Webinar Transcript

What's Really "New" about the New Normal:

Which HR Practices Will Need to Change (and Which Won’t)

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The following is the transcript from our webinar with Sapling called What’s Really “New” about the New Normal: Which HR Practices Will Need to Change (and Which Won’t)

Ciara Slattery

We’re here today to talk about what’s really new about the new normal. Which HR practices will need to change and which won’t. And our webinar today is brought to you by two companies: Talentcare and Sapling. Talentcare focus in the recruiting and hiring space, and Sapling focus in the people office management space. And to tell you a little bit more about what these two companies do, we are joined by two great speakers today, who I’m going to leave introduce themselves. So first of all, we have Eric.

Eric Smith

Hello, everyone. My name’s Eric Smith, I’m the CEO and Founder of Talentcare. We started the company about eight years ago, and very pleased to be here with you today.

Ciara Slattery

And Andy?

Andy Crebar

Yeah, hey, good morning, everybody. My name’s Andy Crebar. I’m just resolving my video issues, so apology you can’t see me just in the moment, but I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Sapling. Our mission is to help people build their companies. Now, we’re lucky enough to work with hundreds of incredible companies around the world, and we really focus on providing incredible employee onboarding experiences and setting up people for long-term success as part of the organization. I’m really happy to be here today with Ciara and Eric.

Ciara Slattery

Thanks, Andy, and thank you, Eric. And my own name is Ciara, I forgot to introduce myself at the beginning. I am the Marketing Manager at Sapling, and I will be moderating today’s session. So to get stuck in today, what we will be covering is we look… Eric will kick things off with: The Tidal Wave of Candidates is Coming: What exactly is the new normal? From there, we’re gonna talk about hiring the best. And once you hire the best, how do you onboard for retention? Finally, we’ll wrap things up and we’ll do a live Q&A at the end of this session. So to kick us off right away, we’re gonna pass things over to Eric.

The Tidal Wave Is Coming: Your Company Will Not Be Desperate for Candidates

Eric Smith

Thank you, Ciara. So the tidal wave is coming. We’ve just gone through a period through COVID that has had people making two-thirds… Two-thirds of people that were on furlough were making far more than they were making for that. Now that that rather rich unemployment in the United States is changing and going away, and we now have kind of a second jobless recovery, essentially. So that means that for the number of jobs that are open going forward and the hiring that you need to do, you’re likely to get far more candidates than you’ve had in the past. If you combine that with the business uncertainty that we see, you’re probably seeing it in your own business. “Should I be hiring aggressively? Should I wait and see if there’s another, kind of a relapse, if you will, of COVID? What is the prognosis? And what is the future of my business?”

And so people are really hesitant about that. So there’s uncertainty on both sides of the labor equation, both the candidate equation as well as the hiring equation. Andy may have a couple of views of what he sees coming, but that’s what we’re generally seeing in the market today. You’re probably seeing the news, for instance, that about a million people, since July forth every week in the United States, have been new applicants for unemployment benefits. That means that there are still companies that are shedding jobs, and it’s not all hiring back. It just means more people are out of work, but there are certainly those sectors that are hiring pretty significantly. And so again, just think of this as being prepared. If you’re doing some hiring, you need to be prepared for a greater number of applicants and being able to sort through those in the right way, so you can get a hire and then get them onboarded going forward.

So what about that? And what is it that we find people, keeps them ill-prepared for that kind of flow of candidates? And it really gets down to some basics of recruiting. So as the first example, their employment brand, their story is just invisible or not compelling. We live in a time of storytelling. We do, just look at Netflix and Amazon Prime and any of the things you might have been watching during COVID. This is a time of storytelling, but so many companies don’t tell the story of what’s great to work at their company. And that’s really what an employer brand is. It’s different from your consumer brand. It’s telling the story that says, “At our company, we’re different, and this is what you will experience when you come to our company, and it’s based on what the employees say.” So it has to be compelling and it has to be everywhere a job seeker will look. So for instance, it needs to be in the job ads. It needs to be on all the job boards like Glassdoor and Indeed. It needs to be on your career site and it needs to be consistent. So just think about it this way: Employer branding is not just the story, but it’s also your reputation and protecting that story.

