Recruitment, selection and training in the service sector

1. Introduction

Organisations have changed and are changing as a result of a focus on the customers. It is now recognized that meeting customer needs is the base of any successful organisation. There may be a pressure to improve shareholders value, increase profit but it has recognized that the key is to achieve these objectives is to satisfy the customers. As W R Scott (1987) pointed out ‘However, organisations are not closed systems, sealed off from their environments but are open to and dependent on flows of personnel and resources from outside.’ Managers need to understand their customers in order to meet those customers’ needs better. To meet customer needs as well as possible a company needs to provide goods and services: •At lower cost

•At maximum customer satisfaction
•With competitive advantages.
The guest satisfaction starts at recruitment with:
•Recruit the right staff
•Train and motivate them
•Empower them to deliver guest satisfaction
•Appraise, develop and incentive them.

2. Service industry characteristics

The service industry is special because:
•The service is delivered by people to people
•The service is produced and consumed at the same time
•Customer’s perception of service quality linked to morale of front-line staff. Characteristics of services:
•Perishability
•Contact dependency
•Inseparability
•Variability
•Lack of ownership
•Intangibility
•Simultaneity
As Macken (1997) suggests:
‘Recruiting people who are wrong for the organisation can lead to increased labour turnover, increased costs for the organisation, and lowering of morale in the existing workforce.’

3. The Recruitment and Selection process

The process of recruitment and selection are closely linked. Both activities are directed towards obtaining employees with the requisite competencies and attitudes, and recruitment activities lay the groundwork for the selection process by providing the pool of applicants from whom the selectors may choose. According to Foot and Hook (2008, p.142-143) Recruitment can be defined as:

•All activities directed towards locating potential employees •Attracting applications from suitable candidates
Aims of the recruitment process:
•To obtain a pool of candidates for vacant posts
•To use a fair process and be able to demonstrate that the process was fair •To ensure that all recruitment activities contribute to organisational goals and a desirable organisational image •To conduct recruitment activities in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Most human resource management issue can be analysed in terms of legal, moral and business consideration: •Legal – to comply with anti-discrimination legislation ?Sex and race

?The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (amended 1986)
?The Race Relation Act 1976 (amended2003)
?The Employment Equality Regulation 2003
?Disability
?The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
?Age Diversity
?The Employment (Age) Regulations 2006
•Moral – to avoid unfair discrimination for moral reasons as well as legal reasons •Business – to ensure that all effort is directed towards
achieving corporate goals.

A planned and systematic approach

To be able to select the best available staff in the first place and to retain them we need a planned and systematic approach. By Mullins (2002, p.739) such an approach involves at least five main stages: •The need to know about the job to be filled

•The need to know about the type of person to do the job
•The need to know the likely means of best attracting a range of suitable applications •The need to know how best to assess the candidates’ likely suitable for the job •The need for induction and follow-up.

The first step in the recruitment procedure is the job analysis, which is a process of gathering together all data about an existing job, which activities are performed and what skills are needed. There are some basic data to include by Foot and Hook (2008, p.147): •A description of the duties performed

•The most important or responsible duties
•Time spent on each duty
•How often each duty is performed (daily/weekly/monthly/annually) •Levels of supervision/independence
•The skills and skill levels needed to perform each task
•Any special conditions related to the performance of these tasks. The collected data are then structured to create job descriptions and person specifications. These documents are essential as a basic framework for recruitment and later selection; as the basis of employment contract; as the evidence of a fair process. The job description explains the total requirements of the job; sets out the purpose of a job, where the job fits into the organisation structure, the main accountabilities and responsibilities of the job and the key tasks to be performed. Commonly used elements are: •Job title

•Reporting structure:
?Responsible for
?Reports to
•Nature and scope
•Purpose of the job
•Principal accountabilities
•Major duties and responsibilities
•Employment conditions
Each organisation can decide what factors should be included depend on the nature of the business. The person specification is a document that outlines the knowledge, skills, personal attributes or qualities a person need to be able to perform well. Requirements can be categorised as ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’.

Several models of person specifications are available. Most widely known are Alec Rodger (1952) and Munro Fraser (1978).

Rodger’s seven point plan which describe people in terms of: •Physical make-up (physical requirement)
•Attainments (education and training)
•General intelligence
•Special aptitudes ( verbal, numerical and diagrammatical abilities related to the job) •Interest
•Disposition (job related behaviours such as persuasiveness) •Circumstances (only job related such us availability for shift work) The criteria suggested by Fraser’s five-fold framework:
•Impact on others
•Qualifications and experience ( education, training and skills developed through work experience) •Innate abilities (Similar to intelligence in Rodger’s plan) •Motivation
•Flexibility and emotional adjustment.

It is very important to know where suitable applicants are likely to be found and how to make contact with them. The attracting of suitable applicants will depend on the nature of the business, the position to be filled and the
urgency of need. Potential sources: •Employment service job centres

•Career advisory offices
•Private employment agencies/ recruitment agencies
•Professional and executive appointments registers
•“Headhunting” or executive search
•Internet recruitment/ recruitment websites
•Advertising
The form of applications will vary from organisation to organisation and with the nature of the position to be filled. Examples: •Letters of application
•Handwritten submission
•Curriculum Vitae (CV)
•Specially design application
•Standard application form
•Personal call
•Preliminary interview.

Selection is the assessment of candidates for vacant jobs and the choice of the most suitable people. The methods of selection involve the short-listing of applicants and it should include an interview. The face-to-face interviews still the most popular method of selection, even though research studies have found interviews to be poor predictors of future performance in a job (Makin and Robertson, 1986).