How to Create Digital New Hire Forms

Human resources professionals can improve employee onboarding by creating a process to complete new hire paperwork that is easy to follow and manage. Web-based (or digital) new hire forms are a great way to achieve this. Now, you may have people in your organization that can facilitate a process like this by using Excel, Word, or Adobe PDFs. However, the security of personal information should be a very high priority, and those programs often fall short in that area.

OnboardCentric by ExactHire allows organizations to create digital new hire forms that eliminate any security concerns. Our employee onboarding software contains your company’s handbook, policies, Form I-9, W-4 Form, and other new employee paperwork. Here’s how it works:

Implementing Onboarding Software–What to Expect

The process of building a digital new hire form is much more seamless than one might think. First, ExactHire gathers and reviews all the standard forms that you would like to include. If we have any questions about those forms, we will discuss them with you. And we are happy to answer your questions, as well!

Typically, our questions are aimed at understanding who fills out which portions of various forms. We also need to know which form fields will be pre-filled before the employee looks at the form. From there, our team will take the PDF, Word, or Excel forms provided to us and build the questionnaire into the system.

We will assign you an employee-level login to test your newly created web-based new hire forms. As a result, you will receive an email with a username and password requesting that you complete the forms. Then, you will walk through the questionnaire to submit your answers.

After you’ve viewed and signed your forms as a new employee would, you can view your forms as an administrative-level user would, and complete that aspect of the approval process.

Choosing Onboarding Software–Why ExactHire?

Collecting, managing, and storing sensitive employee data is no small task. While there are many online form solutions on the market, few can meet the specific requirements of a Human Resources department.

Our employee onboarding software is designed by a team with professional HR experience and credentials. Beyond simple forms, our system facilitates internal task management and offers features such as integrated E-verify, and push-to-payroll.

Finally, when local or federal governments release new compliance requirements or updates to forms, our team likely knows about it first. We help you respond to changes quickly, and we are always available if you have questions or advice.

 

 

Schedule a Personalized Demo

Provide your new hires with a secure, digital method to easily complete employee onboarding paperwork. Sign up for a demo to learn how ExactHire can partner with your organization to modernize employee onboarding!

5 Pro Tips for Quickly Pivoting to a Virtual Employee Onboarding Process

The new normal of living amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic is causing many employers to adopt new business processes…and to adopt them quite quickly.

For those organizations who are fortunate enough to continue hiring new employees, one of those business processes is to learn how to correctly onboard remote employees in a distributed workforce.

A hastily created employee onboarding process will put new hires at risk of feeling disconnected from their work and organization. On the other hand, a productive virtual employee onboarding program will forge a connection between the new teammate and the organization; thereby, positively contributing to employee satisfaction and the goals of the organization despite the uncertainty and hardship attributable to our current coronavirus reality.

Are you ready to pivot to a distributed workforce? Whether virtual employee onboarding is a brand new practice at your company, or you’re just looking for ways to fine tune employee onboarding for distributed workforces, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll discuss five best practices for quickly pivoting to a virtual employee onboarding process.

1 – Create a “remote-first” pre-boarding experience

With so much uncertainty on everyone’s mind, your new hire’s interactions with your organization in the days leading up to his start date shouldn’t further increase his anxiety. Make a toolkit of digital assets to share with a new teammate to make sure he feels adequately prepared and informed on day one. Here are some ideas:

  • Provide an organizational chart listing all employee names, titles and the hierarchy of the management structure. If you are a part of a very large organization, then a chart of the new employee’s department and/or division may be sufficient.
  • Create a task list or training schedule for the new hire’s first few days on the job. Create this in a shared document (e.g. Google Docs) that can be edited on-the-fly to include additional tasks as time progresses, as well as hyperlinked resource documents. With this approach, the employee can follow links to conduct further research to acquaint himself with your company and its organizational knowledge as his schedule permits.
  • Task relevant co-workers with creating video welcome messages to be shared with the new employee in the days leading up to the first day. We use a variety of tools at ExactHire (ranging from completely free to very affordable) such as video capture on our smartphones, and video applications like Soapbox, Vidyard and Camtasia.
  • Share a short, hyperlinked list of your company’s social media profiles with the new hire, as well as expectations about whether he is likely to be bombarded by social media invitation requests in his first week (as this can be a common way for remote workers to connect with one another).
  • Make it clear what equipment will be provided by the company (and by what date), and/or whether the new hire is responsible for bringing any of his own devices to his remote workstation. Ensure that all devices are accompanied by robust instructions on how to use and/or setup appropriate security protocols for effective work within the organization.

2 – Leverage the unique onboarding resources now available to your organization

While social distancing has caused many of us to approach the work setting in dramatically different ways, it has also led to the installation of a handful of new laws and limited regulations meant to help the American working population and employers cope with this crisis. Aside from new laws such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also recently relaxed its normal requirements for Form I-9 compliance when hiring new employees. This change will help employees who have never hired remote workers to examine and temporarily approve employment eligibility documentation with confidence.

In particular, DHS has “[deferred] the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence.”

However, not all employers meet the criteria necessary for taking advantage of the option to initially virtually examine new hire documentation. In fact, only employers who have gone 100% remote for all employees may utilize this temporary flexibility in document examination. For more details on which organizations qualify and what documentation is necessary to participate, check out this recent Forbes article.

3 – Make a short list of near-term new hire expectations

To make this pivot toward remote onboarding manageable and relatively fast, focus on only the absolutely critical expectations that you need all new hires to know right from the start. In doing so, make sure you communicate that the current situation necessitates focusing on the “must-knows” initially, but that icing-on-the-cake knowledge and nurturing will be sure to follow as things calm down a bit.

Your new hire will appreciate your candor, and be more likely to establish trust in the organization early because it is helping to flesh out priorities to ensure the new hire’s success.

Here are some examples of employee expectations that may resonate with your team. Be sure to educate your new hire about each of the items below that may be important for his work.

  • Training prerequisites that must be completed before certain aspects of a job can be endeavored (e.g. safety, password security protocol)
  • Preferred methods for co-workers to communicate with each other (e.g. email, phone, Slack, text, video conference, project management tool comments)
  • Mission-critical reports and metrics that must be updated…and with what frequency

Remember that while your ability to equip your new employee with these essential bits of information can shorten his learning curve and improve outcomes, don’t forget that our normal isn’t so normal right now. In fact, it reminds me of an unidentified quote that my co-worker shared on our Slack channel today…one that very appropriately describes the current plight for many of America’s remote workers:

“You’re not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.”

There’s a place for grace right now.

4 – Communicate your culture

While company culture can be somewhat nebulous to describe to others, as it is often something experienced for one’s self in-person, there’s no doubt that remote cultures exist, too.

However, it may take longer to assimilate remote workers to cultural norms if you don’t take strides to help them take seed early. Here are some ways to make your virtual culture more quickly tangible:

  • Facilitate video introductions between a new hire and fellow department members and other key co-workers. Make sure all teammates take a turn to introduce themselves, explain their respective roles, and offer suggestions on how they interface with the new employee in his job.
  • Recognize that your organization likely has a multitude of multimedia approaches for communication in different situations. Create a “cheat sheet” of common scenarios to give your new employees a head start:
    • Protocol for out of office messages
    • Appropriate channels for different types of Slack posts
    • Frequency for co-worker video meet-ups and the purpose of each (e.g. is this a project-related call or a virtual happy hour?)
    • General guidelines on how quickly to respond to different inquiries and requests (make sure to allow for time zone differences between co-workers)
    • Location of a schedule of regular working hours for different employees
    • Protocol on whether to use one’s video camera on conference calls (is it preferred or required by various departments?)
    • Acceptable format for email signatures
    • Preferred software applications for different assignments (e.g. MS Word or Google Docs when both are available?)

5 – Implement employee onboarding software for remote hiring success

Depending on the industry in which you work, you likely use a set of software applications critical to the productivity of your business–it’s your tech stack. From CRMs to POS systems, and project management suites to ticketing portals, these varied forms of technology are essential to different industries because they leverage technology to automate and improve repetitive, and perhaps otherwise manual tasks for different employers.

