It’s Not How You Recruit, It’s How You Onboard: 6 Ways Your Employee Experience Needs to Change

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pinsNearly half of employers say it is taking them longer to fill jobs today than at any other period in the post-industrial era, and 60 percent of employers directly attribute this fact to a tough hiring environment, according to a 2018 survey by Harris Poll, SilkRoad Technology, and CareerBuilder.

In a competitive market — where 51 percent of employees continue to apply to positions even after they’ve received an offer and 67 percent of employers report almost a quarter of new hires not showing up after accepting a position, according to the survey — a candidate’s first introduction to your company is pivotal. If they aren’t impressed, they may not finish applying, accept an offer, or even come to work on their scheduled first day.

In this environment, companies must do everything they can during the recruiting process to show candidates how much they value employees.

Talent Is in High-Demand in a Tight Labor Market

In a labor market that is increasingly candidate-centric, employers need to hire from the candidate’s perspective. They must understand what top talent wants in a recruitment and new employee experience, or else risk losing both candidates and current employees to competitors.

Employees are the backbone of every company, regardless of industry. It is imperative that organizations demonstrate their understanding of this fact to both potential and existing employees. When a company doesn’t embrace an employee-centered approach, recruiting, retention, productivity, and engagement are likely to suffer.

The unemployment rate in the US has been dropping steadily over the past few years, reaching its lowest point in 50 years last October and hovering under 4 percent since then. Projections suggest the economy and job growth will remain strong. This tight labor market impacts all companies and industries in a variety of ways.

In terms of recruiting, talented job seekers have more leverage. With more job opportunities and a strong economy, a candidate has more options and can afford to scrutinize prospective employers much more heavily. The fight for talent is only going to intensify as the unemployment rate remains low, and employers need to meet job seekers’ continuously evolving expectations if they are to attract and retain the right candidates.

Recruiting for retention starts with streamlining and customizing the hiring process. Sixty-eight percent of employees believe their experience as a candidate reflects how the company treats its people, and 43 percent of employees say they have higher expectations for how employers treat them as a candidate given the current hiring environment, according to the SilkRoad survey.

In short, employers are facing an evolve-or-die moment when it comes to managing talent pools.

6 Ways to Change Your Recruiting Process to Attract and Retain Talent

1. Make the Application Fast, Easy, and Convenient

The experience a candidate has completing a job application on your website or career portal can drastically shift how they view you as an employer. Employees today are easily frustrated and won’t hesitate to abandon the recruiting process when an application is cumbersome and repetitive.

Among the top five frustrations candidates have with the job search process, applications that take too long and applications that require both uploading a resume and manually completing fields were respectively the second- and third-most commonly cited in the SilkRoad survey. One in five candidates won’t finish an application if it takes more than 10 minutes to complete.

2. Communicate Early and Often With Applicants

More than half of the employees (55 percent) surveyed said they would give up on a job if they hadn’t heard back from an employer within two weeks of applying. Candidates want transparency, and 82 percent of them expect employers to provide clear timelines for the hiring process and keep them updated throughout. As consumers, they receive plenty of emails, confirmations, and notices from companies, so they expect a similar stream of communication as candidates.

3. Go Mobile and Automate

The number of candidates applying to jobs via mobile devices is growing, so a mobile-friendly application is critical to standing out as a prospective employer. Similarly, automating recruitment touchpoints to let candidates know their applications have been received and what kind of timeline to expect moving forward will keep you in good graces with talent while making your recruiting team’s job much easier. Stepping up frequency of communication with candidates is key to keeping them interested as well.

4. Don’t Leave Candidates Hanging

While the standard operating procedure of recruiting has always been to let candidates know they have been declined only once an offer has been accepted, today’s candidates demand speedier communication. Employees aren’t used to waiting for consumer brands like Amazon, Uber, and Netflix to keep them updated, and they don’t want to be kept waiting by you, either.

5. Start Onboarding Before Day One

Many employers start a new hire’s first day with paperwork, but this can all be done before the employee sets foot in the office. Providing onboarding materials ahead of time gives an employee a chance to review the documents on their own terms and make careful decisions about insurance, benefits, and other important matters.

Open communication with the hiring manager prior to the start date also gives an employee a chance to ask logistical questions about their first day — e.g., travel tips, where to park, whom they’ll meet, where they’ll eat lunch. Small details can make a big difference for an employee, turning their first day jitters into excitement and hope rather than anxiety and frustration.

6. Purposefully Integrate New Hires Into Their Roles and the Company Culture for Long-Term Engagement

Many companies fail to foster engagement from day one with strategic onboarding. The value a company places on its employees is communicated through its employee experience — i.e., how it orients and acculturates employees through onboarding. Tackling transactional elements ahead of day one allows an employee to focus on what will truly make them a strong contributor to their role, their department, and the company’s growth overall.

Nine percent of employees have left a company because of a poor onboarding experience, and 37 percent of employees don’t think their manager played a critical role in supporting their onboarding experience, according to the SilkRoad survey. Truly strategic onboarding needs to be honed by company executives and leaders. Making the onboarding relevant to the company is important, too. For example, video game developer NCSOFT customized a new employee portal using characters and language from its games, thereby enveloping new hires in the company culture right from the start.

As companies have learned to leverage digital assets and capabilities to learn more about their customers’ preferred experiences, many have also come to realize how their internal experiences correlate to their external ones. In layman’s terms, there is a strong relationship between engaged employees and satisfied customers.

Lilith Christiansen is vice president, onboarding solutions, at SilkRoad Technology.

Read more in Onboarding

Lilith Christiansen, vice president, onboarding solutions, brings more than 20 years of consulting experience to SilkRoad, having established a reputation as an industry expert, author, and speaker. At SilkRoad, Lilith leads a team dedicated to partnering with SilkRoad customers to develop world-class strategic onboarding practices and programs that transform their employee experiences and drive business outcomes. The onboarding solutions team helps organizations build better employee experiences and drive retention by connecting all the onboarding experiences throughout the employee lifecycle. Prior to joining SilkRoad, Lilith served as vice president of the organizational development practice group at Kaiser Associates, coleading deep analytical and business performance perspective projects to help leading companies succeed against organizational development challenges. She coauthored the best-selling business book "Successful Onboarding," one of the first books to outline methodologies for creating strategic onboarding programs on a global scale to unlock hidden values from talent bases.