The HR Solutions category of the ExactHire blog discusses wide-ranging topics, trends, and best practices within the Human Resources and HR Technology industries.

Release Notes: Sticky Apply, Job Management, Application Edit Tools and Reporting Customization

Release Notes: Application Self-Service, Emerging Reporting Functionality and Robust Role Permissions for Users

Release Notes: Multi-Job Apply, Application Jump Start, Repeat Job Apply and Never Hire Status

ExactHire Support Center Update

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in Dawn of Day, “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”

Our Support Team understands the importance of improvement and change, and how being stagnant can keep us from creativity and delivering better service. Over the next few days, we will be updating the platform our Support Team uses to service our clients. There is no change in the way our clients interact with the Support Team.

You can continue to email support@exacthire.com with questions or concerns. Our self-help library of tip sheets, known lovingly by our clients as the Knowledge Base, is still available by visiting www.exacthire.com and clicking Support at the top right. This will bring you to the Support Center. In addition to the Knowledge Base living in the Support Center, you will have the ability to create a log in and track any of your new tickets. This is not a mandatory action; we will continue to email you directly, but often people would like to reference a specific ticket. Our emails will have a different look as well. A simple change that I think is worth noting.

We hope this system allows us to more easily share short videos with you, communicate internally faster about any issues you may be experiencing, and allow for future growth.

Over the next few days as we adjust to the new system, please give us the gift of grace. As always, if something is urgent and/or we have not followed up in a timely manner, call our office. My team and I care about our partnership. Our roles exists because of you and we are happy to be of service to you. We are looking forward to shedding our old skin and growing into our new Support Center!

Watch the video below to learn more!

ExactHire Support Update June 2019

How to Use Video to Engage Applicants and Employees

There’s no denying the appeal of video. When I’m doing research for a home project, planning a purchase or trying to teach myself how to play a new board game, I prefer to watch an engaging video rather than read through text or scan images. Not surprisingly, many job seekers have the same preference as they research and engage with potential employers to determine which will suit their career aspirations.

How can employers use video in the hiring process and throughout the employment lifecycle to entice job seekers to consider a position? How can video engage employees to remain employed? Consider the following tips to leverage the strengths of video throughout your employment experience.

Recruiting

Employee testimonials

Identify your true employment brand ambassadors and invite them to produce testimonials for your career site. Ask them to speak about the invigorating challenge of their work and the unique, tangible and intrinsic benefits that your organization offers to employees. Most of all, make sure they convey the specific reasons they choose to work for your organization.

Job description overview

A key aspect of successful candidate recruitment is not only selecting the right individual for the company, but also allowing job seekers to understand what they are getting into when it comes to job responsibilities.

Create a video that summarizes the key responsibilities of a position, but then go a step further and discuss what job success looks like for a new hire at three months, six months and one year of employment. These career opportunity digital assets are excellent content resources to share on company social media channels, too.

If you use an applicant tracking system to manage your recruitment process, you may already have access to easily embed videos into job descriptions and share them with third party job boards. Other ideas for video overviews include having a top ten list of reasons to work in a specific role for your company; or, a short segment on what to expect from the hiring and selection process. For example, will the candidate be asked to take any assessments and how many interview stages are involved–and with which company staff members?

Here’s an example of how ExactHire used video in the hiring process when we were looking for web developers. Make sure that the tone and style of your video aligns with your organizational culture. For us, quirky is appropriate!

You could even automate a video email that outlines next steps to send to the candidate after applying online.

Interviewing

Candidate communication

Remember that the quality of your organization’s candidate communication is being closely evaluated by job seekers. It is the first impression that will indicate how responsive and communicative the employer will likely be once a candidate is hired as an employee–it’s the perception of job seekers (and, in my experience, often the truth).

Make applicant correspondence personal by using video email to invite applicants to progress in your hiring process. If you enjoy a remote work culture, using video to facilitate interviewing is critical in moving the selection process along quickly enough that you don’t lose qualified candidates to other offers.

Even if your office isn’t full of telecommuters, if you involve multiple employees in group interviews, video conference calls can open up additional calendar slots by eliminating the need for stakeholders to buffer schedules for commute time.

Closing the deal

In this competitive market, your top candidate will often have another offer when they are considering a position with you. While compensation, benefits, and role will heavily influence the candidate’s choice, you can use personalized video messages to encourage the candidate to join your team and share examples of how your employees embody organizational culture.

