In the third article in our series on the psychology of recruiting, we discuss the way in which the recruitment process meets the needs of the candidate. (See the first two articles Types of Unconscious Bias in Hiring and Onboarding New Employees with Social Learning to learn more about how to recruit.)
The ultimate goal of the recruitment process is to extend an offer to the best candidate – and to have that offer accepted. But does your offer meet the candidate’s needs? Have you shown a holistic understanding of the candidate’s life goals throughout the recruitment process? Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which he wrote about in his seminal 1943 paper, outlines a theory behind motivation. Why do people say ‘yes’ to one offer, but ‘no’ to others? In one study, 26% of recruiters reported that over 1 in 10 job offers were rejected. What can you do to ensure your top candidate says yes?
The Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a pyramid with five layers. Need fulfillment starts at the bottom of the pyramid. As the needs for one layer are met, the candidate will seek to meet the needs of the upper layers. The recruitment process and final offer is a chance to demonstrate to the candidate that you understand his or her life and career goals. These days, employees are looking for more than just a high salary or plenty of time off. Glassdoor found that two-thirds of job candidates want diversity in the workplace. A larger study discovered that employees most want flexibility, a commitment to employee health, and a deeper sense of purpose. A quick look at the hierarchy of needs shows why.
Before a person can think about things like friendship or contributing to the community at large, some basic needs must be met. This includes things like clothing, food, water, and shelter. When you’re extending a job offer, this level directly corresponds to pay rate. Are you offering enough money for the candidate to make a living? You need to consider the cost of living in your company’s location as well. An employee working in your Silicon Valley office should be paid more than an employee doing the exact same thing in Biloxi.
Perhaps surprisingly, a massive increase in pay isn’t always the incentive hiring managers think it should be. Remember, this is the lowest level in the hierarchy of needs. Once the basics are met, your candidates are looking for more than money.
What’s the turnover like at your company? Employees don’t want to be cogs in a machine. During your recruitment process, stress the investment you will be making in your new employee. If the new hire feels as though you are committing for the long haul, that will fulfill a sense of job security. After all, you wouldn’t spend time and money educating and training an employee if you didn’t plan to keep that person around.
Health is another aspect of safety needs. Do you care about the health of your employees? Benefits like gym memberships (or an on-site gym!), standing desks, mental health days, and onsite health screenings show that your company emphasizes the physical and mental well-being of its employees. During the recruitment process, offer examples of wellness challenges, lunch and learns, or other opportunities for employees to step back and take a break. Wellness promotion programs are always worth the investment.
Research shows that having friends at work makes employees happier and more productive (although employees may want to refrain from complaining about job woes to their new best friends.) There’s more to the need to belong than friendship, though. Your workplace should have a clear corporate culture – common values and beliefs that bind diverse people together. During the recruitment process, emphasize the opportunities your employees have to socialize. Work friends are crucial to success, and your company should facilitate that as much as possible. Mandatory social activities may become a burden, so instead offer several options both in and out of the workplace for colleagues to get to know your new hire. One good option? Invite a prospective candidate to a social function at the workplace. He or she will be able to mix, mingle, and get a sense as to whether or not the culture would be a good fit.
Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Once a candidate feels confident that his or her basic needs will be met, that safety is a priority, and that there will be a sense of camaraderie, that person begins to look for additional validation. How does your company recognize the contributions of its employees? Throughout the recruitment process, point out ways employees are honored for their achievements. This could include anything from a special bell that’s rung whenever a sale is made to a ‘wall of fame’ to a monthly bonus awarded to the hardest worker on the team. Some companies have programs so colleagues can recognize a special effort made by a coworker. Your new hire doesn’t want to feel like he or she is slaving away at the same tasks without making a difference. Make the candidate feel special during the recruitment process, even before the job offer.
