5 minute read. Updated November 20, 2020.
What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?
An applicant tracking system is a type of HR software that automates the hiring and onboarding process.
Why is 2021 hiring hopeless without one?
Let’s talk about it.
Acquiring talent for a small or medium size business has never been easy. Even before 2020 when everything got harder. Before the pandemic, recruiters complained of a lack of candidates due to low unemployment and talent shortages. Companies that could move applicants quickly through their process had the advantage. Of course, they needed a good evaluation process to find best-fit candidates.
In 2020, the pandemic upended recruiting. Essential businesses started hiring at scale. Companies that pivoted suddenly needed to fill new job roles. Employers in shrinking industries were inundated with applicants for the few openings they had. Because many started working from home, hiring processes had to be adapted so they could be conducted virtually.
Regardless of the unrecognizable hiring landscape, an ATS is still the answer. Are you doing high volume hiring in 2021? An ATS is essential for managing multiple job openings simultaneously.
Are you recovering in 2021? You probably have a shorthanded hiring team. ATS automation will allow a small team to meet your hiring needs while you are getting back on your feet.
11 Undeniable Benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems
1. An Applicant Tracking System Saves You Lots of Money
Applicant tracking systems provide an impressive ROI. How much? A small company can save up to $10,000 using an ATS.
Companies using applicant tracking system reap the rewards. New-hire turnover is 40% less on average, and they can fill vacancies 20% more quickly.
New Hires Generate Revenue More Quickly
ATS help you fill positions faster. This shortens the time it takes for the new hire to generate revenue. ATS with onboarding tools further shorten the time-to-productivity.
2. Hire Top Performing Candidates Before Your Competition
An ATS help you identify top candidates and present an offer before the applicant is hired by a competitor. These high-demand employees drive productivity and innovation.
3. Track Hundreds of Resumes With Ease
When it comes to administration, ATS automation is truly impressive. Systems can handle hundreds (even thousands!) of applications, resumes, and other workflows.
Not only do you save on the cost of labor for the hiring team, but you also free up their time.
They can use that time on improving hiring strategies. Improved hiring strategies can then help your business grow even faster
With the strategic use of an ATS, you can become the budget hero in your company.
4. An ATS Creates a Dynamite First Impression
During the recruitment process, your goal is to attract top people to your company. You aren’t just recruiting; you’re marketing. Shockingly, 69% of unemployed people wouldn’t take a job if the company had a bad reputation—they would rather stay unemployed!
Applicant tracking systems help you put your best foot forward. Automate communication with candidates, so no one falls through the cracks. Get your job listed on prestigious job boards across the internet. Brand your application portal so it’s unique to your company. This is how you communicate a professional image of your company to job seekers.
5. Your Competitors Are Using An ATS
If you haven’t implemented an ATS, take note. 98% of Fortune 500 companies and at least 66% of large companies use it. The adoption rate for small companies is lower, but growing quickly. Last year, it was estimated that 35% of small organizations use ATS.
Keep in mind that you are also competing with talent sourcing agencies. The ATS adoption rate for professional recruiters is nearly 100%.
6. Recruitment Texting is a Must in 2020
Many companies are using recruiting texting in their hiring operations. The open rates for marketing texts are legendary. Some studies put the text open rate above 90%! Compare that with around 45% for emails.
Consider this: if a person has set up texting notifications, they can see a preview without opening the message. If the text is short, they can probably see the whole message in the notification window.
If you aren’t engaging with your candidates through texting, you are falling behind. ATS texting helps you leverage the power of many candidates’ preferred method of communication.
7. Quickly Narrow Down The Application Pool
First, you create a job posting. Your ATS posts it to multiple online sites (of your choosing). The applications start coming in. The system collects and organizes them in a central database. It creates a profile for each applicant.
As you know, job seekers format their resumes in a variety of ways. The ATS extracts the information and organizes it in the same format for each candidate profile. In the profile template, there is a field for each relevant piece of data.
For example, there is a field for each degree earned, each previous job title, and each skill.
This type of organization gives you searching superpowers. You can analyze and compare by work experience, education, or previous employers. Or job titles, skills, or demographic variables.
Let’s talk about resume filtering. The software uses keywords from the job posting. It matches the keywords with those found in the resumes. Consider how long it takes you to read one resume. An ATS can parse thousands of resumes in seconds.
This process weeds out the candidates who don’t have the necessary qualifications and it delivers a pool of qualified candidates before you need to read a single resume!
8. Screening Questions Help You Find Better Candidates
When you’re reviewing resumes, you’re going to choose quality over quantity every time. No one wants to waste time going through dozens of unqualified applicants. An applicant tracking system allows you to add screening questions to your application to ensure applicants meet basic qualifications like education level or years of experience. Some applicant tracking systems let you create scoring rules that weigh certain questions more heavily, so better applicants automatically rise in your review queue.
9. ATS Can Post To Multiple Online Job Boards
With an ATS, your job posting gets maximum online exposure. Most will post to LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and Monster (just to name a few) with one click. While you’re at it, post it to your social media sites and careers page.
You create the job posting in the ATS, and the software takes care of the posting. This is a huge timesaver for busy hiring managers.
10. Applicant Tracking Systems Improve Collaboration
You are more likely to find high quality candidates if multiple stakeholders can weigh in.
But if expanding the hiring team slows down the process, the top candidates will lose interest. They will seek out firms that move faster.
ATS databases enable effective collaboration. Each decision maker can enter notes and applicant ratings. (The rating system is customizable, by the way.) Mobile apps allow recruiters to access the ATS from any internet-enabled device. Some systems include video interviews that team members can watch at their convenience.
11. Applicant Tracking Systems Help You Comply With Labor Laws
To say that recruitment compliance is complicated is an understatement.
The laws are always in flux and they vary by location, industry, and business size. Small companies have fewer resources to ensure that processes are compliant.
ATS help you comply with regulations related to hiring. Vendors update SaaS systems to stay current with hiring regulations.
In addition, ATS generate reports to protect you in case of a legal challenge.
For example, suppose a rejected candidate alleges discrimination. Don’t worry. Your ATS has the documentation to validate your legal hiring criteria.
Who uses Applicant Tracking Software?
If you receive applications, you need an applicant tracking system. ATS software clients include:
- Independent recruiters
- Staffing agencies
- Executive search firms
- Large enterprises
- Small and medium-sized businesses (SMB)
Typically, the applicant tracking software is managed by the human resources department or a hiring manager.
We’ve touched on a few ATS functions. Let’s take a deeper dive into the inner workings of applicant tracking systems.
What Does an Applicant Tracking System Do?
ATS perform a wide variety of functions to make the recruiting and onboarding process easier for managers as well as new employees. Any applicant tracking software should perform the following five functions.
There are incredible people out there just waiting to fill your positions – but if they never see the job posting, they won’t apply. A Pew Research study found that “researching and applying for jobs online is nearly universal” for job applicants. When selecting an ATS software, look for one that gives you access to critical job posting boards like Monster and Indeed.
In 2015, almost 60% of younger job seekers used their smartphones to search for job openings, and half of that population used a smartphone to fill out a job application. Those numbers are only expected to increase. Any of the ATS you look into should be mobile-friendly, creating job listings that allow applicants to submit documents via mobile phone and to bookmark jobs for later.
