Trying to find the right balance can be a challenge when it comes to bringing new employees on board. Many companies feel the need to hire many people at once—and fast. Perhaps the company has accumulated several vacant positions because management put off hiring as employees left, hoping that the remaining staff would be able to take on the extra work. Other companies might feel the need to hire many people quickly, in order to increase capacity and stay competitive.
Whatever the reason, the company might be tempted to go on a hiring spree. Sometimes referred to as binge hiring, bringing on several new employees in a hurried manner is often counterproductive. Background investigations, training, and other on-boarding activities tend to be condensed or eliminated altogether. The focus is on quantity over quality. This can result in a high failure rate—many new hires won’t work out and the company must spend more time, money, and effort recruiting additional candidates.
Binge Hiring Can Work—But Only For Some
Hiring sprees are generally frowned upon, but C-suite executives often approve this kind of hiring based on the success stories of other companies who have tried it. High-volume hiring isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but only certain types of companies succeed with it.
For example, large e-commerce businesses that deal with a huge amount of inventory and customers need a big workforce at all times to make their operations run smoothly and fulfill extremely high demand. In cases like these, mass hiring can work well, because the jobs are relatively straightforward, training can be conducted in groups, and the learning curve isn’t as steep. One such example is Amazon. In 2016, the company announced they were looking to hire over 120,000 seasonal workers to keep pace with the demand of the holiday shopping season and solidify their position as the top e-commerce retailer in the world. That same year, both Target and Macy’s engaged in similar hiring drives.
Even though big hiring pushes can be effective for entry or intermediate level retail, warehouse, and manufacturing jobs, they usually aren’t a good way to fill corporate positions. These positions usually require candidates with more specific skill sets, and new hires may need more individualized training, onboarding, or even mentoring to ensure they are successful in their new roles. Small and medium-sized companies may lack the resources to offer this level of training for multiple hires simultaneously.
Research has shown that employees brought on during a hiring binge often leave the company before long. The time and money it takes to recruit and hire large numbers of employees at once would be better spent on more comprehensive recruitment and training programs.
Hiring Sprees Typically Can’t Withstand Market Downturns
Although most companies are hopeful that an economic downturn won’t happen, the truth is, these events must be accounted for when making long-term staffing decisions. The Great Recession of the late 2000s is only the most recent in a long series of financial crises that have plagued our country. Hiring binges based on unrealistically rosy economic forecasts could lead to layoffs or even company shutdowns if and when the market slows down.
Even businesses that are seeing unprecedented success should be cautious about bringing on new hires in droves. Company leaders should think critically about whether the company really needs a larger workforce to keep pace with demand.
Focus On Quality, Not Quantity
All hiring decisions should be made in a thoughtful manner so companies can get the employees they need while reducing the likelihood of turnover. When companies hire large numbers of people at once, they tend to neglect critical steps in the hiring process.
Reference and background checks in particular are essential during hiring, and bringing on several people simultaneously makes it difficult to complete these tasks. Hiring binges can also adversely affect the interview process. If HR feels rushed to screen as many people as possible, it becomes harder to see if a person would fit in with the company culture. In quick, cursory interviews, it’s more difficult to detect when a candidate is lying or merely putting on a favorable persona that is the complete opposite of their true nature.
For most corporate positions, the hiring process should not be hurried. Patience is essential to finding the right candidates with strong skills and experience. In addition to avoiding binge hiring, HR professionals should also be wary of offering a candidate a job on the spot, at the conclusion of an interview. While this may be tempting when the candidate creates an amazing first impression, it’s still best to give them enough time to weigh their options without feeling pressured to accept your offer. And of course, if you have not completed the requisite background checks when you make an offer, you are hiring at your own peril.