Updated: Apr 23, 2019
How do we ramp up a major recruiting drive without antagonizing existing employees? We want to prepare employees for this influx of new staff, but we aren't sure how to manage the cultural change that is sure to take place in the workforce.
-- Culture Clash, principal human resources officer, publishing/communication/ advertising, Harare, Zimbabwe
Dear Culture Clash:
The change you are facing--workforce expansion--may sound like all good news to employees whose companies are facing layoffs and downsizing. However, growth does bring its own concerns for employees who must deal with the pressures of expansion.
More people coming into an existing workspace can create crowding. The conference room that was once a great place for impromptu meetings is now the office of a new employee. Relocating to larger quarters can be a hassle for employees who must pack up and reorganize their workspaces. Requests for computers can lag behind the hiring process and create frustrations for the information technology department forced to install equipment under pressure.
On top of all that, supervisors can be tied up in interviews, so current employees wait longer to get their questions answered. Job opportunities and promotions desired by your current employees may have been offered to new hires, creating jealousy and resentment. Current employees sometimes find themselves in the uncomfortable role of teaching new hires how to do the jobs they applied for themselves.
To address workforce expansion effectively, develop a plan for growth that takes into account the concerns your employees are likely to experience. Communicate about the expansion in positive terms, but be frank about the possible downsides. Let employees know you are aware that growth can also bring growing pains.
Think through your selection process, and consider some of the following strategies: Try job posting. If you don't have an internal job posting process, start one now. Give your current employees the opportunity to be considered for attractive new jobs and promotional opportunities. Whenever possible, promote from within. Remember: Your safest hiring bet is usually your current employee, whose work product and work behaviors are well-known.Consider work process teams. Establish employee teams to think through future work flows and space.Beef up your employee referral program. Reward employees with a generous gift card for helping in the recruitment effort. The cost is nominal compared to other recruitment costs.Use employee focus groups. Hold an employee focus group to verify your hiring specifications. Ask these questions to get a realistic set of hiring criteria: What particular characteristics should all new hires exhibit to be successful in this department? What should new employees know about the department so they don't experience culture shock? What skills or abilities are currently missing in the department that the new employee should bring to the party?Don't forget job fairs. If you host a company job fair, ask your current employees to help plan and staff it. Have department employees lead the department tour, and ask for their help in screening prospective employees.Use team interviews. Involve current employees in the interview process. Provide them with structured interview guides as well as some training in how to interview as a team. Prospective hires like team interviews because they get to meet team members and get a realistic preview of the job.Enhance your employee orientation program. Capitalize on the experience of your current employees. For example, consider having your long-tenured employees present the company history along with the company's future growth plans. Recognize your customer service veterans by having them present the product overview. Be creative.Simplify payroll and benefits. Anticipate the administrative burden of getting new employees into the system, and plan ahead to streamline new hire enrollment. Can you automate the process? Eliminate forms?Establish a buddy system. Pair up new hires with current employees in a formalized way. Create a basic checklist for buddies, so the role they perform in helping new hires get up to speed is not a burden, and recognize their contributions. For example, feature the buddy's role in an article in the company newsletter.