Consider sending a team video highlighting a recent company potluck, holiday event or fun competition. You could even send a personalized video email from the CEO to let the candidate know that leadership is excited to invite them on board. Make sure the candidate understands that by accepting an offer with your organization, he or she could enjoy these same moments with co-workers who care, too. It is these seemingly little gestures that often make or break the deal when another offer is on the table.

Pre-boarding

While many organizations pull out all the stops to woo candidates during the interviewing process, unfortunately too many then fail to keep the momentum going with frequent connections with new hires during the pre-boarding phase. Pre-boarding is comprised of the time period between when the candidate accepts an employment offer and experiences his first day on the job.

Office orientation

Even if you previously gave an interviewee an office tour, sharing a virtual video office tour helps incoming new hires orient themselves with the location of various office items before they experience their first day. Check out MOBI’s compelling virtual tour of their headquarters building:

Setting expectations

To minimize new hire jitters for your new teammates, create videos to help identify what the new employee can expect in her first week of employment. Preview the types of activities she’ll be experiencing and consider inviting mentors or other people with whom the new hire will be meeting to have a segment in the video. Other discussion points might include information about

  • dress code,
  • location of bathrooms and gym,
  • availability of office snacks,
  • beverages and the location of the kitchen, and
  • an overview of the types and frequency of company and department meetings that occur throughout a month.

Make sure that the new hire’s supervisor engages with him during the pre-boarding phase as well. While a phone call or interactive video conference is great in this scenario, if schedules make connecting difficult then a thoughtful video welcome message from the hiring manager can serve as an attractive alternative. Leveraging video during pre-boarding may help to reduce the likelihood of new hire ghosting!

Onboarding

Once your new hires officially begin work, make sure that their employee onboarding experience excites them and prepares them to be productive as soon as possible. Effective employee onboarding involves activities that introduce new hires to teammates and the organization, allow them to become familiar with the resources they’ll need to do the job, and further set expectations about performance and pace.

Training

To support these activities, offer videos that help train new hires on organizational procedures and teach them how to use different tools necessary for their role. If you use employee onboarding software to automate your onboarding workflow, then use the platform to create employee tasks that prompt new hires to watch these videos at the appropriate time during their onboarding phase.

Video is also a great way to facilitate introductions between new hires and remote workers when an in-person “nice to meet you” isn’t practical.

Employee Engagement

Daily connections

Speaking of remote workers, my organization is quite remote friendly and therefore we have to be intentional about creating opportunities for employees to regularly connect with one another. While we used to rely heavily on email and instant messaging tools to catch up on a daily basis, in the past year we’ve started regularly doing video calls with one another for daily “stand-up” meetings in various departments. Even though these meetings often last only five minutes, the chance to make eye contact with your peers and sneak in some “water cooler” type talk has been an important enhancement to our remote work culture.

Open window

Some of our departments take video calling a step further and have weekly “open window” time when they all log in to a video chat for an hour to simulate what it would be like to sit in cubicles next to each other. They use the time to catch up, but sometimes they just work silently until someone has a comment or inquiry.

Offboarding

While the hope is that employees will be successful and engaged for an extended period of time with your organization, the reality is that circumstances sometimes call for offboarding employees. Whether it is a voluntary or involuntary termination, there are opportunities to positively support your employment brand based on how you approach the situation.

Voluntary

In the case of someone who has resigned, solicit teammates to put together a best wishes video to send off your departing employee knowing that he was truly valued. After all, you never know if you’ll have the opportunity for a boomerang employment situation in which the person returns to work in your organization at some point in the future.

Involuntary

In the event that the employment separation isn’t voluntary, a video message to existing department members can be an effective means to properly communicate the tone of the situation and assure existing employees that everything will be okay despite the seemingly sudden departure of another employee. This approach is preferable over a static email in which tone can be interpreted inconsistently by various recipients.

Video: An Employee Engagement Tool

These are just a few tips for using video in your hiring process and for employee engagement. Experiment with different video themes for your own organizational processes.

Your culture, core values and current business opportunities will guide you in a direction that aligns with the interests of your applicants and employees.

This content was originally published on Covideo’s Blog.

Tech-Based Employee Experience E-book

Spreadsheets for Hiring | A Modern Alternative

A while back I wrote about the employee onboarding process and its movement away from spreadsheets. In that post, I shared my love for spreadsheets, but I also pointed out the shortcomings related to their use with onboarding new employees. In this post, I would like to look at another area where, in many cases, HR also relies too heavily upon spreadsheets: spreadsheets for hiring.

Spreadsheets for Hiring

Despite the rapid adoption of SaaS software by businesses across the world, the spreadsheet maintains an important role in many organizations. Most HR departments still rely on shared spreadheets for hiring and other HR processes–even those organizations that have deployed an “all-in-one” HR solution (really, all-in-one?). So all you Excel warriors out there need not fret; your skills will remain in demand and valuable….for a while at least.