Many people go to Yelp and things like that to assess whether they should go to a certain restaurant, and many companies manage their reputations on the consumer side in a place like Yelp. You need to be doing the same sort of thing on the employment brand side, on the job boards like Glassdoor and Indeed. Second thing we see over and over again that people kind of miss is a problem with technology, and they may invest in the wrong technology, or they may invest in only a certain portion of the technology equation. And it’s really a group that has to work together. So many times we find clients say, “I’ve solved my recruiting problems. I’ve just put in a new applicant tracking system.” Or “I’ve solved my problems. I just jumped on board with this new job board. They’re gonna give me all the candidates I need, and I can use them as my single source of candidates.” None of those things by themselves will work. And so we always say it’s really an equation, or it’s an ecosystem. Yes, you have to have an applicant tracking system and a compelling applicant process.

Yes, you have to have a career site. And yes, you have to be distributing jobs to job boards, but unless you have all of those things, you can’t really hire well. And then extending beyond that, you’ve got to obviously have… And Andy will talk about this later in the presentation. You’ve gotta have onboarding and HRIS and payroll working together as well. So investing in the wrong tech or under-investing is, many times, the problem that we see. And then the last big problem we see is people just shooting in the dark. Meaning, they don’t have the data that helps them fix it. You know you can’t fix what you can’t measure, and many people assume that measuring people-related things isn’t as important as measuring maybe customer-facing things. And it really isn’t true. So ask yourself these questions. Do I know with certainty the best sources of candidates for me to hire? Do I know the cost per hire for those sources? Do I have data that helps me reduce turnover? Do I know that my hiring managers are actually processing candidates and doing the right things, and can I measure that? These are the kinds of things that we see people don’t have. And when they don’t have it, obviously, that means that they can’t improve the process. So I think we have a poll here, and Ciara will probably tell us something about that when she comes off of mute. So you can vote right here.

Ciara Slattery

Hi. Yes, we do have a quick poll and we’d love to get some responses in from everybody. So you have your question and answers in front of you right now. And yeah. I can see some answers coming in, so yeah. I’ll just give it a few more seconds. We’d love to get some input from everybody. Yeah, lots of responses coming in.

Eric Smith

Can I just react to that quickly, Ciara? I think I will anyway. I’m sure you want me to. So this is actually quite interesting. I mean the ones that are… If you just take the big ones here and start with the ones in the 30s, metrics and not having a strategy, we only have tactics. Probably means we have a pretty smart group here on the call today. Those two things by themselves will probably make more of a difference in really good hiring and retaining of people than anything else. Again, a lot of people will think that a tool will help, or if I just had three more recruiters, and actually that’s just not the case. We see it happen all the time, but it’s not the case. Stepping back and having a broader strategy, starting with that employer brand, right? What’s really my story and how do I build everything around that really is important.

And then metrics and reporting, I mean, this group obviously sees that you can really make a difference by having that. So that’s very interesting. Very interesting. You got the answer right, basically. This is the right answer. So I think what we’ll move to next is a little bit of… So what do you do about all this? So those are the things you want, and I’ve pointed out sort of some of the things that you need. The new normal is going to require you to be good at doing some things that probably you should have been good at before COVID and so forth. And then there are a couple of things, as I’ll mention along the way, where, really, you need to do some extra focusing on them, given where we are today, and how many applicants you’re likely to have coming at you.


What Exactly is the “New Normal”?


So four areas, the first is elevating your brand. I talked a little bit about this before. Your employer brand is really your first opportunity to set out that stall. So what is that really? Well, it’s really using what marketers use in terms of either focus groups, surveys, interviews, competitive analysis. Those kinds of things are really the most important things, I’m still back on the previous slide, to kind of really get that story straight. And so doing those surveys and looking at what your competitors are doing, it was really important to the whole process. One of the things about employer brand is people assume that it’s all about attraction, and while it is about attracting the right people who say, “Those are my people. I want to apply for a job there.” It also helps with retention, because if you tell the story the right way from the employee’s perspective, that is what people will experience when they come in the company. So it’s very important. Just a couple of quick examples here.