As any amateur job seeker will tell you, networking is the best way to find a job. Your applicant tracking system needs to sync with the most popular social networks–LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You don’t have to worry about unqualified applicants when you use applicant tracking software because they’ll be weeded out. You just want to get your posting in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
Inc. reports that for every job posting, companies receive an average of 250 applications. Larger companies will be flooded with applications for each job they offer, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. ATS software should allow you to quickly and painlessly sift through applicants, bringing the best-qualified people to your attention and automatically rejecting unqualified candidates.
Most ATS allow you to create prescreening questionnaires. Applicants are required to answer certain questions, and ‘wrong’ responses will remove them from the candidate pool (while automatically sending a thoughtfully worded e-mail thanking them for the application). Some ATS go a step further, assigning value points to each question so you can sort candidates by score.
The best applicant tracking software integrates and automates resume parsing, resume storing, and reference checking. If it doesn’t have to be done by a human, why not automate it? The HR department or hiring manager shouldn’t have to sort through dozens of easily eliminated candidates. An applicant tracking system performs the menial tasks of analyzing dozens of candidates, so the hiring manager can focus on the few who really stand out from the crowd.
Communication is key in every aspect of life, and that includes the hiring process. The way you communicate with a potential new hire says a lot about your company’s values, and knowing where they stand in the application process is essential for applicants.
ATS let you automatically update candidates with news about the job posting. Give stragglers a gentle nudge to complete an application, or let someone know that you’d love to conduct an interview. Past applicants will appreciate knowing if the job has been filled, and may opt to receive job updates from your company in the future.
Once you’ve narrowed down your applicant pool, applicant tracking software eliminates the back-and-forth of trying to schedule an interview by creating a calendar with open slots for preliminary phone or in-person interviews. Out-of-state jobs may require video interviews so you can analyze behavioral tendencies; some kinds of applicant training software offer this integration as part of the package. The hiring manager enters the times he or she is available, and the interviewee selects the option that works best. No more complicated weeks-long games of email tag to find a time that works for everyone!
Applicants want to know how they are doing throughout the process. One study shows that the key pain points are right after submitting the application, when 49% would like feedback; if not selected for an interview, when 39% would like feedback; and after the interview if they weren’t selected, when 43% would like feedback. Each of these is an opportunity for the HR department or hiring manager to show that the company truly cares about its potential employees. ATS software makes this easy to do.
Once you’ve found the best candidates, an applicant tracking system can streamline the hiring process, particularly if you’re using collaborative hiring. Many jobs require input from multiple decision-makers. The ATS software consolidates reviews and reports from every stakeholder, so hiring managers can take in everyone’s opinions at a glance.
Candidates can be scored and rated separately, and a good applicant tracking software includes collaborative tools and reports so everyone is on the same page. Want a background screening? Your applicant tracking system should be able to provide that, too. After you’ve extended an offer to your prospective employee, many ATS offer additional abilities so you can onboard the new hire.
The application process may be over, but onboarding is just beginning. Your new hire has documents to fill out, resources to review, and forms to e-sign. ATS software should have an onboarding portal where you can consolidate documents. Your new hire can sign in, review and securely sign necessary paperwork, and use the portal as a resource to check back on onboarding documentation and company guidelines whenever he or she chooses.
Your applicant tracking system may even sync with payroll, so you can quickly get your new hire into the system and properly compensated. Tasks can be created, edited, and managed for both the new hire and the hiring manager. And all of your documentation is secure and accessible in cloud storage.
The right ATS is your hiring manager’s best friend. Try ApplicantStack for free today. It will help your hiring team succeed in 2021 and beyond.
Updated November 10, 2020
What Are Structured Interviews?
A structured interview uses a uniform script of questions. To conduct the interview, the interviewer follows the same script for each candidate. The questions are chosen specifically for the skills required for the position. They also include questions that reveal desired behavioral attributes. In an unstructured interview, the interviewer is free to change the line of questioning on the fly.
A structured interview rating system also uses a uniform format for rating applicants. The standardized scoring system is tied to the interview questions. Structured interview questions and scoring provide a standardized way to evaluate the interviewee. If you want to improve your hiring outcomes, consider creating a structured interview process.
How Does A Structured Interview Process Improve Hiring?
- It is more objective—all applicants are asked the same questions in the same order
- It minimizes confirmation bias (when the interviewer seeks to confirm a subjective first impression or initial bias)
- It is more effective for evaluating soft skills
- It helps the interviewer cover all the important topics
- It helps the employer comply with laws governing hiring practices
- It is more efficient
How Do You Create a Structured Interview?
- Write a highly-detailed job description
- Include skills/certifications/experience (hard skills)
- Identify the behavioral qualities (soft skills) you are looking for
- Use the STAR method to create behavioral questions
- Create a script that puts the questions in order
- Create a scale to rate the answers to each question
- Keep interview variables as uniform as possible—time of day, location, interviewer
- Train hiring managers on the system
- Make sure interviewers are familiar with the script before they interview a candidate
- Interview applicants
- Rate each applicant on each question/answer
- Schedule feedback meetings with the hiring team
- Evaluate applicants using ratings
What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?
Behavioral questions are more effective for predicting how an applicant will perform in the job role. Behavioral questions (also called situational questions) focus on how the candidate performed in previous positions. Behavioral questions also identify soft skills.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are behavioral attributes and competencies that help an employee be effective at their job. They are especially helpful for positions that require working with a team. They are also important for management roles.
What Soft Skills Do Employers Look For?
The following soft skills help employees be successful in their jobs:
- Positive attitude
- Communication (written and verbal)
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Collaborating with a team
- Ability to learn from criticism
- Ability to resolve conflict
- Creative problem-solving
- Honesty and integrity
What is The STAR Method For Behavioral Questions?
The STAR method is a common system for creating behavioral questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. The STAR method works best when you are specific as possible.
To write an interview question using the STAR method:
- Identify a challenging situation common to the position
- Identify the task you wish to achieve (your goal)
- Identify what action should be taken to accomplish the task
- Identify the ideal result
Examples of Behavioral Questions And The Soft Skills They Reveal
- Why do you feel you are the best person for this position? (Strengths, self confidence, ambition)
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake. What did you do about it? (Weaknesses, maintaining composure under pressure, ability to receive criticism, self-awareness)
- Describe a problem at your previous job and how you solved it. (Problem solving ability)
- Describe a situation in a previous position where you had to resolve a conflict between members of your team? What did you do? How did it turn out? (Conflict resolution, creative thinking, ability to work as a team, leadership, positive attitude)
- What’s your favorite thing about [insert applicable job position]? (Values, goals)
- How would you prioritize competing projects that have the same deadline? (Organization, creative problem solving)
- Describe a time you disagreed with your manager and what you did about it. (Coachability)
- Describe a time you had to persuade team members to do something they didn’t want to do. (Leadership, management)
- Describe a time you had to learn something fast for your job. (Adaptability, creative problem solving, critical thinking)
- Did you ever fail to meet a deadline? Why? What did you do about it? (Work ethic, organization, time management)
- Have you ever had an ethical dilemma at work? What did you do? (Integrity, honesty)
Tailor these questions to the position. For example, for a customer service position, ask the applicant to describe a time they solved a problem for a customer. For a teaching position, use scenarios involving students.
Behavioral questions can reveal whether a candidate is a better fit for another position. Keep the applicant in your candidate pool for future openings within your company.