The issue today is not whether organizations should ditch spreadsheets completely, it’s whether they should seek to use the best tools for the job. And spreadsheets–love them as I may–are simply not the best solution for managing the many aspects of hiring employees.

Let’s take a look at how a hiring process driven by spreadsheets stacks up against one driven by hiring software.

Tracking Your Sources

It’s important to continuously analyze what’s working and what’s not. This is true for most things in which someone wants to excel. As it relates to improving your hiring process, recruiting sources, or channels, are one of the first items an HR leader will want to analyze.

A spreadsheet can certainly help in recording and comparing the effectiveness of your recruiting channels. The difficulty arises in how you populate the data. In most cases, this will mean manually recording the data for each applicant into the spreadsheet.

Hiring software, on the other hand, will automatically pull the applicant’s source. Built-in reports and dashboards can be configured to provide you with a thorough applicant source analysis in just one click. This makes the job of source analysis so easy, that it virtually eliminates the possibility of it being overlooked.

Summarizing Applicants

All applicants are not equal. But what are the factors that reliably differentiate applicants? There is no single answer to this question, as it will vary based on role, location, and job market conditions. This makes it difficult to standardize a screening process.

Spreadsheets are best used in summarizing standardized sets of data. Standardized data is a natural product of a standardized process. So what happens when a hiring process produces highly variable data? You get an unwieldy spreadsheet or multiple spreadsheets that make analysis and comparison a nightmare.

Hiring software simplifies the task of summarizing applicants by allowing you to review applicants based on custom criteria. This eliminates confusion and facilitates efficient applicant screening and information sharing.

Rating Applicants

When it’s time to screen applicants for an open position, HR professionals will want to look at a standard set of criteria for each candidate, and then apply a rating. Often times there will be multiple people involved in this process.

Organizations that rely on spreadsheets for the rating of applicants will run into a number of obstacles when trying to record, compare, and share those ratings. Some of the more common challenges are:

  • Manual data entry is often the only option.
  • Multiple spreadsheets for different roles and criteria–or lots of filters.
  • Complex sharing/viewing permissions or, again, multiple spreadsheets.

Contrast the above challenges with the value-added opportunities that hiring software can provide. Once again, the system will hide the messiness and confusion inherent in a spreadsheet-driven approach. Hiring software will allow for:

  • Automated data entry. Data flows from the application to the database.
  • Create rules to automate initial ratings based on customized criteria.
  • Quickly drill down to a set of applicants you wish to compare and refine ratings.
  • Invite colleagues to view limited sets of data based on predefined permission rules.

Managing The Candidate Experience

There are a number of ways to enhance the hiring experience for job seekers. One way is through personalization. Over the past decade, consumers have become accustomed to highly personalized marketing, sales, and customer service experiences. This has created the expectation of a personalized experience in almost everything–including the hiring process.

However, maintaining a personalized experience for your job applicants and candidates can be difficult. It, naturally, requires collecting a lot of personal information. But, perhaps, what’s even more challenging is the integration of personal information into your hiring workflow.

It’s likely a given by now that some of the barriers to managing a candidate experience with spreadsheets include manual data entry, role and location-based nuances, and information sharing. However there are a number of additional challenges that spreadsheets present in this scenario as well, like:

  • Exporting required data to communication platforms
  • Delivering reminders of incomplete internal tasks
  • Managing the timing of action items against delays

It’s in addressing challenges like the ones above where hiring software really shines. Integrated communication channels allow for instant communication with applicants right from their digital file. Customized permissions ensure that all internal stakeholders have the necessary (and only the necessary) access to candidate data and statuses. Finally, task reminders can be triggered from within the system and pushed via email and text. In this way, hiring software can do more than assist with the tasks of hiring, it can elevate job seekers’ perceptions of your entire organization by ensuring that your processes are timely and seamless.

Facilitating Employee Onboarding

Too often, job seekers enjoy an impressive experience in moving from applicant, to candidate, to hired employee…only to face an abrupt and troubling reality; they’ve landed in a mess. Employers–not the seemingly friendly, competent faces of the hiring process, but the actual people and faces–are not prepared to onboard new employees in the same seamless, timely way as they hire them.

Those employers that rely on spreadsheets and deal with low-volume hiring can sometimes survive by adding more columns, adjusting viewing and sharing permissions, and maybe dipping their toes into some more advanced areas like VBA. Unfortunately, this approach still leaves an organization open to the metaphorical risks of “dropping the ball” and “letting items fall through the cracks.”

