One of the greatest tragedies a business faces is putting competent employees into jobs where they are mostly likely to fail. As competent employees are positioned in jobs that they do not fit, their potential is utterly wasted. To ensure job success, job fit or job match should be taken into consideration. However, most human resource departments in businesses often overlook this issue as they allocate human capital.
The culture and organization structure of a business should be suitable for implementing its business strategies; thus, the culture and organization structure should be fit properly between the nature of their strategies and the individuals with the responsibility for their implementation. For instance, a manager who has been highly successful in managing a flourishing organization might not be the right person to manage it as time goes by. As such, the members of the human resources department must critically identify and hire the “right” person for a certain position. The members of the human resources department must be able to determine the characteristics of a suitable and desirable individual who would be fit for a specific position.
The complexity of the business environment necessitates constant consideration of changes in an organization both internal and external market-driven factors. Consequently, the success of staffing necessitates the identification of the types of positions to be filled or the hire types, how to integrate day-to-day staffing functions or the staffing processes, and how to establish staffing organizations or the staffing model in order to maximize the corporate value of the staffing strategy.
Take the case of the UnitedHealth Group (UHG). UHG is one of America’s most respected healthcare organizations, which is located in Minnesota. It serves more than 38 million Americans around the globe. Its annual revenues sum up to $24 billion with more than 31,000 employees.
In the fall of 2001, UHG began its implementation of a staffing management solution as it entered the pace of major outsourcing and automation initiative. UHG called its staffing management solution as “HR Direct.” (Schmitt and Chan, 1998) This initiative included the establishment of a centralized Staffing Services group with over 60 specialists who complemented its organizational boundaries. This newly formed group was involved in servicing more than 5,500 hiring managers in fulfilling 10,000 annual hires specifically in the ranks of technical, campus, executive, and professional. The UnitedHealth Group (UHG) considered external drivers, which included a decisive market shortage of healthcare professionals, a wide geographic dispersal of six diversified business areas with separate existing staffing processes, and a shrinking economy. Apart from complete reengineering of its human resources, the management of UHG has considered the reductions in time-to-fill as well as the cost per hire. It has also perceived the desire for a self-service process, which would eliminate paper works. The following are the objectives of UHG for its HR Direct initiative: (Schmitt and Chan, 1998)
- Move to self-service HR model
- Combat against market shortage of healthcare professionals
- Allow wide geographic dispersal of locations
- Reduce costs and time-to-fill, configure processes, and increase efficiency in operations through specialization and automation
In addition, the UnitedHealth Group was able to save at least $23.2 million in the first two years of its HR Direct initiative implementation. Its time-to-fill was reduced from 50-75 days to a dramatic 27 days. New requisition approval took only 3 days and the number of active job descriptions was reduced from more than 3,000 to about 900.
The foundation of success in staffing and selection is the understanding of the elements of appropriate staffing practices and selection tools. Organizations, such as the UnitedHealth Group (UHG), are able to utilize technology in order to allow a data-driven function where data is used to manage significant strategic initiatives. (Schmitt and Chan, 1998) More so, organizations are required to possess intensive awareness of the factors, which make up their staffing over multiple hire types in relation to dynamic elements that shape the organizations from within and without. Organizations should be able to determine and establish their own staffing models, thus, know the strengths and limitations of such models. This will provide the continuous reassessment of the proper attraction and retention techniques and ensure coordination with best practices.
The use of staffing practices and selection tools like that of the UnitedHealth Group (UHG) offer opportunities for clarification of rules of engagement in terms of staging. These staffing practices and selection tools also serve as means through which challenges can be dealt with easily.