This is the top layer of the hierarchy of need, considered when all other needs are met. It represents your employee reaching his or her full potential. Autonomy, creativity, and a deeper sense of purpose are part of self-actualization. Emphasize the ways in which your company – and your potential new hire specifically – can make a difference internally and externally. You want your new hires (and your veterans) to feel good about coming in to work every day. The exact manifestation of self-actualization depends on the person. As you engage with your prospective candidates, learn about what is important to them. Here are some possibilities:
- Making the world a better place
- Making a difference in people’s lives
- Flexing one’s own creative muscles
- The ability to create organizational change
- Opportunities for education and growth potential
As you discover more about your candidate, you’ll be able to tailor your recruitment process to focus on what he or she finds most important.
Remember, the key to the hierarchy of needs is that it starts at the bottom. You must fulfill the basic needs before you can move onto the psychological needs and the need for self-fulfillment. If your employee isn’t offered a living wage, it won’t matter if he or she is able to affect change in the world or exercise creativity. Work your way up the hierarchy of needs, and you’ll be more likely to hear an enthusiastic affirmative when you extend an offer.
The field of psychology is ripe with revelations for human resources managers. (See our previous post on unconscious bias in hiring to learn more about how to recruit using psychology.) One of the most interesting aspects of psychological influences is that they are constantly affecting us, whether it’s intentional or unintentional. So how can HR representatives mindfully leverage these influences?
Social learning theory, proposed by renowned psychologist Albert Bandura, is the idea that people learn through observation. In his famous Bobo doll experiments, some children observed adults beating and punching a blow-up doll. The children in the control group saw adults playing with other toys and ignoring the doll. When it was time for the kids to play with the toys, 90% of the children who had observed the adults behaving aggressively imitated that behavior. They learned to be abusive towards the doll by seeing and imitating what others had done.
While this is a study on aggression, the principle can be applied to practically any scenario. Even if you’ve never held a football, you could make a reasonable attempt at throwing it because you’ve seen others do it on television. Humans learn through observation, especially in unfamiliar scenarios. And in the workplace, onboarding new employees is one such scenario. To understand how one can apply the theory of social learning to new employee onboarding, we need to understand the basics of the theory.
How Do People Learn?
Bandura posits that behaviors are learned in three ways: verbal instruction, live models, and symbolism. When onboarding new employees, the first two are going to be the only factors you can affect. Here are some ways each might influence the success of your onboarding program.
These are the directions you give when onboarding new employees. Although Bandura limits these instructions to those given verbally, written instructions would likely fall under this umbrella as well. It’s possible, however, that verbal onboarding might be more effective than simply handing your new employee a stack of booklets on corporate culture and expected job duties.
This is the behavior your new employee sees on an everyday basis, both during ‘official’ onboarding and beyond. The way your employees act, the culture they promote, and the attitude and dynamic around the office is self-perpetuating. With reinforcement, your new employees will imitate the behaviors of your veterans, eventually coming to identify with them. Identification, in this case, means that your new employees take on the attitudes, behaviors, values, and even beliefs of those around them.
Of course, we don’t adopt every behavior we see, hear, or read about. What determines which behaviors we imitate, and which we ignore? Two factors especially relevant for new employee onboarding are attention and retention. Ask yourself these questions when planning your new employee onboarding program:
- Is this skill relevant?
- Does this employee already know how to do this?
- How important is this skill for the fulfillment of job duties? Your new employee is not likely to attend to and retain knowledge about the minutiae of, for example, filing, if it isn’t a critical skill.
- How complex is this skill?
- Are there opportunities for the new employee to repeat back or demonstrate what he or she has learned?
Reinforcement also plays a major role. During the new employee onboarding process, stress the consequences of something like harassment. To the extent that you can, use actual examples. Seeing and hearing about someone who was actively reprimanded for a poor choice reiterates the importance of these policies for your new hire.
Positive reinforcement is also a great motivator. Do you have a ‘Wall of Fame’ for your greatest employees? Do you brag about the success stories of others? Motivate new hires to imitate certain behaviors, actions, and attitudes by consistently rewarding those characteristics.
Intrinsic reinforcement includes the pride and sense of accomplishment your new hire gets from seeing his or her own success. By the time you’re in the new employee onboarding phase, you have little control over this type of reinforcement. During the hiring process, though, you can screen candidates to learn more about what makes them tick to seek out new hires who are intrinsically motivated.
How Does This Change New Employee Onboarding?