Hiring software ensures that the information initially collected through the hiring process is passed through, intact, to the appropriate onboarding forms and documents. From there, it’s a simple matter of having the new hire complete electronic signatures and check boxes for consent. There is no duplicate data entry on the part of HR personnel or the new employee.

A Modern Alternative to Spreadsheets

As I said at the top, spreadsheets aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There is a whole generation of workers that has embraced their utility and flexibility. Furthermore,  with spreadsheets, organizations don’t have to worry about whether a vendor will maintain the code and integrations, or raise prices at a later date. Spreadsheets are a safe bet.

However, for employers that find themselves in a competitive job market, any risks associated with implementing hiring software should be weighed against the risk of losing good talent and the costs of maintaining a revolving employment door. Successful employers will exercise great diligence in choosing the right vendor for their organization.  With a trusted vendor in place, the risks of implementing hiring software fall away. What’s left is a modern alternative to spreadsheets that keeps the energy and focus on people and not the processes.

 


ExactHire provides hiring software for small and growing businesses that are seeking ways to enhance their hiring and employee onboarding experiences. We’re often the first step in helping businesses move away from spreadsheets for hiring and other HR processes. To learn more about our current and future solutions, contact us today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving The Onboarding Process Away from Spreadsheets

There are two types of people: those who love spreadsheets, and those who are hopelessly disorganized. Ok, perhaps that’s an over simplification, but I’ve yet to come across a highly organized person who doesn’t have a solid grasp–and a tinge of excitement–for creating and using spreadsheets.

That being said, in some instances your favorite spreadsheet application, whether it be Sheets, Excel, Numbers, or something else, is being made obsolete by the emergence of new SaaS platforms. These process-specific solutions can organize data and present insights far easier than through the use of spreadsheets. Employee onboarding is one of the latest processes to transition from a spreadsheet-driven labor of love to SaaS empowered, laborless process.

Employee Onboarding with Spreadsheets

Listen, I get it. I still love spreadsheets too. I can control how my data is organized and who can change the document. I can always build onto a spreadsheet as my processes change and, more than anything, I’m comfortable with my spreadsheets. But control and comfort aren’t everything!

Sometimes you need to let go of absolute control, get a little uncomfortable, and take a step (or leap) forward to improve your outcomes. Let’s take a look at how employee onboarding software can help you get better results by abandoning spreadsheets, back-and-forth emails, and the timesuck of data entry. To illustrate, we’ll use a dramatized scenario of employee onboarding that you may find familiar.

Monitoring New Hire Progress

You’ve just finished hiring for a hard-to-fill position and as hiring manager you couldn’t be happier. The new hire meets all your requirements for qualifications, fit, and potential. In order to ensure that your new employee’s onboarding experience goes as smoothly as possible, you turn to you trusty spreadsheet.

Your organization has a number of activities and tasks planned for new hires. You and others will use the spreadsheet to monitor each employee’s progress through the  onboarding process.

Tracking New Hire Paperwork

The first step is for the new employee to complete the new hire paperwork. You’ve organized this paperwork in nice little packets that you deliver to the employee. After delivering the paperwork, you enter “yes” in the appropriate cell under the column heading “Delivered”, followed by “in progress” in the cell under the column heading “Paperwork”. Progress!

Delivering Reminders to New Hires

You’ve asked the employee to complete the paperwork in two days and submit to the HR coordinator. But on the second day, you receive an email from the coordinator stating that she hasn’t received the paperwork–she’s colored the “in progress” cell yellow in your shared spreadsheet. So you send a helpful reminder via email to the new hire. And cross your fingers.

Coordinating Oboarding Duties for HR

Alas, on the third day you see that the shared spreadsheet is still showing paperwork as “in progress”. So you color fill your “in progress” cell with red and craft another message to the new hire, letting him know that the paperwork must be completed today. Drats!

Fifteen minutes later, you receive a reply from the new hire stating that he has, in fact, submitted his paperwork. So you email your HR coordinator to confirm this. She confirms via email and apologizes for not updating the spreadsheet. You go back to the spreadsheet, change “in status” to “complete”, color the cell green, and move onto the next item…but not before sending another email to your new hire, apologizing for the mix up.

Recap

Emails: 4
Data Entry: 5
Outcome: New hire completes paperwork on time, but questions whether HR has it all together. You’re stress level is high and you haven’t even finished your morning coffee. You curse the stars.

