Every time we get distracted from making products or serving customers, it costs something. Interviewing employment candidates, training new employees, and resolving disputes all need to be taken care of when the need arises, but they don’t in and of themselves “put food on the table”.
In the steady state operation of a typical company, front line employees and managers are working together to build products, serve customers and otherwise add value to the organization every day. Every action feeds directly and obviously into that value-add process. At a transaction level, it is often easy to see how a given day in the life of such a company is a profitable one. There are activities, however, that are necessary but are a pure cost to the organization. The arduous process of finding and hiring new candidates is one such process.
Hiring is one of those processes that can go horribly wrong, but for the purposes of this article, I will assume your organization is good at it, so we will dismiss the risks and costs associated with potentially hiring a poor performer or a bad fit. Today I will talk about the cost of it, over and above any head-hunting fee you might be paying.
Let’s imagine you are a shift supervisor for a 24-hour production plant. Even when your Human Resources colleague presents great candidates for hire, you must interview them because you will responsible for their productivity. The serious focus you must apply to this activity — to be ignored at your peril — means you must prepare and totally focus on it when that process is underway. You put away your cellphone and pager; you put your phone on silent, and you spend the next hour talking with and listening to this almost complete stranger. They may, after all, be working by your side for years to come, so it certainly behooves you to get this done right.
Personally, I find interviewing exhausting on either side of the table. A few times in my life, I had to interview candidates for something like six hours in a single day. I found myself going home and going straight to bed, I was so drained from that particular type of work. Interviewing distracts managers and everyone from doing actual work. For that time the process is going on, no real work is being done, no operational business decisions are being made, and customers’ access to you is diminished. Perhaps the average waiting time for online customer support for that day is 22 minutes instead of the average 7 minutes. The point is, the recruitment process — perhaps especially when it is executed properly — distracts you and your team from income-generating opportunities across the board.
That’s an opportunity cost that can be significantly reduced by keeping your employees engaged and productive to begin with.