Do you need to streamline the new hire process? Are you a hiring manager with a mess on your hands?
In this Reddit forum, a hiring manager describes why her job is a nightmare.
- No recruiting software
- High turnover
- Constant onboarding
- Daily new hires to be processed
- Always in panic mode
- Bosses make unrealistic demands
- Too many priorities to get anything done
Does this sound like your job?
Crisis Intervention For New Hire Chaos
- Evaluate current process (or lack thereof)
- Identify and prioritize problems
- Create plan to streamline workflows
- Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Assess Current Hiring Practices
If your processes are manual, measuring outcomes is difficult. Where do you start? Right here:
Get feedback from:
- Measure time from job posting to acceptance
- Break down total duration by each step
- Identify bottlenecks
Calculate staff turnover rate
The turnover rate is defined as the number of employees you must replace in a specified time frame. Depending on the size of your staff, calculate by month, quarter, or year.
Compare your rate to the average for your industry and geographic area on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website. Hard numbers give you insight. If your industry has an especially high turnover rate, you can take comfort that others are fighting the same battle. If you are an outlier, it means your processes are making a bad situation worse.
If you have an ATS, look at your analytics. Run reports for everything. Even those that don’t seem directly related. You may learn something new.
Gather your information and figure out what’s going right or wrong. Create a plan for fixing the problems. These steps will help:
Improve Job Descriptions
If you aren’t getting qualified applicants, fix your job descriptions.
Start with the jobs that attract the most unqualified applicants. These job descriptions need to be better defined. Consult with the hiring team members listed in step one.
All job descriptions should have:
- Starting date range
- Salary range
- Benefits and perks
- Required skills and experience
- Ideal skills and experience
- Hiring manager contact information (a real person)
- What does the position require on a daily/weekly basis?
- Timeline for the hiring process
Many companies don’t include the last two. Add these to your descriptions and differentiate your company. The posting will start performing better.
Check References Before Scheduling Interviews
If you check references after interviewing, you are wasting time. Reference checks are an important filter. If checking references takes too long, make it easier for references to contact you. Give them several avenues: email, phone call, snail mail a letter of reference.
Filter Candidates Faster
You need technology to speed this up. Especially if your workload is ridiculous. Use an ATS to filter applications quickly. You won’t need to read any resumes until the applicant pool is narrowed down.
How you speed up filtering with an ATS:
- Create a database of all applicants
- Track where each applicant is in the process
- Create tasks with reminders
- Auto emails
- Store and manage job postings
- Application filtering
- Create questionnaires with knockout questions
- Integrate with background check company (if you outsource background checks)
- Structured interviewing questions
Applicant tracking systems with onboarding bring the same efficiency once the candidate accepts the job offer. Managing it with an ATS is called structured onboarding.
- When hired—simply change status—no need to enter everything again
- New hires fill out initial paperwork online
- They can access it from a mobile device
- They can do it before their first day (you have to pay them for their time)
How To Convince Your Boss That An ATS Is An Absolute Necessity
ApplicantStack recruiting solutions were designed to clean up the new hire mess. With ApplicantStack Recruit and Onboard, you can tame the chaos at your company. Plus, your new hires will stay with your company longer.
Help your boss understand how ApplicantStack Recruit works and how it will pay for itself:
ApplicantStack Recruit Product Walkthrough
ApplicantStack Cost-Per-Hire Calculator
Can My Company Afford an Applicant Tracking System?
What are human resources techniques for keeping the best employees?
- Improve your hiring practices
- Create a structured onboarding program
- Provide a career path
- Respond to employee feedback
- Review performance fairly and often
- Improve work/life balance
- Create an outstanding employee experience
Create a Strategy
In this age of job-hopping, you have to get serious about retention. A haphazard approach will fail. Develop a retention strategy and then weave it into your corporate culture.
Improve Hiring Practices
If you attract higher quality candidates, you’ll have a head start for future retention efforts. Technology and training is key. If you have the resources, hire talent acquisition specialists instead of HR generalists. They can give you a competitive edge in today’s labor market. They will also know how to use the most effective recruiting software. Pay as much attention to the candidate journey as your customer journey. A good ATS provides the best hiring experience. That leads us to our next topic: HR software.
