When I was a kid we didn’t have trick or treat. We didn’t really have Halloween at all – we might watch a scary movie – that finished by 1am when the TV went off at a weekend. Yes – I AM that old. Now here’s a really scary story for Halloween…

There is nothing better than a scary movie – one with a twist – where you don’t know whats going to happen next.
Which is the exact opposite of what you want when hiring or managing staff of course. Except – so often – that’s exactly what happens. Something happens that seems to come out of the blue and you wonder how on earth that came to pass! Your star sales person resigns. Your best manager goes on long term sick. You open a letter to find someone is suing you for £40k for discrimination in an interview.

Yes – that last one happened to a woman who ran her own hairdressing business. She set up and worked 24/7 like you do when you run your own business. Eventually she took on a second hairdresser and when they were both working 24/7 they decided they needed a Saturday boy or girl. Neither of them had a clue how to run a recruitment process (cos its not something they teach you in school or college) and so they put some cards in shop windows and a small ad in the local paper. And a couple of people applied.
They interviewed, found someone they liked and sent a no thanks to the others.
And 6 weeks later, they got the solicitors letter, suing them for racial discrimination.

They couldn’t work out what they had done as neither of them considered themselves racist in any way. They had chosen what they felt was the best candidate for the job – someone outgoing, confident and friendly – whereas the other 2 candidates were very quiet and lacking in confidence.

But it turns out they had asked a woman wearing a head covering, whether she would remove it when working.

it seemed to them a reasonable question – as hairdressers they wanted to be able to show case the hair of the employees. The problem was – they didn’t know their employment law and they had no process, they had no criteria to interview against; they had no interview notes; they had no scoring or evaluation process. Everything was done on “Gut Feeling”.

After many hours of worry and preparation and sleepless nights, the tribunal day came.

Our story has a (semi) happy ending for the hairdressers. The judge found that asking whether someone would remove their headscarf when working was not racial discrimination but motivated by the desire to showcase their hairdressing ability. The bad news is the tribunal still found in favour of the woman to the tune of £4000 for “hurt feelings”. I don’t know what you pay your hairdresser but I’m thinking you have to cut a LOT of hair to make £4,000
What transpired after the case was that the person in question had applied to a lot of other hairdressers. None had offered her a job based on the same reasons.

A painful lesson in getting your processes right around staff (or potential staff) and making sure your don’t just rely on Gut Feeling – because that really doesn’t work as a defense in a tribunal. Cold hard facts, and evidence of fairness – that’s what a tribunal needs.
If you need an overhaul of your recruitment process – that’s something we can help with. I will be running our D.R.I.V.E recruit and grow workshop in January. Email me if you think you’d like a place on it.

And remember – Halloween is child’s play. It’s the real world of hiring and managing staff that is really scary!
Happy Halloween