productivity metrics (time to fill, reqs per recruiter, etc.) to quality metrics - specifically, how good are the people we hire, over time? Here are six steps to creating a sustainable, measurable approach to quality of hire.

1. Identify your organization’s mission critical roles. This might sound like a big step in and of itself, but it doesn’t need to be. You can identify these roles with a high degree of accuracy by gathering the right few people together and asking them to identify those roles which are most important to your company’s ability to achieve its business strategy. Which existing roles, when vacant, cause the company to immediately lose value/money? What future skill sets or roles will we most dependent upon? By discussing, debating and agreeing on these roles, you can pinpoint your quality of hire efforts in a very focused way – and then build from there.

2. Determine what “great” looks like in these roles.
This might take more discussion and analysis, but it shouldn’t be overly cumbersome. Use available data and the perspective of leaders to differentiate the performance of those currently in mission critical roles. Some common indicators to consider include:
• Performance review scores
• Talent/leadership review ratings
• Sales data
• Compensation data
• 360° Feedback or other behavioral assessment results
What distinguishes the ‘great’ performers from all the rest? What results set them apart? If you can’t quickly identify those who are considered ‘great’ based on the results, then imagine what indicators would exist if you had more top performers in these roles.

3. Identify similarities among top performers.
Now that you’ve culled the pack, what behaviors, skills, experiences and knowledge – if any - are common among them? To get at this level of information, you’ll need employee-specific backgrounds, education, certifications, prior jobs, etc. Gathering this information and analyzing it is like building a 100-piece puzzle. It takes some time and attention, but it’s not that hard.

4. Create plans for sourcing this talent.
You’ll likely discern common traits among top performers in these roles. For example, if you’ve determined that superstars in operations roles have been promoted from within, have a PMP certification and have worked for at least two years in another part of the business, then you’ve discovered the trail of breadcrumbs. Your sourcing plan might involve researching existing employees in other parts of the business. Or former employees now working for a competitor or who left several years ago to raise children . . . you get the idea.

5. Implement your sourcing plans.
This may be the hardest step of all, because it involves resources you might not have immediately available. But resources are needed to find potential candidates who are more likely to fit the “superstar” bill. An experienced sourcer should get to work researching and cold-calling targets. Remember, these are your most mission-critical roles and are therefore worthy of the investment of time and resources.

6. Track your hiring success.
Finally, we’ve arrived at the quality of hire conundrum that so many HR leaders seek to solve. How do you track your hiring successes? Once again, there is a spectrum of approaches for assessing quality of hire. Because we lean toward the practical, we’ll highlight some of the data points that we believe tell a simple yet compelling story about the quality of the hires your company is making.

Two notes:
1. We believe that it’s essential to measure these data points over time – not limited to a period of time such as 90 days or six months
2. The following list doesn’t intend to suggest that this data is easy to come by – or to capture on a regular basis. But it’s a good place to start, especially if you are beginning with a very specific role or job family.
Quality of Hire Indicators:
• Employee attrition
• Performance ratings
• Hiring manager survey data related to employee performance
• Deemed “promotable” / identified as a successor to a higher level job
• Compensation
• Rate of promotion
• 360 degree feedback results
• Recognition received (HiPo, Emerging Talent, Nominations, etc.)
• Productivity
• Absenteeism

Adopting a quality of hire mindset is not simple but beginning the dialog, and taking steps to measure it, is a critical way for HR and TA to add value to the business. And, as you can tell from this article, it's an on-going process, not a one-time activity.

Talent Management Means Talent Retention

All signs indicate that it’s finally happened. Employee turnover is on the rise. For years, with the economic challenges our country was facing, folks just decided to stay put. Regardless of job satisfaction level, people just were not shifting jobs. And now, with the (fingers crossed) upturn in the economy and in consumer confidence levels, those employees who were less than thrilled in their career situation, have decided to look for the greener grass.

A survey by OI Partnersindicated that half of companies reported higher turnover this year versus last year, and are still waiting for the other shoe to drop before the end of 2013. More troubling, these companies reported that high potentials attrite at a rate of 34% and middle and senior managers turning at rates of 27% and 29% respectively. Looking ahead? 78% of respondents say they are worried about losing high potentials in the future.

All this attrition means wasted money, inefficiency and often, back-pedaling on strategy and business results. Other interesting findings in the study include:
- More than half of the firms surveyed intended to grow their staff
- 70% reported that “retention” was their top talent-related concern
- Increased efforts to retain high potentials include more coaching, compensation, flexible scheduling, among others
- Improved selection, training and development efforts are seen as way to reduce front-line turnover in the future
So what’s the bottom line? Companies need to place talent retention as a top priority moving forward. And if you haven’t already started identifying who your top talent is within your organization, you’re behind the eight ball. And make sure your managers know: the days of "be glad you have a place to work" are over. Employees are back in a position of power, and need to be enticed and encouraged to stay where they are.

Your talent management and HR teams are key to building the processes and tools necessary to drive targeted employee retention. And senior leaders are on point to model the right behaviors to demonstrate effective leadership skills throughout the company. This two-pronged approach is necessary to reducing turnover. In turn, managers need the proper training and tools to understand their role in coaching and developing, and how to identify and nurture employees’ strengths while developing their skills.

Integrating Talent Acquisition and Talent Management

An interesting option to consider, when evaluating the merging of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management, is adding a Talent Advisor to the mix. The Talent Advisor typically joins the TA team as a talent planning strategist - a hiring manager influencer – and a talent advisor. Their role is to act as the talent gatekeeper into the organization by helping hiring managers determine what is needed, in what quantity and when. They, in turn, work with the sourcing team to identify the right avenues for finding such talent. They then guide the hiring managers to make the best selection decision based on the business need. If a manager’s hiring preference doesn't jibe with what is best for the company, they'd push back in a data-based, objective way. They'd also be involved in managing and scanning the current talent base for rising leaders to be called upon.

So if you have Talent Advisors, what then becomes of HR Generalists? Good question. If your Shared Service Center has taken over much of the traditional HR Generalist responsibilities (e.g., benefits, payroll, employee relations, etc.), then the Talent Advisor role might actually evolve from the old school HR Generalist position. Because, after all, isn’t talent all that’s really left to manage in the business?

Granted, a Talent Advisor is a niche role to fill. But incumbents could be culled from your star HR Generalist ranks. And by doing so, this Talent Advisor role could prove to be a perfect merging of the Talent Acquisition and Talent Management skills needs to propel your organization's hiring function to the next level. Our pals across the pond at Recruiter Magazine identified the profile of an ideal Talent Advisor as:

• Process Expert—able to navigate the organization's processes and tools to fill open positions
• Pipeline Manager—aware of talent activity in the industry, able to build relationships with candidates and skilled at matching candidate with opening
• Strategic advisor—leverages deep business knowledge and experience to guide hiring managers
They noted that the best-performing recruiters act as pipeline managers and strategic advisers—e.g., a Talent Advisor. Trick is, they found, only 19% of recruiters today qualify as talent advisors per their research.