How Do I Create a Structured Interview Process?
A structured interview process requires organization and documentation. An applicant tracking system (ATS) with interview tools streamlines the process. You create job postings, job descriptions, questionnaires, interview scripts, and ratings scorecards.
Cloud-based systems help your hiring team collaborate. They provide centralized access and electronic records. Everyone can see the feedback and scoring for each applicant. Search tools help you track multiple applicants and job positions.
ATS’ maintain a candidate pool. You can reach out to previously rejected (but qualified) applicants for future openings. This gives you a head start for each job opening.
An ATS simplifies interview scheduling. You can email applicants from the software. You create email templates for the standard ‘Thank you for your application’ emails. Write personalized emails when you can. Let the system send auto-emails when you don’t have time.
Applicant Tracking Systems With Interview Tools Make it Easy
ATS’ are affordable for small businesses and tight hiring budgets. Most have a nominal sign-up fee. You can start small and inexpensive and scale up as your company grows. If you are wary of long-term contracts, look for a month-to-month subscription. For a small investment, you can try it out. Discover how it streamlines structured interviewing.
Systems with onboarding tools allow you to change an applicant’s status to ‘Hired’ and migrate them to the onboarding process. You won’t have to enter all of their information again.
SwipeClock ApplicantStack for Structured Interviews
ApplicantStack Recruit helps small businesses implement the same type of structured interviews used by large employers. ApplicantStack solutions help you thrive in today’s competitive labor market. You can try ApplicantStack Recruit for free and start improving your hiring outcomes.
Hiring bias limits efforts to increase workforce diversity. Companies that do more than pay lip service to diversity identify the types of bias in their process. After that, they create a detailed plan to eliminate it. To carry out their plan, they dedicate the necessary resources, measure outcomes and modify as needed.
Working toward demographic parity is not just the right thing to do from a moral standpoint. It’s the best thing to do from a business standpoint. At the end of this article, we discuss the benefits of increasing workforce diversity.
First, we’ll discuss seven insidious types of hiring bias. After that, we will outline an 11-step roadmap to eliminate the bias and build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
7 Types of Hiring Bias to Root Out
These are categorized as cognitive biases. A cognitive bias is a flaw in judgment. Think about a coin toss that comes up heads ten times in a row. While there’s always a 50% chance that the next flip will be tails–it seems unlikely.
1. The Halo Effect
We all know that first impressions matter. This is related to the halo effect. Once we have a favorable opinion of someone, it takes a lot to change our mind. Another element of the halo effect is the idea that because a person excels in one area, he or she will also excel in others. For example, we might assume that because someone is an excellent public speaker, he will also make a good content writer. In reality, these skills don’t necessarily influence each other.
2. Expectation Bias
This is related to the Halo Effect discussed previously. A recruiter might read through dozens of resumes. One candidate looks particularly good ‘on paper.’ When that person comes in for an interview, the recruiter may be more likely to overlook obvious flaws. For example, the person doesn’t make eye contact or is inarticulate. If you expect someone to be something–whether that’s good or bad–he or she is likely to fulfill those expectations.
3. Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that validates your current opinion. For example, people who tune into Sean Hannity are typically more conservative. People who watch Rachel Maddow are typically more liberal. As a hiring bias, it’s the tendency to focus only on the aspects of a person that coincide with the recruiter’s pre-established opinion.
4. Anchoring Bias
Anchoring is a hiring bias in which the hiring manager fixates on one piece of information. As a result, they give it more weight than it deserves. Say, for instance, you have a candidate who is the president of the local Mensa Society. Even if the candidate isn’t the best for the job, it may be tempting to overlook her flaws because ‘She’s in Mensa!’
5. Social Comparison Bias
Managers hiring for their team are especially vulnerable to this one. The social comparison bias is the tendency to dislike or feel competitive with others who may have similar skills. For example, suppose you’re known as the company’s expert on a certain software application. You may feel reluctant to hire someone whose skills exceed your own. For decades, research has shown that this is a relatively common phenomenon. Therefore, it’s an issue you’ll want hiring managers to consciously avoid.
6. Ingroup Bias
Ingroup bias is the tendency to favor people who are similar to oneself. Those who are part of the same ‘group.’ Like sexism or racism–it’s blatantly unfair. But there are less obvious examples of ingroup bias. Some hiring managers, for example, might look more favorably on fellow alumni. You may feel a sense of camaraderie with a candidate who participated in the same fraternity or sorority. There are several types of ingroups, so make sure your team watches out for them.
7. Shared Information Bias
While this type of bias may not directly affect your candidates, it can certainly draw out the hiring process. Shared information bias is the tendency for members of a group to discuss information that everybody is already aware of, rather than focusing on hidden information that is only available to some. For example, if one interviewer notices an irritating quality in a candidate, he or she should share this with the group–even if it doesn’t seem relevant. All members of the team should have the full scope of information.
Now that we have discussed types of unconscious bias, hopefully you will consciously avoid them. Many experts suggest that AI is the solution. An applicant tracking system (ATS) can be used in many ways to root bias out of your hiring process. For example, an ATS can hide aspects of a candidate’s profile that you don’t want to consider. Also, you can use an ATS to manage gender- and ethnically-neutral job descriptions. Plus, you can decrease the shared information bias when everyone keeps notes in a central location. Lastly, tracking all candidates and hires in a centralized location makes it easier to track your diversity metrics.
An 11-Step Roadmap for Increasing Diversity Through Recruitment
Once you’ve identified the types of hiring bias going on, it’s time to make a plan to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate them. Use these steps to create a plan designed for your company. Many factors will affect your plan. For example; your industry, the size of your hiring team, the number of yearly hires, and your current level of diversity.
1. Set Measurable Goals
Firstly, assess your workforce. Consider gender, ethnicity, and age. Also educational background, socioeconomic status and geographic location if you have remote workers. (If you don’t have remote workers, why not?)
In addition, be mindful of not discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Though this information would be difficult and inappropriate to address in an assessment. (Under no circumstances should you ask any employee about his/her/their sexual orientation or gender identity! It would be illegal and in extremely poor taste.)
Secondly, create a diversity mission statement. Let your employees know about your diversity hiring goals. If you use an HR portal, remind your employees of your diversity mission frequently.
Thirdly–and this is most important–make a specific goal to increase your target hires in each underrepresented group by X in X months.
Lastly, include your diversity mission statement in your employee handbook and training materials. Put the statement on every piece of recruiting communication. Use it on internal documents so it’s always top of mind for your employees.
Keep in mind that diversity doesn’t just mean varying nationalities. It’s also important to hire professionals from a range of industry backgrounds and diversified levels of experience while paying attention to gender balance. The beauty of diversity is there is no perfect formula. Every team will look unique. (Sheryl Lyons, “The Benefits of Creating a Diverse Workforce,” Forbes)
2. Incorporate Employee Resource Groups
Make diverse candidates feel more comfortable by using employee resource groups (ERGs) during interviews. (Hopefully, you have ERGs. If not, encourage your staff to create them and support them in the effort.)
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives. Other benefits include the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement, and expanded marketplace reach. (Catalyst)
3. Review Resumes Blind
Studies show that resumes with white-sounding names receive more callbacks or interviews than those that seem non-white. Consequently, many candidates ‘whiten’ their names and backgrounds. But why should a candidate’s name affect whether he or she is a fit for an open role? You can use an ATS to remove names and hide demographic information. This will help your team avoid unconscious bias during the resume review process.
