Have You Heard of “Fast Food Hiring”? I’m Not Talking About Burgers…

I have recently came across this funny new term and decided to share it. At first it seemed funny but after a deeper analysis it seemed to me that this is not that funny especially considering the fact that it happens to recruiters more than it should – during my 10 years of experience in recruitment and selection, I have to admit that around 20% of the positions that I was supposed to fill were done through “fast food hiring”. This is a lot considering the consequences.

What is “Fast Food Hiring”? Thinking about fast food, it’s easy to understand what “fast food hiring” is. When you feel really, really hungry, you grab the bite that is closest to you, no matter the damages to your health – you accept what you can get fast and cheap, no matter how much time you get to fight later with the extra weight, heart problems and stomach ache. In a company, your managers ask you to fill a position very fast, under stress, with high pressure allowing you to accept any candidate that meets as many requirements as possible considering the short time available. What happens then? You find out after a while that the candidate is not that great, that he has some hidden issue you didn’t investigate enough. Of course, exceptions are possible – you may be lucky to find someone great, but in most cases insufficient testing and investigation leads to inappropriate hiring. 

Pluses and Minuses of “fast food hiring”:
·         Pluses:
o   Position gets filled very fast, operations can move on;
o   Your task as a recruiter is done, you can get back to your other tasks;
o   Even if the new employee doesn’t meet all requirements, at least the team has a new colleague who can start taking a few of their tasks – as many as he can and as efficiently as a new employee can;
To be honest, that’s more or less all I could think of; no matter how hard I tried to find more.
·         Minuses:
o   Most of the time the new employee doesn’t meet all requirements and he needs additional training and additional time from the manager of the team and colleagues to become functional;
o   Since he will learn slower, the team will be able to function at full capacity after a longer time;
o   New employee may prove not motivated enough and may leave the team sooner than expected, the position becoming available again; this means a new recruitment process, new trainings, more time and money wasted;
o   Insufficient testing and interviewing may lead to hidden flaws that could be really serious: an employee with insufficient knowledge, with personality issues and problems to integrate within the team, a criminal record, medical problems, unexpected disciplinary matters, you name it;
o   Tensions may appear within the team when the old team members are introduced to someone new that should help them but instead is difficult to handle, to train, that lacks knowledge and needs too much time invested to become functional;
o   The manager may lose the team’s respect and support when they see what new member he has decided to hire – I know it’s tough and not nice, but people are cruel to others when their own time and money are affected – they may need to stay overtime to help the new guy do his work and they may not appreciate it, blaming the manager for the situation;
o   On the long term, the company loses money due to extensive training and time needed by the new employee to become fully efficient – and even more if he decides to leave after discovering that the job is not suitable for him; this happens often with “fast food hiring”;

Why does “fast food hiring” become necessary sometimes? Considering these reasons may help managers avoid them:
o   Fast, unplanned increase in operations which leads to a certain number of positions being open over night;
o   New contracts being signed fast without proper communication between HR and Sales; HR doesn’t find out on time about new positions and contractual terms force them to fill the positions fast;
o    Unexpected attrition/turnover – key members of the team decide to leave unexpectedly and they need to be replaced fast – this can be sometimes foreseen and avoided by proper communication between managers and the team members;
o   Poor communication between HR and Operations who know about people leaving or increase in number of team members, but don’t start working together on time to fill the positions – either Operations don’t tell soon enough or HR don’t communicate recruitment time frames or don’t start recruitment on time;
o   Positions difficult to fill – rare requirements that are not always available on the market like special languages or technical skills – when deadline gets closer, manager may be forced to accept anything due to time constraints;
o   Improper Induction training for new hires or improper communication of contract details – the new employee may find out details he may not like after getting hired and may decide to leave on the spot (legal specifications allowing that most of the times), the position becoming available sooner than expected and needing a new candidate no matter what;

How to avoid “fast food hiring” – considering the minuses mentioned above, I support the idea that this type of hiring must be avoided as much as possible. It must remain an exception not a rule in hiring techniques:
o   Planning, planning, planning – don’t leave things to chance, plan ahead all the resources you may need as a manager;
o   Good communication between HR and hiring manager – always decide together what is there to be done in order to always have the best resources on time;
o   Proper Induction training and proper communication of contract terms for all new hires;
o   Proper market research in order to make sure that resources are available within a certain area – if they are not and still they need to be hired, training must be considered.

That’s all for now. Any thoughts you may have on the matter or any of your own experiences you may like to share, please feel free to comment.

Take care,

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