When you think about where you spend the bulk of your time in the employee recruiting process, is a big chunk reserved for a certain type of position? If so, this role is probably an evergreen job.
Just as an evergreen tree appears green and alive all year long, evergreen positions require a constant flow of candidates because they experience high turnover and/or are positions that a large percentage of employees occupy. As a result, many companies keep these requisitions perpetually open on their job listings page in order to populate the candidate pipeline.
Evergreen jobs and turnover
Sourcing a steady flow of candidates to fill evergreen roles is essential–they are the positions critical to business success. Industries such as restaurant, healthcare, retail, call center and non-profit regularly source applicants for evergreen jobs such as server, home health aid, cashier, customer service representative and direct support professional.
Organizations often struggle with high turnover in these positions due to factors such as
- the role being available on a part-time basis more frequently than full-time,
- job seasonality (or seasonal availability of candidates),
- low barriers to entry that make it easy for candidates to get a similar job elsewhere, and
- low unemployment leading to more accessible wage increases at competitive employers.
Evergreen job hiring challenges
Hiring employees to fill evergreen positions can be tricky for a variety of reasons.
If you tend to keep the same job listings open all the time while regularly hiring candidates, it’s easy to unintentionally skew reporting in the name of ease. While the same job listing ID may remain open for a year (which can save time on reposting the job every few months), it will be harder to report on which referral sources, job description text (if you tweak it frequently with overwrites) and other factors lead to the successful hiring of multiple individuals because they are all tied to the same requisition. A good rule of thumb is to close out an existing evergreen requisition when a candidate is hired for that role, and then use the previous requisition as a template for easily creating a new one.
Job boards vs. organic search
While external job boards such as Glassdoor and Indeed favor fresh job listing IDs that aren’t reposted too frequently, search engines like Google spotlight tenured job description pages that have evergreen content (e.g. new imagery, comments, video, and other structured data). So what’s the right answer? Temporary job listing ID pages or persistent job description overviews?
You can benefit from both. Use your applicant tracking system to refresh a job listing for an evergreen role by closing old job listing IDs and using them as a template to create a duplicate job listing (with a new ID) every 60-90 days. Then, consider adding evergreen content pages within your ATS portal or on your corporate website that
- list details about what to expect in the role,
- answer frequently asked questions about the job,
- highlight video testimonials from other employees in that position, and
- link to a list of the job listing(s) currently open for that role.
With the dual approach, job seekers stand to find your recently posted job listing on external job boards, as well as via keyword-specific search queries on search engines.
Hiring compliance can be impacted
Care should be taken with determining how the frequency of evergreen requisition posting may impact an employer’s Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) compliance efforts. If the same job listing ID is kept open for an entire year–and we assume at least one candidate is hired from that requisition–then the entire year’s worth of internet applicants must be included in the applicant pool considered for adverse impact. In contrast, if a single requisition is kept open for only one quarter, and only one person is hired during that time, then the pool for adverse impact analysis is smaller which is generally preferable.
By periodically opening new requisitions–even when a hire does not take place in a period of 60 or 90 days–employers put themselves in a better position for compliance and limit their exposure. NOTE: If no applicants from a quarter’s requisition are hired, then the job ID can be closed and none of the applicants must be reported in the AAP data.
Managers at different locations
In the world of evergreen hiring, the location at which a future employee may work when he first applies to an evergreen position isn’t always apparent. And, depending on the industry and size of organization, different hiring managers likely manage candidate screening and/or interviewing at various locations.
Unless internal expectations are clearly set about how managers access a candidate pool that may be shared by different branches, the candidate experience could be hampered by poor communication from a variety of different locations vying for the same candidate. This can be exacerbated in a tight labor market with low unemployment as general managers compete for workers in high turnover, hourly, part-time positions.
Within the retail and restaurant industries, in which some brands have both corporate and franchise-owned stores, careful attention must be paid to limiting franchisor access to job applicants for franchisee-owned locations in order to avoid vicarious liability. When implementing hiring technology in this situation, it’s critical to understand how different applicant pools will be separated for administrators. At the same time, it’s important to avoid a confusing application process for job seekers who perceive all locations to be one brand.
Best practices for managing evergreen positions
Now that we’ve reviewed considerations for posting and managing evergreen positions, let’s cover best practices to improve the chances of your success in hiring individuals for these roles.
Understand what causes turnover
Only by analyzing factors that cause your employees to leave, will you be able to adjust their experience to prolong tenure and benchmark success. Consider the impact of job factors such as your organization’s
- work schedule flexibility
- pay rate relative to competitors
- ability to communicate the proximity of public transportation, and
- opportunities for continuous learning and advancement.
