Recruitment and selection
The importance of good recruitment and selection
Recruiting people who are wrong for the organisation can lead to increased labour turnover, increased costs for the organisation, and lowering of morale in the existing workforce. Such people are likely to be discontented, unlikely to give of their best, and end up leaving voluntarily or involuntarily when their unsuitability becomes evident. They will not offer the flexibility and commitment that many organisations seek. Managers and supervisors will have to spend extra time on further recruitment exercises, when what is needed in the first place is a systematic process to assess the role to be filled, and the type of skills and abilities needed to fill it.
Most recruitment systems will be simple, with stages that can be followed as a routine whenever there is a vacancy to be filled, and which can be monitored and adapted in the light of experience.
This booklet describes the main features of such systems, and other related issues. Systems should be:
- efficient - cost effective in methods and sources
- effective - producing enough suitable candidates without excess and ensuring the identification of the best fitted for the job and the organisation
- fair - ensuring that right through the process decisions are made on merit alone.
The importance of fairness
The employer has the legal responsibility to ensure that no unlawful discrimination occurs in the recruitment and selection process on the grounds of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, and religion or belief. Equality of opportunity is an integral part of the recruitment and selection process, and to this end employers may offer training and encouragement to any under-represented groups. Examples include pre-application assistance for those who do not have English as their first language, or management development training for women where they are under-represented in management grades (1).
Job advertisements may also state that the employer encourages applications from those groups that are under- represented in the organisation.
Employees and their representatives will also have an interest in fair, non-discriminatory recruitment and selection policies, and they should be fully consulted when new procedures are introduced or existing procedures reviewed. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Employment Equality Regulations (covering sexual orientation, religion or belief, and age) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 set out the legal requirements for employers.
Organisations should be aware that the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 not only make it unlawful to discriminate against disabled individuals without justifiable reason but also require employers to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace or working arrangements. Detailed guidance is available in the Code of Practice on the elimination of discrimination in employment. This can be obtained from The Stationery Office (2).
The Acas Equality Direct helpline (tel: 08456 00 34 44) can give advice on the best ways of implementing an equal opportunities policy.
Human resource planning
Recruiters need to keep abreast of changes in the labour market to ensure that their recruitment efforts are not wasted or directed at too small a pool of labour. Skill shortages may occur unexpectedly and recruitment and training processes need to be kept flexible. It is a good idea for any organisation to plan its labour force requirements, matching available supply against forecast demand. A skills audit of existing staff will increase knowledge of the skills the organisation has available and those which are lacking, and thus help pinpoint areas for future development.
A human resource plan need not be highly complicated. A straightforward plan will help organisations to:
- assess future recruitment needs
- formulate training programmes
- develop promotion and career development policies
- anticipate and, where possible, avoid redundancies
- develop a flexible workforce to meet changing requirements
- control staff costs whilst ensuring salaries remain competitive
- assess future requirements for capital equipment, technology and premises.
Management is responsible for producing the human resource plan, senior management for supporting it. Implementation is likely to be most effective if it carries the support of the workforce, normally achieved through consultation with trade union or other employee representatives.
Producing a human resource plan involves:
- forecasting staffing requirements against business objectives
- assessing the available supply of people to meet those requirements
- matching available supply against forecast demand (6).
Information on current employees, labour turnover and the labour market will help in the formulation of the plan. The Learning and Skills Council (visit www.lsc.gov.uk/)will be able to provide general information on the local labour market in England and on the skills balance available, as will the local Jobcentres. Local Education Authorities can assist with information on the numbers of school and college leavers.
Labour markets and the labour force
In times of changing labour markets, organisations need to adapt their recruitment and retention policies to allow them to compete more effectively for staff, particularly those with skills that are in short supply. The offer of training and development opportunities is often a strong attraction to potential recruits, and here again the Learning and Skills Council can offer advice and assistance. Jobcentres, which administer Government training schemes are another source of advice and potential recruits.
If recruitment is difficult in certain jobs or skills, consideration may need to be given to re-designing the job to make it a more attractive prospect - perhaps by offering a greater variety of tasks, or increased self-management. Employers also need to encourage a good 'work-life balance' within the organisation by giving consideration to more flexible ways of working. Employees with young and disabled children and the carers if adults, have the right to request flexible working arrangements - including job-sharing, part-time working, flexi-time, working from home/teleworking and school time contracts - and employers must have a good business reason for rejecting any application. Another possibility is to introduce some more flexible working arrangements, perhaps job-sharing, part-time working, flexi-time, working from home/teleworking, and school term-time contracts. These variations on the 'standard' forms of working will open the vacancy to people who might otherwise be unable to consider it. Equally, the offer of assistance with domestic care arrangements and costs can prove highly attractive to people with these responsibilities. Many companies are now offering 'family-friendly' policies. These are often developed in conjunction with local Business Links and Chambers of Commerce, which can provide examples of good practice.
The balance of the labour force is changing, with some increase in the numbers of women, young people, and most particularly older workers available for work. Employers are beginning to give serious consideration to the employment of older workers, and a voluntary Code of Practice to counteract ageism in employment has been introduced by the Government (7). Jobcentres will not accept vacancies with age limits.
The value of labour market information is that it gives employers some forecasts from which they can decide how best to plan for future recruitment. Should the organisation make a positive move to attract older workers? What might best be done to counter any shortage of potential recruits with particular skills? Should training new and existing workers move higher up the priority list in the firm?
Should the organisation make the introduction of family-friendly policies a priority so as to attract the widest range of suitable staff? Looking at all the options means that recruitment will be better targeted and therefore more efficient and effective.