Edwards, Scott and Raju (p. 71, 2003) have defined the term recruitment as “organizational practices and policies developed for the primary purpose of motivating applicants to apply, remain in the candidate pool, and accept offers. ” Recruitment has been traditionally considered to have a minor role in the hiring process. Earlier the term recruitment to the hiring managers was primarily a means to indentify and use the sources, for instance the print media, which would give the maximum output in terms of applications from promising candidates. The importance of recruitment has increased multi-fold in recent times.
This has been due to trends in 1990s like the changes in market which has necessitated a need for a large work force of specialized labors, and the internet which has given a wide platform for both the recruiters and job searchers to come in contact with each other (Edwards, Scott and Raju, p. 71, 2003). As a result of these trends the organizations have come to a scenario that not many people might apply when a job is posted. Even when the organization has selected a candidate it can no longer be assumed that they would be accepting these offers.
Hence, there is an increasing awareness among people who take care of a company’s recruitment that the process covers far more than merely looking out for sources where the advertisements for job openings are to be put. This report gives an overview of the recruitment trends and selection practices in recent times in UK, the factors impacting these trends and selection practices in the country. Recruitment trends in UK in recent times The recruitment practices of organizations in UK have seen a drastic change in the recent times.
Various practices and conditions are seen to exist in the organizations these days, which were not present a few decades ago like provision of creches, job-sharing, part-time work, and home-working. There is also a lot of stress on gender equality by the various companies. For instance, banks are seen to be the pioneers in devising various schemes to hire and retain women. Another of these trends is also to review policies such as those which used to encourage early retirement based on various conditions (Hendry, p. 42, 1995).
There have been some additional schemes like performance related pays, which brought about the appraisal management system to fore. The trends for various organizations in UK is to use systems like the 360 feedback system for performance related pays, to motivate their employees so that they stay and work with the company and see this translated to an increase in the pay packages (Anderson, p. 130, 2005). Internet boom has been seen to impact all the aspects of businesses. Recruitment is no exception, and has seen a major change in the way companies recruit people.
The trend to adopt internet as a means to recruit people, has also seen in face of the increasing number of companies looking to recruit people. The ease of finding people has increased as the companies can now access databases of people living in far off places in a short time. The online recruitment activity in UK increased by 30% for August 2007, from last year August 2006 (Monster, p. 1, 2007) For the managerial vacancies, the trend is that the vacancies are filled from the internal labor market while the senior management positions are as likely filled internally as externally.
This trend means that on the supply side there has been an increase in new entrants in the labor market while on the demand side the organizations have a need for new managerial recruits. Selection Practices in UK in recent times Swift and Robertson (2000) cite several surveys conducted for selection practices to point out that the employers use a wide range of selection techniques depending upon the type of jobs for which the people are being recruited. They also said that the survey showed that no one method for selection was used as a standardized or stand-alone technique in small, middle, and even large sized corporations.
The most used current selection practices were found to be application forms, interviews with single interviewer, panel interviewers, personality tests, references, ability tests, selection centers, CVs, and group selection centers. Despite the many reports of unreliability and invalidity, traditional selection methods of interview, application form and references are the most popular selection practices used. Of these, personal interviews are considered to be the most widely criticized method of selection, and the third most popular toll behind reference checking and application forms.
The more sophisticated techniques like the assignment centers and psychological testing are relatively less used in UK. Though there has been a rise in the number of psychometric tests used by large sized corporations while selecting new recruits, the traditional methods are still the most common tools for selection (Brewster, Mayrhofer and Morley, p. 60, 2004). Brewster, Mayrhofer and Morley (2004) also point out that there has been a rise in the flexible working practices in UK, in particular the non-standard contracts.
There has been a rise in flexible contracts related to salary packages like sharing profits, introduction of performance incentive and also flexibility in the working hours. Changing environment in UK in the last few decades Organizations in UK faced the impact of the economic changes that occurred in 1980s through the 1990s. There were changes in the economic environment, labor law, government labor market policy, demographic changes and also the political climate, all of which had an impact on the organizations and hence their personnel management policies.
There was a severe recession of 1980-81, followed by a period of growth till the early 1990s and again a slump in the last quarter of 1990s when the economic growth ceased (Hendry, p. 23, 1995). Due to the recession in the country there was a need for bringing in more foreign currency, hence imports became cheaper and foreign firms were drawn to the UK market. All of these brought about a collapse in the manufacturing sector which could not keep up with the measures taken by the government to bring up the recession.
