Hire "Bigger than the job"

Posted: 07/09/2012

Hiring "Bigger Than the Job" – Creating Tactical and Operational Advantages

The world seems obsessed with obtaining 100% compatibility. Sayings like "A match made in heaven" and "The perfect fit" are seen as positive statements, while "a round peg in a square hole", "Not an exact fit," or "over-qualified for the job" have got a negative connotation. To some extent these stereotypes may hold some truth, but the concept of hiring bigger than the job as a conscious decision, in order to create tactical and operational advantages during change intensive periods within a Shared Services, holds definite merit.

In the case of Standard Bank South Africa’s HR Shared Services, hiring bigger than the job was a journey embarked on in 2009, the overall aim being the following:

  • enhancing the employee value proposition for Talent
  • stabilising the Shared Services workforce through the containment of turn-over
  • optimising costs associated with Recruitment and bridging staff requirements in the course of increased/non-standard operational workload
  • increasing the success rate of ability and skills identified during recruitment being translated into actual operational performance

The following four key elements were focussed on, all with a particular projected value that we hoped to derive from the intervention:

  1. The creation of an HR Shared Services Competency Framework (not only focussing on job fit, but looking for business strategy fit)
    Competencies are defined at Management, Specialist and General Staff Level, each layer containing critical as well as additional competencies. This supports a more scientific hiring decision, and more robust employee profiles (additional competencies were included which did not historically form part of a particular job description). It also resulted in the recruitment of employees whose profiles match a variety of roles/jobs within the Shared Services.
  2. The establishment of skills pools
    This means we now have a group of employees that have a number of different skills, which can be applied in various roles across a number of areas within HR Shared Services; thus providing a buffer between the large peaks and troughs that are inherent to transactional cycles.
  3. Expanding internal career opportunities through Recruitment Protocols (not only ability but also opportunity to advance)
    Employees are able to move between different areas within the Shared Services due to a recruitment practice where all employees within the Shared Services are made aware of and are given due consideration for all internal positions prior to advertising vacancies externally. All Shared Services employees, no matter which level, have a Personal Development Plan aligned to their role/future aspirations. Agile skills bases support greater staff mobility, which in turns supports a culture of "Self-Career Management". All of the above results in the average retention rate of employees increasing.
  4. Particular competencies (e.g. Resilience and Stress Management, Problem Solving and Communication) increase success rate of employees during periods of great change – for example retrenchments, restructuring or model changes.
    These competencies build in a natural endurance, which results in greater success – both in terms of Partner Relationships, as well as in taking advantage of the opportunities for exponential progression during change, due to better coping mechanisms.

It has been two years since the deployment of the initiatives and the following statistics give an idea of the results to date:

  • Staff Turnover. Overall, turnover of staff has not reduced in the last three years. The number of Shared Services employees that have left the HR Shared Services to pursue opportunities in other areas within Standard Bank as a result of being promoted to more senior positions in those business units has tripled in 2010, however. This contributed to the increase in turnover statistics.

Turnover: 2009 - YTD 2011
2009 2010 2011
Turnover 3.5% 6.3% 4.8%

  • Increased internal mobility. Due to new organisational requirements, very strict measures to control increases in costs have resulted in additional layers of governance centrally, which have impacted the 2011 data. The focus is more on "double-hatting" and "caretaking" of additional roles while in a current position (most prominent shift in 2010).

Statistically, the greatest impact of these initiatives was felt in the first year after implementation. In 2011, with the organisational focus being on "doing more with less," the built in extra capacity from a skills perspective has reaped rewards, to the extent that there is now a greater requirement for "double-hatting" and "caretaking."

Hiring "Bigger than the job" is definitely a tactical approach that we will be continuing for the foreseeable future, at Standard Bank South Africa, while looking forward to expected and some unexpected benefits of this practise.


Editor’s Note: This article was inspired by a different article by Simon Brown (Arming Your Shared Services Team), which Riette read on the SSON website, and to which she posted a comment.

Posted: 07/09/2012

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