While health clinics may not need POS systems, and safety equipment manufacturers aren’t desperate for software issue ticketing suites, I will advocate that all employers who are currently hiring should consider employee onboarding software.

Moreover, if you are hiring remote employees, onboarding software gives you a significant competitive advantage as you can improve the new hire user experience (aka first impression) as well as minimize documentation errors.

ExactHire’s OnboardCentric employee onboarding software can be implemented either as a stand-alone solution to meet your urgent onboarding needs; or, as a hiring component integrated with our ExactHire applicant tracking system.

As employers face constantly evolving news related to COVID-19, they are adjusting priorities and re-allocating resources on a daily basis. Our team understands the need for fluidity and responsiveness, and we’re equipped to get you up and running with onboarding software quickly.

To expedite implementation and improve your new hire experience despite the current pandemic, we recommend that you start by implementing required new hire forms (e.g. state tax forms, Form W-4, Form I-9, direct deposit, etc.) and allow us to train supervisors who need access right away.

Then, as demands on your schedule decline, our team is happy to work with you to include non-essential nice-to-have new hire forms, discuss onboarding process best practices and conduct more advanced user training with all of your hiring managers. Our responsive team is ready to work as your partner through this crisis.

Demo ExactHire Onboarding Software

Are you ready to improve your employee onboarding experience and respond to the rapidly changing hiring landscape with success? Schedule a demo of OnboardCentric today.

Employer Strategies for Successfully Hiring Justice Involved Job Candidates

My gut tells me that many employers are open to the idea of hiring individuals from the justice involved community, but have historically avoided the opportunity for a variety of reasons. Whether they previously had an abundance of other candidates to consider or were intimidated about the steps involved, many organizations haven’t proactively included this untapped talent pool.

After all, they haven’t been sufficiently motivated to do so. That changes now.

Why you should consider hiring the justice involved population

Today, employers can’t afford NOT to look at every viable employee population. Increased awareness and support for inclusive hiring practices coupled with historically low unemployment suggest that the time is ripe for employers to implement strategies that successfully source and retain justice involved individuals.

Here are a few of the benefits to employers who engage employees who are formerly incarcerated or on work release, parole, or probation.

Better job candidate flow

Low unemployment is especially crippling for industries that traditionally experience high turnover in hourly positions and/or with a contingent workforce. With nearly one in three American adults holding a criminal record (ACLU, 2017), employers who are able to successfully engage this population are poised to win the war on talent.

Text Recruiting | Hourly Workers | ExactHire

Giving justice involved individuals another chance is the right thing to do

The formerly incarcerated combat a pervasive social stigma in many facets of their life, and it often impedes their ability to find work. In fact, according to the same ACLU study, 75% of formerly incarcerated people will remain unemployed a year after release. When someone has served his/her time, society should give them a second chance–not a re-sentence once they are released.

Reducing recidivism pays for itself

According to a 2018 special report from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, across 30 states 5 out of 6 (a staggering 83%) of state prisoners released in 2005 were arrested at least once during the 9 years following their release. Recidivism, or the “tendency for a convicted criminal to reoffend,” is on the rise.

And, it’s no surprise when we consider the absence of sufficient resources to support transitioning justice involved individuals back into society. This makes it hard for the formerly incarcerated to get over what some call the “three hots and a cot” mentality.

Consider that the Gross National Product (GNP) is losing an estimated $78 billion to $87 billion annually as the justice involved remain unemployed, according to the aforementioned ACLU report.

Employer tax incentives

Companies who hire the formerly incarcerated may be eligible for hidden hiring incentives such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. WOTC is a federal tax credit available to employers that hire individuals from specific targeted groups that have consistently faced significant employment barriers. Among these targeted groups are “qualified ex-felons” who are defined as individuals who are hired within a year of being convicted of a felony, or being released from prison from the felony.

Create a supportive network to succeed with the justice involved

It’s one thing for companies to be compelled to act based on the benefits mentioned above; however, in order to realize success in hiring and retaining the justice involved job candidate population, your organization must implement an internal infrastructure that can accommodate their unique needs. Additionally, it should utilize established external resources that may already be available in your area to help transition the justice involved back to work.

This is easier said than done, as there is not an abundance of model employers showing the rest of us how to do it. And, perhaps that deficiency is part of the explanation for the slow adoption of hiring this population.

The best intentions are only a fraction of what’s required for success in employing the justice involved. Employers must put systems and services in place to get this source of talent back to work. According to SHRM’s Getting Talent Back to Work Toolkit, employers should focus on

  • Reliable Checks – working with reputable background checking agencies to make sure the data you use to make decisions about a candidate’s suitability for employment is sound.
  • Relevant Assessment – ensuring your organization’s methods for assessing criminal records on an individual basis are relevant.
  • Reasonable Risk – comprehending and assessing the reasonable risks associated with hiring this population so that you can proceed confidently.

Within these three categories, there are many steps organizations may take to set themselves up for a higher percentage of success in employing the justice involved population. Here are some ideas for consideration.

Make connections during the pre-release period

Consider offering a candidate training program for incarcerated individuals six months prior to their release. Just as you would approach tuition reimbursement for an in-demand nursing student, ask pre-release individuals who have been identified as good candidates for a commitment to work for your organization for a period of time so that they may receive important life skills and a starter wage. This type of arrangement can go far in building employee loyalty in a tough employee retention market.

Develop relationships in your community

Employing the justice involved is a careful undertaking, and can be enhanced by positive and close relationships with local sheriff departments and other representatives at the Department of Corrections (DOC), staffing agencies and other transitional support agencies.

Set expectations with internal staff

For success in employing the justice-involved population, you need to dedicate internal resources to properly setting expectations and training existing staff members on how to undergo this initiative in a productive way. Be realistic and transparent around challenges that may surface, and develop strategies about how your company will address those challenges before you find yourselves in the moment.

Make sure that your organizational structure models success for justice involved individuals. For example, don’t have a single working area or department where justice involved employees represent a majority of the unit. This is their time to transition back into the workforce and recognize positive habits and behavior from others who have succeeded in the organization. If you offset that balance, then negative habits can be perpetuated with poor outcomes.

Invest in offering on-site services for justice involved employees

Some justice involved individuals fall circumstance to rising recidivism rates because they don’t have reasonable access to the services and support they need to get a foothold in the world after release. If your organization is serious about successfully employing this population, then consider offering some of these services:

  • Reentry resources – Links to and documentation about existing public reentry services in your community. For example, Orange County, California has a robust post-incarceration resource toolkit on its website.
  • Basic food needs – Make information available about local food pantries and agencies that make sure people don’t go hungry. Help employees apply for food stamp benefits.
  • Spiritual support – Consider on-site chaplain services so employees can nurture any of their spiritual goals and confide in a third party.
  • Medical care – Make sure that employees are afforded time to take care of medical needs and given information about how to obtain access to prescription drugs, including mental health care when applicable.
  • Basic paperwork – Remember that your justice involved hires may need important documents either located and/or reproduced such as birth certificate, Social Security card, personal ID card and/or driver’s license.
  • Substance abuse support – Recognize that some of your justice involved hires may struggle with substance abuse and therefore create an environment that is supportive of substance abuse counseling and rehabilitation so that destructive habits that often lead to crime aren’t repeated.
  • Ride planning – In order to promptly arrive to your workplace, your employees may need ride sharing programs, access to information about convenient public transportation options, and/or an employer-provided bus to transport employees to and from their current residence or halfway house to your job site.
  • Flexibility for required meetings – A common challenge for recently released individuals is maintaining availability for a shift job while also showing up for required probation or parole officer meetings that might happen in the middle of the day. With proper communication, offer these workers flexibility to attend the meetings that are critical for their post-release success.
  • Soft skills training – In some cases, justice involved individuals may have never learned about or been exposed to positive models for appropriate communication, social behavior, or even cleanliness/hygiene. Understand that services around these soft skills may be critical for employing this population with success.

