Companies across all industries have always competed to hire top-performing employees. While it is natural to want the best and brightest working for your company, a recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that top performers who are also toxic employees can be more trouble than they're worth. Pre-hire assessments solve the problem.Although it is taken as granted that talented and productive employees provide value to an organization, research suggests that this is not always the case.
According to a recent working paper from Harvard Business School, some candidates who may seem like high-potential hires engage in "toxic" behavior, causing more harm than good to their organization.
The article notes that the average toxic employee can cost a company $12,500 in turnover expenses, while even the top 1% of performers add an average of $5,300 per year. Additionally, the article noted workers exposed to these types of employees had a 46% greater likelihood of being fired for misconduct. Another HBR report found that 41% of employers estimate a single bad hire could cost $25,000, while 25% estimate that number to be at least $50,000.
Toxic Employees in the Workplace: Problems with the Interview Process
For many businesses, the interview process is the main method of screening out job candidates.
The problem with this strategy is that many toxic employees perform very well during the interview process. High-performing applicants with the potential to exhibit toxic employee attitudes down the road tend to be self-centered, overconfident, and have a high level of self-esteem. Additionally, they also tend to be very well-spoken and charismatic. This can make it incredibly difficult to differentiate between top talent and the toxic candidate with only an interview.
Another problem with the interview process is that employers tend to hire the job candidates who closely resemble their own attitudes, interests, and world views, which may not be in the best interests of the organization. Biases can quickly poke holes in the hiring process through recruiters’ tendency to favor candidates who grew up in the same area, went to the same school, or worked for one of their previous employers.
A study conducted by Dr. Lauren A. Rivera in the American Sociology Review concluded that the majority of interviewers are looking for an applicant similar to themselves, and many interviewers even know it. These interviewers think applicants who are just like them would be a good "fit" for the company. However, having too much homogeneity in one business, or even one department, can hinder diversity in the workplace, stunt business growth, foster an increase of toxic employees in the workplace, and diminish the ability to detect problems among the workforce.
Talent Assessment Tools Used Too Late
Waiting to administer a talent assessment – or not giving any assessment at all – can lead to critical hiring errors. As mentioned above, toxic employees tend to interview extremely well. In a recent study that evaluated 600 interviews, nearly 60% of the interviewers said they made their decision about the candidate within the first 15 minutes.
This causes many interviewers to make snap judgments that are incorrect about the applicant based on a few positive attributes, such as charisma, likability, and good looks. Just one trait can obscure an interviewer’s perception and cause them to overlook many of the negative attributes about the candidate. However, employing a data-driven process mitigates the risk of interview bias.
The Benefits of Pre-Hire Assessments in Avoiding Toxic Employees
More and more businesses have begun making pre-hire assessments a standard practice in the recruiting process. In fact, many companies are having job candidates complete at least some type of assessment online when submitting their job application. In addition to screening out employees who could potentially be toxic, implementing a pre-hire assessment process can help by:
- Identifying skills, motivations, and ability to perform – will an applicant be a good fit for the position and the culture?
- Matching KPIs against an applicant’s performance – are applicants demonstrating the core competencies necessary for success in the role?
- Diagnosing the root cause of hiring and retention issues – is it toxic employees, the hiring process itself, or something else that’s stymieing your efforts?
If your company is among the majority of businesses who have made poor hiring decisions, it may be time to take a closer look at your hiring process. The use of pre-hire assessments can help to weed out low-potential candidates that might otherwise look like ideal candidates. The final results are a cost savings for your company, better productivity throughout the workplace, and a higher level of employee morale.
Topics: Better Interviewing