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What Are the 5 C’s of Onboarding?

Onboarding is the critical first impression that you only get one chance to make. Prior to the pandemic, many companies skated by with a basic onboarding process involving a few forms and an employee handbook. Companies making a nominal effort may have treated their new hires to lunch on their first day.

A lackluster onboarding process isn’t cutting it during the “Great Resignation.” With many companies struggling to find enough employees to provide fundamental customer service, they need to do everything they can to hold onto the new hires they’re lucky enough to get.

An outstanding onboarding process is the proven first step to lowering employee turnover, improving engagement, and boosting productivity. Small and mid-sized businesses are learning in 2021 what the most successful corporate giants have known for years: great onboarding is a key component of your company’s success.

But why is onboarding so important?

And what makes an outstanding onboarding program?


Download ExactHire's Employee Onboarding Checklist

Benefits of a Robust Onboarding Process

When your onboarding process checklist has got game, your new employees fall in love with their jobs. The fact is, your company needs employees that are fully engaged to compete in the new economy. According to this Gallup study, employee engagement is a key factor in nine performance outcomes, including customer service, profitability, and turnover.

Engaged employees are passionate about their work and they feel a strong connection to their company’s culture and values. Employee engagement is all about the emotional bonds people form with their work. These employees will always outperform their peers who couldn’t care less.

You want your employees to show up on time, every day, and do their best work. You want them to go the extra mile for the customer. When they’re on the manufacturing line, you want them to care—really care—about the quality of the goods they’re producing.

Companies are constantly looking for that special combination of skilled talent, soft skills, and work ethic that make a great employee. But they leave their new hires to fend for themselves as soon as they are finished filling out their W-4. A poor employee onboarding process flow contributes to the massive national turnover rate that costs U.S. companies $1 trillion each year.

A robust onboarding process, on the other hand, can make your employees almost 70 percent more likely to stay with your company for at least three years. And your new hires can be 50 percent more productive when your onboarding process steps set clear expectations while also providing crucial support early on.

Your new employee’s onboarding checklist pdf covers four areas known as the “4 C’s.” The 4 C’s are listed in order of importance to company growth. However, every stage of the 4 C’s is essential to a comprehensive onboarding plan.

Onboarding: The 4 C’s

Most companies stop with the first two C’s: compliance and clarification. Successful companies pay careful attention to the last two C’s: culture and connection. And our team likes to add a fifth C (shhh…don’t tell anyone!).

Compliance: Companies interested in avoiding discrimination and harassment lawsuits, i.e., every company, should start their onboarding with a thorough run-down of their policies and rules. To be most effective, you should implement a clear process by which employees can report discrimination and other issues. Earn your new employee’s trust by making it clear your company takes these issues seriously.

Clarification: This is the stage during which your new hires learn about their role, their duties and their responsibilities. Take this time to set your employee up for success. Establish a support network and ensure she has the tools she needs to complete her work.

Culture: More than a buzzword, culture has a tangible effect on a company’s success. A strong and positive culture gives you a recruiting edge. And clear values keep individual behavior in line with your company’s ethics. Make culture a strong aspect of your onboarding process by inserting it throughout your new hire’s experience. Include your company’s history and mission in your onboarding process.

Connection: Often overlooked during the onboarding process, connection is a key driver of employee retention. When workers form friendships with their coworkers, they’re more likely to enjoy being in the office. Positive relationships between your employees also mean less drama and conflict. You can foster connection during your onboarding process by finding creative ways for your new hires to spend time with coworkers.

We like to add a bonus C: check-in. New hires are most likely to quit their positions within the first year. By checking in with these new employees throughout that first year, companies can address brewing problems.

New Hire Onboarding framework

These 5 stages of onboarding create a framework companies can use to improve employee engagement and its associated outcomes. By adopting a more formal, vs an informal, onboarding process, companies can boost their customer ratings, improve employee retention, and increase their profits. Onboarding software can help companies keep their improved onboarding process organized and efficient.

Onboarding software can help you improve all 5 stages of employee onboarding. New employees can fill out their paperwork more quickly and accurately during the compliance portion of the 5 stages of onboarding with the help of auto-populating fields. Legally binding electronic signatures for all of your important onboarding forms will always be easily accessible, even years down the road.

Create training modules for every position within the company. Use training videos, how-to guides, and assessments. A simple checklist and triggering feature ensure your new employees won’t feel overwhelmed.

