Four steps to ensure your team’s not dropping the ball at the five-yard line

Four steps to ensure your team’s not dropping the ball at the five-yard line

Sapling onboarding fumble

This post was written by Andy Crebar, co-founder of Sapling

We’ve all seen things slip through the cracks during the hand-off of a new hire from the Recruitment team to the People Operations team.

The change of a start date, the wrong personal email address, the incorrect manager or buddy assigned – there are several mishaps that can occur during the recruitment process.

For the Recruitment and People Operations team it might seem immaterial if not orchestrated smoothly, but for a new hire, it can feel like a disaster and leave a lasting impression.

As OfficeVibe’s Alison Robins noted in Why Recruiters Need to Measure Employee Loyalty, nurturing employee loyalty is like building an army of recruiters for your company – it develops your employer brand and can help build pipeline.

If you’re serious about investing in the candidate experience and building a strong employee referral program, here are 4 steps that you should consider for your company’s employee onboarding process.

1. Recognize the problem (and opportunity)

Driving referrals and word of mouth about your company as an employer of choice is an exceedingly powerful tool, but it can work for or against you.

Transitions are important times when small actions can have a disproportionately large impact on results, and the onboarding experience is the first opportunity to build trust with your company’s future leaders.

Showing them your company’s personality and that your care about their long term success can go a long way to strengthen their affinity and belonging.

With a structured program, employees are 58% more likely to be with your company after three years.
onboarding sapling people ops

2. Make sure you have the right People Ops team

If you’re serious about hiring and retaining top talent, it’s mission critical to identity and allocate a person (or team) whose core focus is to ensure your headcount growth is planned and onboarded effectively.

You may have heard the term “People Ops”, which was pioneered by Google as one of the first companies to specialize the HR function.  The People Operations department is all about supporting the people within the organization.

A common mistake is tasking your rockstar office manager with People Operations responsibilities, but not providing them with the adequate structure or authority to make decisions.

What makes a good People Operations team? We like to say that they should be like Gumby – positive, flexible and open to change.

This comes in handy for constantly improving programs and processes through the highs and lows of your company’s growth.

3. Help them achieve their goals

As a recruiter, your goals typically focus on recruiting high-quality talent, closings against hiring targets and focusing on the candidate experience.

But once the offer has been signed, there is a critical handover process that often falls over – leaving the candidate with whiplash from the re-adjustment in expectations from a candidate to a new employee.

Unfortunately (and fortunately!), Glassdoor has brought transparency to the talent market – meaning any problems in the onboarding process can be found by candidates, and become an input into their decision-making process on whether to accept an offer.  

sapling onboarding 3

What does this mean for you – recognize that your key goals are different to the People Operations team, and focus on helping them achieve theirs first.

Streamlined the manual process: The People Operations team should ensure a consistent process for every new hire that joins the organization – this means no surprises from new hires not getting what they need to succeed.

Support First day management: First day interactions and experiences are always amplified, so People Operations should have a plan to manage every part of the new hire’s first day. Recruiters can support People Operations by providing a welcoming handoff and clear expectations.

Ensure you both hold the manager accountable: The People Ops team is there to support new hires, not set their goals and workload. Make sure you provide a clear line of site to who is responsible and that you both hold them accountable for new hire success.

The sooner you start supporting them to be successful in the handoff – the sooner you’ll be able to achieve repeatable success.

In the same way you’re held accountable for the average time to fill a job requisition, you should hold the People Operations team accountable for the average time to fully-onboard a new hire.

4. Get aligned on the fumbles – it’s a team effort

The best onboarding programs are well-run machines that support new hires to be fully engaged and contributing as soon as possible.

As we mentioned in A Google Sheet is Not an Onboarding Program – error prone manual systems that lack alignment around key stakeholders will inevitably cause a Monday morning cluster when a new hire arrives by surprise because after someone missed that email two weeks ago.

sapling onboarding 2

Stopping these fumbles starts with establishing clear communication expectations around who does what, by when.

Building a tight feedback loop for recruitment and people operations ensures you can quickly debug what’s working, and more importantly – what’s not working.

Establish clear avenues and opportunities for people to provide their input – whether it’s informally through a happy hour or a specialized survey – the key is to intentionally focus on gathering feedback and improving your company’s onboarding program.

Making it happen

It’s a huge win for new hires entering your organization when there is a structured and repeatable process in place that ensures that can reach their full potential.

Without it, the first few weeks for a new hire can become like navigating a new city without your iPhone – you don’t know what to focus on, where to go or how to get there – and end up just walking around looking for things to do.

Employee onboarding is the first cultural impression you’re going to make on your future star employee.

Make it a good one.

Andy Crebar Sapling

Andy Crebar is a co-founder of Sapling, which helps high growth companies support new hire success and manage the chaos of employee onboarding. They believe that if you give people the right tools and support, they have the best opportunity to reach their full potential.

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