With an understanding of the primary drivers of turnover, you can re-imagine the employment experience to mitigate these factors. Proactively communicate how you address these items with job seekers in your career content and utilize an applicant tracking system that makes it easy for job candidates to search positions near their bus route. For example, the new hiring software platform that ExactHire is building allows candidates to optionally enter their address to see nearby locations with open job suggestions.
Set internal expectations about hiring efficiency
Recruiters will have a greater impact on organizational success when they rally hiring managers around what to expect from the hiring process. These conversations include topics such as
- what the hiring market looks like and which factors impact organizational turnover (e.g. what it’s going to take to keep employees),
- the current velocity of hire and a reasonable expectation for number of hiring processes that can be managed successfully at once (e.g. should we hire more recruiters or consider Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)?),
- how promptly assigning statuses to candidates and entering hire dates in an ATS is critical to calculating time to hire and team efficiency,
- the ideal dollar amount to plan for employee attrition in the operating budget, and
- how to manage headcount appropriately–is it a set number of positions per job opening or can it flexibly fluctuate depending on need?
Consider job listing duration
Close out aging job listing IDs at least every three months or whenever you make a hire for the position–whichever is sooner. The impact of this practice is two-fold:
- By separating batches of applicants for an evergreen job into 90-day chunks–each with its own separate requisition–you limit the likelihood that the OFCCP will take a closer look at your data in an AAP audit because your data pool is smaller (i.e. a separate pool for each job listing ID) and therefore not likely to be statistically significant.
- By reposting evergreen jobs periodically with new job IDs, you’re ensuring that the posting date appears relatively recent to potential job applicants. However, even a 30-day old position may deter eager job seekers. Consider including text that describes the role as an evergreen position within the body of your job description. By letting candidates know that you’re always sourcing for this position, they will be less likely to overlook a couple-month-old job listing.
Create a landing page for evergreen jobs
To balance the effects of reposting job listing IDs on a quarterly basis, give your evergreen roles a surge of search engine optimization (SEO) by creating permanent job overview pages (on either your ATS or your corporate website) for the positions that are always (or soon to be) in supply. Include page elements such as
- relevant keyword-rich content in headers and body text
- video testimonials from employees in the same role
- a frequently asked question section to answer common job-related inquiries
- an overview of the steps involved in the hiring process
- the unique benefits of the position, and
- call-to-action buttons directing page visitors to a filtered list of the specific requisitions currently available for this type of role.
Reduce hiring funnel friction
Put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker and assess whether it is easy to find your jobs, easy to apply and easy to communicate with recruiters and hiring managers. While making the selection process efficient is a priority for any kind of job, it is mission critical for evergreen positions since a large volume of candidates must be sourced to meet the company’s hiring needs.
- Easy to find – Easily share your job listings to external job boards and social media streams within a modern applicant tracking system, but also consider paid recruitment marketing avenues such as retargeting display ads that show content to job seekers who previously interacted with your employment brand.
- Easy to apply – Utilize two-step applications to allow candidates to provide the basics in the first half of the application process. Shortening an application’s first phase will drive better applicant conversion. Also, select pre-employment assessments that don’t require too much time for an applicant to complete when presented at the point of application. Longer assessments can be utilized later in the selection process.
- Easy to communicate – Meet job seekers where they are…which often is on their phone rather than a laptop. Incorporate text messaging into the candidate communication process as many individuals interested in evergreen jobs may be screening their calls and failing to set up their voicemail inboxes.
Incorporate pre-employment testing
Know what employee success in your evergreen roles looks like by assessing your current superstars and distilling their results down to the key traits that most heavily predict performance. Then, benchmark for these traits by creating a model profile within your employee assessment tool and use the assessment at the point of application or before a formal interview. To determine placement within the hiring process, consider the impact of a cognitive or behavioral testing tool vs. a job skills testing resource on your candidate funnel–which type(s) would produce the most compelling outcomes?
Nurture your evergreen pipeline
Since employers are always sourcing candidates for evergreen jobs, they must experiment with innovative approaches to engaging past applicants and attracting new job seekers. Create a special experience for people who are interested in being a part of your organization by inviting them to your talent community. These are the individuals who keep raising their hand with continued interest, like your recruiting content on social media and respond to your recruitment marketing efforts.
Here are some ideas for engaging them as applicant VIPs:
- Use tags within your applicant tracking system to highlight their interest so that you may invite them to apply to specific job listing IDs as roles in their evergreen area of interest open at locations near them.
- Invite them to opt in to an applicant insider newsletter with articles about new roles, culture and organizational goals.
- Invite them to join a social media group focused on careers at your organization.
- Create targeted recruitment marketing campaigns that reinvigorate their interest in your organization.
Although your organization has roles which will always be evergreen, your approach to sourcing candidates for these jobs will be ever changing.
Want to learn more? Download our guide!
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.
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.
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!
