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July 19, 2023

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Companies warned of the ‘dangers’ of a wrong HSEQ hire

A leader in careers and recruitment has warned of the ‘catastrophic impact’ of companies making the wrong choice when it comes to hiring staff.

Jordan Harlow, Occupational Psychology Consultant at Shirley Parsons

Jordan Harlow, Organisational Psychology Consultant at Shirley Parsons, said while the injection of fresh ideas and talent can be the boost many teams need to grow rapidly, a dangerous hire can easily lead to a team’s downfall.

Harlow said: “Stagnation can be a deathly tumour to many companies, whether in the form of not growing their staff to demand or allowing their workforce to disengage and slowly lose performance. In this vein, hiring continues to be a large process and investment for many companies.

“Wrong hires can be catastrophic, especially when allowed to fester internally. Financially and socially a single bad apple can ruin the batch. When it does happen, it is important to ensure you handle the issue quickly and with tact, to make the healing process as quick and painless as possible.

“Making wrong hires can be hard to avoid but by doing your best to really get to understand a candidate on a deeper level, you can not only avoid it but also integrate and retain the right candidate.

“According to Agency Central, the average cost of taking on an employee on a salary of £25k is £30,165, when taking into account the costs of the hiring process and the loss of productivity during an average 28-week training programme. For middle manager positions earning £42k per year, the costs can be as high as £132k – so it is important to get the hiring process right.”

“A company’s culture is the oil in its engine”

Harlow went on to emphasise the impact it can have on a company’s culture: “However, the financial impacts can be larger than just the costs of the hire alone. The focus and wasted time on a wrong hire means focus shifts from expanding existing talent towards the new hire in many cases. Then, the time costs of repairing mistakes, possibility of losing clients and the impact on morale can have a wider performance impact with long lasting effects.

“There are also social, cultural and reputational impacts to be considered – a company’s culture is the oil in its engine. Whilst a strong talent pool may be able to perform, culture is what keeps that performance healthy, aids with retention and in the end affects reputation.

Teamwork and leadership business concept with two giant three dimensional puzzle pieces coming together from a partnership agree“In many situations when someone is hired without thorough consideration about how they would fit into or impact the culture of a team, the injection of a wrong hire can destabilise culture heavily. If this collision of personalities is left unabated, the cultural damage to a company can be unprecedented.

“If an individual is brought in with disregard to the core values and shared vision of the company, especially in a managerial role, the overall view of said values and vision can be undermined. A blow to the foundational core of culture like this will have knock-on effects to the overall work environment, core motivation, the reputation of the company and a potential negative impact on brand image.”

Harlow said there were important things to consider before starting the recruitment process, including establishing the clear expectation of the role and defining company culture and core values – recognising the culture and dynamic helps in making the right behaviour and personality fit.

“Don’t leave the hiring to one person, involve multiple stakeholders,” he added.

“You have more of a chance of noticing a red flag and it also increases the engagement of onboarding the individual into your team.

“Have a personality or cultural fit assessment prepared. While interviews may give you an initial insight into a candidate, having an in-depth process to dig deeper helps avoid the dreaded fake smiles that can trick people in the interview stage.”

Screening candidates

The consultancy team at Shirley Parsons aims to find the right fit for HSEQ roles by using modern organisational psychology theory. This includes personality profiling, skills appraisal, engagement and safety culture surveying.

Harlow added: “At Shirley Parsons, we use MAPP, Motivation, Aspiration, Personality, Progression, to create profiles using our bespoke HSEQ personality profiling tool. MAPP creates reports that cover many elements usually hidden in a normal process, in order to make the best cultural fit. We also go one step further and every candidate has a 1-2-1 session with an organisational psychologist to discover insights into their results and work style.

“When it comes to screening candidates, it’s important to have a rigorous screening style and you should be prepared to check on the background of a reference. Have multiple people reviewing CVS and applications, be prepared to talk to co-workers or external partners for their thoughts, and never be afraid to question the candidate.

“Keeping these ideals in mind will help in avoiding the dreaded wrong hire. If it does happen, however, never forget to learn from your mistakes and continuously improve your processes.”

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