[IPAC-List] More fascinating tidbits

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Tue Mar 1 15:56:42 EST 2011

We're beginning to look through the results of our federal employee
survey on staffing from this past autumn. Naturally, one of the
big-ticket items in all of this (at least for managers) is anything
pertaining to the efficiency and speed of staffing.

I keep reminding our management that when you look at
applicant/candidate satisfaction, you need to factor in some context.
So, with that in mind, we asked employees who had participated in a
competitive process of some type (whether to enter a pool for future
possible jobs, or for a specific position) how satisfied they were with
how long it took between the time they applied, and the time where
things ended for them. "Ended" could mean they were screened out
earlier in the process, but could also mean they went the distance but
did or didn't get the job in the end.

I won't tip my hand about what the specific time was, since that would
likely require managerial approval, but I have no problem talking about
those for whom things came to a happy/unhappy ending in the average
amount of time or less, or after taking longer than the average time.

We inquired about, and asked them to focus on one single process they
were involved in during the reference period, but also asked these same
people how many other irons they had in the fire (things they were
waiting to hear about). And we asked them how much they had applied to
the specific process in question just to get experience or practice; in
effect how serious they were about it.

So, what did we see?

1) The longer it took, the less acceptable people found the length of
time it took. No big surprise there.

2) If they got a job offer at the end of the road, taking a long time
to get there still cheesed them off, just not quite as much. Stated
another way: if it took a long time to come to nothing, they were really
angry about how long it had taken to get there.

3) People who had more irons in the fire were more likely to be
impatient about how long it was taking, and especially if it was taking
a long time. Those folks who had 3 or more applications out there in
addition to the one in question were, of course, more likely to be
younger folks with less tenure. As you can imagine, younger newer
employees go in search of a job, while more seasoned employees are
pickier, more likely to be in something that suits them more or less,
and are more selective about which battles they take on. So, they don't
apply to as many things, and are more serious about the ones they do
apply to. My sense is that younger candidates tend to grow impatient
about how long its taking, simply because they want some sort of
information that helps them decide what to do next, and what they don't
have to focus on any more. Their impatience is a function of the
greater need for disambiguation/clarity BECAUSE of how many irons they
have in the fire.
4) People who were pursuing the position in question with greater
seriousness/focus (i.e., not to get experience or practice in applying,
being interviewed, etc.) were less satisfied with how long it was

5) Like organizations everywhere, we have our share of people who are
in an acting position, awaiting either the regular incumbent to return,
or awaiting the acting position to receive budgetary approval and be
converted into a substantive position. Folks who were waiting on the
outcome of a competition for a position they had been acting in within
that very work unit (but still had to apply for) were less content with
how long it was taking to come to a conclusion, especially if they had
been in an acting capacity for a while and that acting position had been
renewed at some point. My sense is that they felt a certain degree of
impatience with respect to formally acknowledging what they felt was
already the case: this is MY job.

Interestingly, there was always a main effect of the time it took on
perceived acceptability of time taken, no matter what the circumstances
were. People were always unhappy about waiting. But clearly, the
degree of ire aroused was also a function of those circumstances, and
anything that heightened the expectations, the need for feedback, or the
urgency in some other fashion, resulted in people expressing greater
irritation about staffing processes that were taking too damn long.

There. My little contribution for today. Hope you found it plausible
and interesting. There is certainly more to come.

Mark Hammer


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