Communicate your intentions clearly

Because much of employers’ hesitancy to hire justice involve populations is attributable to the stigma often associated with the formerly incarcerated as well as the company’s tendency toward compliance and protectiveness, clear communication is a driver of employment success for this talent group.

Clear communication includes both adjustments in traditional employment policy as well as external job advertisements, company culture content and screening and interview process design.

Remember that it is a violation of Title VII to reject applicants because of criminal records unless it is job related and consistent with business necessity. Employers have an obligation to clearly define what is job related and consistent with business necessity. They should reevaluate the role and scope of background checks in the hiring process, and use effective job evaluation to identify which criminal offenses will not work with which jobs.

Set realistic expectations with your justice involved candidates

Not every employer is going to be able to employ every justice involved employee. However, there is power and respect in being transparent about the opportunities and potential path available with your organization. I recently attended an event (more on that below) where they talked about the “ABC Jobs” trajectory for the justice involved:

  • Any job
  • Better job
  • Career

Which of those types of jobs can you offer this population? And, if it is just any job that has a low wage, how can you prepare that individual to succeed in that job and then move on to another organization (maybe one with which you partner on these programs) where they can achieve the next step?

This job pathing model can improve your community by creating work that improves individuals, makes your company productive and advances the public good through reduced spending due to rampant recidivism.

Anticipate potential setbacks

There will be ups and downs in any endeavor to create an infrastructure for employing justice involved populations…as there is with any other talent population, too. However, being aware of setbacks through conversation with other employers, local law enforcement, state agencies, etc. will bring to light things you can plan to address:

  • “Ban the box” legislation – Do you have work sites in geographic areas that are NOT subject to “ban the box”? If so, then take another look at your employment application and consider whether any questions about a candidate’s criminal history are potentially deterring qualified, but justice involved individuals from considering employment with your organization.
  • Shift challenges – Is your work shift schedule such that it makes it impossible to accommodate the needs of justice involved individuals who must attend parole meetings? As previously mentioned, take measures now to consider alternative strategies for meeting transportation needs and addressing shift requirements.
  • Recognize bias toward unexplained issues – I recently met someone who is employed with the city government and who was previously justice involved. She explained that it is not uncommon for little, unexpected things to happen that can adversely impact the positive trajectory of a justice involved individual. She encourages others to get the facts before jumping to negative conclusions. For example, she has seen malfunctioning ankle bracelets cause productive employees who have done nothing wrong to be hauled away by police on the job in front of co-workers. Without sensitivity to the root cause of such problems, bias and gossip could lead to a lack of support, or even wrongful termination.

The time is now

Is your organization ready to get serious about considering this untapped talent population? I hope the considerations outlined in this blog inspire exploration of this talent pool and fine-tuning of any of your existing initiatives.

Author’s Note: I recently attended a remarkable “Second Chance Staffing Visioning Event” held in January 2020 at Butler University and in conjunction with Allegiance Staffing. This interactive session was a kick-off to a joint research project between these partners and others to explore the job performance of those with criminal backgrounds while on the job. There is not yet much (or current) research in this specific area and the event brought together individuals from social service agencies, businesses, and the government–including thriving employees who have been justice involved. I’m excited about the direction of this research as it perfectly aligns with making a positive impact and with the challenging job landscape. Given the lack of formal studies in this area, their goal is to conduct a more detailed empirical analysis of the relative workplace performance of justice-involved citizens, as well as identify factors affecting this performance. Such a study requires the assistance of local employer(s) willing to share data regarding employees’ attendance, aptitude, and attitude, and they are currently in the process of securing these partners.

 

Hiring in the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry

Let’s face it, hiring in the restaurant and hospitality industry is never really easy. Even when it’s an “employer’s job market,” filling open positions is a difficult, often times unpredictable, challenge. Today’s tight job market adds more difficulty to this challenge, as most job seekers have multiple job options.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the quit rate for employees in the restaurant and hospitality industry is 4.9%–more than twice the average for all other industries. Clearly these employees realize that they have employment options, and they’re exercising them. Restaurant and hospitality employers are facing two obstacles in trying to meet their employment needs: employee turnover and job applicant volume.

Job Applicants for Restaurants and Hospitality

A labor shortage has affected nearly every industry, however the tight job market has been especially unkind to restaurants. Often times these businesses seek to employ entry-level employees who will earn near minimum wage, or they need skilled workers who face little competition in the job market. So finding interested job seekers–let alone applicants–is very difficult for these employers when a) compensation is unattractive, and b) qualified workers are scarce.

That being the case, the industry relies heavily on a workforce that skews younger. Often it’s these employees in the 16- to 24-year-old age group who can afford to take minimum wage roles or who are actively training for more skilled roles. The bad news here is that according to the National Restaurant Association, there will be about 1.2 million fewer 16- to 24-year-olds in the labor force by 2028.

Employee Turnover in Restaurant and Hospitality Industry

Complicating the situation is the fact that many employees in the restaurant and hospitality industry don’t stay in one place for too long. There are a number of factors that can cause turnover, but for restaurant and hospitality employers it primarily boils down to one truth: the employer needs the employee, but the employee doesn’t need the employer. It’s upon this background where small conflicts and disappointments in the workplace can cause an employee to abruptly quit.

And there’s no getting around it, restaurant and hospitality work is stress-filled. This work can quickly wear down an employee, triggering a fight or flight response. It should be no surprise that often the response is: “It’s not worth the fight. I’ll get the same job in a new place, with new people.”

Attract and Retain Employees in Restaurant and Hospitality Industry

Employers of restaurant and hospitality talent are not helpless. Increased competition for talent within the industry and the pinch of trying to provide high value to customers by keeping costs (i.e. employee wages) low are daunting challenges. However, employers who look for creative ways to recruit, manage, and engage employees can succeed in a tight job market. Here are five creative ways for employers to do just that:

1 Target Your Employee Personas | Support Your Employee Persona

Develop personas of your ideal employees, and then build an employer brand to support them. The persona should not be a description of your current or past employees, and they should answer questions like:

  • What types of problems would the employee solve and how?
  • Why would the employee choose to work at your business?
  • Why would they stay?

If the answers to these questions are “I don’t know”, then there is work to be done in regard to building a work culture and operation that deserves the ideal employee you are seeking. Too often, crappy culture and poor operations scare off  good employees and job seekers. The mediocre employees stay around until it’s too uncomfortable. And the bad employees are likely the ones who power the poor culture and processes.

2 Billboards Where They Make Sense | A Perk That Works

Depending on where you live, billboards are still thriving in the United States. We often see them on the side of highways, perched atop buildings, or uniquely displayed in thriving urban areas. These expensive locations work to bring awareness to large brands and usually support a fully integrated marketing campaign. Don’t post your help wanted sign here!

However, there are many other billboard locations within metropolitan areas or between small towns that are much more affordable… and noticeable to the people you want to notice them. The catch here is that you must successfully achieve the following:

  • Develop the right message and imagery for the billboard
  • Place the billboard in the right location
  • Offer an enticing perk (and easy method) to respond to the advertisement

While all these points are important, having a great perk is key in order to convert a job seeker to an applicant. Here’s an example of a billboard advertisement located in a working class neighborhood of a large metropolitan area–20 miles away from the wealthy suburb in which the hiring restaurant is located.

 

3 Shorten Your Job Applications | Onboard with Care

How often do you come across a process or resource that is obscenely inefficient, and yet you continue using it because of momentum or tradition? The job application is an often overlooked inefficiency for employers in the restaurant and hospitality industry. It’s a product of the distant past carried forward to today and grossly out of place in an industry and job market where the job applicant possesses nearly all the leverage.