Other successful businesses that encompass efficient human resource departments have determined competent staffing models in order to accomplish their objectives. The staffing models usually involved several factors as follows: (Schmitt and Chan, 1998)
- Recruitment integrated in the organization
- High level of specialization (dedicated recruiters, sourcing specialists, intense administrative support)
- Involvement of HR generalist in distinct executive processes
- Implementation of self-service in selection and candidate management
- Inclusion of the elements of full-service in screening and sourcing steps
- Inclusion of high-volume call center hiring
- Integration with multiple centralized elements
- Inclusion of six diverse business segments with different staffing processes
Most businesses and companies have diverse ways of implementing their staffing practices, however; they all face several challenges, which may have or may not have been anticipated by their management. Some that was aware of the potential challenges, managed to conduct a detailed change analysis, which involved the establishment of priorities and goals. These businesses and companies have focused on exerting their efforts for quick forging connections between new staffing groups and hiring managers in order to avoid any major service outages. They have managed to design a configured process, which was bound to meet the needs of every business units. As such, the management of these businesses and companies has acknowledged the rising of a more efficient staffing process. The challenges that they faced in the implementation of their staffing practices usually included the following factors: (Schmitt and Chan, 1998)
- the integration of the processes of some business units into a single cohesive process,
- establishment of a program for managing the staffing group through performance metrics and goals,
- reduction of utilizing agencies,
- alignment of the positioning of rollout with the objectives of the HR Direct initiative
- reduction of sourcing costs and time-to-fill, and;
- creation of a shared platform involving job descriptions and candidates
The implementation of new staffing processes and initiatives may be divided into three stages. However, prior to the implementation, the management of businesses and companies should be able to mandate the entire organization to participate in initial focus groups and process mapping sessions in order to identify the unique organizational requirements and to allow the configuration of a common candidate selection workflow. Consequently, the staffing model should be integrated with functional areas of the organization. Service Level Agreements should be established as hiring managers are invited into the process in order to create and review requisitions and candidates through the web. (Schmitt and Chan, 1998) The development of an online employment application is another measure that should be taken in the implementation of new staffing practices. More so, the metrics for performance management should be chosen. Consequently, businesses and companies should launch a program for ongoing communication, performance management, and training. Thus, the key staffing and selection tools that should be integrated are the following: (Schmitt and Chan, 1998)
- Establishment of a standardized job template
- Reorganization of staffing group through all functional areas in the organization
- Application of Manager WebTop that allows manager’s participation in direct hiring
- Implementation of a track and control vendor performance
- Shifting to full, online employment application in order to achieve and maintain a streamlined process as well as eliminate redundancies and paper works
As these practices and tools are implemented, the staffing services may be able to integrate and connect quickly with customers. Thus, these practices and tools should serve as a foundation for the continuous improvements of businesses and companies.
In line with efficient staffing practices, human resource departments should also consider other significant factors that may cause HR-Management issues. One of these issues may be employee motivation. In order to unlock human potential, the key is good motivation. Managers should have the initiative of understanding what motivates employees within the context of the duties or jobs they perform. Employee motivation is one of the most taxing functions of human resource departments and managers.
Apart from providing competitive wages, most companies and organizations offer wide and attractive incentives and benefits packages for their employees, specifically those with regular status positions. Incentives are usually offered for groups and individuals. On the other hand, companies and organizations include medical benefits, life and disability insurance, employee assistance program, vacation and sick leaves, holiday pay, deferred compensation, and other leaves in their offered benefits packages. Take for example, the WL Gore & Associates. The organizational structure of WL Gore & Associates suggests the company’s commitment to its employees where it develops and maintains competent, highly motivated, and results-oriented organization.
In government facilities and agencies, incentives are given as both individual and group packages. For individual incentives packages, government facilities and agencies include teamwork behaviors as a condition in order to get or acquire the offered incentive. This plan eliminates problems, which are associated with the narrow focus of the individual performer. This plan has the advantage where those individuals who work hard are the only ones rewarded compared to team or group incentives where some individuals who do not work hard are often included in the rewards. However, the disadvantage of this plan is the minimal concern of individuals for the success of others.
For group incentives in government facilities and agencies, all members of a team is either given equal rewards or given incentives based on level or position. In this plan, the best performers in the team are often the ones suffering as they work very hard to achieve the target of the group. These individuals often discover in the end that other group members work little than they do and so they suffer the thought that rewards are given equally. On the other hand, if the best performers work hard and still the team have not reached its goal because of some individuals who performed less, the best performers tend to be resentful with those individuals, thus, performance and morale suffers as well. More so, this situation could also result for the best performers to reduce their efforts. The advantage of this approach is to ease administration. However, this plan generally destroys a team or causes less than optimal performance.