4. Diversify Your Hiring Team
Is your hiring team diverse? Applicants will notice. If minority candidates have several job openings to choose from, the makeup of the interview team could be a factor in their decision. Diversify your interviewing team. This will help them make better collective decisions.
5. Train Employees on Hiring Bias
You can’t increase workforce diversity if your employees don’t understand unconscious bias. Therefore, it’s important to conduct formal training. You can create your own internal training program, hire a consultant, or use online resources like Google’s unconscious bias training.
The Harvard Business School’s Implicit Project (requires registration) is an eye-opening exercise. It can help people recognize and measure their biases. At the start of training, consider having participants take a few surveys to learn what social stereotypes they may be harboring. Encourage them to challenge their assumptions.
6. Retool Your Job Descriptions and Job Requirements
Do you use gender-neutral terminology? Scrutinize your job descriptions and take out any gender-specific language. Instead of ‘he’ use ‘he or she’ or ‘s/he’. You can always use the job title in place of any pronoun.
Many words used frequently in job postings discourage women from applying. Here is a free gender decoder tool. Just paste in your job description. Create job description templates after carefully crafting them to avoid bias. Manage them in an applicant tracking system.
Just as important as giving your job descriptions a makeover, consider your job requirements. If ‘corporate culture match’ is a hiring criterion, remove it. This is an easy place for unconscious bias to creep in. It will hinder your efforts to increase workforce diversity. Furthermore, if your company culture reflects a homogenous workforce, you don’t want to use it as a measuring stick anyway. Increasing workforce diversity will improve your company culture.
7. Use Structured Interviewing
In addition to retooling job descriptions, rewrite interview scripts to avoid bias. Train your interviewers to use them correctly along with EEOC guidelines. Manage your structured interviewing scripts in your ATS. Standardizing interview questions enables a consistent and fair experience for all candidates.
Lastly, remind employees to avoid asking questions that could lead to a candidate sharing his or her age, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity. This information doesn’t relate to a candidate’s ability to perform in the role and could bias hiring decisions. If the candidate volunteers the information, instruct your interviewers to steer the conversation elsewhere and discourage them from sharing the information with the rest of the panel.
8. Seek Diverse Referrals
In addition to revamping recruitment communications, use your employee referral program. Encourage employees to refer applicants from underrepresented groups. Our closest associates are likely from our same demographic group. When moving outward in our network, however, we find more diversity. Therefore, encourage your employees to look beyond their first- and second-degree connections.
Pinterest created a program designed to increase the diversity in their engineering teams. They asked their engineers to refer potential job applicants from target demographics. They discovered that if their employees made a conscious effort, they could find referrals from underrepresented groups. Pinterest’s diversity referral program was a success. They are taking additional steps to increase diversity in other departments. (Medium)
9. Improve Onboarding
You might wonder what onboarding has to do with workforce diversity. It comes after a candidate accepts the job, after all. The reason onboarding is key is because good onboarding reduces turnover. Hiring more employees from inadequately represented groups is the first step. Retaining them is the second step.
Consider the employees who have quit your company in the last five years. Identify whether minorities, women or older employees have shorter tenure. If they do, you’ve got problems with culture and management. Your company may not be welcoming to underrepresented groups. The topic of turnover leads to the next section.
10. Use Exit Interviews
Hopefully, you don’t have a lot of employees quitting. If you do, use exit interviews to learn why they are leaving. You may discover you have problems with your managers. Perhaps your company doesn’t support work/life balance. Maybe there are limited opportunities to progress along a career path. Are your advancement policies discriminatory? Find out what’s going on and fix it.
11. Revisit Your Benefits
Does your company recognize employees in different life stages? Do you support working mothers and fathers? Which holidays do you recognize? If your benefits are designed for a homogenous workforce, it will hamper your workforce diversity goals.
Offer benefits such as onsite daycare, childcare subsidies and flexible schedules, and let new hires know that you are willing to accommodate cultural and religious holidays and diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) apparel choices.
Wall Street Journal
The Business Advantages of Workforce Diversity
Let’s discuss the benefits of workforce diversity from a business standpoint. A diverse workforce has increased depth of experience, knowledge. and skills. It is more productive and innovative. It’s impossible to successfully introduce a product into a new market if you don’t understand the culture. Diverse teams can better serve diverse clients.
Through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets. And gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams by 50%, on average. (Gartner)
The consulting group BCG found that organizations with above-average diversity on their management teams had higher innovation revenue. 19 percentage points higher, in fact, than companies with below-average leadership diversity. 45% of total revenue versus just 26%. Note that this study involved leadership teams. This underscores the importance of increasing diversity at the highest levels. If you focus only on entry-level positions, you won’t experience the same benefits.
In conclusion, let’s reiterate the steps to increase workforce diversity. First, understand the types of hiring bias. Second, identify which ones are inherent in your process. Third, create a detailed plan to eliminate the biases. Fourth, set a measurable goal for increasing diversity. Fifth, follow the plan and measure results along the way. Sixth, tweak the plan as needed until you reach your diversity goals.
Updated March 19, 2020 with the latest information about The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act of 2020 (part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act).
Mandated or voluntary quarantine create confusion for employers and employees alike. Most of us have never experienced a global public health crisis that has affected virtually every aspect of our lives.
Business owners and Human Resources professionals are doing their best to protect their employees while continuing to serve their customers, clients and—in the case of healthcare providers—their patients.
How do you pay quarantined employees? What if they aren’t sick?
First, we will look at obligations under federal laws. Whether or not the employee is sick is a determining factor for FMLA. We discuss FMLA after we discuss broader Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements. This is intended to be a general guide. Competent legal guidance is a good idea.
NOTE: On March 18, The Emergency Paid Leave Act of 2020 was passed. This new legislation provides additional assistance to individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis. It provides employers with tax credits to offset newly required paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave and specific health plan expenses. We explain how this law affects how you pay employees who take sick leave due to the coronavirus pandemic.
How do I pay quarantined employees?
- Identify employee status
- Use a timekeeping app to track hours
- Determine if FMLA, union contracts, or PTO applies
Identify employee status: exempt, nonexempt, fluctuating work week (FWW), subject to collective bargaining agreement
Is the employee exempt?
FLSA requires employers to pay an exempt worker his or her weekly salary in any workweek in which they work. Whether or not they are quarantined.
Did the exempt employee perform work during the week in which they were quarantined?
If a salaried employee is quarantined after they perform work during a workweek, the employer must pay them their entire salary for that week.
Exempt quarantined employees working at home?
If quarantined exempt employees are working at home, they must be compensated the entire weekly salary for any week in which they perform work.
Exempt quarantined employees at home not working?
The employer doesn’t have to compensate an exempt employee for a workweek in which the employee doesn’t perform any work. We talk about PTO ahead.
Is the employee nonexempt?
The FLSA requires employers to pay nonexempt employees for the time they actually work. Thus, an employer need not compensate hourly employees for time spent in quarantine unless the employee performs work OR there are state requirements for providing paid leave to hourly, nonexempt employees.
Do you have hourly employees working at home during quarantine?
If hourly employees work at home during quarantine, they must be paid for all of their time worked.
How do I track time for hourly employees working at home during quarantine?