So on the next slide, this is a client of ours. They’re a family burger joint. They sell burgers and shakes and fries and beer to the parents in the evenings, and this is their employer brand. So after we did the survey and after we did the focus groups, this is what came through. Now, not all of the employer brands have this kind of alliteration, as you can see here, but you can see, “Sincerity that surprises you,” “Mastering a magnified you,” “Family to fortify you.” This came from the employees. This is not Talentcare’s fancy marketing group coming up with a bunch of bull. This came straight from the surveys. This is what they said, and you can see the quotes there, and they have a very powerful culture. They hire the right way and it starts with sitting this out. This attracts a certain kind of person. They apply for the job. They use it as part of their hiring. So I hope you can kinda see the differences there. That’s a really interesting way of looking at the brand pillars.

And the second thing I want to show you here on the next page is around reputation management. So it’s, yes, exploring or explaining who you are, but it’s also, as I would say before, protecting that brand. And that can be done on these job boards. This is on the top, Glassdoor. On the bottom, these are Indeed. And what we’ve done here as part of our process, we actually went out and looked at the competitors. And so they compete with Peterious, which is a local group, and Hopdoddy’s, and In-N-Out, which are national groups for labor. And you can see that what we’re comparing here is the overall scores, the ratios or the kinds of scores, and really getting a sense of what the candidate would see as they look at how each of these companies is expressing themselves. And many of them will, of course, take into consideration reputation. Just like we take into consideration reviews that we see when we buy things on Amazon.

The next section is the ecosystem, the technology ecosystem we talked about. So we’ve got this little picture here over on the right, and it’s really attempting to say, “Look, it has to all work together. Starting with the applicants coming in for through your job boards, and then dropping down into the career site, and through the applicant process and then to the ATS.” And so you really have to think about every step of the way, and what’s really important about this is two things. That number one, it all links together, and you can see this kind of picture shows that it needs to. And that is an elegant applicant process, a career, I mean a job seekers process is really what you want to make elegant and attractive, but you also want the data that could go all the way through the process. And so if you have everything in different systems that don’t talk to each other, you can’t see that this candidate came from that source and made it this far in the process and then they experienced this during onboarding.


Hiring the Best


And so, those are the two things that we always emphasize. Data, and then the experience itself. A couple of quick examples of what that can look like. This is a snapshot of Hat Creek’s career site. Particularly not the brand portion of it, but the job listing portion. And you can see here are a few things that just make all the difference in terms of how they can attract quality candidates. First is, we’re using some SEO tricks like putting job at the end of each job listing over on the right-hand side. That means it’s going to come up higher on Google searches and that’s important. It also has the whole text of the job ads themselves. Do you have management experience and a natural born leader, etcetera?

That’s actually being read by Google for search reasons, and that’s important. And then we make it really easy for the applicant over on the left hand side. You can easily see what’s available in total, you can shrink them down by where you live and so forth. And it’s really easy to do on a smartphone. You have to remember that 70% or 80% of most of your applicants will be applying on a smartphone. So if you have a process that doesn’t make that easy, you’ve lost them already. And then the next thing I want to show you is just how you get people into the applicant process. That very first step is really important. How many times have we looked for jobs? And you may have experienced this where you come to something like this that’s asking for some information and it asked you to upload a resume, which you can’t do on a phone. Or it asks you to sign in or set up an account, which you’re not likely to want to do anyway. And so that friction needs to be eliminated. It’s really important to take it in chunks and to grab the most important information, which in this case is the name and the text number, so that you can engage them quickly and get them in for an interview.

And then finally, well, not finally, third of the four data. Again, metrics are really, really important. I’m gonna show you a couple of examples in a second, but the most important thing about data here in our view is that it needs to be data that HR and recruiting, as well as operations, as well as marketing can use to make real improvements. And most data gets silos so that it’s only for the HR team, it’s only for the ops team, and so forth. And so we tend to pull data together that really shows that, and that’s really kind of the most important thing from our perspective. A lot of people assumed that because Talentcare is in the people-business, and that recruiting and hiring teams must be people-people because they’re in the people-business and so forth. But actually, the best recruiting teams are not only people-people, but they’re also data dorks. And part of our job is to help them be data dorks and give them that data that allows them to make some real changes. So on the next slide here, I’ll show a couple of examples. I hope you can see some of this, but I’ll explain the basics. You have two pie graphs. One on the bottom right is disqualification code, so this is why the company disqualify the candidates. And top left, we’re looking at why the candidates disqualified the company.