Include information about your culture, mission, and values in your training modules. By making culture a key component of your new employee’s experience, you’ll encourage behavior that aligns with your values. You can foster connection by assigning roles to team members to assist in the onboarding process. Each team member will receive email reminders so you know your new hires won’t fall through the cracks.

Incorporate the bonus C, Check-In, by assigning tasks to supervisors at intervals throughout the new hire’s first year. Over time, the data you collect in your onboarding software will help you improve your overall onboarding process.

Final Thoughts About the 5 C’s of Onboarding

The pandemic underscored the high cost of employee turnover, low engagement, and an uninspiring culture. When your employees are unenthusiastic, they’ll be less productive and less innovative. You’ll need more people on the payroll to get the same amount of output.

Beefing up your onboarding process is the first step to creating an inspired workforce. The investment you make in onboarding will pay dividends by creating a strong, cohesive team. Learn more with our webinar, How Effective Onboarding Boosts Your Bottom Line.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Improve Employee Experience by Starting a Book Club at Work

If you want to create a consistently, stellar employee experience at your organization (and why wouldn’t you?), then finding ways to foster personal and professional development should be an integral part of your plan. Implementing an optional office book club is a fantastic way to encourage employees to try something new, improve themselves and connect with one another.

We recently hosted our inaugural book club session at ExactHire and read Radical Candor by Kim Scott. I had wanted to start a book club internally for quite awhile, but the timing just hadn’t been right until now. However, one chance conversation with a co-worker about interesting books ignited a spark of interest and our subsequent plan to meet 1-on-1 to discuss our first book. Naturally, I advertised the opportunity to the rest of our small organization and…voila! Traction. Before I knew it, six of us were signed up and ready to read!

This plan fit in perfectly with my own new year’s resolution to read twenty-six books in 2019; however, I was more excited to connect intentionally with co-workers in other departments and share different perspectives on something new and something more universally safe. What do I mean by “safe?” When you can look at other companies’ experiences, successes and tribulations, then it’s easier to challenge convention and have a strong opinion because it’s someone else’s situation.

However, the great thing about a book club in which people organically contribute is that you naturally start applying the concepts from the books to your own work environment. With internal trust, you can reflect on what has worked well (and what hasn’t), as well as use the book to reference a common foundation for handling scenarios in the future. For example, it will be easier to be more “radically candid” with each other at ExactHire moving forward–as many of us have studied the approach for doing so together.

Why we started an office book club at ExactHire

There are so many benefits to reading, such as gaining new perspective and improving your vocabulary; however, these basic benefits are multiplied when you also have the opportunity to discuss books within a comfortable group setting. Even though we’ve only had one discussion so far, I’m already seeing internal advantages such as

  • climbing out of a creative rut that can strike during the post-holiday gloom that often characterizes mid-winter,
  • breaking down communication silos by inviting members from all departments to participate,
  • feeling more connected with each other considering we have a very remote-friendly workforce,
  • better relating to the perspectives of co-workers at different position levels,
  • higher participation rates in development because it is opt-in-oriented with low barriers to entry,
  • giving more people the chance to have a voice, and
  • providing the perfect opportunity to practice listening more effectively.

How to start your own employee book club

When planning your office book club, think about how your culture will impact the level of formality in your discussions, and whether you use consistent discussion questions or switch it up every time. Additionally, the size of your organization may determine whether it makes sense to have many cross-departmental groups or champion department-specific groups. ExactHire is a smaller company and so I will share the steps we took to launch our book club.

Download ExactHire Company Culture E-book

Generate interest and make it optional

The catalyst for our own ExactHire book club started with a conversation; however, yours may begin with a group email, a post to your company Slack channel or an agenda item in a company meeting.

Don’t write a novel of expectations for how it will operate at the onset (though some of you might think my invitation is quite lengthy below), but do emphasize to employees that the club is optional and should be educational and fun.

Office Book Club | Work | ExactHire

Stick with appropriate book genres

Give people a framework of what types of books should be expected and which genres would work best for a company book club. For example, titles about leadership, business, entrepreneurship, professional development and even some self-help books are all great options.

I recommend that the founder(s) of the book club select the very first book. Then, have all members vote on future sessions’ selections. Remember to keep book topics diverse and push yourself to read things that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on your own–that’s a significant driver for many to participate in a club so that they are accountable to expanding outside the box of their typical reading preferences.