Other than a commensurate compensation and benefits package, opportunities for growth should also be present. Interesting work is one of the factors that can best encourage or motivate an employee’s performance, treating each one of his subordinates exactly the same way he wanted to be treated by them—as a professional. (Dreyfus, H.L. and S.E. Dreyfus, 1986) Allowing them to do what they do best, with some guidance and reminders to keep abreast with the organization’s goals and objectives, is a proven method of motivation. Moreover, if a subordinate comes to a manager with a problem, it is the manger’s job to elicit his opinion for correcting the situation. Listening to subordinates’ suggestions and drawing them out, helping them to think the solution through, asking them a series of questions that encourage them and lead them to a possible solution promotes independent thinking. This method demands recognition that a manager’s solution to a problem is not the only solution and it may not even be the best solution. Giving subordinates the freedom to try new options, of course within reasonable limits, will start to develop their real potential.
Full appreciation of work done is another factor that an employee considers for competent performance. An employee does not want to be taken for granted. When a person senses that he is expected to do great things, he tends to be challenged by that expectation and work hard to live up to it. The “can-do” culture of the Marion plant of Rockwell Automation is reinforced through the open access to books and literature pertinent to the elements and other stuffs of the plant. Through the open access, both the management and employees are intellectually and emotionally involved in the plant’s activities. In addition, new hires are trained for multi-tasking of least 3 activities or jobs.
Delegation with an employee proves a strong factor for greater employee performance. However, delegation becomes dumping when an employee is entrusted only with the work his manager does not want to do and keeps all the notable fun projects for him. Meaningfulness of an employee also means providing adequate resources to complete his work, providing him with reasonable timing requirements, clear project specifications, and personal counsel when he needs it.
Good working condition especially is an essential factor that provides quality performance from an employee. For example, a clinician who routinely directs his staff to begin work on countless projects, without setting up priorities or understanding the amount of work involved would tend to have many uncompleted projects. Others are precipitous and slack leaving employees feeling disempowered and frustrated. Employees need support in their work environment because urgency is always at random. It is always best to involve them in planning. The people who actually do the work can provide useful proposal into how to get the job done. Negotiating an agreement and making certain everyone agrees on who will do what and by when leads to lesser pressure and tension in the workplace and the supportiveness of employees to the management and vice versa is achieved.
Promotions and growth in the organization is also a critical factor that an employee considers in the standards of his job performance. This is another pillar of the so-called “investment on people.” (Schellenberger and Boseman, 1982) Arbonne International, apart from offering great products, involves a great family involving thousands of individuals who work hard to make dreams come true. The company offers its employees a generous Success Plan, travel opportunities, rewards, and sales incentives. In fact, Arbonne provides its employees with unique opportunities, which help them, envision their future.
Hiring the best heads in the pool would only have a short-lived effect in the organization if they would leave the employer due to stagnancy. Most employees do not want routine activities. They want to push their potentials the best way they can considering they spend most of their time in a day in the workplace, and perhaps most of their careers. (Ulrich, Zenger and Smallwood, 1999) Cessna Aircraft Company, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of aviation aircraft, maintain that current employees should be encouraged to perform at a higher-level through higher-paying jobs as trainings were conducted to increase competencies in every functional level.
Professional growth can be ensured through conducting trainings and seminars for new learning opportunities. Employee equipment with new knowledge and skills provides more productivity, keeping them updated on new details of their craft, and confident in accomplishing their duties and responsibilities.
Dreyfus, H.L. and S.E. Dreyfus. (1986). Mind over Machine: The Power of Human Intuitive Expertise in the Era of the Computer. New York: Free Press.
Schellenberger, R. & Boseman, G. (1982). Policy Formulation and Strategy Management: 2nd Ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982
Schmitt, N., & Chan, D. (1998). Personnel Selection: A Theoretical Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ulrich D., Zenger J., Smallwood N. (1999). Results-Based Leadership. NY: Harvard Business Press.