Employee Onboarding with Onboarding Software

After hiring your new employee, you change the candidate status to “hired” within your applicant tracking system and the new employee immediately appears in your employee onboarding software. Your new hire receives an email that invites him to login to the platform.

Upon logging in, the new hire sees a dashboard with a list of required tasks to complete and their respective due dates. As the employee completes each task, the associated status changes to complete. If the new hire is close to missing a deadline, an automated email and in-system reminder is triggered.

As hiring manager, you can easily see the status of all items. Your HR coordinator has visibility as well, ensuring that your entire onboarding team is on the same page.

Recap

Emails: 1, plus any reminders (all automated)
Data Entry: 0 (after initial setup, new hires receive required tasks based on role, location or other criteria).
Outcome: New hire completes paperwork on time and is impressed by simplicity and ease of system. You smile behind your warm mug of coffee as you review the real-time status of multiple new hires at a glance. Success!

Beyond the First Few Weeks with Spreadsheets and Calendars

As a forward-looking HR professional, you know that onboarding is more than just the first few weeks. So in your spreadsheet you’ve included line items for employee engagement activities to occur over the course of each new hire’s first year. And you’ve even gone one step further: you created calendar events and reminders that align with the activity due dates in your spreadsheet. The calendar will alert you of upcoming tasks,  and the spreadsheet will help you report on your team’s efforts. Very slick!

Recap

Data Entry: Track activities for each new hire in spreadsheet. Create calendar events and reminders for each new hire.
Email: Compose and send emails with instructions/calendar request to each new hire. Remind and support HR team via email ahead of each activity.
Outcome: You succeed (sometimes) with engaging your new hires within the first year, but you’re constantly managing calendars, emails, and your master spreadsheet.

 

Beyond the First Few Weeks with Onboarding Software

When initially implementing your onboarding software, you replicate your existing onboarding process for new employees within the system. This includes scheduling all engagement activities, reminders, and emails for both new hires and other employees involved in the employee onboarding process. Once this work is completed up front, the system automates all necessary communications and status changes. Additions and edits to your onboarding process are easily achieved by adjusting workflow settings, and you can easily report on your efforts through the system.

Recap

Emails: Compose as many email templates as you need, once. Edit templates as needed.
Data Entry: During initial setup, plan employee engagement activities based on role, location and other criteria. The system takes it from there.
Outcome: HR saves time and effortlessly ensures that the onboarding team is ready and prepared to execute on an employee engagement strategy. New hires are never blindsided by calendar or email requests on short notice.

Choosing Employee Onboarding Software

Whether you’re ready to move your onboarding process away from spreadsheets or not, it’s probably a good time to start looking at your options for employee onboarding software. This is especially the case for organizations that are battling employee turnover. The use of spreadsheets is time-consuming and will take away valuable HR time that is better used in engaging employees. So if your organization is looking to deploy a comprehensive employee engagement strategy, employee onboarding software is likely a must.

On the other hand, if you’re organization does little in the way of employee onboarding or engagement, you may not need onboarding software–though you better have one heck of an ATS to deal with a lot of rehiring!

 

ExactHire provides applicant tracking software and employee onboarding software designed to help SMBs grow efficiently by reducing turnover and maximizing the time of HR professionals. To learn more about our solutions, please contact us today.

Looking for Answers at HR Indiana 2018

One of the largest regional human resources conferences in the U.S. is less than a week away. The 2018 HR Indiana Conference runs from August 20 to August 22 and will feature 88 speakers presenting to over 1500 attendees. This wildly popular 3-day event is jam-packed with opportunities to learn, network, and be inspired–not to mention it’s a lot of fun!

Once again, the ExactHire team will be attending the sessions while also hosting a booth in the exhibit hall (booth #404 woot-woot!). We’re looking forward to speaking with attendees about the current HR solutions we offer, as well as share a sneak peek of our brand new platform that is currently under development. Very exciting!

But perhaps even more exciting for us; we will have two team members fly in for the event! Chantel and Darythe are both members of our client services team who work from Utah and Germany, respectively. They are looking forward to spending some time with our team and getting some face time with our current clients as well. If you’re an ExactHire client and attending the conference, please drop by booth #404 to see them!

5 Questions to Answer at HR Indiana 2018

As mentioned, the agenda for HR Indiana is quite full. There are so many great speaker sessions that it’s a challenge to choose which ones to attend. So I’ve selected five speakers based on five questions I hope to have answered at HR Indiana 2018.

