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Disruptive hiring lowers attrition

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Piyush Mehta

Chief Human Resources Officer

August 5, 2014 - “Zappos is forcing new candidates to join its own social network” – the headline of an online newsletter I subscribe to jumped out from my inbox.

Intrigued (and not for the reason you think), I clicked on it and skimmed the article which was about how the online shoe retailer has done away with job postings and invites candidates to interact with them on an informal social network called Zappos Insider. Some of the catchphrases that caught my attention included “…where they'll be able to interact with and try to impress current employees,” "we want to get to know who you really are…" and so on.

What struck me though was that despite the novel method they’re using – an informal social network vs. a traditional interview process – the onus of the interaction continues to fall on the candidate. She/he still needs to make the effort to impress current employees (vs. the interviewer) and to help the organization get to know him/her better. Why not go a step further and have the organization also make an effort to help the candidate know its culture better… through informal and novel means. Recruitment ads and company websites often paint a glossy image of the organization where life is all about caring bosses, flexible schedules, and successful colleagues. While one hopes that is true for the most part, reality can sometimes paint a different picture.

So why not really tell it like it is? Why not invite employees to spend time with the company before they sign on the dotted line… and in essence… de-sell the organization.

This is exactly what the “pre-hire-orientation” program at Genpact attempts to do. Prior to joining the company, candidates are invited to the office they will be working in, during the work hours they will be following in order to get a true sense of how life will be. It helps them understand the pressures of work, the environment they will be in operating in, and the energy on the floor. Facilitators ditch corporate jargon and talk in everyday language, socializing with the candidates while painting an accurate picture of work reality. The program focuses on a candidate’s propensity to attrite in the first 3 months (ostensibly due to an expectation mismatch) and has been successful in setting those expectations correctly. As a result, our early attrition rate has gone down significantly. Having said that, one of the challenges we face is managing the logistics around bringing candidates from across geographies into our delivery centers. And we’re talking big numbers here – approx.1500 to 2000 hires a month – so one can well imagine the complexities that are involved. Some of it gets addressed through conducting virtual sessions but the impact of that is limited – nothing beats an in-person and hands-on experience… but that is a whole other blog topic!

Would love to hear if companies you’ve dealt with have similar programs and how they run them. As for us, we’ve been doing this for over a decade now… but I suspect not many outside Genpact know about it. Perhaps if we called it something snazzier like Zappos does or were a b2c organization, we too would find our way in your mailbox!