The industries began to restructure and this brought about the internationalization of various firms due to acquisitions and mergers (Hendry, p. 25, 1995). The trend for internationalization was present in UK but was chiefly restricted to Europe both in terms of trade and movement of capital. But the 1980s and 1990s saw the companies expand overseas in other countries to explore newer market and / or use cheaper labor due to the inherently tight labor market (Hendry, p. 27, 1995).
There were other changes for instance the demographic and social changes brought about by the education system, which meant that more people were trained in higher education, and hence the labor force fell sharply through the 1980s. However, the proportion of women entering the labor market started to rise. Politically too UK saw marked changes as the Thatcher government gave way to new governments and different work related policies as well as the overall policies (Hendry, p. 40, 1995). Effects of External Environment on Labor Markets
All the changes in the UK environment affected the personnel management practices by the organizations. The section above gave a brief on some of the major environment changes while this section would be giving the impact of the changes on the labor market and the next section would give the corresponding consequences in the recruitment and selection process. The collapse of the industrial segment in UK had far reaching impacts on the labor market. There was large scale unemployment which was well over 3 million for almost five years, with large regional imbalances.
There were forced redundancies and many of the units were closed down. This made the companies look out for increased measures in productivity by using flexible working practices. This also led to the sharp demarcations between the various levels of employees. The slump led to internationalization in two ways. First the people in the middle class who were traditionally the labors increasingly sent their offspring to universities for higher studies. This led to an increase in the number of people qualified tor white collar and professional jobs, and the number of labors decreased.
Organizations in UK hence started looking to countries in Asia and Africa for filling this labor gap. There were also direct acquisitions which led to foreign companies acquiring stakes in UK companies, which led to internationalization. The internationalization brought people from different cultures in contact with each other on regular basis. This meant that the people needed to be culturally conditioned to blend in easily with the increasingly changing work environment. The increase in the number of women in the industry at various levels brought about massive changes in the working culture of the organizations.
There were issues like employee safety and newer incentives were introduced to attract employees like facilities of creches, providing pick-up and drop facilities. Effects of External Environment on Recruitment Process The labor market in UK has traditionally being tight due to the reasons outlined above. The market was affected due to two important events foot-and-mouth disease and 9/11 crisis. These events brought about crisis in the financial markets, a fall in tourism and other related activities, thus increasing the unemployment.
However, in spite of these changes the labor market remains a challenge for recruiters in terms of recruitment and selection (Brewster, Mayrhofer and Morley, p. 48, 2004). The recruiters need to attract people to work in their organizations, which is the first important step. The second step is to follow a rigid but effective selection process which would ensure that the right people have been selected to work in the company. Recruitment and selection process are seen to be the most important functions of Human Resource Management process.
This is because an effective recruitment and selection process ensures an efficient labor force while a poor one might have negative effects to the company’s productivity which are long lasting. The companies prefer that their employees are sources both internally and externally, so that the internal employees are motivated and fresh blood is brought into the company which is necessary for innovation. The rise in technology especially the internet has seen to it that the companies can have a diverse work force.
The large companies have also used software technologies to use databases to keep track of their employees for checking their performance levels which would air the process of internal recruitment. UK companies traditionally preferred to fill their positions internally especially for managerial recruitments, though this is changing in the face of internationalization. Various organizations are also seen to improve the process of re-training and provide attractive incentives like performance related packages for recruiting and retaining employees (Brewster, Mayrhofer and Morley, p. 0, 2004).
Effects of External Environment on Selection Process After potential candidates apply for the position, the selection process must ensure that the most promising candidates are selected for the positions. This is again a challenge to the recruiters because of the increasing stress laid on the employees to excel not only in their job but also added skills like team-spirit and adapting to change. Many of the positions require that the candidate must be comfortable for working in newer locations, which was traditionally limited to people in the sales and marketing department.
In addition, the potential candidates must also be abreast with the fast changing technological environment, and be able to cope up with it. All these must be the elements of the selection process, which means a high burden for people designing the process to ensure only the right candidates, are selected (Brewster, Mayrhofer and Morley, p. 60, 2004). As is already mentioned above, personal interview though is the most criticized, is still the most preferred by recruiters in UK. The reason for this is probably the importance the company people give to personal judgment.
With the increasing number of people coming from different regions and countries, references and applications are considered to be the most important tools in the selection process. The reference checking is done with due diligence and the responses are always recorded. In many cases, the companies also go in for reference checking by employing private agencies to check up on the potential candidate. Application forms are of course the necessary input for any further steps in the selection process (Brewster, Mayrhofer and Morley, p. 60, 2004).