Use an employee timekeeping system with a mobile app. Your hourly quarantined employees can clock in at home on their phone, tablet, or laptop.
How do I know my hourly (nonexempt) quarantined employees are at home working?
If you want to ensure your hourly at-home employees are where they say they are, get an employee timekeeping app with geotracking. Their manager (or you) can see where they punch in and out. Geofencing takes it a step further. If you configure a geofence in your mobile employee timekeeping app (it just takes a second), you will be alerted if the employee tries to punch in outside of the fence (geographic location). Read more about geofencing here.
Paid by fluctuating workweek (FWW)
Nonexempt workers paid on a FWW (as defined by the FLSA) generally must be paid their full FWW compensation for each workweek in which they perform any work, whether under quarantine or not.
Exempt quarantined employees with PTO
If your employee is quarantined, you can generally require them to use vacation time or PTO, pursuant to your company PTO policy. This is tricky. If you have any question, consult your legal counsel.
What if I send an hourly employee home in the middle of a shift?
Your state law may require you pay the nonexempt worker for a minimum number of hours for the day. Check with your state department of labor.
Do you have union employees?
Union contracts could affect your absence management during the coronavirus.
Employers with union employees should review their collective bargaining agreements to determine if there are any restrictions on asking people to take unpaid administrative leave or sick leave. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)
The Emergency Paid Leave Act of 2020
This law provides additional assistance to individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis. As part of this program, employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide:
- Up to 80 hours of emergency paid leave to full-time employees along with special considerations for part-time employees.
- Up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave related to caring for a child.
- In addition, the bill requires group health plans, health insurers and government programs to provide free coronavirus testing.
What Do Employers Need To Do To Qualify?
Employers can qualify for tax credits if they are able to:
- Provide employees with a special allocation of qualified PTO;
- Track employee usage of qualified PTO separately from regular PTO; and
- Report qualified PTO usage in a compliant tax filing.
The Emergency Paid Leave Act of 2020 defines an “emergency leave day” as a day in which an individual is unable to work due to one of four qualifying reasons related to COVID-19:
- The worker has a current diagnosis of COVID-19.
- The worker is quarantined (including self-imposed quarantine), at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official, to prevent the spread of COVID19.
- The worker is caring for another person who has COVID-19 or who is under a quarantine related to COVID-19.
- The worker is caring for a child or other individual who is unable to care for themself due to the COVID-19-related closing of their school, child care facility, or other care programs.
It also defines other key terms including “eligible individual,” which is someone who was working in the thirty days before they were impacted by COVID-19.
Qualifying for relief under this law can help your business weather this crisis.
What if I have to close my business temporarily due to the coronavirus?
If you have to close your business temporarily due to the coronavirus, you can generally require exempt employees to take vacation or PTO. You must compensate the employee their full weekly salary. If the worker doesn’t have earned vacation or PTO, you must pay them their regular weekly salary IF they do any work during the week. Otherwise, they could lose their exempt status.
Does FMLA leave apply for employees or family members who may contract coronavirus?
Yes, assuming that the FMLA applies to the employer, coronavirus would qualify as a “serious health condition” under FMLA. The employee could take FMLA leave if either the employee or an immediate family member contracts COVID-19 (or any other illness). In addition, the worker would be entitled to job reinstatement. Your state may have additional protections.
For an employee to invoke their 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave, he or she must have a “serious health condition” and otherwise satisfy the FMLA eligibility criteria. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 have been reported as flu-like, COVID-19 may be considered a serious health condition depending on the circumstances. Accordingly, an employee with COVID-19 or an employee who is taking care of a qualifying family member with COVID-19 may be permitted to take protected FMLA leave. However, employees who refuse to come to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19 would not typically qualify for FMLA leave. (SHRM), February 27, 2020
If your company is subject to FMLA, and the employee is eligible for FMLA, you must provide unpaid leave. Make sure you follow state leave laws as well.
Would I need to pay workers’ compensation for workers who contract coronavirus?
If the employee contracted the disease in the course of their employment, it would probably apply. Does the employees’ work require them to be exposed to persons who are infected? Most healthcare workers meet this criteria. If an employee incidentally contracts the disease from a co-worker, there will likely be no workers’ compensation liability.
Haven’t sent workers home yet?
This graph has been published everywhere in the past few weeks. I am including here in case you haven’t seen it. It helps show why it’s critical to enact measures now to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Allowing employees to work at home protects your business, your community, and healthcare workers.
How to design an absence management policy that works
When the coronavirus crisis has passed, you will still have to manage absences. Let’s discuss how to create an absence management policy.
Employee absences occur within every company. It may occur in the form of tardy employees, sick leave, or paid time off. Designing a good absence management policy that works for both your company and your employees can be a daunting task. Go too strict and inflexible and you may have higher attrition and more stressed out employees who produce less. It is a balancing act between cost and benefit. After all, when employees take time, you essentially pay them not to work. What benefit does that have on your company?
First, let’s define the difference between absence management and leave management. Absence management is the program or policy that your company has to control unexpected leaves due to illness, injury, or emergencies. Absence management includes how you control unscheduled, unexpected, and excessive absences. It includes how you handle late employees.
Leave management covers expected and planned time off. It is the process by which employees request time off work and managers approve or deny those requests.
Your company should clearly outline the policy and procedures for handling both types of employee absences in your employee handbook. This provides employees with a clear idea of employer expectations and a clear path for both unplanned and planned absences.
Absences come in all different forms and sizes. It can come in the form of employee tardiness, minor illnesses, or long-term absences. How you deal with and handle absences will have a great impact on employees as they return to work and re-engage with their jobs.
Absences have a negative impact on the business in several ways:
- Increase employer expense: Employers have to “fill in the gaps” by hiring temporary staff, filling in for a subordinate, or paying other employees overtime. Instead of working on more productive tasks, managers spend time filling vacancies or covering for employees. Higher wages are paid, either to temporary staff or through overtime. This is a hard cost of absences.
- Lower morale: Employees who routinely cover for absent employees can feel burnout quicker. They may feel used. Increased workloads mean higher stress. If one employee is perceived to be absent an unfair number of times, this can increase perceived bias by management to allow these absences.
- Increased mistakes: Staff that is required to cover other job positions or meet with clients they don’t have relationships with are more likely to make mistakes. Employees who return to work after repeated absences or a lengthy absence is more likely to make a mistake or be unaware of changes.
- Decreased productivity: Covering shifts can mean your employees are unable to focus on the priorities of their own responsibilities. This happens as “emergency” tasks take priority over less urgent, but more important tasks. Employees get stressed, which makes distraction easier.
The Cause of Employee Absenteeism
First, let’s take a look at many reasons why employees are absent from work:
- Minor illness or injury: employees are absent for a short period of time.
- Personal emergencies: alternative childcare for a sick child, domestic violence, car malfunction, or another personal issue that impedes the employee’s ability to show up to work timely or at all during a particular shift.
- Reccuring medical conditions: impact the employees’ absences over the course of a long time. They also impact presenteeism, when an employee shows up to work, but fails to be fully productive due to the medical condition.
- Mental illness and health: stress and burnout impact employee mental health. They also exasperate mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. Mental illness is often cited as a top reason for employee absences, even when it is not the reason reported to management.
Understanding these reasons helps you to develop a better plan around absence management. It is important to get the real reason why an employee is absent. But, that’s not the only step.