Employers challenged to fill open positions should be trying to make it easier to apply. Yet job seekers are expected to fill out 15-minute apps with short answer questions, provide the address of their high school alma mater, and scrounge around for other non-essential information that will ultimately have no bearing on whether they are hired. It’s no surprise that employers complain about low applicant volume! So here are a few tips to get more applicants with your online job application:

  • Only include the essential questions on your job application. These will likely vary based on the role, location, and type of business, but don’t trick yourself into thinking that every question is essential.
  • Consider breaking your application into two parts. The first part of the application will filter out those who do not meet minimum requirements. The second part of the application–perhaps delivered via text message follow up–will solicit more background and serve to identify the best applicants.
  • Ensure that the application looks and works well on mobile devices. This may be obvious to some, but it’s surprising how many job applications are not mobile-friendly.  And this is important, as 45% of job seekers use a mobile device for their job search–on a daily basis.

A quick, smooth application process is worth nothing if the new hire is greeted by a slow, disorganized onboarding experience. So ideally, the first few weeks of employment should match the expectations created through the hiring process.

4 Shoot Them A Text | Maximize Face Time

In much the same way that employers are clinging to outdated job applications, many are reluctant to move away from phone calls and email in communicating with applicants. While those are still effective channels, they lack the immediateness that text messaging can bring to communication. Receiving and reading all happen at once with text. Add links with the message, and now the applicant immediately knows their application status, next steps, and how to act.

Beyond the practical utility of text messaging, the channel also allows employers to show more personality. Engaging with applicants in a familiar, comfortable way can immediately warm the relationship and set the stage for a more relaxed onboarding experience–that is, if the the onboarding experience matches the tone and feeling created through text recruiting. This means employers must maximize their initial face time with a new hire. Here are a few tips for doing just that:

  • Use video chat or in-person meetings for final candidate interviews.
  • The language used in recruiting should be the same used in onboarding.
  • Do not use text messaging to communicate feelings or sincerity.

While text messaging is great at getting an applicant’s attention, providing them with resources, and communicating the “brass tacks,” it’s not a substitute for face time. Especially when seeking to convey gratitude or appreciation, it’s worth finding the time and opportunity to communicate feelings in person. And when doing so, the new hire should feel as if the person (or people) who recruited them via text is the same person speaking to them in real life.

5 Embrace the Gig Economy | Be the Best Gig In Town

Job seekers have become more comfortable with risk and uncertainty as the gig economy has evolved. This confidence has spilled over to full-time jobs, meaning employees are now more comfortable spending a few months working at one location, only to move to another. Why do they move? The reasons are many and varied, but they might include a job that: pays a bit more; provides a cooler workplace; serves different clientele; is located closer to home or public transportation; or is just, simply, different.

To confront this new mentality, employers can choose to embrace the gig economy and accept the fact that they will be hiring for the same role every 3-6 months. And to the degree that an employer can meet an employee’s needs, the employee may stay longer. Going one step further, the employer can resolve to be the best gig in town by offering a great workplace, competitive pay, and practical benefits like transportation stipends. Here are few ideas for helping to ensure that your new hires dig your gig:

  • Ask job applicants to describe their ideal workplace.
  • Solicit any concerns about the workplace from new hires upfront.
  • When employees leave, ask them why they decided to leave and where they’re going.

Asking questions of applicants and employees regarding their needs is one of the first ways an employer can show that they care. The next step would be to actually meet those needs, although that won’t always be possible. Beyond the impact that this will make in strengthening the employee-employer relationship, discovering the needs of employees will help the employer refine its work culture and protect against “bad fit” hires or early turnover caused by the greener grass down the block.

Hiring Software for the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry

There’s no doubt about it; the restaurant and hospitality industry is in a tough spot. Finding, hiring, and retaining talent is never easy, especially in a tight job market. However, by leveraging technology and making some common sense changes that cater to the job seeker and meet the needs of employees, employers can successfully (and profitably) staff their establishments. Hiring software can support these efforts in several ways, but most importantly it must:

  • Offer integrated text recruiting that allows you to quickly get responses
  • Support two-step applications that allow you to speed up the initial application process
  • Provide insights that help you identify your best hires, so you can hire more like them

The above features will help you differentiate your organization from the competition; however, the groundwork of caring about employees and work culture must be taken care of first. Hiring software is there to help you maintain your focus on the people. This is accomplished by automating much of the hiring process and recording data to provide you with powerful hiring insights.

 

How to Effortlessly Use Texting to Hire Hourly Workers

You only have to look at your smartphone’s weekly screen time report to know that the amount of time we spend accessing our phones is increasing at a relentless pace. Whether our pervasive mobile usage troubles or encourages you, it is undeniable. In fact, according to research done by Hitwise, the average device split for searches was 72% for mobile and 28% for desktop in 2017.

In consideration of the amount of time people spend doing web searches on phones, naturally we’re in a climate where employers must adapt and leverage mobile communication in their hiring process–particularly while unemployment is at an epic low.

Today, the name of the hiring game is speed, and this is painfully realized in industries that employ a large number of hourly, non-exempt workers. The reality of those employers is that if they hesitate to respond quickly, the competitor across the street has already paid their would-be new hire for their first shift.

Signs that you’re not effectively using a text recruiting strategy

We can and should all continuously experiment with and tweak our hiring processes. The hiring landscape changes so quickly that constant attention is required. However, there are telltale signs that help identify when your organization has a more significant mobile communication problem.

Phone ghosting

I was initially surprised a couple of years ago when I heard that many employers of hourly workers, in particular, struggled to get candidates to respond to phone invitations for an initial interview. If your recruiters are frequently encountering full voice mail boxes when reaching out to schedule a conversation; or they discover that a candidate doesn’t even have voice mail set up, then it’s time to try something other than a phone call.

Candidate shelf-life

It’s not uncommon for employers who rely on large numbers of hourly workers to empower the managers and assistant managers of various store locations to screen candidates and invite them to proceed in the hiring process. Because hiring is just one of myriad operational responsibilities for these managers, they don’t always respond to candidates as quickly as may be necessary in this job market.

This failure in prompt candidate engagement all too often sinks a retail location’s recruiting efforts before the ship even leaves port. Or, maybe a manager is in such tremendous need of candidates that he recognizes this deficiency and immediately calls or emails new applicants. However, because many hourly workers tend to fill positions that aren’t necessarily accompanied by a desktop computer or an office landline, their tendency is to communicate via text rather than voice mail or email.

If a job seeker doesn’t recognize a general manager’s incoming phone number, chances are she’ll avoid taking the call–meanwhile, if she has applied to multiple hourly positions, a savvy competitor is grabbing her attention and her time via text before she checks her inbox.

Standardizing communication and respecting candidate privacy

In the absence of a strong hiring software platform that allows managers to contact job candidates via text message, many managers of hourly workers will resort to their own smartphone to contact applicants to connect for an interview.

This is commonplace; however, it isn’t in the best interest of the employer. In many cases, these applicants were not prompted to opt-in to receiving text messages during the job application process–why would they if the applicant tracking system didn’t support text messaging?

Not only is this a privacy concern as it does not allow job candidates to formally opt-out of text messages once they are initiated, but practically speaking, candidates won’t necessarily be on the lookout for text communication from your organization.

Arguably, they will probably quickly adapt given that texting is second nature to many of them, but your organization is missing an opportunity to set expectations about the hiring process and endear itself to candidates…candidates who are in hot demand.

Moreover, when general managers take texting candidates into their own hands outside of an ATS, there is no guarantee of adequate communication documentation with the job applicant. By utilizing applicant tracking software that includes in-application texting functionality, an employer is ensuring that multiple users of the system have access to review communication between candidates.

After all, in this highly competitive recruiting landscape, recruiters have full plates and may be called to work on different job requisitions if a co-worker is on vacation, on leave, etc. What you don’t want is for only one person in your organization to have access to candidate conversations–that’s a significant obstacle for a scaling company.

Why is mobile recruiting an opportunity for hourly jobs in particular?

Hourly workers are often the front-line defense (or offense) for your organization. They are the individuals who are most likely to interact directly with your customers. And, unfortunately, they are often in the positions with the highest turnover–whether that is related to the nature of the job, the typical lower pay (relative to exempt positions), and/or the lack of benefits (at least in the case of part-time hourly employees). In a job market flooded with open positions, candidates will leave for a few cents more per hour.

