Each month we select from scores of upcoming HR/management conferences and feature the one we feel SmartBrief on Workforce e-newsletter readers should know about. This month’s featured conference, the ERE Spring Expo, takes place next week in San Diego. SmartBrief’s Sam Taute recently reached out to one of the key presenters, Jeremy Eskenazi, managing principal of Riviera Advisors, to learn more about effectively instituting change in a company’s recruiting strategy and infrastructure. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.
SAM: What are some common roadblocks that recruiting leaders run into when trying to make changes in their recruiting strategies?
JEREMY: In medium-to-large companies there’s always one person in the room whose name should be SALY, which stands for “same as last year.” Getting these people to be receptive to new ideas can sometimes be challenge. A lot of times, a good idea is discarded simply because the company cannot find a good way to put it into practice; and frequently, it’s not the recruiter or the candidates that are most resistant to change, it’s the HR personnel. Some of them don’t like it when hiring, which has traditionally been an HR responsibility, is passed on to a more specialized recruiting team.
What can companies do to prevent this from happening?
What some companies have done, which I think works well, is to carve out a recruiting block from their HR department. That way, the company gets their specialized recruiting needs satisfied, without creating too many levels of bureaucracy. It also works to require HR generalists to sit in on intake meetings between recruiters and hiring managers when specific hiring needs are being discussed, so that the HR person can still be engaged in the recruiting process.
What can HR personnel and recruiters do to make themselves more receptive to change?
Good ideas usually fail because of communication, or lack thereof. I’ll give you an example: An HR leader went to a conference where he heard that making offers quickly to potential recruits can make a company appear more nimble. It’s a good idea, so the person decided to use it by creating an “on-the-spot-offer-process.” The idea backfired because the recruiters didn’t like having to make a hiring decision after only a half-hour interview; the candidates were taken aback by how quickly they were made an offer; and, most of all, the company came off looking desperate. If the HR leader had used the original concept to generate discourse with his team then, together, they could have worked through the idea and come up with something more feasible.
What can companies do to keep the lines of communication open?
When a good idea comes up, too many companies “roll it out” to their employees. What they should be doing is “vetting it” to the various departments and inviting feedback. One tactic that works is to pull together a focus group composed of people from across different departments and ask them what needs to happen to make the idea work. Then, it’s important to actually use their suggestions, so that the ideas don’t seem like they’re being mandated from above, but that they actually coming from the employees that are going to have to set them in motion.
ERE’s Spring Expo starts Monday but registration is open now for the fall conference in Florida. Learn more about that event.