Use Software to Shorten Your Time-to-Hire
If you aren’t using an applicant tracking system (ATS), this should be your first priority. You can’t keep good employees if you can’t hire good employees. And the best employees are hired first. You can’t hire faster without better technology.
An ATS also expands your hiring pool. Especially if your company has multiple openings at a time. ATS’ can quickly advertise on more places online. When you cast a wider net, you will have more options.
The ATS will quickly isolate the best candidates to concentrate on. You can schedule interviews for your finalists. ATS’ speed up decision making with collaboration tools.
The result? You can make an offer before your top pick is snagged by your competitor.
Write Better Job Descriptions
This is a foundational hiring process that many companies neglect. Spend time crafting highly-detailed postings. An effective job description targets the employees you need. This jumpstarts the filtering process.
Improve Your Interviews
Good interviews identify the best candidates in a systematic, non-biased way. A good interview will include the following:
- Two-sided evaluation: let the candidate ask about your company and whether it reflects their values
- Skill validation: make sure the candidate has the skills they list on their resume
- Behavior assessment: ask the candidate to relate experiences that will reveal desired attributes
- Cultural fit: use the experiences shared to decide if the applicant will thrive in your company
- Sell your company: throughout the interview, express your corporate values and company brand
- Structured scoring: create a system that will remove ‘gut feelings’ as a factor (Don’t eliminate an applicant based on an impression.)
Strengthen Your Employer Brand
Identify your values and mission. Solicit feedback from current employees. Make sure you are portraying an accurate picture of your corporate culture.
Read current/former employee reviews on Glassdoor and other evaluation sites. For good or ill, peer reviews are more important than company-created marketing. Use the negative feedback to fix problems.
Express your culture and values consistently across your recruitment marketing. Inspire current employees to be brand champions.
Consider Non-traditional Employees
If you are struggling to find conventional full-timers, consider non-traditional employees. Some of the best workers would rather freelance for several companies. If you need a niche skill, a contractor may provide more expertise. They’ve probably worked for similar companies in your industry. If so, you will benefit from their diverse experience. (And they may be more cost effective.)
Is there a talent shortage in your industry? Some companies hire formerly-retired employees part-time. If you need highly-educated specialists and aren’t having any luck, this may solve your problem. These so-called ‘boomerang’ employees can also serve as mentors for younger employees.
Create a Structured Onboarding Program
It’s well-documented that structured onboarding improves retention. Use an automated onboarding system to help you.
Take away the stress of the first day by telling them in advance where to park and how to clock in. An automated system can send them a welcome email with all pertinent first-day information.
Ensure their manager or someone on their team greets them at the door. Make sure everyone on their team introduces themselves the first day. Set up their workstation before they show up.
Let them complete new-hire paperwork online at their convenience. Onboarding software with e-signature simplifies this.
Don’t cram everything into the first day or week. Prioritize establishing a relationship over completing processes.
Nurture Your Best Employees
Never stop asking for feedback. Train your managers to maintain communication. Especially with employees that are relatively autonomous. Make sure improving the employee experience is part of your culture.
If you have an HR portal, include an anonymous suggestion box for timid employees. As with the peer reviews discussed previously, make changes in response to negative feedback.
Provide a Career Path
If your best employees can’t advance in their career, they aren’t going to stick around. Use ongoing training and mentoring. Promote from within. Your current skilled employees are your best source of future managers and executives.
Conduct Fair Performance Reviews
Structured performance reviews are as important as structured onboarding. Make your process transparent. Keep everyone on a level playing field. Evaluate often. Train your managers on best practices. Human resources software with performance review tools can help you up your game.
Improve Work/life Balance
Schedule flexibility is as important to millennials as a decent salary. Non-traditional schedules and flexible work arrangements aren’t a zero-sum game. Flex-time and work-at-home days can boost productivity if implemented appropriately. And they improve the employee experience significantly. This, in turn, strengthens your company brand.
