Can Body Shop build a better workforce with an open hiring policy?

Discussion
Photo: Getty Images/anouchka
Feb 18, 2020
Tom Ryan

The Body Shop will become the first retailer to adopt an “open hiring” practice that doesn’t include interviews, background checks or drug tests. Job candidates only need to answer three “yes” or “no” questions.

Those are:

  • Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?
  • Can you stand for up to eight hours?
  • Can you lift more than 50 pounds?

The retailer hires workers on a first-come, first-served basis. If the prospective employee answers “yes” to all three, the job is theirs.

Open-hiring policies address the barriers and biases that formerly incarcerated individuals face finding jobs. The practice aligns with The Body Shop’s mission to be “the world’s most ethical and sustainable global business.”

“We aren’t just implementing our open hiring model out of a need to hire more people, but rather because we are concerned about the level of inequality and exclusion in society and we want to set an example for other brands on how to be fairer,” Body Shop’s U.S. general manager Andrea Blieden told HRdive.com.

Body Shop learned about open hiring practices from Greyston Bakery, a maker of baked goods that is pioneering the open hiring movement.

The promised business benefits of open hiring include reducing screening and recruiting expenses, and retention can also improve as those hired are often loyal to companies that give them a chance. With Greyston Bakery’s guidance in teaching the candidates basic skills, Body Shop tested the practice hiring holiday help at its distribution centers last year and found monthly turnover year-over-year declined 60 percent. Numerous seasonal hires also expressed appreciation to supervisors.

“They said things like, ‘I’ve been struggling to find a job. This is one of the only places that would hire me, and I’m not going to mess this up,’” Ms. Blieden told Fast Company. “When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it.”

The trend towards eliminating drug testing and embracing other open hiring-type practices is also being driven by the tight labor market and the need for a wider pool of potential candidates.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more potential benefits or drawbacks for retailers adopting open hiring practices? Do you think drug testing, background checks or interviews should be downplayed or eliminated in the screening process for job candidates?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I think this is a wonderful action for retailers to take for those who sincerely need help in finding work. I however think I would like an “Interview Light” with everyone."
"Sorry, I don’t get it. Seems like lazy hiring more than anything ... While I applaud the ideal, the devil is in the details."
"I think that this open hiring approach has to be married up with a set of higher performance standards and a probation period..."

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13 Comments on "Can Body Shop build a better workforce with an open hiring policy?"


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Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I am intrigued by this open hiring practice. It certainly has many societal benefits, and if the long-term benefits for The Body Shop are anything like those experienced by Greyston bakery, I certainly hope more and more retailers will follow suit. This space bears careful observation in the coming months.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

There are some benefits to this method of recruitment. However for customer-facing positions, I think interviews are useful as they allow retailers to assess personalities and ability to cope with various situations on the shop-floor. Admittedly, training plays a large role. However having good people to start with always helps.

The bottom line is that customer service is particularly important in beauty and The Body Shop can’t afford to fall behind in a very competitive market.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

While I can see this as a benefit to some retailers, I cannot see it for the majority of retailers. Most large retailers have established rules in place for a reason and would have to completely rewrite their HR manuals (there would be a lot fewer pages). I think most businesses will keep and eye on this trend and then evaluate in their circle to see if it can fit their business model.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

The critical question in hiring has already been answered when the candidate shows up at your door. They want to work.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This approach may have merit in a tight labor market, but its usefulness and appropriateness depends on what positions the retailer is trying to fill. An open hiring process for frontline store associates may not work at some brands depending on how they train and prepare new associates to deliver the best on-brand customer service. The retention and turnover statistics offered are very telling about the effectiveness of an open hire approach for certain job types, however.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

The Body Shop has always been on the front line of doing what’s right for people and the environment, that’s who they are. Open hiring is an interesting concept; I am anxious to see what happens in a retail environment where store associates interact with shoppers every day.

The article in Fast Company said, “When there’s an opening, nearly anyone who applies and meets the most basic requirements will be able to get a job, on a first-come, first-served basis.” Sounds like fine print. You have to wonder what that “nearly” means, I know I do.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

I think this is a wonderful action for retailers to take for those who sincerely need help in finding work. I however think I would like an “Interview Light” with everyone. And then perhaps, if satisfactory, this could work well for those who are truly seeking work. And it also provides a sense of relief, assuring the retailer that their customers will be treated in the expected ways the store desires, and as their customers expect. My only fear about this “instant approval” hiring process is that it seems a little light on assuring that the customer experience will be up to par, or at least close to it. Today customers don’t give retailers many chances.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Sorry, I don’t get it. Seems like lazy hiring more than anything. You’re rolling the dice that somebody who shows up is going to give great customer service and not steal or disrupt your entire operation. Would you let a vendor who just showed up sell their wares in your store? I think not. While I applaud the ideal, the devil is in the details.

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust

This is an interesting approach that they are undertaking. I think that this open hiring approach has to be married up with a set of higher performance standards and a probation period to ensure that every one that is hired is fully understanding of the standards required for the roles. With excellence customer experience so critical today it is also important that the customer-facing employees are on board, are catering to the customer and are doing it in a way that reinforces the corporate values.

Gal Rimon
Guest

The Body Shop’s move is commendable but looks to hold more minuses than pluses from a purely commercial perspective. Gartner and others have asserted we live in the customer service era, a time defined by service being a — if not the — key differentiator, ahead of price, product and the rest of the classic marketing mix. Unless that newly hired person, regardless of prior circumstance, is engaged, trained, and managed to deliver an exceptional customer experience through a real-time, transparent means of motivation, microlearning and performance management it all won’t matter, no matter how noble the initiative.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

This sounds like an amazing inclusive policy to give everyone an employment opportunity. It’s sure to fail.

There is definitely much room for hiring practice improvement and more inclusion is part of it, but swinging the pendulum completely in the other direction is a weak response. There are too many areas where this can fail to last, obviously customer experience is a major one, but potentially, employee and shopper safety is another.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

And what if they lie? (Particularly about #1.) Good intentions, but sounds like HR slipped this through when the legal department was at the dentist.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Mixed feelings on this policy … I applaud the commitment to holistic hiring despite candidates’ “baggage” and turnover stats confirm retention increases. It remains to be seen if Body Shop will have service, liability or other gaps that will cause them to implement some level of interviews or additional screening.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I think this is a wonderful action for retailers to take for those who sincerely need help in finding work. I however think I would like an “Interview Light” with everyone."
"Sorry, I don’t get it. Seems like lazy hiring more than anything ... While I applaud the ideal, the devil is in the details."
"I think that this open hiring approach has to be married up with a set of higher performance standards and a probation period..."

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