Learning and Development News: How to hire employees effectively
When it comes to recruitment, we all want to know how to hire employees effectively. We’ve probably all been burned with that candidate that looked great on paper and at the interview, becoming a nightmare in the role. Perhaps you can admit to being unsure of stepping out your comfort zone when you hire. But as a nation and as businesses, if we want to hire good employees, the secret might not be in a checklist, a great job spec or the right recruiter. Instead, it could be looking for people not like ourselves and abandoning our preconceptions around education, social background and what people get up to for fun.
When it comes to how we hire employees effectively, we’re not as open as we might like to think.
Employer bias as employers hire people ‘just like them’
A new study has shown that British business potential is at risk – even if we want to hire employees effectively – employer bias is still rife in some organisations. The new market research commissioned by The Open University finds that three in 10 (29%) senior managers admit they hire people just like them, and warns employers may be overlooking candidates from different social and educational backgrounds, impacting access to talent, and hindering business innovation and performance as a result. The study follows recent market research which found the skills gap is costing UK businesses more than £2 billion a year in higher salaries, recruitment costs and temporary staffing, and the challenge of finding talent with the right skills means that businesses need to change their approach to recruitment, development and retention.
What do employers value?
When looking to hire employees effectively, even with their best motives at play, it seems that employers still place significant importance on educational attainment (86%), cultural fit (77%), tastes and leisure pursuits (65%), and even social background (61%). Considering the typical social make up of managers, this raises concerns about diversity, a key driver of innovation, and hints at a glass ceiling for those from less privileged backgrounds, with the re-enforcement of the historical class system.
Degrees still seen as a premium
The issue is prevalent in both recruitment and employment, with bias creating a ‘degree premium’, particularly at entry level. More than half (55%) of managers would not be willing to take on employees without a degree and train them up in the skills required, which puts the minimum entry requirement out of reach for many.
And this bias continues once employed, as three in 10 (31%) employees with no higher education (HE) have no access to workplace training to improve their skills, in comparison to 21 per cent of those with an HE qualification. A quarter (25%) reports that colleagues who received a better education are given better opportunities.
The ‘degree premium’ has left two thirds (67%) of those with only GCSEs or A-Levels stuck in low or semi-skilled employment – and with the challenge of automation and demand for higher-level skills, offering training to these people could provide a much-needed solution to the UK’s skills shortage.
‘Clones’ at work
Many organisations are effectively cloning themselves in the hiring and training decisions they make, which is compounded by the ‘stigma’ attached to apprenticeships and other forms of work-based training. One in six (16%) senior managers still incorrectly believes that apprenticeships are for those who could not get into university, while 13 per cent admit they think less of someone who has done an apprenticeship, but with the recent advent of degree apprenticeships and increase in quality and credibility triggered by the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, managers should revisit their biases and consider the benefits that apprentices can bring.
David Willett, Director at The Open University says: “Conscious or not, employers’ reluctance to hire workers without a degree, in part driven by managerial bias for appointing workers who ‘fit the mould’, is damaging both individual prospects and business potential in the UK. By seeing the latent potential in these workers, and investing in their training, organisations can boost skills and engagement, and bring more diversity into the workforce. An organisation of clones lacks the breadth of life experience and thinking required to drive creativity, innovation, and retain a diverse client base, which is essential if the UK is to compete on a global stage following Brexit.”
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