In today’s economy, firms are tightening their belts to save money in all areas of business. Number crunchers are getting more creative with cost cutting and often challenging employees to come up with new, cheaper, more efficient ways of doing business in order to realize higher profits. Fire departments are not exempt. Fire chiefs do not have to report earnings to share holders or work to increase profits but they are tasked with being fiscally responsible.
Human resources are a significant expense in every fire department’s budget. Recruiting, training, and retaining employees is costly. Employee turnover costs money. The fire department HR Manager can reduce employee turnover and save money by finding employees that are a better fit for the department. Implementing tools such as a Realistic Job Preview (RJP) is one way to find employees that are a better match and more likely to stay with the department.
Fire departments can provide potential employees with a more detailed look at their culture, practices, and working conditions by offering Realistic Job Previews. This preview is an effort to increase retention by making sure the employee knows more about the department they are joining and is not surprised by working conditions when they begin. A Realistic Job Preview should include parts of the job that are considered desirable and undesirable. By providing a more realistic description of the job, the applicant is able to make a better informed decision about whether or not they are the right fit for the job and the job is the right fit for their needs.
There are many ancillary benefits for using RJPs. Realistic Job Previews have been linked to increased job satisfaction, enhanced communication, lower voluntary turnover, and realistic job expectations. While it isn’t always obvious, it is important to understand that HR issues within a firm can often be linked back to recruiting practices. A Realistic Job Preview is one tool in the recruitment process that can help an HR manager be more successful by matching the best candidates to the best positions. This will reduce turnover, save money, and increase satisfaction for all involved.
The “Ride-A-Long” could be the most useful type of RJP available to the fire service. A large part of being a successful firefighter is the ability to fit into the family culture of the firehouse. This is an unexpected and often times shocking part of the job because probationary firefighters have never experienced this type of environment in the workplace before. Without previous experience, new firefighter candidates are going into the hiring process blind. They have little information available to them to decide if this is an appropriate or potentially successful career choice. If a “Ride-A-Long” could be incorporated into the hiring process as a Realistic Job Preview it would allow for prospective employees to get a glimpse into the firehouse life and culture. This would allow them to decide if they would be a good fit before completing the hiring process. Fire departments have the obligation to hire candidates who will be successful as firefighters and can provide the best service to the community. A realistic job preview such as a ride-a-long would allow fire departments to observe and provide realistic information to potential candidates.
Thousands of dollars are spent on hiring, outfitting, and training new firefighters. This is all done before a firefighter ever spends one day in a firehouse. Reducing turnover by using RJPs could help save money by making sure the right people are selected to fill vacancies. Thorough research and understanding of all types of Realistic Job Previews as well as an awareness of your target audience can help a fire department improve recruitment practices, hire better, more successful employees, and reduce turnover. Reducing turnover and hiring more productive employees will lead to a Return On Investment that justifies the upfront work and cost associated with implementing the Realistic Job Preview.