And you can see there down the bottom right. About half of them didn’t have the basic qualifications, that red chunk is, didn’t meet qualifications. Then the question is, what about the rest? And one of the things that we always look at is that little sliver of blue, which says 7%. That’s the number of people that the client couldn’t reach. The company couldn’t reach those people. And that means you worked really hard. You brought them in. You screened them. You spent money to get them there and then you couldn’t get a hold of them. That’s something to look at in terms of whether there’s a process problem, whether there’s a better use of text and those kinds of things. And so we spend a lot of time talking to our clients about that. And our smart clients are the ones that are looking at that data ahead of time. On the declined piece, you can see that about half of the people, more than half are accepting another offer, which kind of speaks that plus the compensation package that 13% there sort of says that pretty close to two-thirds of the people are moving away from us and finding something else better. And so this would point out that there’s probably a competitive issue here that may need to be addressed.

On the next slide, a couple of other things that again try to make it very practical and things that you can solve problems with. You can see top left, this is of the candidates that have been looked at by the hiring managers and you’ve got the hiring managers down the left there, where those people sit today in terms of process. In other words, how far along in the process are they? And so brown in this case, is really bad ’cause that means it’s just sitting there and they’re not being moved. The green ones are actually very good. You can see Alaina is doing a heck of a good job getting people through, making offers and clearing out the people that are no good. Laura, on the other hand, is just not doing a very good job at all and kind of asleep at the wheel. She needs a little training, a little encouragement, maybe a swift kick, but something’s gotta change there, because Laura’s not keeping up. Bottom right there, you can see another one. This is looking at, of the candidates that are still sitting in front of the hiring managers, how long have they been there? ‘Cause speed matters in a competitive environment. To get the best people, you have to move pretty quickly. You can certainly, the slow ones and the ones you don’t want can hang around perhaps, but the good ones will leave you soon. And so, in this case, red is really bad ’cause red means it’s the stale candidates that’s been sitting there for a long time.

And so we want to talk to looks like Carol and Jennifer about what they’re doing in terms of their process and really leaving people too long and maybe hoping that some of those people are going to be hired, but the longer it goes, the less likely that is to happen. The last one is really… This last one really does have to do with what’s happening in today’s market, meaning that kind of tidal wave of candidates that’s coming your way. And that is how you screen. It’s easy to screen if you only have three candidates to choose from. You look at three resumes and so forth, but when you have 300 coming through for a role, as many of you will, you need to be smart about it. And so, it really comes down to two things that you can do. One is screening questions and one of them is psychometric testing, but I’ll say one thing that’s maybe a little bit of maybe counterintuitive, and that is, a resume is the last thing you should look at when you’re screening candidates, not the first. And so build yourself a system that has screening techniques that allow you to get quickly to the top candidates and then you can dig in to resumes from there. On the next page, you can see this is just a snapshot out of an applicant tracking system, showing a candidate as you can see with some information up at the top.

And then notice down at the bottom of the questionnaires and assessments for this process, there are two questionnaires that are being administered. One is a pre-screening questionnaire, which is gonna ask questions about their experience and so forth, and the other is a learning strengths work style and cultural preferences, which is really psychometric testing or industrial psychology. And you can see that each one of these is individually scored and then it ramps up to a score up there at the top. It’s really important to be able to look at both aspects. Yes, the history, but also does this person look like the people that survive and even thrive in the role that I’m hiring for? Here’s an example of those pre-screening questions, just two different jobs here. You can see the kinds of questions that you can ask about very technical things like in healthcare on the left, less technical things in the job on the right, which I think is probably something in the burger industry. I’m not sure. You can set DQ questions and have peoples drop out of the system all together, but the important thing is you should be able to customize right down to the role level and down to the location level the questions you’re asking and then have those screening questions scored as you saw on the previous page.

And then finally, the psychometric testing, this is just a snapshot of an example of that. This assessment was built based on the high performers of the companies, people in that particular role. Let’s say it’s the cashier at Hat Creek Burgers, this could be built based on that and those white gaps are based on the high performers. This is where they sit on those spectra of each of these factors, leadership, self-reliance, numeric problem-solving and so forth. And every job has a different sort of pattern here. And then, if you have all of your candidates come through and take an assessment like this, you can very quickly, especially for those high volume roles, assess whether you should even spend five minutes with this person. And that’s really the power of this, is to say, is this person even in the ballpark of the kind of people that we hire for this particular role and do well or are they just an outlier and they just happened to apply? And this really gives a lot of efficiency in the system. Those are the four areas. That last one is really important in terms of the… What we’re seeing today, being able to screen and I think now, Andy is going to take over and go from here.

