October 12th 2022
By: Joël Durivage

Difficult socio-economic context: Is it necessary to invest in HR?

Personally, corporate happy hours are still the best way to get a feel for the HR practices of other organizations. This format allows for spontaneous discussion of various issues with stakeholders from different backgrounds. It was very recently, during a happy hour organized by a leadership training organization, that I heard a comment that made me think a lot. In a few words, a manager of a large private organization mentioned that “it is no longer worth investing in the hiring process because today’s candidates leave as soon as they have to do a hiring assessment”.

To give you some context, this manager was referring to the difficulties he had experienced over the past year in attracting and retaining talent. In addition, the manager stated that the uncertain economic environment, in addition to full employment in Québec, had discouraged him from investing in his hiring processes. Although the manager limited himself to these comments, without elaborating on his thoughts, the subject remained in my mind for the next few days.

In short, I asked myself the following question: Is it true that the current socio-economic context justifies employers reducing their staffing efforts? This question seems interesting and topical to me, and I propose, in this blog post, to study some of the related issues in an attempt to answer it.

To better answer this, I tried to pose this question under a different scope; is it still relevant to invest our resources in measuring the potential of candidates or is it better to speed up the process in order to recruit more easily?

This is one of the questions that my clients have asked me the most in the past two years. Indeed, they see their pool of candidates decrease from year to year and can sometimes lose some candidates during processes involving assessment tools. They mention that the investment in selection processes can slow down hiring due to the time required for assessments. Therefore, some clients are considering streamlining their process to reduce the number of candidates lost to job postings.

The issue

On the one hand, the issue of filling vacancies remains a priority for many organizations and the task is not easy. Institut Québec estimates that there will be 245,470 vacant positions in 2022 in Québec and that the ratio between the number of unemployed and the number of vacant positions is at a low of 0.8[1]. This indicates that the number of workers on the market is low and that employers are in a competitive position to attract them.

This leads us to believe that the current priority is to simply find employees to fill positions, regardless of who fills them; that it is too risky to continue to erect metrics in our hiring processes by fear of losing candidates.

Should we eat blackbirds for want of thrushes? In order to answer this question, we need to look at the costs of a bad hire to determine if it is viable to lower our hiring standards by assuming the risk of hiring the wrong person.

Monetary cost

The cost of a bad hire is difficult to calculate, as many factors can be affected. We can quickly think of the costs related to finding and hiring candidates. However, the costs go further than that when we look at all the people involved in hiring a new employee. Think of the people involved in training the employees, the HR and accounting departments that are involved in the process. The costs add up and it was estimated in a study by Bounds, D., CEO, & Breezy that a bad hire could cost $70,000.00 on average [2].

Cost productivity

A bad hire will have significant consequences for a team’s productivity. Not only will the time it took to find, hire and train the employee have been in vain, but the process will have to be repeated. This situation may have stalled the momentum of some teams who are waiting for new resources to reach their goals.

Cost on employee morale

The biggest cost of a bad hire is on employee morale. A bad hire is never easy on the employer, or the person hired who failed to meet expectations. However, employees will also be affected by this situation in many ways. Whether it is the lack of productivity that forces employees to take over tasks from the hired employee or the stress that can be caused by firing a new colleague. New employees who are not performing well enough can also have a perverse effect on others by creating a new and inappropriate standard. “It is important to note that bad hires have a ripple effect. Disengagement is contagious – low-performing employees lower the bar for others on their team and their bad habits spread throughout the organization [3]”.

What is the cause of these bad hires?

The study conducted by CareerBuilders indicates that the cause of bad hires is strongly influenced by the way candidates are evaluated during the hiring process. Indeed, they measured that 33% of bad hires were due to hiring managers relying solely on their intuition to hire, and not on reliable measurement tools. Another 29% were due to poor selection of measurement tools, where hiring managers assessed only skills and not people skills. Although in 30% of these cases, managers had tried to speed up the hiring process to meet the pressure to hire quickly, they did not hire.

Bottom line

In conclusion, hiring your future talent will certainly be a challenge. The pressure to hire and the difficulty of filling positions will remain an issue for many employers. However, you should not give up and lower your hiring standards. Indeed, lowering your hiring standards will help you fill your empty seats, but will not guarantee that you will find the right people in the right places. The consequences of lowering your evaluation standards are not worth the effort. We recommend that you keep your candidate assessment processes up to par with what your positions deserve.

Joël Durivage

Manager, Business Architect


[1] IDQ. (2022, 23 juin). Regard sur les postes vacants : les secteurs durement touchés augmentent davantage les salaires horaires offerts. Publications sur la main-d’œuvre, Institut du Québec. https://institutduquebec.ca/regard-sur-les-postes-vacants-la-croissance-ralentit-les-salaires-ne-suivent-pas-la-hausse-du-cout-de-la-vie/

[2] Bounds, D., CEO, & Breezy, H. R. (2019). Why a bad hire is bad for your bottom line. Brentwood: Newstex. Retrieved from https://apps.uqo.ca/LoginSigparb/LoginPourRessources.aspx?/blogs-podcasts-websites/why-bad-hire-is-your-bottom-line/docview/2252907970/se-2

[3] Rosemary H, Nearly three in four employers affected by a bad hire, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey: – the average cost of one bad hire is nearly $15,000; average cost of losing a good hire is nearly $30,000. (2017, Dec 07). PR Newswire Retrieved from https://apps.uqo.ca/LoginSigparb/LoginPourRessources.aspx?/wire-feeds/nearly-three-four-employers-affected-bad-hire/docview/1973337583/se-2