BEC: Recovery after poor recruitment

Kara Sealy,

Added 20 March 2017

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It is every employer’s wish to recruit an employee who will deliver on their promises made in the interview; that employee who will be present for each arranged workday of the year; who doesn’t have excessive absence; who contributes a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wages; and the list can go on.

Needless to say, every employer prefers to avoid investing a vast amount of money into employee training, then to be tasked with terminating the contract when the employee does not meet expectations. Undoubtedly, poor recruitment can be very costly and time consuming for employers. 

One question that must be considered carefully, however, is this: are we seeing what we want to see in a candidate during the interview as opposed to what is there?

There is a generally accepted maxim which states that “the most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said”.

Understandably, recruitment can be burdensome for some employers. In some cases, you find the human resource managers or managers in interviews for over six hours on a daily basis interviewing for one position. Some companies may prefer to outsource such a service to agencies such as the Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC), to lead the recruitment process, particularly screening and selection; however, that too comes at a cost.

When you consider the many disadvantages to a poor recruit, there are productivity costs, which are seen where you are spending time focusing on training and retraining the new hire while other operations are suffering.

The intention is not to discount the need for training; however, in everything one must be strategic and reasonable. There are also financial costs, employee morale costs, as well as reputation costs.

Without the necessary understanding of the legal parameters available to employers, after a poor recruit some may find themselves seeking ways to reassign the individual(s) or trying to make them “fit”.

The Employment Rights Act 2012-9 (ERA) remains the guiding legislation for all elements regarding termination of the employment contract.

It addresses the issues of unfair dismissal, layoff, short-time, redundancy and even notice. What should be considered, however, is the point of application of such provisions throughout the act, particularly the rights to unfair dismissal.

For ease of reference, an example is seen within Section 27 (3) of the ERA, which identifies circumstances where employees who have not been continuously employed for a period of one year forfeit the right to claims of unfair dismissal.

Notably, the intention of the act is not a matter of discussion at this point, but instead the opportunity this legislation provides to the business community. However, you must be encouraged however to refrain from using this word “opportunity” loosely.

Much like the example noted above, other circumstances such as an employee’s capability to perform work of the kind he was employed to do, conduct of the employee, absence from work for 12 consecutive months although certified and so on, as outlined within the ERA, also provide employers with the opportunity to recover from a “poor” hire.

We encourage you, however, to be mindful of the boundaries also outlined within the ERA before seeking to apply any of the above options. Consideration must be given to the reason associated with any termination, whether mandated by law or even as simply best practice. Employers must also note the length of service of the employee. Were they with the company for less than a year or a year and over? Are they on probatio? Was their capability thoroughly assessed and by the relevant authorities or parties to make the informed decisions?

Finally, consider if you are being reasonable.

As a basic guiding principle, we encourage you to consider the following steps before ending the contract:

• Actively monitor and evaluate employees during the probationary period and/or prior to the completion of one year of employment;

• Do not delay – when you have made a poor hire, the time to fix it is immediately;

• Ask yourself why this employee is not meeting expectations – in some cases, you may be able to coach them in the right direction by providing training and development;

• Apologise and appreciate – failing employees sometimes recognise their downfalls themselves; however, they would still wish to feel appreciated for what they did;

• Take responsibility – be generous where possible and provide a letter of recommendation if deserved should the final decision be to terminate that new hire; and

• Reassess the recruitment and selection methods and proceed to make the right hire.

In the face of economic uncertainty, it is fair to ask that employers remain mindful of the many disadvantages of poor recruitment.

Arguably, labour costs continue to be an increasing component in business expenses and one way to minimise such costs or mitigate any leakages would be to improve your recruitment efforts.

The BEC stands ready to assist in this regard as it stands steadfast to its mission of making good employers’ better. Have a productive day.

 

• Kara Sealy is a Labour management advisor.

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