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Zero-cost Solutions - Digitising Recruitment

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Sometimes when you’re leading a business, turning over a rock can reveal something quite unpleasant and risky.

When I was managing director of a firm with around 50 staff, I discovered almost by accident that there were a host of problems with our recruitment process that I never imagined.

We had very good quality templates for job descriptions and employment agreements and we were pretty good at making sure that the templates were updated periodically to match changes in legislation and good practice. I had a good team of leaders doing the hiring who had delegated authority to sign employment agreements within their responsibility and I trusted them to do the right thing.

The trouble was, the hiring leaders were totally focused on executing the process as quickly as possible, since the market for talent was even then white-hot and the competition fierce. They had to move fast to get offers in front of candidates fast and get them signed up ahead of the competition.

The fastest way to get a new employment agreement for someone was to copy the last one and change the key details for the new recruit. Over time this became the conventional practice and the quality of the details in agreements progressively eroded, much like a copy of a copy. Some referred to out of date legislation, employment terms that were out of date because they had improved or did not accurately reflect the details of complex remuneration packages.

A review of new agreements over a twelve-month period showed that the majority of new agreements were defective in some way. Sometimes these were minor, but the overall result showed that we needed to improve things.

We decided we had two conventional choices:

  • Add additional human supervision to the process in the form of a HR staffer or an outsourced service doing the same

  • Implement one of the many systems available to streamline the recruitment process in particular and HR processes in general

I didn’t much like the cost profile of either of those solutions, so we decided to think differently about the problem.

What we came up with was a no-code solution which deployed the Office365 systems that we already had in place. The recruitment process was mapped out in detail and automated workflows put in place at each step.

The hard work was in working through all of the steps that were required. Once we had done that, implementing the workflows to support was relatively easy.

One major change that we made was in reaching the process outside the organisation and getting prospective recruits to provide us with some information.

The result was transformational in a number of ways: We obtained early information about how responsive candidates were to electronic communications. There was a very wide range of responsiveness that became visible through the new process.

The new process also highlighted a lack of attention to detail in hiring leaders. We already knew this was the case from our review, but under the new process they couldn’t get what they needed unless they did it right – the process became fail-safe, and it also became faster and less dependent on individual skills.

Of course, all of that would have happened if we had selected a new system, and eventually we decided to use the learning from the change to get even better results by doing just that.

But the major problem had already been eliminated – the majority of the benefits had already been achieved with creative use of existing capabilities.

So, I was surprised to hear recently that a third of smaller companies are still operating paper-based HR systems, and that cost is a factor. The reality will be that the cost of not having a straightforward process in place in this area will be hidden beneath the surface.

It is always tempting to reach out for a new system to solve a problem, but that may not be the best first step. Understanding the changes that you need to make to implement new systems should always be a part of your strategy, and it may be a lot less expensive than you think.

Ray Delany is the Founder of CIO Studio and has been doing this for a while. Why not ask for a no-obligation discussion to help plan your change?


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