Awareness of social learning theory broadens the scope of employee onboarding. It doesn’t just take place through the verbal instructions you’ve given a new hire, or through the onboarding software you use. Your new employees – and, in fact, your entire workforce – are immersed in your corporate culture. If the employees at your company aren’t living your values and seeing their efforts rewarded, your new hires will adopt less-than-positive behaviors. Over time, quality and performance go downhill. Counteract this by creating an onboarding program and a culture that teaches and rewards. In this way, you’ve got nowhere to go but up.
Company policies protect your business from frivolous lawsuits. They are designed to give equal opportunities to all employees, to create a safe work environment, and to inform workers about what they can expect from the leadership team. But even the most well-meaning corporate policies are useless if they aren’t followed consistently and to the letter. Follow these steps to ensure compliance.
1. Create Policies
Do you have company policies? You need to be proactive. Don’t just assume you can come up with coherent, fair policies on the fly as situations arise. If you don’t have policies in place, your HR team needs to make this a priority. Solicit input from managers, but your human resources department has the final say in the policy-making process. You want to create policies that will be best for your company. That might, at times, conflict with what your employees will want.
You should have policies to cover:
- Holidays, vacations, sick days, and personal leave
- Performance evaluations and improvement
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- Employee classifications
- Payment schedules, including advances, deductions, and overtime
- Meals and breaks
There are several additional policies you may want to create. Will you allow concealed weapons at your place of work? Will you conduct background checks or drug tests on applicants or employees? What is the procedure if one employee accuses another of bullying or harassment? Can employees bring pets to work? Knowing how you’ll proceed before a heated issue comes up helps to ensure compliance because it sets expectations.
2. Spread Awareness
If no one knows what the policies are, it’s impossible to ensure compliance. A full, detailed list of your policies should be readily accessible at all times. Print out a binder and leave it in the employee break room. Give each new hire a hard and digital copy of corporate policies when he or she is hired. Most importantly, go over the policies to verify that the employee understands and agrees to abide by each one. Ignorance should never be an excuse for not following a corporate policy.
Incorporate your corporate policies into your onboarding process. Go beyond uploading the documents to your onboarding software. Your software should allow you to schedule to-do lists for your new hires, and show you whether or not these tasks have been completed. Don’t just make your company policies mandatory reading material. Create a quiz or questionnaire that prompts employees to share their thoughts about policies. It will be good feedback for you, and it will give new hires the chance to really consider each policy and its potential impact.
3. Lead by Example
Compliance starts at the top. If your managers are taking extended lunch breaks, using company property for personal business, or posting unauthorized updates on social media, your employees will either follow suit or become disillusioned with their leadership. Corporate policies are for everyone, from the CEO to the college intern. If anyone in the company doesn’t follow policy, others will believe that they don’t have to, either. Inconsistency is the biggest danger to successful implementation of your corporate policies.
Consistency is about more than trying to ensure compliance. If an employee ever decides to file a lawsuit against your business, precedents will be a part of that lawsuit. Did you follow every HR policy to the letter, or have you been making exceptions for some? This doesn’t mean that you need to blindly enforce your policies. A salaried employee, for example, may not be subject to the same strict rules as an hourly temp. But document any discrepancies and your reasoning behind them to protect the company should an employee file suit.
4. Be Reasonable
You don’t necessarily need to create a hard and fast rule for everything. You should be proactive and have some sort of general guideline for most scenarios, though. If you’re not sure about a certain policy, don’t exclude it from your corporate policies altogether. Instead, note that this situation “will be handled according to the manager’s discretion.” This leaves the door open for you to change policies later on if they don’t seem right for your business.
5. Follow the Law
There are certain policies every business needs to have in place according to federal law. Review your corporate policies with an attorney to ensure compliance with OSHA, labor laws, and other acts. Remember, your company policies are more than a guide or a handbook. In a court of law, they are typically treated as a contract between an employer and its employees. This is not something you want to put off until a situation arises. Create and ensure compliance with corporate policies now to avoid trouble in the future.