Clarify your policy around absences
Your policy should address things such as tardies and short-term leave. It should also include extended leave policies. Define what is unacceptable. Identify solutions for employees facing unexpected absences and who should be notified. Outline company resources to help with employee absences. Your resources can include direct managers, human resources, or outside help.
For example, domestic violence often shows up with an excuse of injury, car troubles, or other excuses. Mental illness is the same. Employees cite other external reasons for absence when anxiety or depression is the actual cause. You can help employees to deal with these external factors by providing resources that employees can turn to in a crisis. This can help to stem absences.
Be sure to include information regarding employee leaves such as FMLA and make sure that your policy covers absences protected by law such as those caused by pregnancy disability or other disabilities.
- Identify your policy around absences:
- Identify employee procedure when absences occur
- Outline resources for employees facing an absence
- Cover absences covered by the law
Track and Measure Employee Absences
It’s impossible to really understand the absences in your company if you aren’t tracking them. Make sure that you have a reliable timekeeping system that will accurately track employee schedules and absences when they fail to show up for work. You can take a granular look at individual days and shifts or look at overall patterns, trends and seasons.
This allows you to see specific employee patterns, identify managers with increased absenteeism, or show potential issues with specific locations or shifts.
If you don’t track absences, you can’t improve it. Measuring allows you the data you need to address issues without attacking individuals or making employees defensive. For more information on how Timeworks Plus can help your business track and monitor employee absences, fill out the form below this article.
Stay in Communication
When employees are tardy or absent, it is vital to communicate with them. Don’t assume that employees know that regular tardies are an unacceptable habit. Instead, touch base with them, find out the real cause behind the tardy and discuss options for solutions. When employees are sick, touching base, instead of simply acknowledging a text, is vital to showing them that you care and are concerned with their well-being. It also provides a great way to keep employees informed of changes while they are gone.
Generally, touching base early in the absence provides a way for the employer to check in on the employee, provide well-wishes, and to discuss a timeframe for communication that will work for the employee and manager. Employees can identify how they would like to be contacted during an extended leave and how often. Some employees like regular check-ins while others feel pressured to return to work if they hear from their employer too often. Thus, it’s important to discuss and set up a framework for all contacts at the company to follow. This will also help to reduce redundant calls from managers, HR, and payroll.
Employers can use an employee portal to provide updates to absent employees. Updates, communications, and resources can be made available. Thus, employees who are absent for an extended period can check in, read the latest or watch news releases, and feel a part of the company during that time. This provides flexibility, but also provides a verifiable method of issuing employee notices without harassing the employee.
Have a “Back to Work” Process
Create a “back to work” process. This can be something as simple as a checklist kept in your workforce management software. It should include steps such as a return to work interview, reorientation on new policies and procedures, and updates on changes while they were gone.
- Welcomed back to work by manager
- Back to work interview
- Reorientation on updates, changes, or news
- Collection of all documents related to the leave
Employees returning to work after an absence should have a “back to work” interview. Managers can welcome the employee back to work and update them. This can be an informal discussion where their manager updates them on any relevant news during a brief absence. This can include updates on customer messages or conversation with other account reps.
Or, it can be a lengthier process wherein employees are given time and resources to adjust to working again.
It can include a modified schedule for the employee to climatize back into full-time work. Or it can include a discussion regarding how the employer can accommodate an employee’s long-term disability or medical needs.
Back to work processes should include gathering any further documentation required by FMLA, sick leave, or other labor laws. They can include setting the employee backup on benefits and re-orientating them to the workplace and new policies implemented during their absence.
By utilizing a back to work policy, you help to ensure that employees returning to work don’t feel unnecessary stress and anxiety over the change in schedule and responsibilities.
Unlike absence management, leave management usually revolves around planned absences. From a numbers standpoint, leave management appears to be counter-intuitive. You pay employees to not work. However, leave management lowers employee stress, provides better work/life balance.
Accurately plan for leave requests
How many employees can be off at a given time?
If you have a number in your head, then consider if that number should be the same year round. Although many managers have a set number of employees who can “take” time off on any given week, the reality is much different. Business ebbs and flows. Some weeks allow for more employees to take PTO, while other weeks produce greater demand. But the only way to really know the demands of the business is through historical records.
The winter holidays (Thanksgiving through New Years) is often a very busy time for retailers. However, other employers may see a marked decrease in customer traffic and demand. Make sure to rely on your workforce management data and plan week by week for allowable absences. This will help you to approve extra PTO requests when the business needs naturally slows down.
Make PTO easy for employees
Don’t shame employees who take time off. Don’t make it difficult for employees to request time off. Time away from work is important for employees to maintain a healthy balance and it ranks as a high priority on employee benefits.
Ideally, PTO is requested in advance. However, employees are human and subject to poor planning. Family or friends may invite them on spur-of-the-moment activities that are highly valued to the employee. So it’s important to provide a means for employees to request time off.
An employee portal becomes a valuable tool because employees can request time off at the time they are thinking about it. They don’t have to wait until the next workday to request time off. It provides managers with current requests. This means that both employees and managers can better plan for time off.
Another way to provide flexibility for PTO requests is to allow employees to initiate “shift swapping.” This allows employees to agree to swap a shift, which then has to be approved by a manager. This helps eliminate the time spent by managers to find a replacement. Shift swapping is handled in TimeSimplicity.
Employers can enable PTO sharing, where employees can donate extra time off to an employee who faces special circumstances. This helps to build community and foster goodwill.
Lastly, don’t forget to give employees access to self-service when handling their leave tasks. Provide access to your employee handbook, Q&A, and leave balances on the employee portal. Finally, let employees submit FMLA certificates electronically vía the portal.
Respond to leave requests promptly
Managers who respond to leave requests immediately help foster communication. Employees can immediately know if they will be able to continue their plans for time off. Managers can view time off requests vía their workstation or a mobile device.
Use an absence calendar
An absence calendar helps managers to see at a glance who is scheduled off today and in the near future. THey can better plan. Absence calendars make it easier for managers to respond because they can quickly see who is scheduled to be off during the same time period. Managers can access their absence calendar on their mobile devices.
Employees don’t like to be left in the dark. Be transparent and they are more likely to be part of the solution. If employees understand how much time off is allocated and why they are more likely to plan around busy seasons. Employees know when they are buses and when they have periods where there is more conversation time. Let them be a part of the conversation.
Additionally, transparency helps to alleviate disgruntled employees who don’t get requested time off. Employees see how many requests are ahead of theirs and learn that earlier requests get approved easier. If you prioritize time off by seniority, then having a clear process helps new employees to know when the deadlines for senior requests are over so they can promptly request time off.
Reduce the impact of unexpected absences through a good absence management process. This helps you to increase employee notice of absences and helps employees to transition back to work. Employees time off helps them to recover from illness, reset their stress levels, and increase production. Make sure you have the tools and policies in place to maximize your ROI.
By Annemaria Duran and Liz Strikwerda. Last updated March 16, 2020
Updated August 15, 2020
If you aren’t using candidate evaluation forms, you aren’t collaborating effectively.
Candidate Evaluation Forms For Interview Feedback
What is a candidate evaluation form? It’s a tool that allows members of the hiring team to rate applicants based on the same criteria. It is also called an interview feedback form or candidate feedback form.