Whether your team’s hiring its first remote employee or its 79th, don’t skimp on putting thoughtful intention behind your new hire onboarding program for remote workers.
Go ahead, pick out your worst fear about hiring remote workers below.
- If I can’t see them, will they just do their laundry instead of work?
- Our employees need to be “on” during our regular working hours, how can they if they’re roaming coffee houses around Europe with a 6-hour time difference?
- Company culture and connectivity will suffer if we can’t play ping pong in person together, won’t it?
Did you have trouble picking just one? That’s okay, so did ExactHire when we started allowing employees to work remotely over seven years go. Our organization has come a long way since then, and–with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic–we have adopted the mentality of “remote first.” That is, truly distributing the workforce in such a way that remote work is the default setting–not just an option available to some. SaaS companies like StackOverflow and HelpScout are worth further investigation if you’re considering this cultural pivot for your employer
Remote first = distributing your workforce in such a way that remote work is the default mode.
Another relevant read is Remote: Office Not Required by Basecamp Co-Founders, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This book details Basecamp’s evolution into a remote first organization, including both the pitfalls and unexpected wins along the way. There’s no shortage of inspiration on how to make remote working arrangements possible for your organization these days.
In this post, I’ll focus on how to not screw up employee onboarding once you’ve committed to hiring a new fully-remote employee. For someone who is brand new to your organization and away from the office from the start, consider these items for your onboarding checklist.
1 – Make expectations and goals crystal clear
In the absence of in-person onboarding activities, picking up on body language and being a bystander to water cooler talk is more challenging. Therefore, organizations should put themselves in the shoes of new hires and brainstorm the details that new employees won’t necessarily absorb on their own.
Being transparent about expected working hours (despite time zone of new hire), explaining how organizational culture manifests itself and sharing milestone targets about what job success looks like at three months, six months and beyond are just a few of many possible details.
For example, in Remote, the authors talk about how it’s important for Basecamp to give its new hires a heads up that they may be bombarded by social media follower requests when joining the organization. Because their company is remote first, it has become common for employees to connect with one another on social media in order to get to know each other more quickly in the absence of traditional face time in the office.
2 – Make over communication a way of life
Nothing can trip up a remote working arrangement more quickly than a shortage of sufficient communication. If your company wants to make remote work work, then you need to embrace many modes of communication (“different strokes for different folks”) and in particular, abundant written communication.
Particularly if your remote employees are spread across different time zones, a bigger portion of your company’s internal communication will be asynchronous–with employees reading email, chat messages and Slack updates anywhere from minutes to hours after they are originally sent.
To amplify the effectiveness of asynchronous communication, be clear about your needs and consider capturing screenshots and creating short videos to better explain tasks and challenges to co-workers when big time zone differences diminish the ability to connect in real time.
Consider your communication culture and whether it makes sense to go to the extent of asking people to update their status when away from Slack, instant messenger, etc. While ExactHire doesn’t quite go this far, we do have an internal document that lists general working hours for all employees since individual availability varies widely depending on the day of the week.
3 – Organization is everything
While we’ve already established that communication is critical, committing to written communication goes deeper than the one-off messages and company announcements that happen on a daily basis. In the same way that ExactHire maintains a support knowledge base full of training documents for our customers about our products, employers with remote workers have an even greater responsibility than traditional employers to document policies, project statuses and resources in an internal knowledge base.
And, it’s not just about basic documentation, but also the style or approach you take for documentation and communication. For example, at a previous employer I was quickly indoctrinated into the organizational norm of referring to all employees by just their initials in written communication, as well as the practice of hiding unwieldy URL addresses behind anchor text in interoffice emails. Mind you, this was a decade ago…before it was a tech-based cultural norm to go to such formatting lengths.
Internal consistency in communication supports effective organization.
Additionally, having easy-to-use tools to track items is essential. For example, in addition to Slack, ExactHire has leveraged platforms such as Google Docs, Trello, Basecamp and Jira for internal collaboration on a daily basis in recent years.
4 – Paperless employee onboarding
For both new hires and existing staff members, the employee onboarding process is full of opportunities to miss details. Take the pressure off of remembering which employees should be prompted to complete which new hire documents, tasks and forms by leveraging employee onboarding software.
An effective onboarding platform automatically presents the right paperwork, onboarding tasks and training prompts to different new hires based on factors such as their geographic location, FLSA status, security clearance and role type. Because additional to-do items are only presented to new hires and internal onboarding process stakeholders when certain basic prerequisites are already satisfied earlier in the process, the experience for the new hire is positive and stress for the staff member is minimal.
5 – Create inspiration with preparation
It’s stressful enough for a new hire on her first day at a new job in a traditional office. Now imagine how much more awkward a remote employee’s first day on the job can be if the employer is unprepared for her arrival.
