When I was growing up, I had this vision of corporate America being a conveyor belt of some kind. You graduate from college and hop on the belt, which symbolizes your career. I thought if you stayed on the belt, you would eventually progress forward, meaning you work your way up through the ranks by working diligently and getting promoted for your efforts.
From my experience, I see this “seniority system” used in many companies today. As with any system, there are both benefits and drawbacks to the “seniority system,” and taking the time to evaluate them thoroughly will help you make the best hiring decisions for your team.
The pros of the “seniority system”:
Seniority-based systems nurture an environment of company loyalty. New hires and company veterans alike will have more company loyalty because they know they are a member of an organization which values the time and effort they’ve given to the company.
Companies that generally promote based on “seniority systems” are less likely to have problems with objectivity during the interview and promotion processes. Your company might have just promoted the kid from the financial services department because he’s a genius with numbers, but it’s going to raise some red flags to other employees when they find out that this whiz kid is the boss’s nephew. Sticking to a “seniority system” eliminates potential favoritism and bias from the hiring and promotion processes.
Using the “seniority system” will ensure all of your employees have the opportunity to develop in their roles and gain relevant experience. When it’s time to promote someone, you already know they are familiar with the company ethics and policies, as well as the dynamic of the work environment and expectations for a given role.
The cons of the “seniority system”:
The “seniority system” can be discouraging to new employees. While the seniority system can be affective in promoting company loyalty and eliminating bias, it does not provide incentives for newer employees. Instead of working hard and taking on extra responsibility to make a good impression, a newer employee may lack motivation because he knows there are seven other members of the team who will get promoted before he will.
The “seniority system” can cause hiring managers to lose sight of what is most important – finding the right fit for the position. You shouldn’t discount a younger or less seasoned employee if they have undeniable talent, have shown impressive progress, and have the “And Then Some” characteristic. Promoting and assigning responsibility based on the number of years a person has worked in your organization could cause you to place an employee in a position for the wrong reasons.
You must often trade seniority for trainability. An older, more seasoned candidate might have decades worth of clinical trial experience, but they also have the old habits they’ve developed from doing things a certain way for so long. It might be difficult to have them adjust their processes while maintaining quality and efficiency standards. A less experienced candidate may lack the hands-on experience of a seasoned veteran, but they make up for that in their ability to be molded and trained to do things the way you want them done.
As a hiring manager, you may have asked yourself “Is hiring seniority worth the money?” Hiring a candidate who has three decades of experience has obvious advantages, but also disadvantages such as salary cost, less flexibility, and lower trainability may overshadow their qualifications.
If the position is one in which prior knowledge and experience is crucial, than investing in a more seasoned candidate will be the best option. If the position you’re looking to fill doesn’t heavily rely on previous experience, then consider branching out and hiring a candidate who would be open to learning and training in a new field.
Written by Katie Fidler
Dedicated to Every Client’s Success,
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