 

1. How can employers improve pay equity and communicate it to employees while avoiding complete pay-transparency?  

Cassandra Faurote, President of Total Reward Solutions, will present Pay Equality: Time To Fix It! on Tuesday at 10:15 AM. She will help attendees learn how their organizations can get pay equity right. Topics will include: current pay equity legislation, pay equity’s effect on business, how employers can determine if they have pay equity issues, and solutions for fixing pay equity issues.

SEE FULL AGENDA

 

2. How can organizations overcome the deep-seated beliefs of employees to transform work culture?

Bert and John Jacobs, co-founders of The Life is Good Company, will present Optimism Can Take You Anywhere on Tuesday at 8:30 AM. Together, they will explain how employees can discover their own sense of optimism and find a deeper meaning in the work they do.  Topics will include: lessons on gratitude, openness and compassion, and how simple mindset shifts can transform company culture.

 

3. How can an organization in a “high-stress” industry ensure that its employees are happy and engaged with their work?

Jenn Lim, CEO and CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) of Delivering Happiness, will present Delivering Happiness on Wednesday at 12:00 PM.  She will discuss how research has shown that happiness increases every positive business outcome. Topics will include: happiness as a business model, values-based company culture and brand, employee engagement, and how organizations can “wow” their employees and customers.

SEE FULL AGENDA

 

4. How can managers encourage idea sharing among employees in a way that impacts business outcomes?

Stefanie Krievins, Founder and Coach with The Problem Solvers School, will present Fuel Your Troublemakers to Contribute to the Culture on Wednesday at 7:00 AM. She will help attendees learn how to support employees in re-framing good intentions, ownership, and desire to make a difference. The presentation will include practical processes for developing change-makers and influencers that contribute to the growth of an organization.

 

5.  What are the benefits of developing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program?

Nancy Ahlrichs, Chief Talent Officer, The United Way of Central Indiana, will moderate a discussion on How to Build Employee Engagement Through CSR on Monday at 2:25 PM. This session will give members of the audience and a panel of experts the opportunity to discuss the ways in which employee engagement and retention can benefit from a well-designed CSR program.

SEE FULL AGENDA

Getting Answers

While I may not get the opportunity to directly ask these questions of each speaker, I’m sure that I can gain enough insight from their presentations to work toward answers. I’m also looking forward to learning from other HR professionals who are in attendance. The sheer amount of knowledge and experience that will be present next week is an exciting thing to think about. And I know that the ExactHire team is ready to learn and contribute as well. We can’t wait to join the best in HR “under the big top!”

VISIT BOOTH #404!

Talking HR Technology on the JoyPowered Workspace Podcast

Have you jumped on the podcast-listening wave yet? If not, now’s your chance to listen to ExactHire’s own Jessica Stephenson talk with JoDee Curtis and Susan White, co-hosts of the “The JoyPowered™ Workspace Podcast,” about considerations for choosing and implementing HR Technology. Topics include making a business case for new HR technology, what to seek in a software application, and how to determine if a vendor’s customer support is really as exceptional as they say it is. Check out the podcast recording and episode Q&A highlights below.

HR Technology Podcast Episode Q&A Highlights

Tell us about your company, ExactHire, and what services and technology they provide.

We develop software that automates and improves the hiring process. Specifically, that includes HireCentric applicant tracking software and OnboardCentric employee onboarding software. We also have relationships and some integrations with a handful of employee assessments. All of our applications follow the Software-as-a-Service model, commonly known as SaaS.

How do you make a business case for incorporating more or new HR technology in your organization?

Making a business case starts with a discussion on how change can make the company more profitable. One of the primary reasons making a business case to senior management remains a challenging task is because the language and analytics traditionally used by HR professionals may not be as compelling to others in leadership roles. For instance, while turnover percentage and time-to-fill are reliable indicators to many in the human resources arena, these HR metrics don’t necessarily translate well to CFOs, COOs, or presidents.

For example, when adding applicant tracking or employee onboarding software, some HR leaders focus primarily on justifying these new applications by focusing on efficiencies gained and/or staff time saved. While these points certainly have merit, they also fall outside the common terminology of many finance and operations leaders. Because efficiency and staff time saved in HR are difficult to quantify and not as directly attributable to the bottom line, these savings may be discounted or dismissed entirely.

However, focusing on what direct impact those efficiencies can have on the revenue growth or profitability of the organization changes the conversation completely. Identify the KPIs that impact business outcomes and then paint the picture of how those business outcomes can be positively changed as the result of new technology implementation. Don’t forget to record benchmark levels for your KPIs and organize your findings for senior management. Consider a SWOT Analysis in which you are illustrating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and then spread the word to gather internal support from those who will be most heavily impacted by the software application.

Should HR technology revolve around an employer’s payroll system? Thoughts on integration vs. same system?

