Every week I speak to a lot of hiring managers and recruiters and repeatedly hear their frustrations at not finding enough qualified applicants. Similar sentiments were echoed in Elena Holodny's Business Insider article The US economy is turning into a nightmare for recruiters. Finding quality employees is always at the top of the to-do list for those in HR, and while receiving a ton of applications may seem like a good thing in the hiring process, sometimes the “more-the-merrier” doesn’t quite apply when so few of the applicants are qualified.
A recent Harvard Business Review article examines the hiring practices of four low cost retailers: Costco, Trader Joe's, QuickTrip and Mercadona. The study was interested in understanding why these four retailers were so much more profitable than most of their competitors. Retail is traditionally a low margin business, and the conventional wisdom is that tightly restraining labor costs is key to maintaining profitability. This study found exactly the opposite: these leading retailers typically spent more on the hiring process than their competitors, and invested more in their employees post-hire, which in turn, had a direct, positive impact on the bottom line. Spending more to hire better-trained, customer-focused sales staff leads to more sales per employee and per square foot.