Having the right people on board and engaged is every business owner's dream.
The people you hire and retain will make or break your company's success. That's why your hiring and onboarding processes are vital to the growth of your company and, if done effectively, can really jumpstart your business to the next level. How do you build these processes so they attract, engage and retain the right talent?
At Trusty Oak, we are 100% remote, which makes it imperative to have the methods in place to hire and retain the right people. We have created a hiring process that allows us to be highly confident in the new people we bring on, as well as an onboarding process that shows the new hire they made the right decision to join our team. We used the tools at our disposal in surprising and innovative ways to make it happen. Here's an overview of our process and the best practices we've found to be essential.
Hiring: Connect, Engage, and Follow-Through
Hiring and tracking a pipeline of interested candidates can quickly become overwhelming for a small business. Our hiring strategy all boils down to a few key factors we aim to do with every applicant:
- Engage, and
We respond to every application, send out monthly email newsletters, touch base periodically and give every applicant an understanding of where they are in our process. It may sound easy, but as the number of incoming applications continues to grow you can easily lose control.
In order to effectively and efficiently track applicants, we turned to HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales software, as our applicant tracking system (ATS). We already used this for marketing and sales, so we decided to treat applicants as a "deal" and allow them to flow through a process made up of stages similar to how we track our sales prospects. Sales leads follow a sales pipeline, so we created an "applicant pipeline" comprised of all the stages an applicant goes through in our hiring process.
HubSpot allows us to track an application from when we receive it to when we make a final decision. Each applicant has their own record, which holds all the information we have pertaining to them: resume, cover letter, notes, emails, even records of phone calls and website actions they've taken. We can also easily reference any exchange of communication that happened at any point. Applicants flow through our process and it is clearly visible what stage they're in, helping ensure we are active and connecting with everyone, even when we aren’t hiring.
Our strategy is to keep people engaged and moving through so that we can have a quick turn around time when we need to bring someone on board. It is difficult to forecast our needs far in advance, as clients can come out of nowhere at any time (which is a good thing!). In order to be prepared, we are always accepting applications and we "park" applicants who have been reviewed and marked as qualified in the "pending opportunity" stage. These applicants have all expressed interest and meet our criteria, and we have them listed and poised as soon as we have an opening.
Having a number of qualified and interest applicants waiting to work with you makes for a much easier hiring process. You have people genuinely interested in working for you, meaning you don’t have to settle for someone who isn't an ideal fit. Connecting and engaging with applicants represents so many good things for your company: that you care, you are organized, you have processes in place, etc. Demonstrating this kind of follow-through sets you and a potential new hire off on the right foot.
Onboarding: Showcasing Your Business
Onboarding is the prime time to showcase your business to a new hire: culture, expectations, resources, and tools. Having a structured workflow so a new person doesn’t feel lost or confused conveys the right message from the get-go. This is the time to demonstrate why this new team member made the right choice in coming to work for you and to solidify their expectations of your company.
It can be very daunting thinking of everything you need to train someone new on, especially in a small business where many team members wear several hats and carry the knowledge of multiple different aspects of the business. Of course, there is training that can only be done on the job. But there are also standardized company processes and applications that should be built into universal training. Providing a universal, standardized onboarding program makes people more productive and improves performance all around.
From Manual Inefficiency to Automated Workflows
Initially, when a new team member was hired with Trusty Oak, we would prepare and send out the paperwork, manually create their email account, add them to all accounts and schedule a call to walk them through every program, application and method we use. While this was an effective approach, it was not efficient. As you can imagine, one person ended up spending an incredible amount of time having the exact same conversation with every new hire.
As we continued to grow, we recognized this was a bottleneck that needed to be changed. It was time to delegate some of this work to technology! We invested in Rippling, a software that handles all our employee info across HR, IT, legal and finance. This allows us to initiate all new paperwork and accounts with a few clicks of a button.
Next, we created a standardized training board on Trello with a library of organized videos and tasks a new hire can walk through at their own pace. These aren’t your ordinary, boring, corporate how-to training videos either: we use Loom, a free screen and video recording software. This adds a human element to our videos, since Loom allows a team member to record a live screen demo walking through the application or document they are teaching. The new hire feels more connected to their virtual team from the outset because they're seeing team member faces, they're receiving detailed instruction they can revisit as needed, and they're immediately connected to team communication tools. These videos act as a valuable resource that they can reference at any point.
Lastly, we assign each new hire a mentor: a current team member who can answer any questions and guide them through our onboarding process. This resource adds an additional personal touch. As a remote company, our intention is for new hires to feel welcomed and know they have help should they need it. It’s easy to feel alone when working in a remote environment, so we strive to make every team member feel connected.
What's Your Process?
Hiring and onboarding are slightly different for every company, but the principles remain the same. Applicants are the key to growing your business and they need to be treated as such: it's vital to communicate and interact with them. The ones that hang around will likely be your best hires. Onboarding is your first impression and a crucial one at that. Your onboarding needs to engage and excite your new team member.
In the end, these two processes are what provide you with your most valuable resource: your people.