Hiring Challenges – Isn’t it our own making?

Hiring Challenges – Isn’t it our own making?

I have recently been invited to speak on a panel discussing the increasing trend in our country in the area of employment. There are millions of young graduates looking for jobs – most of them unsuccessfully – and organizations constantly complain they can’t find qualified employees in this market. The organizers had told me before hand that my co-panelists and I would be free to share our personal experience regarding the issue at hand. The facilitator did ask us relevant questions to frame our thoughts. Overall, it was a great opportunity to share my perspectives while at the same time to learn about specific challenges and creative solutions organizations have had in this area.

Coming back to my office after the panel discussion, I’ve started contemplating how candidates and organizations constantly shoot themselves in the foot when they approach their respective goals. Take for example, the senior manager who is constantly late for final selection interviews. As an interviewer, she doesn’t see why candidates would take offence if they wait for her for an hour or two. 20 years ago, when I was a candidate, I wouldn’t have minded waiting. In fact, I’d arrive at least an hour before the time of the appointment and I’d be ready to wait for another one before I even set my foot in the office. Now… it’s a different story. First of all, I’ve developed some self-respect but I digress. I’m also on the other side of the table.

Because I do interviews for a living and I know that good candidates can have their pick when it comes to their next employer, I’d do everything in my power to be on time for an interview. Candidates are interviewed to see if they are fit – qualification wise and culturally – to the position and organization. What employers often forget is that candidates are also” interviewing” the company/organization –their potential future employers- to see if we are really worth the trouble of a 9:00 – 5:00 grind.

One of my past clients maintains a strictly “no smiles, no greetings” policy to his current employees. Then, he wonders why his company’s employees leave for another job – within months of getting hired – for a small salary increase. I explained that people don’t like to work in unpleasant office environments; the blank look on his face tells me I’m just wasting my time. My last discussion with this client included areas of improvement ranging from recognition of employees to asking for candid feedback – I wish all of them a whole lot of luck

Another client – who is doing everything in terms of improving employee engagement and retention – has annual employee turnover rates which are lower than most. The company is growing at a healthy pace but current economic reality has meant it wouldn’t be able to afford a generous bonus or salary increase at the end of the Ethiopian fiscal year. The HR manager is worried that this might derail all the good work they have been doing with employees. Yes, it might. But employees are not dumb. They will appreciate it if management is simply committed to the principle of treating them as adult family members; involving them in the discussion regarding the challenge and communicating the way forward candidly. Why wouldn’t the company have a regular staff meeting – town hall style – to openly discuss business matters when things go well and when they go off-track is beyond me.

So, I have my job cut out for me! HR consulting is fun and full of fury. I just have to take it one day at a time.

Next entry would be the other side of the coin – employees and prospective employees!

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