You see this happen in positions like

  • hosts and servers at your local restaurant,
  • cashiers at your retail store,
  • LPNs at your healthcare facility,
  • service techs at your automotive dealership, and
  • direct support professionals (DSPs) for nonprofits.

People who fill these types of positions tend to be on the go (i.e. not doing a desk job) and may have more than one part-time job at a time. They don’t get into email or voice mail as frequently (if at all), and so they need fewer barriers to communication when it comes to job consideration, as well as long-term engagement with an employer.

Considering that over 58% of America’s working population fills hourly positions (BLS, 2017), there’s real opportunity to leverage texting to be the first to attract and engage hourly job candidates. I’m offering the following steps to help you position your organization as an earlier adopter of the mobile recruiting revolution.

6 steps to successfully use texting to hire hourly workers

1 – Create communication efficiency

Use pre-built text message templates within your applicant tracking system. Create and label them for different stages in the selection process for hourly workers. This saves store managers time when they need to hire three new retail associates–“yesterday!”

2 – Model the right texting behavior

Train your hiring managers on appropriate texting etiquette for your recruiting process. Does the language they use and the tone they convey support your overall employment brand? Additionally, make sure they understand how text messages will show up to the job candidate.

An easy way to accomplish this is to test the messaging feature from within a sample job application. Then, take a screenshot of how it appears to a recipient on your phone and share it with managers. This step will help them understand from what number(s) messages may originate, whether the sender’s name, job title and/or organization name are referenced, and how much of the message will appear on the preview screen before being cut off.

3 – Lightning fast speed

Use text to reply promptly to candidates once they’ve responded to your initial outreach. Don’t make the mistake of resting on your laurels once you have native texting functionality and take your sweet time to reply–jump on message responses!

Remember: texting affords job candidates fewer communication barriers to entry, so they expect organizations to respond quickly, too.

4 – Strategically plan text content

You should absolutely use text to reach all types of job candidates to screen and schedule interviews. However, text messages also present an opportunity–when used thoughtfully and selectively–to reach candidates who are on the fence about joining your organization.

Consider the potential impact of a personalized message sharing a link to a positive article about your company. Or, the likelihood that a hired candidate will end up ghosting you during the pre-boarding phase if you regularly connect with him to prepare him for his first shift.

5 – Flip the script on thank you notes

Use text messages to thank a job candidate for her time and preparation after you conduct an interview. That’s right–once upon a time, we expected job candidates to thank recruiters and hiring managers for their time in order to help them secure an offer–but times are changing!

Thank you notes are still an amazing gesture on the part of a job candidate, but they are no longer a mainstay for job offer consideration in today’s job market given the sorry state of many employers’ candidate pipelines.

Today is about sourcing, not screening. Break through the clutter by proactively thanking candidates with a simple text message and humanize your hiring process.

6 – Hiring process visualization

When candidates know what to expect from the hiring process it

  • helps them visualize how they see themselves interacting with your organization,
  • may allow them to more adequately prepare, and
  • it makes it easier for them to say “yes” when you make the job offer.

You can use text to quickly outline the various hiring process steps at the onset of the recruiting process. Think of this step as reducing friction for distracted job seekers who probably have many options before them. If you can grease their understanding runway regarding your job opportunity–and you can do so quickly–you’ll be the employer who is poaching job candidates from competitors across the street.

Mobile recruiting facilitated by text message communication is here to stay. Armed with the steps outlined above, you’re on the way to engaging the job seekers in your hourly job candidate pipeline and positively impacting your employer’s bottom line.

ExactHire Hiring Software | Text Recruiting

7 Tired Excuses for a Long Job Application

So your customer service representative and retail associate jobs have been posted for weeks on end…but you still don’t have enough applicants to satisfy the general managers at all your retail locations.

What’s a recruiter to do? Maybe you should come to grips with the excuses your organization has been telling itself about why it keeps its lengthy, increasingly-obsolete job application.

You say, “but this application used to be a gold mine – ten years ago we were flooded with job applicants!” Well, ten years ago the recession gave you an employer’s market that made it easy to nurture your “woobie blanket” of an employment application.

It seems obvious that employers should regularly evaluate the effectiveness of their hiring process (and more frequently than once per decade); nonetheless, many organizations don’t put it at the top of the HR priority list…until their candidate pipelines have dwindled to a trickle.

Let’s examine the excuses that keep employers preserving their lengthy job applications.

1 – If they really want the job, they’ll complete it.

Once upon a time, this was more true. And, perhaps it will be sort of true once again as economic factors shift over time. In the meantime, your organization–however beloved it is in the eyes of your community–will never be so precious that it engages all of the top talent to complete a 52-question job application in a climate where unemployment is so low.

In fact, according to an Appcast study referenced by SHRM, job application completion rates plummet by nearly 50 percent when an application has 50 or more questions rather than 25 or fewer questions. Others say the impact is worse–Indeed research suggests that employment applications with just 20 screener questions lose 40% of candidates, with abandonment rate increasing as more questions are added.

2 – It’ll be too much work to screen later.

Recruiters and HR professionals understand that if you ask fewer questions up front in the job application, then you have less information to go by when it comes to screening candidates. You may be concerned that it will take too much time to ask these repositioned questions at the interview stage of the hiring process.

However, your lengthy job application is going to dramatically decrease the number of candidates you will put through your hiring process–so, you may have some free time for extra screening on your hands.

In this market, you must decrease your application complexity because the opportunity cost of a long employment application is more time sourcing more candidates because there isn’t enough talent in the pipeline.

3 – Our application “isn’t that bad.”

You agree that a 50+ question application is ridiculous and are giggling alongside me as you read this blog. Of course we can’t expect reasonable job seekers to waste their time on that fool’s exercise!

But wait, when was the last time you actually pretended to be a job seeker and applied to your own company? Hmmm….

Have you ever counted all the fields and questions in your employer’s job application? Go do it now, I’ll wait.

What’s that you say? There are…28 questions for the cashier job at your store?!?

Test your own job application with regularity–at least once per year, if not more frequently, as you notice significant changes in your application rates.

4 – We don’t have that many mobile job seekers.

Should no one in 2019 say ever. You’re in denial about the massive application abandonment rate you experience with mobile job seekers until the Google Analytics statistic of 70% is staring you in your face. Yes, at ExactHire we’ve seen abandonment that high with prospective employers who have not yet implemented a mobile-friendly, reasonably brief, job application.

Remember, an already lengthy application becomes an absolute beast on mobile and tablet views with smaller screens and ample finger pinching, scrolling and zooming.

By reducing the length of your application to appeal to the mobile job seeker, you also stand to improve your diversity and inclusion efforts. According to Pew Research done in the past 5 years, “black and Hispanic smartphone owners are especially likely to use their phone for job-related activities – more than half (55%) used their phone in the past year to find job information, compared with about a third (37%) of whites.”

5 – HR will yell at me.

You think your job application has to be long because Dolores Umbridge in human resources will stalk you if you deviate from the standard.

While certain industries and organization sizes require specific compliance-related questions, there aren’t so many requirements that your application should be painful to complete.

You should absolutely stick to applicable employment law when it comes to questions related to criminal history, pay history, employment eligibility, required licensure, voluntary self-identification, etc. (it will vary depending on employer size, location, contractor status, and industry).

But, that doesn’t mean you need to collect references on the first step of the application. Remember, your job application helps to form the first impression of your organization…do you want that impression to be one riddled with red tape and inefficiency?

6 – Everyone gets the same job application.

“Well, this is the way we’ve always done it.”

You feel compelled to have every job seeker, regardless of position interest, complete the same, one-size-fits-all application. It feels safe, right?

You can have different job application versions to meet the needs of different job categories and locations. And, our ExactHire applicant tracking software makes it a cinch to customize and manage application templates. After all, not only do questions sometimes vary depending on state, but the knock-out questions that you’d present an hourly worker are probably different than for a white collar executive.

7 – I don’t know which questions to ask at which step.

You’re starting to relent in your desire to preserve your lengthy job application. Fantastic!

Now you must figure out which questions to ask at which stage of the hiring process. First, examine your existing job application and consider questions that you really don’t need to ask in the initial step. Keep only the deal-breaker questions.

