In The Workplace

Our human resource (HR) department is unpopular because of its strict implementation of our policies. One other grievance against it is the delayed hiring of new employees. HR also hired a new canteen concessionaire last month that resulted in a minor food poisoning incident recently. How do we manage the situation? — Yellow Banner.

First thing to do is to immediately fire the new concessionaire subject to the terms of the contract to avoid a protracted court battle. This is a double-edged weapon as it could inconvenience the employees who rely on the canteen for reasonably-priced meals and snacks.

It’s imperative that employees not lose access to this. This means hiring a temporary but more experienced concessionaire that can set up in one to two days maximum. If they have the expertise, they should be able to organize themselves in record time to serve employee needs.

Don’t forget to sign a contract with them for say one or two months, depending on how long it will take you to agree on a long-term deal. Just the same, don’t allow the temporary concessionaire to think that a long-term engagement is contract is a done deal so they stay on their toes and keep improving.

Even if you’re hiring a temporary concessionaire, make sure to pick one with a track record of serving your industry, market and geographical location. A cafeteria concessionaire in a Laguna factory even with 30 years of experience may not be able to match a competitor with say, 15 years in an upscale location like Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

Or vice versa. That BGC concessionaire may not like the idea of serving a Laguna factory or lower its standards to meet the needs of shop floor workers. In fact, it may even reject an offer.

To ensure co-ownership, allow at least two employee representatives to participate in the bidding process to be handled by a five-person ad hoc committee chaired by management. If there’s a union, request it to send in representatives to the vetting committee.

The delayed hiring of new employees is often a symptom of the deeper problem of poor employee motivation due to toxic management style. If this is true in your case, prepare to solve them simultaneously.

But then, what causes the delay in your hiring process? Some HR people tell me they can hire new employees after 60 to 90 days, depending on the job specifications. Sometimes, if the vacancy is for a sensitive managerial post, the hiring process takes longer, even if they outsource it to headhunters. Why that long?

I talked to several recruitment managers and I was surprised to learn they are still observing outmoded practices. When asked about the first step of their hiring process, about 90% tell me they require applicants to submit basic documents like diplomas, transcripts of records, birth certificates, police and court clearances, social security numbers, employment certificates, driver’s licenses and marriage certificates.

What does that have to do with their capacity to do the job? Wouldn’t it be better to simplify the process by requiring only a curriculum vitae? If one has passed the third level of job interviews, that’s when you require the three shortlisted candidates to submit their records for further evaluation.

You don’t have to require all job applicants to confuse you with so many documents that may not be needed in the first place because they have not passed your testing and interview process. And speaking of job interviews, focus on asking difficult questions about work situations peculiar to the vacancy. Questions like, how would you manage an irate customer who is badmouthing you and your brand of service?

Avoid interview questions about the strengths and weaknesses of a person or a trite question like — “tell me something about yourself.” They’re a waste of time. Rather, focus on the core competencies of a job and let the applicants justify how they would perform under critical work conditions.

HR is not engaged in a popularity contest. If HR is hated for implementing management policy, then you should not take it against them. Rather, you must commend HR for doing its job regardless of the folly of such policies and practices.

The best thing for HR to do is to re-examine a much-criticized policy and determine whether it is rational to continue with it. Issue a memorandum to all employees clarifying the logic behind such policies. Otherwise, accept the blame when something goes wrong. Or, change certain policies that were implemented in answer to specific situations that have since been resolved.

HR must be brave enough to admit mistakes. Be honest with people and be magnanimous with change as well.


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