Della, a member of the job selection team, is asking questions of candidates. Next to her, Aldo is jotting down the candidate’s responses. They’re both in overalls and work boots.

Something sets this selection team apart from most others: they’re employees participating in the hiring of supervisors and coworkers.

Participative Selection

Participative selection that involve employees and coworkers in the interviewing and hiring process work well in organizations that encourage employees to make decisions affecting their jobs.

Benefits include:

-Improved selection processes

-Increased success of new hires because of positive support from team members

-Better appreciation by team members of a coworkers’ and supervisors’ jobs

-Boosted morale of team members because they know management values their opinions

The UPS Case Study

At one time, the work safety record at United Parcel Service (UPS) was crashing. So UPS initiated a new safety program, with committees of drivers and parcel handlers using broad new powers to design and implement safety strategies.

At the start of the program, employees were reporting injuries at the rate of 27.2 injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Eight years later the injury rate had dropped to 10.2 injuries per 200,000 hours worked.

Employees involved on nearly 2,500 safety committees have investigated accidents, audited facilities and equipment, and even guided employees in how to perform their jobs more safely.

Questions to Consider

Before starting participative selection in interviewing and hiring, consider the following questions:

-How much authority will the participative selection teams have? Will employees retain absolute control over who is hiring? Or will the group decision be subject to management’s approval? (When teams are starting up, consider restricting group authority to the nomination of one or more candidates, with management making the final hiring decision.)

-How many employees will serve on the selection team? (Any number can participate, from an entire work unit to a handful of employees.)

-Which candidates will the selection team consider? Those applying for the job of a supervisor? Those applying for co-worker positions? Only those from inside the organization? Only those from outside the organization? Or those from both inside and outside the organization?

-What guidelines will team members use to make hiring decisions? (Factors influencing this decision usually include: past job performance, academic credentials, references, responses to interview questions.) Will a majority vote prevail? Will decisions be reached by consensus?

-What job conditions can the group discuss with candidates? Salary? Benefits? Starting date? Job responsibilities? Working hours?

Other Considerations

-Prepare a training program for selection team members and be sure to give all members this training in effective and legal interviewing. Include in the training a discussion of non-discrimination laws affecting the hiring process. Have a human resources professional or attorney familiar with employment law assist in preparing this training.

-Decide on a fail-safe decision-making mechanism. In the event the selection team can’t recommend a candidate, there has to be a process or a person to make the decision or recommendation.

-Provide for secret ballots in the decision-making. Knowledge of which team member supported which candidate inevitably will find its way through the grapevine to the ears of the new hire. Secret ballots stop a new hire from learning who supported and who opposed his or her selection.