If your recruitment metrics have taken a dive recently, you may want to consider investing in recruiting software like an applicant tracking system. But don’t take our word for it! Independent research has found that technology can significantly improve key performance indicators (KPIs) like cost-per-hire, time-to-fill, and quality of hire. In one survey, 89% of recruiters said that recruiting technology was either “extremely” or “very” important for performing their jobs well.
Reasons Why Companies Don’t Adopt Recruitment Technology
(Source: Software Advice survey)
So what’s the holdup? Why haven’t some companies gotten on board? Don’t let cost be a deterrent. Recruiting software can save you far more money than it costs by lowering your cost-per-hire and time-to-fill, increasing quality of hire, and improving other recruitment metrics. Here are three ways an applicant tracking system can help you hit your recruitment metrics this year.
A good applicant tracking software is easy to learn and intuitive to use. Some companies worry that they will lose time and productivity as they switch from paper to software. But the long-term benefits of modernizing will surely outweigh the costs of any ramp-up time. The aforementioned report found that 95% of recruiters were able to learn the software with minimal difficulty. One of the major benefits of recruiting technology is a decrease in the amount of time it takes to fill positions. By filling positions faster, the company benefits from the productivity of a larger team right away.
Hire More Easily
You don’t have to be a technology guru to use recruiting software. Aside from quick implementation (especially by cloud-based providers), applicant tracking software is designed to make recruiting easy. You can directly post and promote advertisements to multiple job boards and career search sites with a single click. You can set up templates and automatic email triggers. Hiring managers have a place to collaborate, and candidate information is located in a single repository. An applicant tracking system will streamline and organize the recruiting process.
If you’re currently using a recruiting software and it’s causing you headaches, it’s time to choose another one. Most recruiting software companies offer a free trial so you can get a feel for the system before you buy.
Budgeting is critical in business, especially as you’re growing. Some SMBs feel recruiting software isn’t affordable or worth the cost. They stick with a homemade or manual process and miss out on the savings technology offers. The hard truth is that a manual process costs you time, money, and resources. In the long run, you’ll spend more to hire additional staff to take on the work overload and make up for an inefficient process. As your HR department works harder on tasks that could be automated, key recruitment metrics suffer, inadvertently affecting the quality of your new hires. A good recruiting software system enables individuals to streamline the recruiting process, so fewer people are needed to do the work. A recruitment management system is one tool you can use to boost your ROI and your key performance indicators.
Are you having trouble hitting your recruitment metrics? Consider signing up for a free trial of a recruitment management system like ApplicantStack. Not sure how your KPIs look? An applicant tracking software helps with that, too. It automatically tracks and reports your recruiting metrics, so you can see exactly how far you’ve come.
ApplicantStack joins forces with SwipeClock to provide the best HR labor management solutions for SMBs across the country
Cary, NC, Release Date: January 15, 2019.
ApplicantStack has been acquired by workforce management software company, SwipeClock (https://www3.swipeclock.com/) and will be joining their workforce management solution portfolio. SwipeClock provides HR labor management solutions including time & attendance, scheduling and employee self-service software. The addition of ApplicantStack will give them a best-in-class applicant tracking and onboarding solution to add to their product suite.
“We’re excited to join SwipeClock’s family of premier HR solutions for small and medium-sized businesses,” stated Nathan Shackles, CEO of ApplicantStack. “Joining SwipeClock will enable us to further enhance our ApplicantStack Recruit and Onboard products while also providing our customers access to an integrated set of HR labor management solutions.”
ApplicantStack will continue to operate as a division of SwipeClock with the same products and level of service it has in the past. ApplicantStack’s products and services will continue uninterrupted.
“Applicant tracking and timekeeping are among the most compelling requirements for small businesses,” said Coleman Barney, SwipeClock CEO. “The acquisition brings together two extraordinarily complementary products that our partners and their customers can start using right away. This is a natural fit with our strategy to extend and expand our solution with other HR services of value to small and medium businesses.”
ApplicantStack: the affordable, easy-to-use, full-featured recruiting and onboarding system trusted by 2,500+ companies since 2009 to automate and streamline their recruiting and onboarding process.
