Measuring Quality – The How, What and Why | eBoss UK Recruitment Strategy

As recruiters, do we care enough about quality? We look at the case for improving quality management to boost your business.

How do you track the performance of your consultants? If your recruitment KPIs don’t go much beyond the bottom line, you risk missing the bigger picture.

But don’t worry: you’re not alone. For most agencies today, recruitment KPIs still consist of sales goals and growing the agency turnover. That’s great for its immediacy, and for the benefits that those types of goals can provide for finances and bonuses.

But what does it tell us about the effectiveness of our outcomes? Very little. And, as in any sphere of business and industry, it is outcomes which lead to returning custom and stronger growth.

Quality management provides an additional set of KPI for recruiters. And, as we will see, achieving those quality goals could land recruiters higher fees on every sale.

Why your Recruitment KPIs probably ignore output quality

Most areas of industry today assess the quality of their output. In this respect, recruitment is lagging behind other sectors because, for the most part, it does not.

In fact, in his 2015 article, Dr John Sullivan suggested that “it’s embarrassing” that the recruitment industry ignores quality metrics.

The seven years since Dr Sullivan wrote that piece show very little change within the industry. The article is worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a quick summary:

  • Barely half (58%) of all recruitment firms report on quality of outcomes.
  • Only half of those that do report assess new hire performance – arguably the single most significant metric in recruiting quality.
  • This places recruiters in an almost unique position in the modern professional world, by being largely unaccountable in quality terms.
  • And yet, quality metrics have enormous earnings potential for recruiters who learn how to use them.

Why Quality KPI for Recruiters matter

Quality metrics have enormous earnings potential for recruiters who know how to use them.

The underlying thought behind most quality metrics is something we’re all familiar with. As the consistency of your output improves, trust increases; your sales – and return sales – will grow.

For manufacturing and industry, this means reducing the fail rate of producing a machine-tooled component. It means reducing the defect rate in products to an infinitesimally small number.

In recruitment, quality output would be a measure of not only your placement success rate, but also the quality of those placements.

So: how do you measure an abstract concept like that?

How to implement Quality Metrics

The first point to hold on to is that quality is not an abstract concept once it has been defined.

Once you have settled on your definition of quality, it becomes a metric that is both easy to measure, and possible to improve upon.

Some recruitment quality metrics you may choose to measure might include:

  • Candidates offered : candidates invited to interview ratio
  • Candidates invited to interview : candidates hired ratio
  • Candidate retention at six months and one year from the hire.
  • Client (employer) satisfaction at six months and one year from the hire.
  • Candidate satisfaction (employee) at six months and one year from the hire.

Just like a machine component, your candidate can be assessed for quality in terms of reliability, accuracy, and longevity. Each of these metrics feeds into your company’s overall quality metric, and provides you with your fail rate.

Today, manufacturing operates on the six sigma standard, which permits a fail rate of just over three defects per one million products. Software as a Service uses the same key metric: the 99.999% service up-time assurance works out at a similar fail rate.

Now, recruiters have a long way to go before they can boast a turnover rate of 0.001%. In fact, that is an almost improbable goal. But, by following the same principles of quality as manufacturers, maybe the industry can begin to improve its outcomes.

These concepts of quality derive from the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM).

What is ‘Total Quality Management?’

Total Quality Management is a design and manufacture approach. It was developed in the West in the early 1980s as an answer to cheaper, more efficient Japanese manufacturing.

The philosophy goes like this:

• You assess each non-defective output, and you record the stages and factors which were present in its success.

• You then assess every defective output, and assess which of those same stages and factors were absent when failure occurred.

• The factors you identify become part of a standardised quality assurance process.

Identifying the factors which assure quality is achieved through Seven basic tools of quality. These are a set of graphs which visualise the methods of production and the associated workflows.

Quality Management for better outcomes

It sounds complicated. It seems like a bunch of additional work that, perhaps, you do not have time for. But the important point is that, by collecting useful data, the information which comes out the other end will be immensely valuable to you.

In fact, this philosophy has been boiled down to something that many recruiters will be familiar with: the Pareto Principle.

The Pareto Principle

In essence, the Pareto Principle is an efficiency model which helps organisations to focus their attention on the areas of greatest return. It is also the source of the famous “80:20” rule. That is: 80 per cent of your effort should be focused on 20 per cent of your output. Why? Because 80 per cent of your turnover will be earned from just 20 per cent of your clients.

Indeed, a quality-orientated agency may even dictate higher fees – and their clients will gladly pay for them. Why? Because, as Dr Sullivan says, you are armed with your data; it is very difficult to argue with hard facts and figures.

So, in some respects, recruiters may already be adhering to some aspects of TQM techniques. However, they will largely be the inward-looking, cost-cutting metrics.

Maybe now is the time to start looking at the outward indicators of quality: employer and candidate satisfaction levels; retention rates, and turnover. None of these data points would be difficult to collect: a scheduled, automated email or SMS which gets fired off six months and twelve months after a successful placement. “Is my candidate still in their role?” “How would you rate their efficacy in their position?” “How likely are you to recommend my agency to your friends and colleagues on a scale of zero to ten?

In fact, this process could be incredibly easy to set up with the right tools. The data you collect identifies the factors which are contributing to your high quality outcomes. Your future workflows can be built on the back of your ever-improving quality.

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