8 Ways Candidate Evaluation Forms Improve Recruiting
- It ensures each interviewer is thorough in their evaluation
- It speeds up the interview feedback process
- It helps prevent bias in job interview evaluation
- It measures hard and soft skills
- It simplifies collaboration among your hiring team
- It helps differentiate candidates with near-identical qualifications
- It improves the candidate experience
- It saves time when first-round rejected candidates are considered for future positions
- The systemized scoring increases the usefulness of your talent pipeline database
The Interview Feedback Review Process
How do you evaluate candidates without a systematic way to rate them?
Let’s consider a common scenario.
You currently have a mission-critical position to fill and a fairly tight deadline to hire a qualified person. You have posted the position on your website and other outside resources like Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed and Craigslist.
What comes next is a stack of resumes. Followed by the interview process. In 2020, you’re competing with many other companies to find the best talent. You can’t afford a slowdown in your process.
The top candidate could be hired by your competitor. The most desirable candidates are off the market in 10 days.
But you need to proceed strategically so you don’t hire the wrong person.
You pick up the first resume and encounter some mission statements like…
- “Motivated individual seeks challenging position for personal and professional growth”
- “Industry expert and thought leader available to implement revenue-ramping methodologies.”
- “Professional guru with proven track record of driving key performance metrics seeks next challenging opportunity.”
…and you then proceed to read through four more pages of the resume.
Buried in the resume amid the industry keywords and buzzwords is the information that is relevant to your open position. After reading about 10 of these resumes, you can’t remember which candidate had which qualifications. It’s a good idea to organize the applicants into categories like “Unqualified”, “Potential” and “Top Prospect” as you are reviewing the resumes so you can focus on the shortlist of more qualified candidates when you revisit them.
The next step in the process is to make every effort to forward only the best applicants to your manager for review, so you don’t waste the manager’s time and earn his/her confidence that you understand the critical needs.
How Can I Get Useful Interview Feedback From My Hiring Team?
One of the most challenging aspects of the hiring process is about to occur… obtaining useful feedback from your staff during this review process. No matter how many employees you engage in the hiring process, it’s important that you gather the feedback in a consistent and meaningful way.
Let’s discuss how you use candidate evaluation forms filled out by your managers and staff during the review process.
How Can I Standardize Interview Feedback?
Utilizing multiple choice, ratings or scale questions when requesting feedback may prevent receiving vague reasons they are not interested and emails that are difficult to interpret. While you will find feedback questionnaires and interview examples helpful during the review process, you will find them even more necessary after the applicant has been interviewed.
When each member of the hiring team contributes to the interview feedback form, you elevate the entire process. Each person’s perspective and expertise improves the scoring.
The result? You will find best-fit employees quickly.
Job Interview Evaluation Comments Samples
Here are some examples of effective interview feedback evaluation forms. You can modify them as appropriate for the specific position. For example, if the position requires additional skills not listed here, add the skills to the first evaluation sample.
Interview Feedback Examples (Pre-Interview)
Very often the manager reads the candidate’s resume and uses a gut feeling to determine if the candidate should be considered. They may even make a judgment based on the resume format, the number of jobs and where they went to school. If you ask the manager exactly what it is they liked or didn’t like, you will receive more meaningful information and can make a more informed decision about whether you should invite this candidate in for an actual face to face interview.
Examples of Effective Manager Feedback Questions (Post Interview)
The feedback you receive from the staff involved in the face to face interview can also be based on more fair and factual information if guidelines for evaluation are distributed. It is recommended that the skills or competencies needed to be successful in the job are listed so the interviewer can explore these areas during the interview and rate each candidate effectively. Please note the two different examples below.
Negative/Positive Interview Comments Example #1
Negative/Positive Interview Comments Example #2
How Job Interview Feedback Fits in the Applicant Journey
Job interview evaluation influences other applicant touchpoints. As such, it can help you improve job descriptions, interview scripts, and other candidate communications. It also helps members of your hiring team become better at evaluating candidates. It’s a key best practice for any company that is serious about improving hiring outcomes.
Benefits of a Structured Interview Feedback Process
- Avoids typical evaluations of candidates that may be filled with ambiguity, superficial statements, and generalizations.
- Your hiring decision is based on objective information that the candidate’s skills match your job or project requirements—not because they are an excellent resume writer.
- The standardized evaluation questions point out the different opinions of the interview/ evaluation staff and help raise any red flags about the candidate.
- Ensures your hiring process is in compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- Helps avoid costly hiring mistakes.
- Using multiple selection methods helps to ensure you are choosing the best candidate–No single technique on its own can predict on-the-job performance and success.
- Streamlines the process and ensure a better, fit—increasing employee retention and productivity.
The Problem Solver Hiring Philosophy
Before you create your interview script and candidate evaluation form, establish your overall philosophy. In the following Quora post, Ryan Duffee, HR manager and consultant, explains how he focuses on finding problem solvers.
When hiring someone, you should always be looking for a problem solver. A business in itself is a problem solver. The company you represent is providing a solution to a problem (whatever is in demand). The product or service you provide is a solution. Inside your business, problems will come up. Especially new start-ups or businesses who have been around forever and operating on antiquated tech or software, policy creation, accounting, personnel, etc. Whenever an organization makes a decision to hire, it is because there is a problem and they need to bring someone in to fix it. Don’t think problems are all negative either. Hiring someone to take on an increase in workload is a positive problem to have. It goes both ways. Moreover, when looking at resumes or interviewing people, the one thing on your mind is, can or will this person fix my problem?
Know The Needs in Your Organization
As an HR Manager, it is my responsibility to know about 99% of the things going on within my company. If you have an HR person that can’t tell you the workload going through a department, that is an issue. I personally make it my routine to meet with dept. managers to ask how their depts. are performing. Not only does it help me understand what they’re doing, it shows them that upper management and/or C-suite are engaged and have better communication.
Most of the time I receive a quick, “good-good” or “great, thanks”, but there are those times where I get the needed info, “We’re swamped and John Doe is overwhelmed and falling behind!” Now is when I (your person) come into action. I will sit with managers and discuss a number of things like workflow trends; is the work load increase just a temporary thing? How long has it been this way? How much production or time have we lost? My job becomes a fact finder (investigator) to go to the executive team to say, “Everyone, we have problems X, Y & Z… My recommendation is to hire or not hire more personnel to handle the increased work load. If we hire 1, 2… this is what we can expect in terms of increased production.” If the ROI on hiring a problem solver (new hire) is greater than the expenses, it makes sense.
Create Your Job Description Based on Problems That Need to be Solved
When reviewing resumes, have those problems you need to fix not only on your list of questions, but they should be on the job posting, listed in the form of a job description. Why is that important? This gives the job seeker a chance to see your problems and ask themselves if they’re the right problem solver to help you and apply.
When you know your problems you can clearly define the solution(s) you’re looking for. So, before you go hiring your best friend from the neighborhood because you want to have lunch with them and chat about everything in the world because it’s fun, you need to ask the question of how effective of a solution is this to my problem, or will it create a new problem? Nothing wrong with hiring your friend, I’m just using that as an example. I say, “hire solutions and make a new friends.”