Andy Crebar

Yeah, that’s right Eric. Thanks so much for those slides, we’re quickly gonna change over the presentation screen to myself in just a moment, it looks like we had a question from the audience. So what I might ask is, I’ll leave you with this question, Eric, and while we change over the video, I’ll let you answer it. So one of our attendees asked, “Can you clarify the statistic that 70 to 80% apply on smartphone? I heard that it’s a percentage of use, but does that still apply to laptop and desktop, so I’d pass it to you, what you’re seeing at Talentcare around mobile usage.

Eric Smith

We’re definitely seeing… It does vary by job, of course, we do a lot of work in all services, all across the services sectors, so that could be healthcare services, restaurants, law firms and so forth. And those tend to be volume hires of people, the millennials and the Gen Z populations will expect two things in terms of their job application process. And for many of you, this is the majority of the hiring you will be doing, and that takes you from high school age up through about 40 years old, and that group expects two things. Number one, they expect to be able to do it on their smartphone. And so the numbers we see are absolutely, for many of these roles, for most of these roles, very high, above 50%, so in the 70% and 80% range. Again, not every single role, but for most roles, that’s the case.

And they also expect you to be an engaged employer, and the first way they judge that, you remember those… I showed the things around Glassdoor and Indeed and managing reputation, there’s a place where you can leave reviews for companies, where an employee can leave a review. And when they leave that review, the company has a choice to respond or not, those responsive companies are seen as very positive by those Gen Z and millennial job seekers, they want to know that you think it’s… They want you to be an engaged employer, and they take as your first indication that you indeed are an engaged employer by the fact that you’re responding to the reviews themselves. So that’s a very long way of saying, yes, it’s as high as that. And that those Gen Z and millennials will have different expectations perhaps from some of those who aren’t in that generation.


Onboarding for Retention


Andy Crebar

Okay, thanks Eric. For what it’s worth, we actually see the same thing on mobile usage in onboarding and employee lifecycle. A lot of it is switching to mobile, but it’s very dependent on different industries, but definitely a broader trend to be aware of. So thanks for coming up with the recruitment side of things. Next I want to ship through what we’re saying, if it’s happening on employee onboarding in general, general HR lifecycle management. Now, the global pandemic has definitely accelerated a lot of workplaces transformations, many of which were already at foot, some of those as mobile, which Eric just mentioned. Now this new normal demands, not only efficiency in recruiting processes, but also your onboarding and employee lifecycle management, to really retain and power your people to succeed.

We’re gonna be tackling the four key areas that Eric spoke about in our slides as well to really drive that consistent theme of what people leaders should be thinking about. So the first step is understanding the employee experience. There’s lots of people, lots of pieces that go into these diverse experiences. We spoke about the candidate lifecycle, that’s really just a tip of the iceberg, when we think about the full employee lifecycle, there’s many pieces such as setting up the new hires for success, providing benefits and perks programs, performance and engagement, rewards and recognition, growth and development, an exit and alumni groups. These can get quite complicated and expectations from those incredible candidates we just hired have never been higher. Importantly, we always advise our customers to focus on the 20% that’s gonna provide 80% of the difference, a lot of these pieces at bigger organizations have entire departments focused on them. But as often small HR and recruitment teams, it’s one to pick the key pieces, and as we’ll learn in a moment, automate as much as we can to deliver on that employee experience.

So we want to have a poll question here, which is, how intentionally have you designed your pre-boarding experience? And when we think about pre-boarding, it’s really just a start of the journey, but typically when there’s been a hiring decision in an applicant tracking system like Talentcare, but before their first day. So it could be a two to four to six week period, often which companies are unaware that they should be filling that void. We’d love to do a quick poll around how intentionally has that been designed? And we start that poll.

