Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

Recruitment with no questions asked ‘radical’ but has potential – experts

Hiring with no interviews, CVs, background checks or questions asked.

This could be the answer to tackling the Bay of Plenty’s chronic labour shortage – at least for some sectors.

While the concept of open hiring seems “radical”, the kiwifruit sector in the Bay of Plenty, hit hard by the Covid-19 border closures, is already adopting the approach to fill much-needed positions.

Sharp Tudhope employment lawyer Shima Gruce and HR administrator Grant Davidson said, with due diligence and correct implementation, open hiring could help some businesses alleviate pressures caused by the Covid-19-related labour shortage.

“With a focus on on-the-job training and candidate potential, open hiring policies look to give opportunities to those traditionally excluded from employment due to lack of skills or experience.”

However, Gruce said the policy had pitfalls and was not suitable when recruiting for specialised positions or jobs that required background checks or pre-employment testing.

“Workplaces can adopt an open hiring process but can also adapt the process to suit their needs,” she said.

Gruce said the approach could suit sectors where high numbers of entry-level staff were needed in relatively short spaces of time.

“For Tauranga, this means industries such as horticulture, agriculture, meat and seafood processing that require a large number of seasonal workers every year could benefit from adopting this approach.”

Industries that relied heavily on RSE [Recognised Seasonal Employer] workers and backpackers to fill roles had struggled due to border restrictions, she said.

“Removing obstacles from the recruitment process might encourage those normally dissuaded from applying to do so.

But Davidson said businesses would have to ensure they had a rigorous training and induction programme in place.

She said anyone employed under such a scheme should be treated the same as any other employee and an employer cannot, for example, simply withdraw employment or end their employment, she said.

Employers with 20 or fewer employees might be able to rely on a trial period clause to end an employee’s employment if they don’t work out, he said.

“But larger employers will need to follow a full disciplinary or performance management process before terminating an employee’s employment.”

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers’ Inc chief executive Colin Bond said some employers in the kiwifruit industry already used the open hiring approach, using the support of online platforms.

“The kiwifruit industry has been experiencing critical shortages in its seasonal labour.

“Open hiring is one avenue that employers are undertaking to fill this deficit and it is possible that people who may not usually apply for a role in the industry would do so through this process.”

Bond said retention was equally important in order to mitigate a high turnover. It was important employers ensured inductions were undertaken so employees had a complete understanding of the job description and health and safety.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the open hiring approach was good for manufacturing, processing, or packaging plants where there were few barriers to entering the workforce.

“If you’re a business who just requires more hands-on-deck to help with simple tasks, then this could be an option for you, especially if you’re able to work closely and support them.”

But there were risks.

Cowley said retailers needed good processes and security protocols where roles involved managing stock or payment transactions.

“Employee-related shoplifting is a consistent issue that retailers must be aware of.”

Every sector, public and private, was impacted by labour shortages, he said.

“However, there are plenty of people who continue to look for work, so there must be a disconnect somewhere.

“I know employers who are cautious with their recruitment because it is expensive if the person ends up being a bad fit for the role or team.”

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said he did not believe open hiring had a place in New Zealand.

“The employer has a heavy responsibility of duty for the behaviour of its employees and the health and safety of all employees, customers and the public.

“This necessitates a thorough screening of applicants to ensure this duty is discharged. It is impossible to envisage any scenario where this would be a safe or advisable practice.”

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said while the idea of open hiring was interesting it was challenging in New Zealand where employment rules were “rigid and inflexible”.

“Businesses need the right people with the right skills to fill roles, and they need a process to assess that.

“Under New Zealand law, it’s very difficult and risky to dismiss people who turn out to be poor performers, so businesses are not keen to take risks.

“It is really important for businesses that their new employees have the right aptitude, skills and personality for the roles in question.”

Rewards

1. Faster recruitment process

Changing to an open hiring approach would streamline the recruitment process and could remove the need for time-consuming interviews and reference checks.

A first-in-first-served model allows a much quicker turnaround time in filling vacancies.

It also reduces the costs associated with the recruitment process.

2. Large candidate pool

Often candidates are excluded from opportunities due to lack of experience or skills. An open hiring process looks to harness the candidate’s potential rather than their previous experience.

3. Removing bias from the hiring process

Bias in the recruitment process, whether conscious or unconscious, would be removed in an open hiring approach. The candidate’s background, education and nationality, which may have been factored into a decision previously, are no longer factors.

This could also lead to a more diverse workplace.

Risks

1. Best candidates missing out

Whilst removing the processes of traditional recruitment may speed up hiring, it would mean the best candidates for the vacancies may miss out.

With less emphasis on experience and skills this process allows a lot less control in making sure the right candidate is selected.

2. Potential for greater training costs

Placing less importance on work experience and skills will likely lead to longer training time for new staff members and is also likely to result in higher training costs.

3. Safety and security risks

Many jobs require criminal background checks prior to employing a candidate. Removing this from the hiring process opens the business up to potential safety and security risks.

Source: Sharp Tudhope employment lawyer Shima Gruce and HR administrator Grant Davidson

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