Deal-breakers for hourly positions at a retail location may be as simple as evaluating

  • which shifts the candidate may fill,
  • whether the candidate is available to work overtime, and
  • whether the candidate has reliable transportation to and from work.

Don’t be afraid to go to your general managers and ask them for the short list of questions that actually matter when they consider someone for this type of position. Of course, your short list will likely vary quite a bit when considering questions for your general manager positions.

No more excuses for your employment application

Be aware of these seven excuses so you can keep your organization from falling back into the trap of the dreaded, lengthy job application.

By regularly evaluating your application fulfillment rates and testing your own application versions for different job categories, you’ll increase the number of qualified candidates in your recruitment pipeline. You’ll improve your employment brand, too.

Optimize your job application

Schedule a demo of ExactHire to see how you can customize and manage multiple employment application templates to suit different job categories.

Weave “Why” Into the Hiring Process, Or Don’t Bother Recruiting!

Have you thought about your organization’s “why” lately? Why do you exist as an employer and is it compelling inspiration for your employees and for job seekers?

I’ve been thinking about this a ton lately, and when I kept on hearing about Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, during my weekly digest of business podcasts I decided to listen to the audiobook. I’m seven years late to the party as it was first published in 2011. Sinek was talking about this in his TED Talks even earlier; yet, this idea is still relevant today.

Many of Sinek’s business examples (e.g. Apple, Southwest Airlines) focus on how clarity around their why inevitably drove customer acquisition and retention. Customers will buy from brands that inspire them, and what resonates for one person will fall flat for another.

In the book, Sinek shared how former Southwest Airlines CEO, Herb Kelleher, championed this belief with the culture he fostered in his organization. Years after Kelleher’s death, his legacy lives on in a still powerful culture that endeavors to give everyone the freedom to fly. In fact, my nephew Andrew, a airplane mechanic with Southwest Airlines, is a prime example.

Andrew and his wife were on vacation returning from the Pacific Northwest last year when their Southwest flight was at risk for further delays due to mechanical issues. Although my nephew had never worked at that airport (which was not a Southwest hub) and was not on the clock, he realized they were short on mechanics due to an extenuating circumstance. Consequently, he informed them that he was a Southwest mechanic and volunteered to assist in the time of need. He was motivated to help his family to have the freedom to fly home more quickly; however, Southwest still had to be responsive to empower him to step in at an unfamiliar location. They did respond, it worked out and he was commended in an all company publication shortly thereafter–a public reinforcement of Southwest’s why.

Having clarity about the purpose of an organization benefits the recruitment process and employee retention, too. In fact, inspiring job seekers and employees is even more important than customers, because without the passionate commitment of your employees, your customers won’t be inspired either.

Align recruiting strategy with your why

Are you currently painting the picture of why you exist to your potential future workforce? If you’re not sure, then you may be leading with the “how” and “what” of your organization (like so many employers) rather than following Sinek’s “Golden Circle.” In the circle, why always precedes how and what.

Remember, a candidate’s experience in your recruiting and hiring process will drive whether they believe your culture is true to the expectation you set. You must craft an experience that exudes your organizational why in order to truly engage job candidates.

At ExactHire, a piece of our why is to use technology to enable flexibility that allows people to balance work and personal life. That element of championing employment that accommodates your own lifestyle is repeated in our sixth and final core value.

ExactHire Core Values

Our work to truly articulate our ExactHire why is a work in progress, which can sometimes be frustrating. Nevertheless, enrichment is often realized in the journey more than the destination. Our newer journey has led us to build a new hiring software application that embodies the piece of our why that champions flexibility in the employment experience. Its first release will especially serve employers of large numbers of hourly, relatively interchangeable positions. This is the applicant sourcing world of “Just In Time” (JIT) hiring, and if that recruiting reality resonates with you, then you already know that it demands flexibility.

Weaving our why into hiring process design

The essence of our employment experience is previewed to candidates via the structure and activities involved with our recruiting and onboarding process. We think intentionally about incorporating our why throughout our hiring process.

Hiring process stakeholders

Before I ever post a new job opening at ExactHire, internally we’ve planned which teammates will be involved at which step in the process, as well as what their objective is in participating (e.g. questions to answer, information to impart). We talk to candidates during interviews about how the trust we place in employees allows us to enjoy flexibility in our working schedules. We can instill that trust due to the careful vetting process job candidates undergo. The ones who make it have chosen not to withdraw from the process despite our consistent candor about what it’s really like to work at ExactHire.

Additionally, the technology that we develop (which we use in our own recruiting process of course) must be flexible to

  • meet candidates where they are,
  • allow them to communicate in the manner that they prefer, and
  • nurture their current engagement level (even if they aren’t ready to make a move yet).

Hiring process steps

Since our why focuses on flexibility, then our how must include regular, clear communication. At the onset of every ExactHire candidate’s recruiting experience, we describe all the interview steps involved in the hiring process, as well as how long we generally review candidates at each stage. There is nothing secret about the steps we take to hire; if we aren’t up front with what is required and our preferred time frame, then we’ll waste the candidate’s time and our time with people who can’t accommodate our needs. We treat people like adults and trust them to opt out if the career opportunity we’re serving isn’t appetizing.

We recently interviewed candidates for an additional salesperson for our team, and for this particular job, the following steps helped us demonstrate our why:

  • Short, initial employment application – While we have many questions for applicants, we recognize that they won’t answer all of them in the first step. So, we only ask a few key questions at the onset.
  • Phone interview – While this is a somewhat traditional approach to screening candidates, if we’re hiring for an inside sales position then phone presence is critical to assess.
  • Remainder of employment application – Once candidates have been engaged during the phone interview, they are more flexible to complete the remaining questions on our application.
  • Behavioral and cognitive assessment – These tools provide us with great data, but that data is only actionable for us because we know our why and which assessment scales are most critical in supporting that why.
  • Video interview – For our recent salesperson selection process, we did a video conference interview instead of an in-person interview to flexibly accommodate everyone’s schedule more easily. Video presence is also an important skill to assess given that modern technology has made it easy for some sales calls to be done via video conference.
  • Job shadow – The final step in our hiring process is a hands-on session during which the candidate experiences what it’s really like on the job and makes sure it is the right fit. He/she can experience our why first-hand.

Job description language

I support Sinek’s suggestion to be brutally honest about the realities of a job. After all, you want to hire people that want the job that you actually have, not one that you bait them with in an airbrushed job description. Here are some tips for incorporating why into your job descriptions.

Don’t hide your warts

Be honest about the thornier aspects of the role and your company. For ExactHire, that means I’ve included job listing truths like

  • our web developers work longer hours while we build a brand new application,
  • we have a 401K plan but no corporate match,
  • due to our small company size you must have a trailblazing mentality–as there is not always a precedent for situations you encounter, and
  • employees must be resourceful and seek help from our whole team–they can’t depend only on their boss.

Highlight your best features

Don’t forget to showcase your organization’s strengths, too. Focus on ones that lend authenticity to your company’s why. For us, these include

  • a relatively flexible work schedule (e.g. I don’t have to use PTO to take my kids to the dentist),
  • the ability to telecommute, and
  • the chance to impact the entire organization and be empowered to help our clients bring flexibility to their job seekers and employees, too.

Be practical

If you only focus on the why in your job title and description, then you will be doing yourself a disservice. For example, you should still use job-relevant keywords in the description because not all employers will attract the same kind of job seeker attention that Simon Sinek does when he posts a job. While your job description should inspire the right job seekers, it can inspire on a larger scale if it’s able to be found via keyword-relevant queries on search engines and job boards.

Appreciate quality over quantity

With brutal honesty in your job description and thoughtful consideration for your organizational why, know that you may not be flooded with applicants. However, the quality of candidates you receive and your potential for cultivating longer employment tenure will be much better.

If you can’t tolerate the thought of fewer applicants as a result of better articulating your why and your expectations, then you’ve either completely missed your why; or, your why isn’t compelling enough when conveyed in its present form.