Here we go. So four options here, first thing well designed and proud of how we do it, secondly, being poorly designed and need attention, third being we take care of the very basics, which could be documents or a very basic employee record, and fourth we don’t have a pre-boarding experience, our onboarding starts at day one. Now, Eric I’ll get your view on this in a moment, but from what I’m seeing in that we take care of the very basics, it’s a very common use case, and no doubt, roughly 65% of our audience team members just take care of that. Often when we’re delivering on that employer branding and that promise during the recruitment cycle, this is some area where often the ball is dropped as far as validating that candidate’s decision that they’ve made the right choice, and it’s often more than just the very basics. But Eric, I pass it to you to what you see with your customers at Talentcare.

Eric Smith

Yeah, I’d say that because we generally work with folks who are trying to get their systems and their story and their brand right, that they generally are pretty poor at the pre-boarding as well. Many of them will have an onboarding module somewhere, and we indeed push data into the onboarding module, but a lot of them just are kind of at the basics. We do have a couple of fantastic examples where they are doing some things ahead of time, some real pre-boarding, but I’d say, gosh, it must be one in 10 maybe, in terms of customers as we take them on. Of course, as we work with you guys, that can change. We can tell the story and you can help them do it, but generally speaking, people are not as good as they should be.

Andy Crebar

Understood. Welcome news is a lot of the rest of presentation day we’ll be covering off a lot of the basics which we can be doing better through the use of great technologies. Importantly, for those audience team members, just know that you’re not alone in this. It’s often an opportunity, not a challenge, which a lot of organizations need to solve for as they continue to grow and mature and get better at their people management practices.

So the first step on this is delivering on your employer brand. It’s a concept which Eric introduced earlier today, but after the next step of the recruitment process, candidates have taken a really important step. They’ve probably been interviewing with lots of great organizations, and it’s really important we use that pre-boarding window to start delivering on those expectations and validate their decision to join your company. And again, it starts before the first day. Many if not all interactions have moved online at the moment, and these touch points during those critical few weeks have really set the tone and the standard for the rest of their employee journey and lifecycle with your company. So if these weren’t already critical, I mean, especially in times like these and the new normal, they’ve become even more critical.

So where do we start? One thing we always advise our customers on is to really ensure you’re creating a purpose-driven company. There’s a big connect between leaders and employees at many organization, which 80% of leaders believe that purpose is central to their success, but only 50% of employees actually know what their company’s purpose is. And when we speak about a purpose-driven company, it’s really the mission, the vision, and the values, all weaved into the organizational fabric, and that starts right at pre-boarding. Throughout the recruitment process, these themes are probably well highlighted through your recruitment team and through the managers. And from the first step of that pre-boarding we wanna keep delivering on these expectations and validate their decision to join your organization. And for those that are unaware of what these might be, a couple of examples here we picked up: Google’s mission is to help organize the world’s information and make it universally accepted, accessible to everyone. Amazon mission is to continually raise the bar on the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy new things.

So as far as building a purpose-driven company, having this mission, vision and values aligned and then showcased through the pre-boarding experience is a really nice way to continue that candid experience and deliver on that employer brand. Example of this is one of our incredible customers, Warby Parker. Now, their mission is to offer designer eyewear at revolutionary prices while leading the way for a socially conscious business. Now, Warby Parker is roughly two and a half thousand team members across North America. Importantly, they invest strongly in their culture and people development, and it shines incredibly bright through their pre-boarding experience. They use Sapling’s product for their pre-boarding, and they integrate with their applicant tracking system, and as soon as there’s a hiring event, it’s then incorporated into Sapling, and we start delivering on that employer brand and experience. Warby Parker uses their pre-boarding experience to set expectations around what it means to be a Warby Parker team member, and really validate the decision that you’ve made the right choice joining at our great company. And this is how we wanna welcome our team members before they start at our organization.

So moving on from pre-boarding, we need to think about meeting first day expectations. As people leaders, often there’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of questions that come up from those candidates now transitioned into team members. And some of those questions might be, “Did I make the right decision? Do I bring my laptop? Where do I fit in? Will I get a buddy? What are my goals?” Importantly, as we mentioned, technology plays a critical role here in moving away from the heroic efforts of the recruitment of the HR team into systemised processes that are repeatable and scalable. What that means is making use of great technologies and really thinking about what’s the people, what’s the tools, and what’s the processes we can do to deliver on these expectations?

