Rushing to disaster


By Michael Hempseed

As the new year is now well under way, many companies will need to think about recruitment, either to replace staff who changed jobs during the summer, or to expand their current workforce.

Often a poor recruitment process leads to serious workplace problems. We’ve all worked in a business or heard of a situation where the completely wrong person has been hired for the job. It is a very expensive but sadly common mistake.

There are many factors that lead to poor recruitment, such as inexperience, poor interview structure and unintended biases.

I believe there is one factor that causes more recruitment problems than any other; being in a rush. It’s easy to imagine that if a vital member of staff leaves, many managers will feel the need to replace the person immediately.

Being short staffed can add high stress to existing staff and often has an impact on the customers. However, choosing the wrong member of staff can be much worse.

Take one example: a very experienced manager had an unexpected resignation from a valued staff member. The manager was faced with the possibility of not being able to operate due to staffing shortages.

They managed to take on one of the worst staff members I had ever seen. Within three months the best staff were threatening to quit and word soon got out about the disastrous service that was offered by the business.

This was solely due to one bad staff member. Whatever the cost of being short staffed was to the business, it was nothing next to the cost of choosing the wrong staff member.

It took the business four years to get back to where it was before they hired this person.

The worst part was they knew at the interview stage that this person was not suitable, yet they still went ahead because they thought being short staffed was worse.

They were aware the person who applied was not at all suitable – she did not have any of the skills required. Because she was the only person to apply, they thought she was better than no one.

If you unexpectedly lose an important staff member, sometimes even the person who is good at sweeping the floor can seem like a good option.

Whatever other pressures you may be facing, it is vitally important that you take your time with recruitment.

I often hear people saying something to the effect of, “We were going to check the references, but we got caught up”.

Reference checks are vital and it is vital that you allow time for a solid recruitment process.

If in the first instance you don’t find the right person, you should not just hire them because you are short staffed. Just about all the recruitment disasters I have seen with clients of my business have occurred because people were in a rush.

Michael Hempseed is the managing director of Employee Solution Service. Visit

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