An automated scheduling system will help. You can easily create and manage non-traditional schedules that keep employees happy. (Without lowering productivity.)
Effective Human Resources Is Your Best Retention Strategy
The Human Resources team shapes every aspect of the employee experience. Hire the best HR professionals. Give them the technology and resources they need to execute a successful hiring and retention strategy.
ApplicantStack Human Resources Software
SwipeClock ApplicantStack provides industry-leading products that help HR professionals improve employee retention. For more information about ApplicantStack Recruit and Onboard, visit ApplicantStack human resources solutions.
As a recruiter or hiring manager, you’re going to feel the sting of rejection throughout your career. A 2017 survey found that over 90% of recruiters had had at least one job offer rejected in the past six months. So when you’ve got a big fish on the line, how do you hook him or her? Do you know how to get someone to accept your offer?
We continue our series on the psychology of recruiting and onboarding with another powerful theory behind what makes people tick. (Learn more about how to recruit using psychology!) Social exchange theory is a collection of philosophies that identify why humans make certain decisions. At its most basic, social exchange theory posits that choices are made by weighing the costs versus the benefits. If the benefits are worth more than the costs, it’s a good choice. If not, logical people will opt for the alternative.
While commonly applied to interpersonal relationships, this theory can easily be expanded to learn more about how to get someone to accept your offer. First, look at the costs the candidate incurs. Then examine the benefits you’re offering. Will it be worth it from the candidate’s perspective?
Any choice one makes immediately excludes other options. When one door opens, several other doors close. If your candidate accepts your job offer, he or she is essentially agreeing to end the job search and devote time and energy into your company. You’ve got to make it worth it!
Remember, every candidate incurs different costs. It’s unique to each person. Consider location. If one candidate lives next door to your office building, relocation won’t be a factor. But if your top choice would need to relocate, that could be a game-changer. Does the candidate have kids who would need to adjust to new schools? The cost is even higher. You’ll need to make sure you’re offering some kind of relocation package or incentive to counteract it.
Every candidate has different priorities (although most will adhere to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.) Some see business travel as an exciting way to see the world on the company dollar – a benefit. Others might not want to leave their homes or families with such frequency, and count travel as a negative. Here are some other costs your potential new hire might be considering:
- Expected workload
- Pay cuts
- Stress level
- Number of hours
- Lack of autonomy
- Limited opportunities for promotion or career advancement, which 15% of employers cite as a reason for job offer rejection.
Want to know how to get someone to accept your offer? Find out what’s important to that person, and make sure your benefits outweigh the costs.
Your rational candidate will weigh the costs of a career move against the potential benefits. Pay is the most obvious benefit, but your company may offer other tangible or intangible perks. If you offer any of the following benefits, stress them to your candidate during the recruiting process. You want this person to have as much information about the benefits you have to offer before he or she makes a decision!
- Retirement plans
- Health, dental, vision, and other insurance benefits
- Corporate culture (if you feel it is well suited to your candidate’s personality and work style)
- Telecommuting options
- Education benefits like tuition reimbursement or continuing education classes
- Bonuses, incentives, and stock options
- Vacation time, sick leave, and paid time off
- Access to cutting-edge technology
- Advancement opportunities
The cost/benefit analysis is unique, and as a potential employer, you aren’t privy to what is going on inside the candidate’s head. What can you do to ensure that your offer comes up positive in the cost-benefit equation?
Talk About It
Find out what is important to your candidate. Ask what kinds of things he or she wants in an employer. It’s entirely possible that something that seems small to you – an extra week of vacation, for example, or the ability to telecommute once a week – could make all the difference. Your goal during the recruitment process shouldn’t be to get the best possible labor at the lowest possible price. That’s a great philosophy for material goods, but it doesn’t apply here. You’re not making a one-time purchase. An employee is an investment. Social exchange theory applies to your end of the bargain, too. Are the benefits you’ll get from hiring this person greater than the costs? Consider all the angles, and both the company and the candidate will win.
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.