When a Topgrader Hires “Just a Warm Body”

SUMMARY: There never is a time when it’s a good idea to hire “just a warm body.”  Never. To repeat: NEVER!

BACKGROUND:  Over the decades, Topgrading Professionals have heard that Topgrading makes a lot of sense at upper levels of management, mid-management, and even at the supervisory level when supervisors are hiring people for entry jobs such as sales rep, technical professional (e.g., programmer, engineer) or even clerk, if that clerical job involves communicating with coworkers and customers. But we’ve also heard that for the “really” basic entry jobs that require almost no training, it might not be worth the time and effort to perform any screening beyond confirming the person can speak the language and can legally have the job.

BUT … every time a Topgrading company uses abbreviated Topgrading methods to test whether “just a warm body” is good enough, their conclusion is … NO.

What are those “just a warm body jobs?”  How about part-time or even full-time cashiers or stockers in retail stores? How about call center “client services” people who are handed a basic script to answer the 20 most common questions? How about a receptionist who just greets people and passes customers off to salespeople?

The benefits of Topgrading “warm body” jobs. I’ll share some short case studies:

1. The Home Depot. Years ago I did a massive entry-level hiring project for The Home Depot, an early version of the Topgrading Snapshot, and the company was opening a lot of stores in Florida and California. Store Managers did little more than confirm candidates for cashier could legally hold the job, and they were hired because they had more jobs to fill than they had candidates! Their recruitment method was to put up Now Hiring signs. But turnover was sky-high. With Topgrading made super simple, turnover plummeted. Store Managers realized it was a waste of money to hire extreme job hoppers and candidates that were fired from several jobs. Furthermore, they realized that poor customer service by C Player employees would hurt sales. Bottom line: Home Depot Store Managers became much more active recruiters – holding job fairs, presenting at PTA meetings, and asking employees to refer people – and they no longer hired “just a warm body.”

2. Call centers. We have begun two Topgrading projects in the call center world and don’t have results yet but … everyone knows how irritating it is to talk to a call center “service rep” who knows nothing beyond the simple script. Our clients believe that the call center reps must be rated at least Good and preferably Very Good or Excellent, or their brand will be hurt. An “Only Fair” rating means probably “just a warm body” was hired, the customer is frustrated and probably less loyal, and “warm bodies” drive away customers.

3. Roundy’s. This is a retail chain that never hired “warm bodies,” but has escalated Topgrading to an unusually high level AT THE ENTRY LEVEL in order to create a Nordstrom-like experience in their grocery stores. The company has hired thousands of A Player stockers and cashiers, and the social media and press give their stores rave reviews on customer service. They do this with an estimated 10% fewer employees, boosting productivity while boosting customer service. The Topgrading Career History Form is shorter, the tandem Topgrading Interview is 45 minutes, and the candidate-arranged reference calls with recent bosses might last just a few minutes. Their conclusion is that A Player part-timers, not “just warm bodies,” are good for business.

4. MarineMax, the boat dealer company. Some companies hire “just warm bodies” for the receptionist job, but not MarineMax. When prospects walk into a dealership to maybe spend a lot of money on a far-from-essential expenditure, they are greeted with A Player receptionists – warm, professional, bright, and attentive. A “warm body” dressed sloppily and smacking gum while texting friends could cause that potential buyer to turn around and walk out the door.

Eleven more case studies. Visit our Case Studies, where a Master Chart will come up with 41 case studies demonstrating an average improvement in hiring from 26% to 85% high performers. And 11 of the companies Topgraded all jobs, including entry jobs. Those named case studies include two global companies (Batesville, division of Hillenbrand, and Synergia One, with 19 companies all over the world), startups, and mid-size companies.

Conclusion: If you don’t use Topgrading for entry jobs, please consider it. Using the Topgrading Snapshot, hiring managers and Human Resources now can have their hiring dreams come true: Even before talking with a candidate, you can be quite sure you will a) get the whole truth and know b) accurate performance ratings by all their bosses, c) their full compensation history, and d) if they were fired for cause. With the Snapshot in hand, it takes about 10 seconds to reject obvious C Players, so you only spend time screening people you’ll want to hire.

Published June 17, 2014

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