Make it easy for people to participate

The company should buy the books (or digital titles) for participants. It’s fine to encourage people to use any existing unlimited e-book/audiobook subscriptions they may have or to check their local library first, but ultimately the organization’s investment in a few books is a small price to pay for the employee development return on investment it stands to gain.

We pay for copies of our book club books, and we offer an optional employee benefit that pays for a portion of employees’ subscriptions to an unlimited online book service in exchange for their commitment to write a book-inspired blog quarterly.

And, remember that the book club itself is an employee benefit. Don’t forget to list it as such on your employment offers and the benefits list on your career website.

Make it convenient and accessible

Plan your book club discussion for a day when there are already a lot of people in the office. For example, at ExactHire we plan our book club to immediately follow the “Monthly Nom Nom” during which we all gather to share a catered (or potluck) meal together. Since many of us frequently work remotely, this is usually the day of the month with the most people in the office (serve them food, they will come)! Be mindful that the day you schedule your event isn’t already too packed with other meetings, and consider serving a light refreshment…or caffeine boost if it is immediately following a meal.

At ExactHire, we can never have everyone available to meet in person because we have teammates from Utah to Indiana to Germany! Therefore, we use Google Meet to video conference with our truly remote employees so they can participate, too. If you need to accommodate different time zones, be as inclusive as possible when scheduling the time of day for your book club session.

Finally, be intentional about the frequency for your discussions. Does it make sense to meet for shorter discussions bi-weekly to discuss a few chapters, or longer discussions that encompass the entire book on a monthly or quarterly basis? Within our book club, we’re starting with a quarterly cadence and discussing the entire book each time.

Do basic discussion preparation

The club founder(s) should lead the first discussion and should create an editable, shared document with ideas for discussion questions. This document should be visible to participants in advance of the meeting. Invite participants to throw question ideas on the document as inspiration strikes them, too. Also, remind people about the event about a week in advance in case anyone needs an extra nudge to finish the entire book on time.

Include questions about concepts within the book, but also list questions that will cause the group to take time to apply the concepts to real life examples from your organization, too. If you struggle to come up with questions on your own, do an internet search for notes and summaries on the book you are reading, and look for discussion guides that already exist online so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This approach is particularly helpful if you are designated to lead a discussion after you listened to an audiobook while driving or working out (without the ability to take notes).

Here are some question ideas to get you started.

  • What did you encounter in this book that you weren’t expecting when you first took interest in it?
  • Which parts of this book did you dislike?
  • What is one thing you are going to implement or do differently now that you’ve read this book?
  • Pick your favorite passage/story, read it out loud to the group and explain why it’s important to you.
  • What was your “aha” moment while reading this book?
  • What was missing from the book in your opinion?
  • Thinking about the concepts within the book, how have we already applied them well within our own organization. Give examples.
  • Which book concepts do we need to better incorporate within our workplace? What are the appropriate next steps for doing so?

After the first book club event, ask for volunteers to take turns leading different future sessions. Don’t force participation, but let people rise to the occasion. When people vote on future books on a survey, consider asking them to indicate if they’d also like to lead that discussion if their suggested book is chosen.

“Don’t force participation, but let people rise to the occasion.”

Encourage active participation

Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to get a variety of people to join the discussion at ExactHire. Our first book club included comments from all participants and there was a healthy banter during a variety of questions. Of course, perhaps this was because our first book was all about candor.

If all your attendees aren’t as willing to speak up, be patient and keep discussion questions focused on the book concepts initially rather than how they specifically apply to your workplace. As confidence grows among the group, you may find that discussion naturally moves to how the concepts can be applied to your workplace. As trust grows within the group, you’ll see that more inclusive, engaging conversation emerges.

Include everyone in future book planning

At the close of your first meeting, invite everyone to send suggestions for future books to one person who will compile them into a survey so that people may vote on a winner. This person may be the designated leader of the next discussion, or a consistent point person within your organization.

I’ve already received a number of intriguing book suggestions for our next discussion in April, and I’ll be using a survey to allow employees to rank their favorites. Be sure and share your survey with the entire company for each future session in case different employees prefer to participate at different times of year. Attendance will vary based on schedules and interest in the chosen book.

There are a variety of digital tools you may use to collectively keep tabs on books of interest for future discussions as well. I enjoy gathering ideas from posts on Pinterest and podcasts and blogs. Then, I keep track of books on my “to-read” list using Goodreads–an online community of book lovers.

Happy reading!