Employment brand champions

No matter how pervasive your why is across the organization, some employees are better advocates for your company purpose than others. Identify these teammates and spotlight them on your careers site, in social media and print, and within your interviewing process.

Consider using video testimonials with employees telling personal stories about how they identify with the vision of the employer. Also, create blog content that paints a picture of why (or why not) certain types of people should work for the company. Authentic, employee-inspired content does a fantastic job of setting expectations with job seekers regarding their potential fit with your organization.

Engagement during pre-boarding phase

The time between when a candidate accepts an offer and when he actually begins work is a delicate phase. I’ve seen organizations stood up by new hires on day one because the new candidates were not engaged by the organization appropriately during this pre-boarding period.

Reduce new hire “buyer’s remorse” by sharing examples of your company living up to its why during pre-boarding. During our recent recruitment process, I sent a photo of the team enjoying our annual holiday event on a Monday afternoon to remind our yet-to-start new hire of our focus on work-life balance.

This type of image is great content for the company social media profiles, as well. It helps illustrate your why to additional passive job seekers and existing employees and partners.

ExactHire Team Holiday Outing 2018

Employee onboarding

Senior leaders are caretakers of the company why. They must support the vision and inspire others through their actions. Involve these leaders in your new hire onboarding process–whether they sit down and meet directly with new hires or record a video that is shared during the first week of employment.

Due to the scope of their positions with the organization, they are generally busy people and it can be hard to find time to align them with the onboarding process to help support the why. However, while their frequent focus on profits, product features or service agreements is critical, without their attention directed to a compelling why your offering may be at risk of becoming just a commodity.

Keep walking the talk – don’t blame others

Organizations should put their best foot forward to support the why during the hiring process; however, don’t make the mistake of forgetting to reiterate the why to long-term employees, too. While it is a group effort, you have a stake in supporting the vision as well. So, what should you do if you find yourself among co-workers who are disengaged or a supervisor who isn’t representing the why?

While it can be easy to blame others and try to change their behavior, your best chance of making a difference is to be the rising tide.

“If you want to change someone else, change yourself. People change because they’re inspired by someone else’s example, not because they were coerced into doing it.” – Rachel Hollis

What about when you are the one needing the lift–especially this time of year? I can relate and offer this advice. While I can’t snow bird just yet to escape the drab, bone-chilling cold of the Midwest in winter, I can fight any of my own creeping disengagement by creating opportunities for us all to be more engaged.

“If you wish to feel more engaged, fulfilled and happy at work, make it your obsession to help the people around you find more engagement, fulfillment and happiness in their jobs.” – Simon Sinek

I was inspired by a conversation with a co-worker recently to start an optional quarterly book club at work. And while Start With Why isn’t actually our first reading assignment, we have chosen Radical Candor by Kim Scott. I believe it will help us dig into better articulating ExactHire’s why and where we still need some work connecting to it.

Don’t undervalue the business why

You can’t get this part wrong. If you do, it will weaken everything in your company. While inertia may sustain the organization for awhile, eventually the most talented people will leave to seek more challenge and/or something energizing or inspiring to support.

How to Not Screw Up Remote Employee Onboarding

Whether your team’s hiring its first remote employee or its 79th, don’t skimp on putting thoughtful intention behind your new hire onboarding program for remote workers.

Go ahead, pick out your worst fear about hiring remote workers below.

  • If I can’t see them, will they just do their laundry instead of work?
  • Our employees need to be “on” during our regular working hours, how can they if they’re roaming coffee houses around Europe with a 6-hour time difference?
  • Company culture and connectivity will suffer if we can’t play ping pong in person together, won’t it?

Did you have trouble picking just one? That’s okay, so did ExactHire when we started allowing employees to work remotely over seven years go. Our organization has come a long way since then, and–with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic–we have adopted the mentality of “remote first.” That is, truly distributing the workforce in such a way that remote work is the default setting–not just an option available to some. SaaS companies like StackOverflow and HelpScout are worth further investigation if you’re considering this cultural pivot for your employer

Remote first = distributing your workforce in such a way that remote work is the default mode.

Another relevant read is Remote: Office Not Required by Basecamp Co-Founders, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This book details Basecamp’s evolution into a remote first organization, including both the pitfalls and unexpected wins along the way. There’s no shortage of inspiration on how to make remote working arrangements possible for your organization these days.

In this post, I’ll focus on how to not screw up employee onboarding once you’ve committed to hiring a new fully-remote employee. For someone who is brand new to your organization and away from the office from the start, consider these items for your onboarding checklist.

1 – Make expectations and goals crystal clear

In the absence of in-person onboarding activities, picking up on body language and being a bystander to water cooler talk is more challenging. Therefore, organizations should put themselves in the shoes of new hires and brainstorm the details that new employees won’t necessarily absorb on their own.

Being transparent about expected working hours (despite time zone of new hire), explaining how organizational culture manifests itself and sharing milestone targets about what job success looks like at three months, six months and beyond are just a few of many possible details.

For example, in Remote, the authors talk about how it’s important for Basecamp to give its new hires a heads up that they may be bombarded by social media follower requests when joining the organization. Because their company is remote first, it has become common for employees to connect with one another on social media in order to get to know each other more quickly in the absence of traditional face time in the office.

2 – Make over communication a way of life

Nothing can trip up a remote working arrangement more quickly than a shortage of sufficient communication. If your company wants to make remote work work, then you need to embrace many modes of communication (“different strokes for different folks”) and in particular, abundant written communication.

Particularly if your remote employees are spread across different time zones, a bigger portion of your company’s internal communication will be asynchronous–with employees reading email, chat messages and Slack updates anywhere from minutes to hours after they are originally sent.

To amplify the effectiveness of asynchronous communication, be clear about your needs and consider capturing screenshots and creating short videos to better explain tasks and challenges to co-workers when big time zone differences diminish the ability to connect in real time.

Consider your communication culture and whether it makes sense to go to the extent of asking people to update their status when away from Slack, instant messenger, etc. While ExactHire doesn’t quite go this far, we do have an internal document that lists general working hours for all employees since individual availability varies widely depending on the day of the week.

3 – Organization is everything

While we’ve already established that communication is critical, committing to written communication goes deeper than the one-off messages and company announcements that happen on a daily basis. In the same way that ExactHire maintains a support knowledge base full of training documents for our customers about our products, employers with remote workers have an even greater responsibility than traditional employers to document policies, project statuses and resources in an internal knowledge base.

And, it’s not just about basic documentation, but also the style or approach you take for documentation and communication. For example, at a previous employer I was quickly indoctrinated into the organizational norm of referring to all employees by just their initials in written communication, as well as the practice of hiding unwieldy URL addresses behind anchor text in interoffice emails. Mind you, this was a decade ago…before it was a tech-based cultural norm to go to such formatting lengths.

Internal consistency in communication supports effective organization.

Additionally, having easy-to-use tools to track items is essential. For example, in addition to Slack, ExactHire has leveraged platforms such as Google Docs, Trello, Basecamp and Jira for internal collaboration on a daily basis in recent years.

4 – Paperless employee onboarding

For both new hires and existing staff members, the employee onboarding process is full of opportunities to miss details. Take the pressure off of remembering which employees should be prompted to complete which new hire documents, tasks and forms by leveraging employee onboarding software.

An effective onboarding platform automatically presents the right paperwork, onboarding tasks and training prompts to different new hires based on factors such as their geographic location, FLSA status, security clearance and role type. Because additional to-do items are only presented to new hires and internal onboarding process stakeholders when certain basic prerequisites are already satisfied earlier in the process, the experience for the new hire is positive and stress for the staff member is minimal.

5 – Create inspiration with preparation

It’s stressful enough for a new hire on her first day at a new job in a traditional office. Now imagine how much more awkward a remote employee’s first day on the job can be if the employer is unprepared for her arrival.

Prepare new hires to hit the ground running quickly by sharing a super detailed onboarding plan and training schedule with them before their first day. Include links to your internal knowledge base and make resources for additional learning easy to find and searchable. This written documentation will easily fill the gaps between video conference calls and virtual job shadowing sessions with co-workers.

