Let Hell Week inspire your recruitment process

HR Recruitment lears from Hell Week

The “war for talent” has made many companies change their recruitment processes and practically beg talents to come and join their company. The processes have been made as friendly, warm and inviting as possible partly to signal that it is a friendly and open company (nothing wrong with that) but also to convince talented people that they should apply.

There is however an argument for doing the exact opposite. In his book “Influence”, Robert B. Cialdini present compelling evidence that people who goes through a hard (and sometimes physical painful) recruitment experience actually is more engaged and dedicated to the organization they join.

One of the best examples outside of organization life is probably during “Hell Week” held each year on college campuses across US. Here young students make their fraternity pledges through a variety of activities some of which includes social embarrassment and sometimes physical pain. Why do young people go through such a recruitment processes?

A similar example is known in most countries. Just before getting married it is a tradition the groom-to-be (and increasingly also the bride-to-be) goes through a day of social embarrassments often held by their best friends. Why would someone go through this? Why would best friends/colleagues/fellow students put them through this? Why would society allow this? And why does it work?

The conclusion comes from two researchers Elliot Aronson and Judson Mills who observes that “persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort”. Interesting. In their research they saw that their participants rated the groups they joined more interesting and valuable if the access to the group was harder even though the groups were identical.

So if you actually make it harder to get recruited to your company, perhaps you will experience that people will value their job more, which in turn increases their commitment and engagement. I am certainly not saying that recruitment should resemble “Hell Week”, but perhaps companies are sucking too much up to talented young people today?

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