We certainly encounter employers pondering this question frequently, and what’s right for one organization won’t be ideal for another. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, so I’d suggest asking these questions to help determine which approach might be best for your employer.

  • First, what are the overall priorities of your organization, and for your HR department? For example, how important is recruiting relative to other HR functions? What about employee onboarding? If hiring is not a high volume activity, then that probably points you in one direction versus another.
  • Second, how much hiring will your organization do over the next year or two? Your projected volume is going to impact your choice, and it might also tie into the next question…
  • Which is…what specific applicant and/or employee data do I want to be pushed into payroll? So, once I’ve hired someone, what exactly from the applicant tracking or recruiting side should push into payroll? And, once those items are pushed, will I still need to key in additional info such as Social Security Number, birth date, etc. because an ATS wouldn’t necessarily house that kind of sensitive information. That’s a bigger question on the ATS side than the onboarding side. That is, if you’re pushing from an onboarding application into a payroll module. Make sure you understand what that is and make sure you understand how important it is and how much of it there is.
  • Looking at features, does your hiring volume necessitate you to consider a more robust system that has the bells and whistles you need with a better user experience; or, is end-to-end integration the most critical need?
  • How will your needs look next year or in a few years compared to today?
  • And finally… price, is there a notable difference between the options? If there is, what is the opportunity cost of choosing one solution over another… in terms of sacrificing a more robust feature set or conversely in time spent importing data in lieu of an integration option.

What should companies look for when choosing an effective technology partner?

  • Support. Be honest with yourself about your organization’s support needs, as well as how much implementation assistance will be required. Will your ongoing support needs be satisfied with a 3-day wait for the support tickets you submit, or do you really need same-day assistance in most cases? Consider the tech-savviness of your internal product champions, as well as your end users.
  • Training. Find out what training includes in the beginning? One session for all admin users? Sessions specific to restricted users too?  What else? What about when your department has turnover later on? Do you have access to recordings of your training sessions? How often is the product’s online knowledge base updated? Are there other resources you can use to get help: newsletters, Q&A sections, videos, animated GIFs in training tip sheets, etc.?

What are some things companies should look for when choosing an HR software application?

You must know your true needs vs. your “icing on the cake” wants when it comes to functionality.  Your priorities will be impacted by factors such as

  • your organization’s size and the industry in which you work,
  • security,
  • your compliance needs (for example, affirmative action plan reporting, E-Verify, work opportunity tax credit),
  • your average number of hires per year,
  • whether or not you have a decentralized or centralized org. structure,
  • the budget allocated to HR tech spending,
  • your need to integrate with any existing applications,
  • organizational growth plans, and
  • your potential need to move data from one system to another…in the case that you are leaving another provider, for example.

In evaluating these factors, remember to consider the needs of stakeholders such as HR administrators, hiring managers, supervisors, employees and payroll / finance partners.

How can I get technology vendors to help me develop a business case to senior management?

With evaluating a provider’s support resources as we talked about earlier, I would ask your tech vendor if they have any case studies, blogs, e-books or other content that help provide tips on how to make a business case, as well as specific ideas on which KPIs might be the most well-received by senior management. For example, talk in the language of profit per employee or revenue per employee rather than turnover. Additionally, if it’s important for your tech vendor to partner with you in discussions with your senior management team, go ahead and ask for that.

At ExactHire, we know that the product itself is not the only key to success for our clients. We strive to provide timely content that will help our users make the most of not just their product usage, but also how to tackle thorny HR topics they encounter on the job that might loosely relate to an aspect of our product. For example, tips on I9 audits, the latest on work opportunity tax credits, which states have adopted ban the box legislation or that now restrict salary history questions.

What do you do when the technology that works best for the HR team is not always what works best for the users?

Considering the user experience…both internal admin and hiring manager-level users, as well as applicants or existing employee end users…is critical to successful technology adoption. So, if you are in a position to select a new software application, there are some questions you can ask to assess whether you’re on the right track. Consider to what extent other specific groups in your organization will use the application. It may be more important to meet some groups’ needs than others.

  • How easy will it be to encourage others to consistently use the application?
  • Will you need to do some due diligence to train people on how to use it; or, does your partner do all that?
  • In either case, which will be the most well-received by your employees?
  • Will it be pulling teeth to get others to use the software? Consider the reasons why it may be.
  • Do you have the wrong software? Or, are employees overloaded with work and/or not as tech-savvy in some areas?
  • Where will others use your software? Will they mostly be on their desktop, or will it be via phone while on the go?
    • This answer will vary widely depending on whether you are looking at technology companies, healthcare and/or manufacturing clients, for example. If it’s while on the go, then make sure the interface is mobile-friendly.
  • And, finally, does the software have an employee self-service orientation that will ensure your data remains accurate into the future? That is, employees can make their own changes as circumstances change.