While these steps have worked well so far for my company, don’t be afraid to experiment with different formats for your own organizational book club. Your company culture, core values and current business challenges will guide you in a direction that resonates with your own employees.

Just remember to keep it fun and leverage the events as an opportunity to foster employee development and maximize the employee experience!

cultivating-company-culture-exacthire

Say ‘No’ to HR Inertia – Make a Case for Change

Making a business case for any kind of human resources process change starts with a discussion on how the change can make the company more profitable–though identifying the improved outcomes that lead to potential profit isn’t always an easy task. Furthermore, change naysayers may be mired in the mindset of “this is how things are done around here.”

In my experience, inertia is the most formidable obstacle to adopting new HR technology. It manifests itself in many ways, and in this blog I’ll share how comments ExactHire recently collected during software research calls substantiate inertia’s insidiousness. Additionally, we’ll discuss potential responses to act on that inertia in such a way that change is possible and more profit is realized for the organization.

Software Cost

Particularly in the case of a full human resources information system (HRIS), the cost of HR technology can quickly increase as modules for many aspects of HR are adopted by employers. While cost is a common objection that derails well-intended HR departments from exploring the latest technology options, in ExactHire’s 2018 Tech-Based Employee Experience Survey, a notable 40% of respondents indicated that their budget for HR technology spending had increased over the past year. Additionally, 48% of respondents had the same budget in 2018 as the previous year. Consequently, at least the majority of respondents aren’t experiencing contracting financial resources in their quest to find affordable HR technology.

88% of respondents maintained or increased their HR technology budget in the past year.

Nevertheless, cost is often the first red flag management throws when the topic of new technology is broached. Here are some of the stumbling blocks we uncovered in our research calls:

Objections

  • “We have been using our existing HRIS for 7 years now. I have shopped other systems, but management won’t agree to move away from our current application because they feel we haven’t gotten our money’s worth yet.” – Director of Human Resources, non-profit industry
  • “Our applicant tracking system was here when I arrived and there’s not a strong desire to move to anything else within our budget. As far as onboarding goes, spreadsheets and email are not ideal, but our lower volume of hiring makes it doable.” – Director of Talent Acquisition, software industry

Approach

Get at the heart of others’ concerns about cost. For example, there should be a difference in approach if others feel you’re already overspending for current software compared to if they are content with an existing software application and not in enough “pain” to make a change that may cost more.

Armed with an understanding of others’ motivations for objecting to change, consider how your organization’s future growth plans should impact any changes you make today. Ideally, the technology you use should be capable of meeting your needs for tomorrow, too. However, the optimal scenario exists when you can scale a platform to meet those needs over time without overpaying for features you don’t need prematurely.

Do you need all the bells and whistles now? If not, is it easy to add them later? Making a case for change is easier if you plan to implement functionality over time so you aren’t drinking from the fire hose–or paying through the nose.

And while financial “hard costs” (e.g. software implementation charges, monthly access fees, etc.) are the most apparent expenses associated with technology change, motivate management to consider new technology by focusing on the opportunity cost of not making a change and its potential long-term impact, too.

Scarcity of Time and Staff Bandwidth

In the same way that scarcity of time can be an advantage in an opportunity cost discussion, it can also perpetuate inertia. For many employers, allocating the staff resources necessary to explore and implement a new software platform is usually a bigger obstacle than an increase in access fees. A significant barrier to coaxing employers away from HRIS platforms they don’t like that much is time…the time associated with the implementation process and the training that stakeholders must undergo to use a new system effectively.

And even when an HR application isn’t liked that much, inertia may still be victorious as prospects implement additional native modules (e.g. recruiting, performance management, learning management, etc.) just because they are already part of the existing system–even if the system is poorly suited to the employer’s overall needs.

Objections

  • “I don’t know if we are going to stay with our existing software vendor…the more we tap into its various modules, the harder it is to pull away from it; meanwhile, the service is poor.” – HR Generalist, retail industry
  • “I actually had another vendor come in and give us a sales pitch…but the others in the room were reluctant to consider an alternative to our existing software at this time because the idea of a three- to four-month implementation process is daunting.” – Human Resources, physician group industry
  • “We handle recruiting manually with spreadsheets and do posting to third party job boards ourselves. We have applicant tracking, onboarding and other HR components in our HRIS, but they are too difficult to set up. It’s not worth our time to set them up. We would have to hire another full-time person just to set those modules up.” – HR Manager, portfolio company management industry

Approach

While it’s human nature to avoid situations that are expected to be unpleasant or even painful, to address the “change will take too much time” objection you must focus on the long-term impact of staying with a solution that is a mismatch for your employer’s needs. This approach can be aided by hard data on how many man hours are spent working around a system, redundantly entering data and/or manually completing tasks that could be automated for better efficiency. Then, calculate the cost of those man hours to come up with a quantitative answer for considering the return on investment for a new application.