From a hardware standpoint, outfit new employees with the equipment they need to start work on day one. Your approach to this will vary depending on whether you ship a computer, phone, headset, etc. to your remote employees or have a policy in place that allows them to bring their own device (BYOD) to work. Regardless of your approach, make sure that all equipment and software access follows internal security protocols and that new hires are trained on how to handle secure data and what to do in the event of a breach.

Be sure to give new hires access to relevant communication groups, recurring calendar events and internal online resources in time for their first day–along with instructions or a description of each item’s objective. There’s no quicker way to alienate your remote employees than to forget to add them to your monthly all-hands meeting call, and then interrupt it fifteen minutes in to invite them to join last late.

6 – Tell your culture story

Fostering connectivity can be a struggle in a remote-driven workplace–especially in an organization that has transitioned from a traditional in-person office to a distributed workforce. While veteran employees instinctively understand the core values, mission and unwritten ways of doing things, newly hired remote employees won’t become a thread in the organizational tapestry without understanding its roots and also being prompted to share their own background.

Create a series of videos about key aspects of the company’s past that can be embedded into the onboarding process. Host a monthly company trivia session where employees log into Google Meet or Skype to answer questions and compete for swag.

Telling the organizational story to new hires is a best practice, but savvy employers will also build in the opportunity for its diverse new employees to make their own mark and share their own background. This might be accomplished with a virtual employee directory that features fun facts about new hires; or, occasional “lunch and learn” webinars that invite new employees to do a show and tell about their own city/country or hobbies and interests.

7 – Promote peer mentoring

Mentoring is not a new concept for employee onboarding; however, adopting it as a practice for a remote workforce is an emerging trend. From job shadows with veteran employees in a new hire’s first few days to monthly milestone check-ins with a designated “buddy,” virtual mentoring has a great deal of possibility for remote-friendly workplaces.

When creating a virtual mentoring program, account for factors that may influence likely success between mentor and mentee; such as, time zone difference, job role, interests and behavioral tendencies as evident from an employee assessment.

Take 1-on-1 mentoring a step further and invite mentors and mentees to quarterly tweet-ups or video conferences in which newer hires have a forum in which they can ask questions of mentors in real-time and within a group format. By listening to the questions and answers of peers, as well, new hires will likely shorten their own learning curve.

8 – Make time for face time

When done right, remote work allows employees to focus for longer periods of time without interruption. While distractions may occur in both the office and at home, there’s a distinct difference between immediately responding to someone knocking on your door versus waiting a few minutes to finish a task before responding to an email.

Utilize video conference platforms such as Zoom or GoToMeeting to allow all employees to synchronously connect whenever the need arises. Perhaps your cultural norm is even to ask employees to always use video chat rather than voice-only phone calls when connecting for a meeting. However, when planning such video calls, and to be considerate of potential time zone differences, be intentional with the time allotted to focus on social connectivity rather than just covering things that might be more efficiently discussed via email.

Even in modern, 100% remote first workplaces, there’s a place for in-person interaction. Many employers that have largely distributed workforces still make time at least once per year to gather in person for social connection–as an entire organization. And while this type of event can inflate the company travel line item significantly, that is the tradeoff between having the overhead attributable to a physical office location versus employing a remote first approach. If that approach would break your budget, then consider smaller meetups between departments instead.

9 – Feed off of feedback

Emojis were once reserved for text-happy teenagers lamenting their latest breakup; however, in recent years they’ve earned their place as a remote work mainstay because they help express tone and emotion in a situation that might otherwise omit context for one’s mood.

And while it might still be a stretch for some to include them in email messaging, they thrive in messaging platforms such as Slack. And, they’re particularly helpful in a remote workforce when employees may have never met in person and do not yet understand the nuances of their peers’ personalities. Emojis are one way of leveraging feedback on a micro level so that remote employees can gauge how they’re communicating or performing.

On a macro level, employers hiring remote employees must give and receive feedback early and often throughout the onboarding process.

  • Gather new hire input in the pre-boarding phase to make sure that incoming employees have a firm grasp of the resources available to them to get started.
  • Hold virtual town hall meetings for new hires three months into their employment tenure for ideas on how to improve remote employee onboarding.
  • Make sure that supervisors have a regular cadence of offering constructive feedback to direct reports throughout the first year of employment, especially.

Successful Remote Employee Onboarding

Make your objective to create experiences in which remote employees feel as assimilated and supported as traditional in-office employees. Remember that it will take some experimentation, careful hiring and an open mind. If you don’t get it exactly right the first time, gather feedback to make an adjustment and try, try again!

Download ExactHire's Employee Onboarding Checklist

5 Signs You’re Not a Fit for Affordable and Effective HR Software

The strategy behind a successful HR software product is dependent on clarity about the developer’s preferred prioritization of three main factors–cost, quality and time. Inevitably, you can’t excel at all three–as in having your cake, eating it too, and not gaining weight. However, in many cases and with the right strategic recipe, you can satiate needs with two out of three.

Steakhouse, Crockpot, or Microwave?

Consider the following scenarios from the article “Tradeoff Management Key to Successful Software Development Techniques”:

Now some of you may argue that the InstantPot has allowed us to achieve all three factors, but alas, they are still more expensive than the crockpot so I digress.

For the small to medium business (SMB) that is after affordable and effective HR software, the preferred recipe is often one that employs a relatively smaller feature set (or fewer integrations) and/or a longer product development roadmap. For some that is the microwave dinner, and others that is the slow cooker method. Nevertheless, that outcome is not on every employer’s menu.

This post will offer five signs to identify employers who are NOT a fit for SMB-focused human resources software. Organizations who are not a fit may require steakhouse quality, enterprise software–the same type of application that might seem to have feature bloat relative to the needs of the small- to mid-sized employer.

1 – You have dedicated staff for a variety of HR functions

If your organization is large enough to employ specialists in more than a few facets of talent management (e.g. benefits, payroll, employee relations, recruiting, organizational development, onboarding, compensation, etc.), then your preferred technology will likely be an end-to-end HR information system that has separate yet integrated modules for different facets of HR.

In contrast, an HR department of none, one or few will enjoy greater and more immediate efficiencies by delegating administrative work to a software application.

2 – Compliance reporting isn’t an obstacle

If your employer

  • is not already subject to Affirmative Action Plan reporting,
  • has fewer than 100 employees, or
  • is in an industry that is not heavily regulated when it comes to hiring practices, then you may not need hiring software.

If your hiring volume is fewer than ten hires per year, and you aren’t worried about managing a series of E-Verify cases (for example), then you may not need to spend anything on hiring software.

3 – You are a multinational corporation with locations around the globe

With offices in many countries and employees speaking different languages, you need an enterprise application that is supported in many languages and has features that address different regulatory requirements around the world.

4 – You require concierge level service 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

If your team prefers a single person as a vendor’s dedicated account executive, then you’ll likely be using a complex system that costs a lot more–particularly from a service pricing standpoint. Nevertheless, that always-on support mentality is typically available only to feature-robust systems that are purchased by organizations with users in a variety of time zones.

5 – You rely on bi-directional integration with a vast number of other platforms

If your HR “tech stack” is as tall as a skyscraper, odds are you are a large organization that needs an enterprise system. Or, at least one that requires a disproportionately large number of integrations to your applicant tracking system or onboarding software.

That’s okay, but your expectations for integration will be accompanied by more expensive implementation and access fees. Additionally, you may face price increases with the third party applications you wish to integrate to your hiring software due to the API call requirements necessary for effective integration.

While integrations save humans time, the cost of building and maintaining them must be carefully compared with the number of man hours that will be saved in doing so.

So, what’s on the menu for your organization? Take an honest look at which two of the three factors (cost, quality and time) are most critical, and then purchase an application that is suitable for your technology appetite.

ExactHire provides growing businesses with affordable HR software that helps them move away from inefficient spreadsheets and paper documents. To learn how you can lead positive change at your company by embracing modern hiring and onboarding processes, contact us today.