This is not a blanket, one-size-fits-all thing. You should know your organization’s needs, the culture, the work and training required, etc. Hiring an 18 y/o to flip burgers and serve fries doesn’t require the same scrutiny as hiring a Project Manager who will be overseeing multi-million dollar projects. However, you can use this problem solver philosophy to help narrow your search regardless of your industry. (Ryan Duffee)
For more information on candidate evaluation, see:
For many companies, a new year might mean that there’s an opportunity to hire new employees.
While initially exciting, recruiting can be an exhausting process, and interviewing can feel tedious. By the time those processes are “over” (are they ever really over?), it’s not unlikely that hiring managers would leave the thoughts of employee onboarding behind.
While this is understandable, it’s a mistake. Onboarding is the second most important HR practice after recruiting, in regards to economic influence on a business. In other words, onboarding is an incredibly important step in hiring new employees. It shouldn’t be put together at the last moment, let alone forgotten about completely.
Whether you’re starting your onboarding program up for the first time or looking for some new, unique ideas, 2020 is the year to get it right.
Onboarding ideas for 2020
Traditional onboarding often entails boring paperwork, endless PowerPoints, cringey videos from the 90s, and uncomfortable icebreakers. In other words, it’s not always a great experience for new employees. And while this process might be at the bottom of your to-do list to improve, know this: great employee onboarding can improve retention by 82%. That’s no small number.
There’s more to your company than those monotonous activities, and it’s never too late to get a little creative in order to show that off.
Below, we’ve listed some of the ways to make onboarding a more exciting process for both new employees and their hiring managers.
1. Check off the basics
Before you come up with any wild ideas for how you can incorporate your company culture into onboarding, it’s important not to forget the basics of onboarding.
Things such as going over company policies, providing new employees with IT equipment, and check-ins are an absolute must. Make sure that these things are prominent on your onboarding checklist—while these things might be the least exciting part of the onboarding process, they’re absolutely imperative for the success of any employee.
2. Don’t wait until day one
The anxiety behind a new job is real, and not hearing from an employer in between their acceptance and their first day doesn’t help.
In order to alleviate some stress, start onboarding before they walk through the door. A helpful email from HR outlining what to expect their first few days, a quick phone or video call with their new manager so that they can introduce themselves, providing them with access to onboarding software to encourage communication, or even a virtual tour of the office are some of the ways that you can reach out to new hires to keep them out of the dark.
3. Make their first day one to remember
First impressions matter. While you may think that you giving your new employee their job is a first impression, the true test comes on their first day. Creating a friendly, warm, welcoming environment won’t go unnoticed, but if you truly want to blow them out of the water, do the following:
Provide them with some swag. Neatly placing a branded out water bottle, T-shirt, and even a few branded stickers or office supplies to get them started will be the first step to getting an employee truly feeling like part of the team.
Take them out to lunch. Giving new hires a chance to get to know yourself and one another in a less rigid environment makes it easier for them to create casual relationships first, which can then be molded into professional ones later down the line.
While these things feel standard, you’d be surprised at how many companies prefer to have their employees spend their first day filling out paperwork and being sent home early. While that might sound great for some people, it’s not as much fun as telling someone that you spent the morning designing your own custom Bitmoji to be slapped up on the office wall (that’s what G2 did for us!)
4. Keep it creative
One of the most common things that people experience in the onboarding process is boredom. Referenced above, those PowerPoints and paperwork are often necessary, but don’t have to be the only way that you can teach new employees about what it means to work for your company.
Redesigning your employee handbook with some desktop publishing software to make it more friendly, colorful, and attractive is a step to consider; while the information itself can be dry, you’d be surprised what a great infographic or two could do for your new hires.
Physically creative materials are plenty, but if you really want to impress, take the time to make a more meaningful, interactive, and creative experience for new employees.
Replacing icebreakers with scavenger hunts around the office or assigning “quests” like finding the coffee machine or giving the CEO a high five before lunchtime are more than just fun; they encourage collaboration, communication, and teamwork, right off the bat.
5. Introduce them to the team
As technology consumes our lives, it seems that a quick email or Slack message may be all you have to do as an employer to introduce a new employee to the team.
But now, more than ever, it’s important to make things personal. There’s no better way to do so than by taking the time to introduce your new employees to their team with good, old fashioned verbal communication.
Slack and email are fast and seemingly intimate, but they don’t prompt a conversation in the same way that good, old fashioned face-to-face interaction does. By setting up a meeting or even a quick lunch with a few team members to join your new employee, you’ll expose them to new people, give them a chance to ask questions to those who will have the same goals as they do, and begin to build more relationships than they would if they were introduced over a screen.
If you have remote employees and onboarding has to take place via a video conferencing tool, make sure that you’re engaging all employees. Ask everyone to keep their video on and try to encourage all participants to chat and contribute. Consider having a virtual lunch with their new team members where each member conferences in and chat while eating lunch, almost replacing the water-cooler chat that in-office team members get.
6. Assign them a mentor
Even with that in-person introduction, there’s a chance that your new employee may not feel comfortable approaching those same people with questions.
Assigning a mentor to new employees can prevent the event of questions being left unanswered. Having that mentor set up some 1:1 time with that new employee for their first few weeks as they settle in to talk anything feedback, company, and culture can make a world of difference in someone’s confidence.
7. Rotate managers amongst associates
If you’re hiring a manager, it’s never a bad idea to create a program in which they can meet multiple employees in other roles, both higher and lower in the hierarchy than them.
While managers can be onboarded in the same way as an associate in the beginning, it’s important to make sure that they are exposed to the employees who will be working under them and incorporate an educational experience in which they’ll learn the ins and outs of the company, from the bottom up. The day-to-day tasks that they’ll be assigning those below them are just as important as learning internal communication skills with those above them, and week one is as good a place to start as any.
8. Rotate associates amongst higher-ups
It’s just as important for a new associate to become familiar with company management as it is the other way around.
Setting up meetings for a group of new hires with their department manager and even C-Suite executives can help them feel more at home and comfortable asking questions, while providing higher level employees an opportunity to share stories, tips, and experiences to help new hires adjust to their new environment.
9. Don’t stop after week one
Onboarding isn’t a one week process, and it might not even be a one month one. Research has shown that it may take six to 12 months for an employee to feel like they have completely onboarded into a company. Being transparent with employees, providing training opportunities, scheduling check-in meetings on a regular basis, and giving them chances to transition smoothly from one stage of their career into the next are all part of the onboarding process that hiring managers are responsible for. Have them keep track of their training progress throughout the first week, month, and year with a project management tool.
10. Ask for feedback
Whether your company’s onboarding process lasts two weeks or two months, it’s always important to ask for feedback. Although you and your team have taken the time to design the process that new employees go through, they’re the ones experiencing it. Some may wish that something had been explained sooner, some may prefer to have a vegetarian option at lunch, and some may prefer more time to do one activity than another.
Be open to all input that these new employees are providing you, and keep track of what they’re saying. You can even create a survey with both qualitative and quantitative options to present to higher-ups at the end of a new process.
New Year’s resolution: create a great onboarding program
A new year doesn’t just mean new hires – it means new experiences. Providing both your new hires and your hiring team with something fresh to implement and participate in can motivate not only new employees, but your more seasoned ones to work harder, smarter, and have a sense of belonging where it matters most.
By Daniella Alscher, Guest Contributor
Daniella Alscher is a content marketer at G2.com with a focus on marketing automation and graphic design. When she’s not working, she’s hanging out with a good book, watching an intriguing cultural documentary, or eating a PB&J.