Dear Workforce Our Standards are Already Low. Should We Lower Them

By Staff Report

Sep. 7, 2011

Dear Workforce:

I am wondering if, due to the low unemployment rate and staffing issues that currently occur, other companies have thought about, or have changed their requirements for positions within there company.

My boss has asked that we review our requirements for our entry level positions within the company (this position includes 50% of our work force)!

Our standards are already very low (high school or GED, and the ability to pass a simple math test — our employees handle money all day long and must be able to make simple change for customers).

Is Workforce aware of any research, articles or surveys regarding this type of question?

I appreciate any feedback you can provide me.

—Karla Brunig, SPHR, Human Resources Manager, Washington Group International Enterprises

A Dear Karla:

There has been considerable pressure to lower standards for entry level positions. This pressure has caused many employers to look critically at their specifications for these jobs.

Some employers discovered that their requirements were really unreasonably high. In most cases, they’ve lowered the expectations to open the field to reach into more of the available labor pool. Some have kept their demands high, especially if those hired at entry level have a pretty good chance of moving up quickly. It make no sense to hire people who simply won’t qualifiy for continued employment.

Other employers have found that they were asking too much, that their minimum requirements were, in fact, too high. They’ve made significant adjustments, particularly when they could bring in welfare-to-work participants and others who may be less well-equipped for today’s workforce.

The acid test is whether your requirements relate to the work to be done–at the entry level and in potential future jobs. Will there be an opportunity to teach and train the employee to be able to move up in the organization….and in life?

In times of full employment, we can afford to be more choosy in terms of minimal requirements for hire. In a tight labor market, a degree of reality is essential. Look for people who can get the job done and hire for attitude. You can bring these folks to a higher level over time, and they’ll often appreciate it so much that they will stay with you for many years.


SOURCE: Roger E. Herman, CSP, CMC. Co-Author, How to Become an Employer of Choice.

E-mail your Dear Workforce questions to Online Editor Todd Raphael at, along with your name, title, organization and location. Unless you state otherwise, your identifying info may be used on and in Workforce magazine. We can’t guarantee we’ll be able to answer every question.


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