Prepare new hires to hit the ground running quickly by sharing a super detailed onboarding plan and training schedule with them before their first day. Include links to your internal knowledge base and make resources for additional learning easy to find and searchable. This written documentation will easily fill the gaps between video conference calls and virtual job shadowing sessions with co-workers.
From a hardware standpoint, outfit new employees with the equipment they need to start work on day one. Your approach to this will vary depending on whether you ship a computer, phone, headset, etc. to your remote employees or have a policy in place that allows them to bring their own device (BYOD) to work. Regardless of your approach, make sure that all equipment and software access follows internal security protocols and that new hires are trained on how to handle secure data and what to do in the event of a breach.
Be sure to give new hires access to relevant communication groups, recurring calendar events and internal online resources in time for their first day–along with instructions or a description of each item’s objective. There’s no quicker way to alienate your remote employees than to forget to add them to your monthly all-hands meeting call, and then interrupt it fifteen minutes in to invite them to join last late.
6 – Tell your culture story
Fostering connectivity can be a struggle in a remote-driven workplace–especially in an organization that has transitioned from a traditional in-person office to a distributed workforce. While veteran employees instinctively understand the core values, mission and unwritten ways of doing things, newly hired remote employees won’t become a thread in the organizational tapestry without understanding its roots and also being prompted to share their own background.
Create a series of videos about key aspects of the company’s past that can be embedded into the onboarding process. Host a monthly company trivia session where employees log into Google Meet or Skype to answer questions and compete for swag.
Telling the organizational story to new hires is a best practice, but savvy employers will also build in the opportunity for its diverse new employees to make their own mark and share their own background. This might be accomplished with a virtual employee directory that features fun facts about new hires; or, occasional “lunch and learn” webinars that invite new employees to do a show and tell about their own city/country or hobbies and interests.
7 – Promote peer mentoring
Mentoring is not a new concept for employee onboarding; however, adopting it as a practice for a remote workforce is an emerging trend. From job shadows with veteran employees in a new hire’s first few days to monthly milestone check-ins with a designated “buddy,” virtual mentoring has a great deal of possibility for remote-friendly workplaces.
When creating a virtual mentoring program, account for factors that may influence likely success between mentor and mentee; such as, time zone difference, job role, interests and behavioral tendencies as evident from an employee assessment.
Take 1-on-1 mentoring a step further and invite mentors and mentees to quarterly tweet-ups or video conferences in which newer hires have a forum in which they can ask questions of mentors in real-time and within a group format. By listening to the questions and answers of peers, as well, new hires will likely shorten their own learning curve.
8 – Make time for face time
When done right, remote work allows employees to focus for longer periods of time without interruption. While distractions may occur in both the office and at home, there’s a distinct difference between immediately responding to someone knocking on your door versus waiting a few minutes to finish a task before responding to an email.
Utilize video conference platforms such as Zoom or GoToMeeting to allow all employees to synchronously connect whenever the need arises. Perhaps your cultural norm is even to ask employees to always use video chat rather than voice-only phone calls when connecting for a meeting. However, when planning such video calls, and to be considerate of potential time zone differences, be intentional with the time allotted to focus on social connectivity rather than just covering things that might be more efficiently discussed via email.
Even in modern, 100% remote first workplaces, there’s a place for in-person interaction. Many employers that have largely distributed workforces still make time at least once per year to gather in person for social connection–as an entire organization. And while this type of event can inflate the company travel line item significantly, that is the tradeoff between having the overhead attributable to a physical office location versus employing a remote first approach. If that approach would break your budget, then consider smaller meetups between departments instead.
9 – Feed off of feedback
Emojis were once reserved for text-happy teenagers lamenting their latest breakup; however, in recent years they’ve earned their place as a remote work mainstay because they help express tone and emotion in a situation that might otherwise omit context for one’s mood.
And while it might still be a stretch for some to include them in email messaging, they thrive in messaging platforms such as Slack. And, they’re particularly helpful in a remote workforce when employees may have never met in person and do not yet understand the nuances of their peers’ personalities. Emojis are one way of leveraging feedback on a micro level so that remote employees can gauge how they’re communicating or performing.
On a macro level, employers hiring remote employees must give and receive feedback early and often throughout the onboarding process.
- Gather new hire input in the pre-boarding phase to make sure that incoming employees have a firm grasp of the resources available to them to get started.
- Hold virtual town hall meetings for new hires three months into their employment tenure for ideas on how to improve remote employee onboarding.
- Make sure that supervisors have a regular cadence of offering constructive feedback to direct reports throughout the first year of employment, especially.
Successful Remote Employee Onboarding
Make your objective to create experiences in which remote employees feel as assimilated and supported as traditional in-office employees. Remember that it will take some experimentation, careful hiring and an open mind. If you don’t get it exactly right the first time, gather feedback to make an adjustment and try, try again!