So one of the big areas we focus on both at Sapling and Talentcare is connecting your HR and IT ecosystem. The talent ecosystem is significant, but the HR and IT system is just as critical. They support your recruiting team and hiring management to really refine process, and especially as your company scales it’s important to really take care of everything that can be automated, no dragging and dropping, copying and pasting room for error. We wanna automate as much as possible so our teams can focus on the most impactful parts of the role, which is the people, not the process.

One of these things is the employee data journey. When we think about employee data, we think about, all those basic attributes around a team member, their name, their job title, their manager, their location, their start date, all those pieces start in the applicant tracking system. And when there’s a hiring event, we want all that data pushed into an HR platform like Sapling. So in the new team member hired in your ATS, the data all gets pushed into Sapling. From there, we can start the employee life cycle. But it doesn’t end with HR systems like Sapling. Often it needs to go even further downstream into payroll systems and IT systems, which can handle a lot of the software and other IT systems that are required to set up employees for success. And even from these systems often come other systems, such as learning development, performance management, or other software-as-a-service applications.

Now, in mapping out this employee data journey, we work with a lot of customers that initially don’t have this data journey mapped out. They’re isolated solutions which don’t speak to each other, which then leads to a lot of manual data entry, which can cause a lot of headache and, again, takes away from the most impactful parts of our role in the people rather than the process. So the first step we always abide is, think about what are the key pieces of infrastructure you have at your organization and how these pieces of infrastructure are talking to each other and what opportunities are there to connect these systems on an employee data level and also on a workflow level as far as emails, tasks, documentation. How can you bring this all together to really provide a cohesive system for your HR and IT systems?

Moving lastly to understanding your people metrics. And we saw some of those incredible hiring and, I guess, recruitment metrics Eric walked through around identifying who our top performers are, who do we need to coach and support, perhaps, be more successful in their role. The same holds true in HR and people data. HR and people operations need similar data, not the same data, to make informed decisions and empower the organization. The pandemic definitely reinforced, we need to change a lot of the ways we consider our work. There’s a whole host of changes coming through around focusing on employee benefits or employee retention, mental health, employee tenure. All of these metrics change and evolve over time, and it’s on us as people leaders to be aware of these changes and how we can best understand and report on these and make sure they’re getting shown to the leadership team to make great decisions and inform our decisions as well.

One area we do this through Sapling and other HR platforms can provide similar sort of statistics, is really understanding how the organization is performing. What teams or departments are growing or scaling, how we’re benchmarking against our peers, our industry, is our employee tenure as expected? And reporting these metrics up to the leadership. Often we like to say at Sapling, which, with the pandemic, probably in recent years, HR as a function has really got a seat back at the board table. The whole market has shifted increasingly towards culture and people as the biggest asset we have at our organisations, and really empowering HR as a function to have a strong identity of being on top of these metrics is really important.

When we think about the new normal, data and the changes in that data is becoming incredibly important. So if you’re not using HR software, and often we’re using spreadsheets, then now really is the time and the opportunity to start leveling up those systems and getting a handle on this incredible wealth of data to guide your organisation to make better decisions. So with that, and before we switch to question and answer, the three-takeaway summary, which I encourage people leaders to be thinking about, is the world has definitely changed, and it’s on talent teams, HR, and people teams to lead those required changes to the organisation. Whether it’s in improving our employee brand, whether it’s updating our connected ITs and systems, there really has never been a better time to focus on doing these, as those digital interactions and transformation are only gonna have more importance over the years to come.

The second key takeaway is to really take the time and effort to showcase your vibrant employee brand and ensure your company values stand out. Candidates make a big decision joining your organisation. It can be a high-effort and often a long recruitment process, and it’s important not to drop the ball at the five-yard line before they become proficient and successful employees. To really take the time to build out those pre-boarding systems, make sure they’re aligned with your organisation and have a consistent experience coming in and really set you up for long-term success and retention.

The third piece is process and systems are critical. So getting the right technology in place that can integrate with each other and communicate to limit manual data entry will allow you to focus on the more impactful parts of your role. As you always say, focus on progress versus perfection. Often we are lucky enough to work with lots of great companies that try to do everything at the start, versus just focusing on what are the most impactful things we can do here, and how can we keep iterating and building on that over time.

So with that, I think we’ll move to the Q&A session. Ciara, would you like me to manage that or should I pass the host back to yourself?


