Do You Need To Lower Your Hiring Standards?


On July 25, 2013 the New York Port Authority awarded a $221 million contract to a new airport security service.  The previous security service lost this contract due to the quality of their employees.  In fact, they not only lost the contract, they had it cut short since it was supposed to run until January of 2015.   However, after several employees were found sleeping on the job, another caught smoking pot while on duty and another found to be an illegal immigrant, the Port Authority decided they had had enough.

In today’s tight economy and tightening labor market there is a temptation to try to control costs and to find people by lowering hiring standards.   The question then comes up of should you lower your hiring standards to fit the tighting labor pool?  The answer is, no!

Customers define and evaluate a business on the quality of its employees.  That is who the customers meet, who they interact with, that is how they know your company.   It is also your employees who make your policies work and who solve the problems that they could not first anticipate.   This is true for all employees, but even more so for those in key security management positions.

While it is both costly and frustrating to have a key position remain open for long periods of time, lowering your standards in order to hire a person more quickly will always prove even more costly and frustrating.  While keeping positions open causes an increased work load for others and can lower productivity, hiring a low quality candidate does not solve this issue because such employees do not last and can do great harm in the short-term.  They either leave when they become unhappy at trying to do a job they are not qualified for, or they are let go. In other cases, they stay employed and become a cancer to the organization…dragging down those around them and impacting the team with low productivity.

This drives up costs: exit interviews, termination paperwork and reports, insurance changes, and all the other administrative costs associated when an employee separates.  Also, you have now lost both the time and money you invested in training for that person and will now have to spend again for his replacement.  You will again be spending money on advertising and recruiting for a new person.   And you still have to cover the vacant position with all the loss of productivity that this entails.  The cost for turnover typically ranges from 1 to 1.5 times that position’s annual pay.   It is far better to take a temporary loss in productivity and spend the time needed to find a fully qualified candidate than to pay the monetary costs associated with high turnover along with its concurrent damage to company reputation.

Better still would be to avoid or minimize this potential problem by maintaining a continual recruiting process with a pool of possible candidates for key roles in your company.   Along with this, a quality onboarding program that effectively integrates new qualified employees into your company along with a good, solid training program can help you keep your qualified candidates and turn them into long-term, quality contributors.

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