We spent our careers in human resources, bogged down with paperwork and craving more time and resources. Our goal is to provide organizations the tool we always wish we had. We created ApplicantStack, a simple, gets-the-job-done software that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s not another thing to manage, but the tool that helps you manage your day.
To learn more please visit: https://www.applicantstack.com/
SwipeClock is a leader in simple and affordable workforce management services. Our more than 1,000 partners have empowered more than 30,000 businesses to reduce labor costs, comply with regulatory mandates, and maximize profits. SwipeClock cloud products (WorkforceHUB, TimeWorksPlus, TimeSimplicity) and hardware clocks (TimeWorksTouch, TimeWorksTUFF and others) provide instant employee access to automated timekeeping, scheduling, leave management, HR dashboards, and other HR resources. With SwipeClock, employers transform labor from a cost of doing business to a competitive advantage.
To learn more please visit: www.swipeclock.com.
The field of psychology has drastic implications for talent acquisition and retention. Psychology is the study of why people do what they do – in essence, what makes people tick. There are certain motivations and fallacies common to much of the population. In many cases, it affects what we say and do.
A cognitive bias is a flaw in judgment. There are dozens of cognitive biases, many of which you are probably familiar with. Think about a coin toss that comes up heads ten times in a row. There’s still a 50% chance that the next flip will be tails – even though it seems unlikely. If you’ve already spent money on something, like an all-you-can-eat buffet, you might gorge yourself to ensure you ‘get your money’s worth.’ This is the sunk cost fallacy. You’ve spent the same amount regardless of how much you eat.
Hiring bias has much more important implications than the examples above. Gender and racial hiring bias are most frequently mentioned, but there are other types of cognitive biases you might be falling victim to. The first step to overcoming a bias is knowing that it might exist.
Types of Cognitive Hiring Bias
The Halo Effect
We all know that first impressions matter. Part of this is because of the halo effect. Once we have a favorable opinion of someone, it takes a lot to change our minds. 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. We might assume that because someone is an excellent public speaker and is especially talented in his field, he will also make a good group leader. In reality, these skills don’t necessarily influence each other.
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; say, the person doesn’t make eye contact or is inarticulate or incompetent. If you expect someone to be something – whether that’s good or bad – he or she is likely to fulfill those expectations.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that validates your current opinion. For example, people who tune into Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck are typically more conservative. These pundits espouse beliefs that are congruent with the conservative mindset. As a hiring bias, confirmation bias can be seen in the tendency to focus only on the aspects of a person that coincide with the recruiter’s pre-established thoughts on the candidate.
Anchoring is a hiring bias in which the recruiter or hiring manager fixates on one piece of information, giving it more weight than it deserves. Say, for example, you have a candidate who went to Harvard, or who is president of the local Mensa Society. Even if the candidate isn’t the best for the job, it may be tempting to overlook his or her flaws because “She’s in Mensa!” or “He went to Harvard!”
Social Comparison Bias
This is a tough one for managers who are hiring employees to join their team. The social comparison bias is the tendency to dislike or feel competitive with others who may have the same kinds of skills. For example, if you’re widely seen as the company’s expert in a certain software program, you’ll feel reluctant to hire someone whose skills meet or exceed your own. Research has shown that this is a relatively common phenomenon, so it’s a hiring bias you’ll want to consciously avoid.
Ingroup bias is the tendency to favor people who are similar to oneself, or who are part of the same “group.” It’s an interesting hiring bias because in some cases, like sexism or racism, it’s blatantly seen as wrong. 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 and kinship with a candidate who participated in the same fraternity or sorority that you joined in school. There are several types of ingroups, but any kind of favoritism based on this is a hiring bias that could negatively impact your hiring decisions.
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. Don’t focus on just making a decision. The process is important, too.
Overcome Hiring Bias
Do you know how to recruit in a way that will avoid this? Awareness of these kinds of hiring biases is critical. Many publications have recently suggested that automated intelligence is the solution for removing (or at least significantly decreasing) hiring bias. An applicant tracking system can show or hide certain aspects of a candidate’s profile that you don’t want to consider. You can decrease the shared information bias, since everyone keeps notes in a central location. Hiring bias doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. Learn about more tips for avoiding hiring bias here.