When purchasing technology, how might I project system needs a year from now, five years, to know if the system is easily customizable and scalable?

Like so many things, the answer for what is right for your organization will boil down to how well you know your organization. Be in tune with senior leaders’ plans for growth, what market conditions or legislative changes may impact your industry’s hiring curve, and whether you’re looking for any other functionality as a result of changing compliance needs. For example, in the next few years will you likely become a federal contractor of a certain threshold and subject to Affirmative Action Plan reporting for the first time?

Questions to bear in mind include:

  • Are the software application’s user logins unlimited? Or do you pay per user, or per job posting in the case of recruiting software?
  • Are there other HR modules you may wish to add in down the road? For example, learning management, performance management, etc.
  • If you’re using a single sign-on application available with a full HRIS, are the individual HR modules robust enough for your needs today and tomorrow?

How will we know if it will be easy to get to the data insights we need?

Think about the types of reports you run today, as well as what you wish would be easier to get insights on. Then, ask your tech partner if the available canned reports are sufficient to meet those needs. Find out if there’s a report building tool available to get insights on demand. If not, then what does it look like (in terms of time and cost), to get reports created by your vendor? Is it super time-consuming and/or expensive for those one-off requests?

Is it ok to ask to talk to other clients who are using the system; and, learn how they are using reports or have customized their own?

Absolutely it is. First, I recommend doing your homework and asking your own HR contacts for their feedback on different systems. Then, when you are late in the process with one or two final potential vendor partners, do ask them for references. Additionally, vendors may have existing content in the form of blogs, white papers, etc. that highlights customer use cases and illustrates how they’ve used products to solve specific customization and/or reporting requests.

Technology vendors always seem to think their customer support is terrific and available. What are some questions we might ask to get more specific answers?

I don’t disagree with that statement, so asking questions to get the actual data is important. Here are some suggestions:

  • How robust are the training materials available to learn the system? Better yet, don’t just ask this question…see how easy it is for you to find the training materials from the corporate website or within the support knowledge base. If it’s pretty easy to find materials when you’re not even a customer yet, it will only get better once you are.
  • How is customer support structured, and what is the average response time? I like this question because some providers will have tiered support services that provide more support for more money. Others will have the same level for every customer. If there is a tiered structure, then find out the difference in response time for each tier, as well as whether certain tiers only provide email support without phone assistance.
  • How long will product implementation take? This is a huge one as I’m sure we’ve all heard horror stories about systems that have taken more than a year to  implement! Know that the answer to this question will depend of course on what type of system you are implementing…an ATS should take less time than a full HRIS, of course. And some systems with multiple modules will not be implemented all at one time. So clarify whether implementation is likely to take only weeks or months and months…and then do your homework to validate whether the expectation set was the reality for other customers who previously implemented.
  • Finally, know that you play a huge role in the length of your own product implementation…many times implementations draft on because the customer isn’t responsive even when the vendor is.

What are the biggest internal obstacles to making a change to your HR technology stack?

In my experience, they fall into these buckets:

  • Budget
  • The staff bandwidth of your HR department
  • Getting employee and/or hiring manager buy-in to change
  • A lack of desired integration options
  • A lack of awareness about new features available in the market
  • Inertia – the pain of making a move from an existing system

Specific to an applicant tracking system, how might we also consider the candidate perspective?  What is most important and what issues have you had engaging applicants or employees in the past?

When considering the applicant experience, it really comes down to interface and time…particularly in the last few years. So you have these considerations:

  • What is the employment application length and is it easy to navigate?
  • Is there a mobile-friendly interface?
  • Can candidates find your job postings where they would expect them? (e.g. integration with external job boards, social media posting)
    • And on the onboarding side…the time it takes employees to complete new hire paperwork; update employee data.
  • Is it a joy for your workforce to interact with your HR software applications?

We are planning to implement a new HR technology that allows users a more self service model. What are some ways I can get employees to embrace the new technology?

I’m a huge advocate of informal videos and animated GIF images to help people pick up on things easily. Additionally, depending on the make-up of your workforce, you might consider in-person workshops or webinar training to help people understand the types of things they can input in the self-service model, as well as how often they can make changes, how they know the change was successfully entered, etc.

 

Check out the complete show notes for this episode of “The JoyPowered™ Workspace Podcast.”

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