Every MD or CEO will be familiar with the frustration (and cost!) of losing new employees during the early stages of their employment, or even just before they are due to start.
Valuable resources are put into the recruitment and training of new staff members, so there’s huge value in obtaining feedback from the candidates that applied but never started or the ex-employee that only lasted a short time. This feedback can then be used to address the problems that led to their early departure, thus reducing the risk of history repeating itself.
However, feedback like this may be difficult, if not impossible to gather.
These candidates are probably busy applying for, or starting new jobs elsewhere and won’t have the time or inclination to provide you with the in-depth analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly that you need to make real changes to not only attract great candidates in the future, but hold on to them for longer. Where employee engagement research with current employees is useful for identifying areas for improvement, this may not be able to address problems where new employees are concerned i.e. with current recruiters or the application process.
There is a way of obtaining the information you need to make improvements for future new employees and it costs a fraction of what it costs when you hire, then potentially lose new people.
Introducing the Mystery Employee
Imagine seeing the whole experience through the eyes of a new employee from the application process right through to the first review.
You’d see whether your job adverts are accurately representing your company and the new role, you’d see whether recruiters are asking suitable questions and treating applicants appropriately and also what the interview, induction and onboarding process was like.
A mystery employee is someone that poses as a genuine applicant, going through the whole process and reporting back their findings to you at each stage. Mystery employees can even screen capture the online application process, record telephone conversations and covertly record their interview so that you can see exactly what the experience is like for your new starters.
The evidence, as well as detailed assessments provided by the mystery employee, can then be used to implement new procedures (to be communicated clearly to all staff, which is often something that a mystery employee provider can help with) and training, which should result in a reduced number of non-starters or early leavers.
Recommendations from a Mystery Employee Provider
Mystery employees aren’t necessarily a frequent requirement. They are most useful:
- when staff turnover is especially high
- when using a new recruitment company
One mystery employee per department (where there is a requirement for new staff) should be more than enough initially, then when the results have been reported back and change implemented, another mystery employee should be introduced to ensure that staff are following procedures and improvement has been made.
In addition to learning about the application and induction stages, a mystery employee can then continue to provide insight into what it’s like to work at your company; the mystery employee will observe conditions and processes in the workplace and in addition, they can identify whether any of their new teammates might be unhappy and report back on why this might be. Dissatisfied or disinterested staff sometimes can’t help but let their unhappiness reflect in the service they provide to customers, so using a mystery employee working in your current team to help to identify problems, could result in an improved customer experience too.
How to choose a Mystery Employee Provider
Your company might recruit employees with specific skill sets and therefore you would need the mystery employee to match the typical applicant. Choosing a provider who has a large database is vital as they will be more likely to match suitable applicants.
Market Research Society (MRS) and the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association (MSPA) accredited companies provide the highest quality service and in accordance with the MRS Code of Conduct, providers work on the condition that if data is required in a form which allows staff to be identified, they have been notified that mystery employee programme will be taking place and how the information obtained will be used (including whether individual staff will be identified). If calls are to be recorded, even if solely for quality control purposes, staff must be advised and if the recordings are to be supplied told in what way they will be used. If a mystery employee programme is to be used in relation to any employment terms and conditions, this needs to be made clear.
Who else could benefit from a Mystery Employee
In addition to companies wishing to assess the experience their new starters have; recruitment company managers may find a mystery employee (or a mystery job seeker) beneficial because this allows them to gain insight on how their team are dealing with applicants. To ensure that recruiters are processing each person according to the company procedure, mystery shoppers posing as genuine applicants search for and apply for specified jobs. The recruitment team then make contact, all communication is assessed and managers are provided with the findings.