Tackling the Quality of Hire

Julia Bouzan

December 2020

Julia Bouzan is a futurist and human capital management consultant with an emphasis in supporting organizations in developing strategies which drive talent solutions.

Attempting to scale the mountain of measuring Quality of Hire (QOH) is often a challenging task simply due to the definition of a quality hire. However, this does not mean that you should not attempt to reach base camp. Any work in this area places you ahead of the game and starts vital discussions, “what does good look like at our company?”

Start measuring the basics and evolve the measure of overtime as you further define quality. Preliminary analytics is fine - start with baby steps and grow your metric as you more clearly define and understand the definition for your organization. Trying for 5-10 key elements of measuring QOH is mostly likely an overreach out the gate.

Let’s look at pinpointing the challenges and proposed approaches to turn a mountain, into something more manageable and easier to scale. I have been working with clients on the topic of how to measure QOH and one of the most critical components is in defining what QOH means within your individual organization. Defining QOH, is key to determining what to measure. For example, the success profile of a quality hire is vastly different from your IT/Digital team to your Account/Client Relations team.

Here are some proposed definitions for QOH:
• Alignment to your inclusive workplace culture
• Contribution cycle time – how quickly do you expect new hires to ramp and contribute
• Hiring for growth – do you have a philosophy of hiring for the future or fit for role now
• What are your key leadership traits, and can they be assessed in the interview and after hire?
• Promotion readiness – how quickly will new hires be ready for the next step or increased
responsibilities?
• Key competitors – are you engaging and bringing on new hires from your top competitors?

Once you have clearly defined your QOH for your organization let’s consider the measurements options:
• First year performance rating
• Retention
• Contribution/Ramp Up Factor: increased revenue contributions, decreased costs
• Project and Program participation
• Internal training participation
• Manager survey – how is my new hire performing 90-days, 6 months, 12 months
• Trends: Key competitor performance – do those hired from key competitors perform well against non-
key competitor hires

A final thought is to develop a new hire profile utilizing the following information: training performance, education/certifications, previous employer, employee referral, passive vs active candidate during recruiting process. In developing new hire profiles, we found trends as an example that those who came from different industries performed better than those from direct competitors. We found that certain certifications or an investment in obtaining certifications and additional training was linked to a quality hire.

The work proved valuable. We uncovered trends in prior employers’ culture and success ratios, as certain company profiles performed better within new company environments. However, the elephant in the room is much of the new hire success resides with the manager. We delved into our retention trends and found that many managers, while they had low T/O they were not pro-actively managing out poor performers. We benchmarked sales performance standards for 30 (training phase), 60 (business development/market penetration plan) and 90 (actual sales production). The first 90-day production is based on standardized expectations across the sales footprint. We realized that T/O trends were higher in certain regions and we created performance management goals with suggested T/O targets that were more aggressive for some managers and less for others. We also uncovered that certain sales hires from outside the standard industry had a longer ramp up time to productivity; however, they performed with sustained performance given their learning curve.

There can be landmines in assessing QOH and it is important to take a holistic view as much as possible. The holistic view considers all factors, which contribute to QOH, on boarding, new hire profile, new hire training, manager performance, and retention. All things being equal setting up new hire for success establishes your baseline.

Under the umbrella of employee engagement there is a direct link to quality of hire. An engagement focus is on measurement a lens using perspectives such as are vacancies filled, low turnover, high productivity and project milestones and completions. Employee engagement is directly linked to the quality of the environment, which drives success of an organization. Engagement can measure ability to manage change, and manager environmental performance. Divisional, departmental, and individual scorecards can ascertain quality output. By engaging new hires early, through manager interaction, goal setting, rapid on boarding, and providing the tools for success, turnover decreases, productivity rises and there is resounding increase in QOH from management perspective.

Go ahead and keep your bell curves in place for performance reviews but supplement another tool to gage quality of engagement, which equates to performance. You could consider parsing out new hires and their manager’s engagement as an effective tool.

On a final note, it is important to define QOH within your organization and then align this definition within your talent acquisition and hiring manager community. This is a hot topic with our business partners, yet few are taking on the task. Go ahead, take the leap, and start thoughtful discussions with your business partners - you can only go up from here and equip your company for a deeper understanding of talent.