Data is the key to determining whether a short-term disruption associated with software adoption is less expensive than the financial wake left by your existing software-assisted workflow. Bear in mind this takes a fatalistic approach of HR software vendors’ ability to successfully support clients through implementation in a reasonable time. However, employers’ fear of system change can be minimized by selecting a vendor with a strong track record of timely implementation assistance and ongoing support.

What if being short on time is significantly compounded by a small HR department? While you may be able to get over the hump of increased access fees, and you’re willing to dig in to switch systems, you still only have so much staff bandwidth to get it done along with all the other fires that pop up in the world of HR.

Ask this question: If there were no budget or manpower constraints, what would we be doing differently to support our employees and our organization’s mission? Even though you may think shirking the reality of budgets is like living in a fantasy world, your brainstorm will paint a picture of the ultimate vision for employee experience and clarify which HR-related tasks are most important for organizational success. Remember: retaining the best employees supports profitability.

With true vision in mind, process stakeholders have a starting point to examine the opportunity cost of individuals’ collective time. The true priorities of the department become evident and draw attention to the resource constraint that may be created by doing things the existing way relative to the cost of implementing change.

Buy-in and Support

Lastly, the inertia of static HR processes is often maintained by a difference in perspective between HR, employees and managers. 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 intriguing 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.

Objections

  • “At the beginning of 2017, my organization needed to fill 70 open positions. We hired way more, but voluntary terminations have increased by dramatically more than the number of hires made–it’s the nature of the difficult work. In fact, we hired almost 400 people. Full time employee turnover is at 48%, and part-time turnover is an embarrassing 201%. Our management thinks we need to fix recruiting, but turnover is more attributable to poor experience. Our stats don’t lie.” – Director of HR, non-profit industry
  • “The three big barriers are: the bandwidth for our HR department to implement something new; getting buy-in from the field (it takes bandwidth to get buy-in); and, the cost to make those changes.” – Director of Human Resources, healthcare industry

Approach

Getting buy-in and support for technology change starts with HR software product owners getting on the same page as employees and senior managers. As the two comments above illustrate, different factors can be at play when it comes to stalled out tech decisions. However, the remedy for both objections starts with telling others what’s in it for them–and with language that is easy to understand.

Organizational decision makers care about the bottom line, and so remember that when attempting to alter their inert opinion on your existing software tools. 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 metrics 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 key performance indicators (KPIs) that impact business outcomes and then describe how those business outcomes can be positively changed as the result of new technology implementation.

Don’t forget to be prepared; come to management with a solution, not just a problem. Record benchmark levels for your KPIs and organize your findings in a manner consistent with how management prefers to process information and make decisions. Consider a SWOT Analysis supported by cost projections in which you are illustrating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

It’s also important to get buy-in from existing employees–particularly those who will be heavy users of new software. And, in the HR technology space, that often includes all employees when you consider the self-service options available with employee onboarding, time and record keeping, payroll and performance management interfaces.

Spread the word to gather internal support by regularly communicating about potential change, conducting research with potential users and assuring others that due diligence now will likely prevent the organization from finding itself with a need to adopt new technology later–when it’s potentially more painful to do so.

Most importantly, create triggers to constantly re-evaluate how technology is aligned with your organizational goals and how it is impacting your employee experience. Take action on lessons learned and communicate the impact of changes made to others so that your HR technology system is considered legitimate and positive to your workforce.

It Takes a Village

Don’t fall victim to the tendency to put off what you could do today until tomorrow. In addition to rallying the support of senior management and employees, look to your technology vendor to help you make a case for change.

Ask your vendor partners if they have case studies, blogs, e-books or other content that provide tips on how to make a business case, as well as specific ideas on which KPIs might be the most effective in demonstrating the financial impact of a potential change. If it’s important for your vendor to partner with you in discussions with your management team, make that request.

