The Cost of Mediocrity: Does it really save you money when you hire an “acceptable” employee?

It happens: You have a position that needs filling right away, and you hire quickly so numerous people don’t have to spend hours of their time looking at resumes and conducting interviews. Or you get a good gut reaction from one of the candidates. After spending even more time (and money) hiring, training, and paying this new employee, you realize…this just isn’t going to work. They’re not the worst employee, but their performance is no more than “acceptable.” What next? And how do you avoid making the same mistake in the future?

In February we discussed “average versus top performers” and how to spot them. But what about that other side of the coin, when a company chooses to hire someone “acceptable” for the position rather than the best choice? Trust that the time and money you think you saved will cost you more in the end. In fact, hiring a mid-level manager for 2.5 years, terminating, and replacing that person, what with costs of onboarding, compensation, severance packages, and other factors can cost around $840,000, according to recruiter Jorgen Sundberg (via

The cost of hiring a mediocre employee comes in various forms. As pointed out, there’s the monetary cost of hiring, training, firing, and replacing someone. Consider as well that these employees tend to need more time and training in attempts to get them to improve. And “average” work will filter through the rest of your business…and to others who work with you. If clients and top employees see what they consider a move toward lower quality, they may well leave to find a place that holds its standards higher. You don’t want to lessen your competitive status or mar your corporate image by keeping employees who bring you down.

If you already feel you have employees that don’t quite meet your expectations, you can help them improve through training, mentoring, and regular performance meetings and benchmarks. This may well help an average employee rise to the challenge, especially if you make your objectives specific, measurable, and concrete. To cut off the problem before it begins, start by making your job description thorough: Make it a written record of exactly what you’re looking for with regard to experience, qualifications, and job duties/requirements. You can then use the latter as benchmarks for the employee to follow. Remove the candidates who don’t meet your standards — bearing in mind that someone who doesn’t have the exact set of skills you’re looking for but has qualified transferrable skills can fit the bill as well. Perform phone interviews with qualified applicants and finally, do in-person interviews with the final candidates, using that job description as a screening tool. Remember to utilize staffing agencies to help streamline the process for finding quality candidates.

The time and money you take to hire the “right” employee versus an “acceptable” one is absolutely worth the cost because a quality employee will give you a superior long-term investment. To work with a recruiter to find these employees, reach out to the experienced staffing team at PrideStaff for more information.

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