Outside-In® Chronicles: a throwback post, originally published five years ago in November 2010 — While many of the same “people questions” exist, the state of the economy, with the lowest unemployment rate since April 2008 (5.0%), makes the answers or solutions uniquely different. And through all the ups and downs in hiring, our mantra of “hard in, easy out” has remained the same.
Leadership is all about the “people side of the business”. It just seems as if the focus and importance of people issues ebbs and flows with the state of our business. For the last two years, most “people” conversations have been exclusively about cutting costs, reducing head count or associated expenses, and/or plans to create efficiencies. Many businesses find themselves in a spot where they are lean and this means that many, many organizations find themselves panicking quietly about people and talent issues. I hear these questions each and every day with more urgency:
Should we hire to add headcount or use temporaries?
I do not have staff to conduct hiring; how do I get started again?
Should I have a long term strategy or simply react now?
How do I make hiring a core competency? What role should my managers and staff play in the process?
I will let you in on a little secret – HR folks of all kinds are now finding jobs at a steady, if not record clip. We cut them fast and hire them back just as fast. Perhaps a little too fast. Over the last twenty years I have operated within an informal mantra, “It should be hard to get into your company as a new hire, yet very easy to leave”. This statement of hard in, easy out is simple to remember yet profound in its significance to your business.
First, let’s address “hard in”. Your employees want to feel proud of how we bring new staff into the business. It is great if your process for hiring is effective and makes it exclusive. It should be difficult to get hired. Truthfully, it should be a process that never, ever stops. How many of you regret that your stopped viewing talent over the recession? Most of us (if we are honest) know it to be true. We need cash and TALENT to win as opportunities continue to emerge!
The “easy out” is just as important. Trust me when I say that the workforce knows they will not work for you for a lifetime. They expect to have seven or so different roles throughout their career. This reality is reinforced every moment with a media frenzy of companies that make business decisions that impact their workforce! The workforce knows business can no longer afford to be loyal. And surprise! They won’t give it to you anyway. There is too much churn and reality in the business world for anyone to be lulled into a false sense of security. No longer do candidates call us and say, “I am just looking for a safe company that I can stay with for many years.” That is no longer the reality for most employees.
My suggestion is to create an honest, open environment around this issue. Your culture must be capable of accepting the fact that you are “leasing” an employee for a period of time. You want their productivity, their creativity, their innovation and they in turn get fair market value in compensation and learning that makes them a more valuable asset to their careers.
Make it hard to get in to your company, yet make it very easy to leave. Do this and you will have the talent you need and the honesty that makes business simple, refreshing and a great story to share.