Daunting as new technology adoption may seem, know that you and your HR team don’t have to go it alone. Even when your existing system isn’t necessarily broken, fight the inertia of not wanting to bother with change, or not considering the exponential impact that additional efficiency may have on the employee experience.

Is Your HR Software Hurting Your Employee Experience?

Human resources technology is in a unique position to not only provide employers with employee experience data, but to also influence the quality of the employee experience, itself. For years software applications have allowed HR departments to more efficiently manage the administrative tasks associated with people management, but now through next generation interfaces, applications are enabling employee self-service in new and exciting ways, too.

From automatic prompts for new hires to schedule mentoring luncheons to instant access to an interactive, virtual organization chart, modern talent wants information on the go and on demand. But, despite the increasingly innovative ways in which automation can empower both employees and HR to process data, there should still always be a place for “actual human” engagement between applicants, employees, HR and management.

With so many options available in the HR tech space, and numerous factors impacting a successful vendor selection outcome, it’s no surprise that HR software often turns into a love-hate relationship with employers. The key to whether you have the most suitable HR software in place certainly depends on the degree to which it aligns with your people strategy, but also its ability to turn stored HR data into impactful workforce insights.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the following HR technology considerations for evaluating whether an application will have a positive impact on your organization’s overall employee experience.

  • Product implementation
  • Support and training
  • Integration vs. all-in-one
  • Employee self-service
  • Communication
  • Reporting and predictive insights

Product Implementation

You might ask how relevant the initial implementation phase is to the entire employee experience. After all, arguably it may only touch a handful of administrative users in human resources before the product is unveiled to an entire organization for use. However, how many of us have heard about painful software implementations that have taken (gasp!) more than a year!

While hopefully this is the exception more than the rule within your HR tribe, even month-long implementations can adversely impact the employee experience when you consider the hasty stop-gap plans that are used while waiting for a new product.

When selecting a technology vendor, verify whether implementation is likely to take weeks or months. Also, do research to substantiate whether this expectation has been accurate for other customers. If your plan is to implement more than one module of an application at different points in time, have a good understanding of how the vendor partner supports you in the first phase versus subsequent implementation phases (once the new client “honeymoon” may be over).

Support and Training

For many employers, the quality of the employee experience is influenced by the timeliness with which information is made available to employees upon their request. Some requests must be addressed by pulling data from HR software applications. Your organization’s ability to process these requests will depend not only on staff members’ ability to use the software effectively, but also the vendor’s responsiveness when your team needs assistance.

Take a hard look at your organization’s true support needs while thinking about the tech savviness of your own team as well as the quantity and quality of the vendor resources available. Will you be content to wait three days for a support ticket response from your vendor, or do you usually require same-day assistance? Is it easy to search for the training resources you need to learn how to use new software features? The faster you can get the information you need as an internal product champion, the faster you will be able to serve the needs of your own employees.

Integration vs. All-in-One

 

Should my organization adopt an all-in-one human resources information system (HRIS) or a series of stand-alone specialty applications?

This may be the most polarizing question in the HR technology space, and your preferred camp will depend on the needs of your employer. It may also depend on what you inherited from your predecessors when joining your organization. In fact, the chart below shows that many respondents from ExactHire’s 2018 Tech-Based Employee Experience Survey use both an HRIS and other stand-alone specialty applications. In fact, the two camps are not mutually exclusive.

  • HR Technology Product Mix
  • HRIS + stand-alone recruiting
  • HRIS + stand-alone onboarding
  • HRIS + stand-alone payroll
  • HRIS + other HR software
  • % Respondents
  • 38%
  • 8%
  • 13%
  • 22%

The following factors may help you determine which product mix is right for your organization.

Administrative pain points

Which pieces of the talent management process are taking up the most time for HR? When HR is buried in administration, “actual human” engagement suffers. If recruiting is the priority due to adding a new office location, for example, then a robust applicant tracking system may be desirable compared to a payroll company’s HRIS recruiting module. However, if hiring happens relatively infrequently but payroll is complicated, then an employer may prefer an HRIS with basic recruiting capabilities for the occasional job opening.

Data gaps and data redundancy

If end-to-end integration of data is the priority for your organization, then consider whether any sacrifices you make on features outweigh the opportunity cost of time spent on potential data export/import activities.

Or, if you plan on integrating separate solutions, understand how employees move through the virtual employment life cycle and make sure data remains accurate across systems and easily accessible.

