Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Is the glass half full or half empty?
There are a number of conundrums which have plagued many of us in our lives. I still remember the first time my mother asked me chicken or egg. I just knew I picked the right one until she had a rebuttal for both.
In the business world, organizations face another hotly disputed topic that also can be refuted by either side: which is a better fit for the company, hiring culture fit or hiring skill fit? Those on the skill side will say, “I don’t care if they bake cookies for the office, I need my work completed” (I’ve actually used this line in my younger years…don’t judge me). Those on the culture side will say, “I can teach them the job”. What’s the answer then? The answer is simple, NEITHER. Before you start with the nasty-grams, let me explain.
Far too often, organizations view talent acquisition in terms of, a word commonly used by HR professionals, “fit”. Is the candidate a good culture fit? Does the candidate’s skills fit the job description? While hiring managers hope that their latest hire fits well into the culture and brings a certain personal aspect to the organization, ultimately the person is being hired to fulfill a specific purpose that will help the company in its ultimate goal of being a profitable organization. This is why the actual focus should be on VALUE.
Human capital is the backbone of any organization. Your employees are assets, and like any asset you invest in you expect a certain amount of return out of it. Millennials, according to a 2012 study by the UNC Kenan-Flager School of Business, will make up 46% of the workforce by 2020 whereas Gen Xers make up only 16% of today’s workforce. A 2015 LinkedIn study shows that students who graduated college between 2006-2010 worked for an average of 2.85 companies within 5 years of graduating, compared to the 1.6 of grads between 1986-1990. The approach to hiring employees with the expectation that they will stay five, seven, ten years or longer just isn’t logical and leaves organizations in a perpetual state of unpreparedness as these workers transition out.
Organizations should approach their hiring practices using a more quantitative measure of value, rather than culture or skill. Companies should ask “At max performance, what is the value of the productivity I anticipate from the position in the time I expect them to be here?” Culture and skill have their place. They should be used as tie-breaking factors to narrow down the pool of candidates. Ultimately, you want the best candidate who can perform the duties needed and exceed expectations. As an employer, it is then your job to provide the environment and culture to nurture the employee and convince them to stay past the 3-year average, while also conducting transition planning to another role within the organization or out of the company altogether.
An interesting example is University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari. He has been criticized for years for what is seen as exploiting the NBA “one-and-done” rule by recruiting top players who are expected to leave school after one season. In seven years at UK, his teams have gone to the Final Four four times. While UK is an institution of learning, Calipari acknowledges that his job is to find the best eligible players and to win basketball games. Calipari acknowledged a changing college basketball landscape and realized that in order to win at that level, his program needed to adjust to the behaviors of the new generation of talent.
As responsible leaders of organizations, you have a duty to create an environment that will foster success in your employees. Simultaneously, you want to be sure that you get the maximum amount of return out of your assets, especially human capital assets.