3 reasons why traditional hiring is broken

Part I

In my role at Simplicity Consulting, I help hiring managers understand how to think about talent and how best to reach their business goals. And while each manager, team, and organization are unique, the downsides of the traditional hiring process are painfully universal.

It boils down to this: Traditional hiring is broken and here’s why.


Join me in the second part of this two part series where I share my ideas on how to fix it.


Do any of these sound familiar?

Need: You need to fill an open role - now.
Real talk: Traditional hiring is too slow ... and expensive.

Whether you need to fill a role that’s been vacant for far too long or add headcount to quickly pivot, traditional hiring—that is, hiring full- or part-time salaried employees—isn’t synonymous with speed … or cost savings.

LinkedIn 1 reports that only 30 percent of companies fill a vacant role within 30 days, and even then, it can take one to four months to process a new hire.

The opportunity cost of waiting to hire the “perfect” person is enormous. It costs 213 percent of an annual salary to replace a highly skilled employee, estimates Jack Altman, CEO of performance management company Lattice, in HuffPo. 2 Many hiring managers search for months for an elusive unicorn, only to have that unicorn leave for greener pastures in a year or two. 

Plus, it’s expensive. The true costs of hiring a full-time employee often outweigh those of an external on-demand expert.

As illustrated by Toptal's real employee cost calculator 3, an employee’s lower hourly rate exceeds a consultant’s higher rate once you factor indirect costs like benefits and taxes and a lengthy list of indirect overhead costs.

Annual compensation figures of traditional hiring vs. consultants. The total annual cost for employees is $190,403, and the total cost of consultants is $174,720.
Toptal’s real employee cost calculator shows the true cost comparison of a consultant billing $70/hr and a full-time employee earning $46/hr. Once direct and indirect costs are considered, the employee costs more to the company, despite a significantly lower hourly rate. (Source: Toptal)

It’s no wonder, then, that 83 percent of Fortune 500 executives tell McKinsey that they do not trust the effectiveness of their own hiring processes.4

Need: Your employee is going out on parental leave, and there’s no way you can survive without them.
Real talk: Traditional hiring focuses on the long game.

Traditional hiring doesn’t readily accommodate short-term headcount needs—something many employers learned the hard way during the pandemic. Coverage for an unexpected absence or few-month-long leave requires agility and speed. It demands a hiring model that breaks success into bite-sized chunks, not one grounded in the fading myth of employee retention.

All that assuming your employee returns: The impact of turnover is another challenge entirely.

Need: You need to quickly scale your team for an upcoming product launch, but won’t need the added headcount after the release.
Real talk: Traditional hiring is inflexible.

We already established that traditional hiring takes time (more than 30 days for 70 percent of companies, plus one to four months of processing), putting it at odds with today’s ever-increasing speed of business.

When you need to quickly build an on-demand team, the months required to source, screen, interview, hire, and onboard new employees will only hamper innovation and agility.

While traditional hiring has some serious limitations, there are alternatives that will help you overcome the costly and timely obstacles. In my next article, I will share a new hiring strategy that will keep you and your team thrive in this new world of work. Until then, please reach out to me with questions or an early look at this new approach.


Want to join the on-demand workforce and choose when and how you work?

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With the increase in virtual teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thoughtful communication is even more important. Whether you are working with a multicultural team or establishing your product or service in another country, these foundational guidelines will help you communicate respectfully across cultures and geographies.

You may be asking yourself: What do I need to be aware of? How do I make the right impression?

  1. First and foremost, do your research. Educate yourself in advance to avoid any missteps and, most importantly, demonstrate respect. Learn about the place where the teammate or offshore team is located. This may be as simple as looking up someone’s location in the address book rather than asking where they are from in the meeting.
  2. Familiarize yourself with cultural communication norms. Get the knowledge to embrace differences, read context and meaning, and avoid offensive language or behavior. Resources such as The Culture Crossing Guide and IOR Global Services Knowledge Center are great places to start.

    For example, in some Asian countries, such as Thailand, “Yes” may mean, “Yes, I follow what you are saying,” rather than, “Yes, let’s do that.” You can imagine how this can lead to confusion and frustration.

  3. Plan meetings to accommodate different time zones. Use a meeting planner such as timeanddate.com to pick a time that is comfortable for everyone. If that’s not possible, offer to alternate the off-hours time-slot. When working with more than two very-different time zones, it may make sense to offer two different meeting times.

  4. Be aware of regional holidays. Holiday calendars vary around the world. For example, not every country recognizes Chinese New Year and Golden Week. Some holidays are only observed by certain regions of a country, such as Fasching in Germany. Identify holidays to plan around and go over them with the team to make sure everyone is aware of upcoming holidays and time off.

  5. Communicate your global mindset. It’s not us and them—it’s we. Your company (or headquarters) isn’t the sole authority or center of the universe, and a perceived imbalance could lead to negative feelings about the team dynamic. Harvard Business Review contributor Tsedal Neeley shares a framework for leading global teams. As a leader, be conscious about calling attention to each group’s contribution to the overall goal so that the meeting remains focused and everyone feels recognized.

  6. Don’t assume to know where someone comes from. Anyone who has a French accent is not necessarily from France. In Europe alone, multiple other countries use French as an official language. This can be especially hurtful when there is a rivalry or unrest between the countries you are mixing up (Ukraine and Russia; India and Pakistan; etc.). You may sound arrogant or ignorant or both.

  7. Avoid colloquialisms. Refrain from figures of speech such as “put your best foot forward” or “barking up the wrong tree” to help non-native speakers better understand you. People who speak other languages may well have an equivalent for a colloquial expression, however, equating that to their own takes more time to process and takes the focus away from the conversation.

    For example, in the United States people say “the grass is always greener on the other side” to mean that one’s own situation always seems worse than everyone else’s. In Brazil, one says “my neighbor’s chicken is always better than mine,” but in Farsi, “my neighbor’s chicken is always a goose.”

    At any rate, it’s best to speak more literally so everyone can understand your meaning.

  8. Turn on your video camera during meetings, when possible. It can be difficult for anyone, especially non-native speakers, to follow someone’s speech without seeing their mouth move or their facial expressions, such as when talking on the telephone or listening to the radio. How many puzzling song lyrics did you unlock once you watched the music video? And how tricky has it been to understand the grocery store clerk when you’re both masked? It’s the same idea here. Turn on your camera to add visual cues and context to your speech.

  9. Be mindful of what your non-verbal communication is saying. Some gestures that are benign in your culture of origin are seen as offensive in other cultures. For example, the “OK” sign in the US—thumb and index finger together with other 3 fingers in the air—means something entirely different in Brazil and the same gesture means “money” in Japan.

    The Gestures Around the World video shows several more great examples. Once you’re past the basics, the less-extreme examples of non-verbal communication offer insight into what others are thinking. Resources such as Live Japan Perfect Guide can demystify more subtle gestures.

  10. Reflect your cultural awareness in email. Written correspondence, yet another step away from in-person communication that’s often sent hastily, also has great potential for misunderstandings. Darren Menabney provides excellent advice for email across cultures, such as adopting the right level of formality and being sensitive to the directness of your communication.

Now that you have a grasp of the basics, ask yourself: What will I do differently now that I’m aware of these nuances in language and communication?

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