Feature wish list

Will the functionality that applicants or existing employees expect from your organization (relative to your competitors) be available in an all-in-one system? Or, is there an application that you can use as your data change “single source of truth” that pushes information to periphery applications via one-way integration?

Growth plans

Do today’s tech needs look similar to your tech needs one to two years from now? If not, consider the scalability of any stand-alone applications and/or the ability to easily incorporate additional HRIS modules later.

Price

When evaluating different types of systems, think about what you need today and whether you are paying only for your needs today…or also for things you might need some day. Finding the balance between paying for scalability vs. paying for unnecessary feature bloat isn’t always easy. Spending more money on ultimately underutilized technology means less money available for other programs that may positively impact the employee experience.

Employee Self-Service

Customer self-service options abound in the information economy. From scanning your own groceries to using Alexa as your modern mix tape, consumers’ ability to help themselves is a killer advantage in the competition for market share. The same dynamic exists in the employment arena–employers that implement the right combination of personal interaction mixed with savvy self-service options are winners in the war for talent.

And not only does giving employees the ability to help themselves engage them, it frees HR to work on other experience initiatives. Additionally, it ensures the accuracy of HR data since it is regularly verified by the true authority on the data–the employee.

Be sure and have a clear understanding of how any software application’s self-service options may empower your own employees to do more. For example, look for applications that provide subsequent prompts for users to take advantage of other features that would be of interest based on their existing system usage or profile. By providing employees prompts to provide more information over time, software improves the user experience and avoids leaving employees feeling like they are “drinking from the fire hose” just to start using an application.

Communication

Think about your employees’ primary means of communication within the organization. Is it predominantly email, or do many conversations live in chat windows or even in Slack? Wherever correspondence lives, it probably does so because that channel is comfortable, well-established and easy-to-use.

The same must be true of your HR technology in order to engage applicants or existing employees to use communication tools to collaborate on the employee lifecycle. Consider the following questions to assess a software application’s communication tools.

  • Is it easy to email someone from the software application? And if that person responds, is his response also documented in the software interface?
  • Can users easily connect with one another and take action on pending items within the application (e.g. assign tasks, make notes, update progress)?
  • Is it possible to schedule events within the software via calendar integration?
  • Do other integrations exist between the software application, social media sites and other related third party sites?

The more your human resources technology aligns with the communication style already preferred by your employees, the better. You want the tools you make available to your workforce to enhance its productivity…not disrupt it.

Reporting and Predictive Insights

One of the most exciting aspects of smart technology is how it enables us to transform stored data into actionable information–allowing employers to spot trends and take action. Emerging HR technology goes a step further and uses artificial intelligence to analyze existing data to predict future outcomes. These predictive insights are the competitive advantage employers need to attract talent that is the best fit for the organization and retain that talent for maximum productivity.

Insights traditionally originate in the reporting dashboard of your HR software. And, the degree to which you will be able to run customized reports and use existing data to make decisions about new hires or new HR processes will vary across software applications. In fact, in the aforementioned survey, only 42% of respondents indicated they have no issues extracting the information they need from their existing HR software.

  • Reporting Ease
  • Easy to report on desired information
  • Struggle to report on desired information
  • Cannot report on desired information
  • % Respondents
  • 42%
  • 43%
  • 15%

Many HR professionals regularly struggle to pull the reports they need even though the data is stored in their system somewhere. Causes of this struggle are often attributable to

  • siloed data living in different systems that are not integrated,
  • a complex HRIS that doesn’t have an easy-to-use reporting interface,
  • redundant data between system modules that is up-to-date in one module but not the other, or
  • having access only to canned reports without the ability to build custom reports on demand.

Your software shouldn’t be holding your employee data hostage.

Best-in-class HR technology gives administrative users access to a virtual workforce explorer to pull incredibly specific data insights on their employee population. Additionally, look for more functionality to marry data from one aspect of the employee life cycle to another to make better decisions. For example, do insights about your best performing existing employees allow you to better vet applicants with similar attributes? More specifically, does your software application prompt you to easily make those correlations?

Alleviating the Pain to Improve Employee Experience

Employees’ opinions about their own experience constantly evolve, and even the smallest radar blips can cause significant declines in satisfaction and engagement over time. The good news is that human resources technology is your tool for measuring the employee experience and capturing insights on how to improve it.

If you have reservations about your current system, then use the considerations presented in this blog to begin evaluating your next steps for incorporating HR software that is better suited to your organization. In our next blog, we’ll address strategies for making a business case for new technology adoption.