Wrap Up & Questions

Ciara Slattery

You can keep the host, Andy, but I’ll jump right in and unmute myself. Yes, so thank you both for sharing all that information. Eric, I really liked your tips on making the job postings SEO-friendly. Working in the marketing space, that’s definitely a quick win. And Andy, I loved the wrapping up of the employee data journey there, I think it was really helpful to see that right through at the end of the presentation. So we did receive some questions from people before today’s webinar, so when people registered for this session they did submit questions. So I would like to jump to those questions first. So we’ll kick things right off with our first question, which I think you probably both would be interested in speaking to. And the question is, how to measure candidates’ motivation to relocate in COVID-19 times? So we’re here talking about the new normal and this particular attendee wants to know about candidates’ motivation to relocate in COVID-19 times. So may I pass to you first, Eric?

Eric Smith

Sure, yeah. Well, I used the expression data dorbs earlier, and when someone asks us a question like that, and many times our clients will ask us a question like that. How can I understand that better? We say, “Let’s go get the data.” The way that we would do that is very simply go post some jobs out… If you’re looking to bring people to Austin, Texas, where I’m sitting today and you have a suspicion that people might want to relocate from New York City, which was a hot spot, or New Orleans, which was a hot spot, you go post jobs in a way where you can track those people. Or you run campaigns to see how likely they are to respond and you compare it to the typical response you get in other cities and so forth. So we just take a data-driven approach to that. I will say that we do see some movement around the country in certain roles and out of some of those areas that are either have been hard hit or are expensive and other things like that. So that’s the general approach we would take, just go get the data and normalize it against the typical.

Andy Crebar

Yeah, it’s a great question and one that we’ve actually worked through internally at Sapling as well recently. I’d bring two additional points to what Eric mentioned. The first point I’d say is often we find companies aren’t intentional around what sort of organization they’re building. Are they building a HQ-centric organization? Are they building a hybrid in which there are some remote employees free to move and offices? Or are they building a fully distributed model? And being really clear on calling that out often helps guide the expectations that sit around movements to different geographies. And importantly, how does that affect… Often the key thing in team members is the thinking about which is, “Hey we’re headquartered in San Francisco which is a economically comparatively expensive place to live for a lot of our team members, and we’ve had a lot of team members relocate to different geographies.”

Now, we actually discuss that with our board and advisors, which is if we have people moving out, do we normalize the cost of living expenses. We took the decision not to do that but it is something we were thinking about given that the world is becoming more distributed and remote. Importantly, I’d say it’s just critical to be clear around expectations, whether it’s employee handbooks or otherwise, which is… If we’re moving geographies, what are the expectations. Is pay fixed, is benefits re-assessed, what do I need to deliver or not deliver, those sorts of pieces. ‘Cause often team members are fearful and anxious around moves if they don’t quite know the ramifications of what can be considered in that context. So I’d say be intentional about it around what operating model you are. And then, importantly, just be clear around what the expectations are for team members and how that may impact their health benefits and well being.

Ciara Slattery

Yeah, really great response. I’m conscious of time here so I’ll move quickly on to the next question. And our attendees have asked, what is the best way to get the decision maker or decision makers to buy in on new changes that have to be made to adjust to this new normal? So yeah, maybe Eric, we’ll go to you first.

Eric Smith

Well, that’s a question that… It’s an interesting question and I hope I’m kind of assuming the right intent behind the question. To maybe think of an example here. The question I take to mean, okay, things have changed, that means we have changes in our people area of the business and therefore we need to make some changes how do we influence them? Look, I think that there are, other than the old fear and greed thing, I think that there are two things that we find with our clients who are most successful, say the chief people officer of a company with tens of thousands of companies or a few hundred… Sorry, employees, or a few hundred people. The ones that are most persuasive to their colleagues and to their boss, the CEO for instance or the suppliers down chain, of course, are the people who have the data to support it and can speak powerfully around the story.

Those are the two things that we see boards… We work with a lot of private equity-backed companies, a lot of high growth companies, private family-owned companies as well as larger public companies. And the ones that are persuasive are the ones that have the data to support what they’re trying to change and then can speak powerfully to how it connects to the overall brand and the employer brand of the business.

Andy Crebar

I’ll jump in now. I think, Eric absolutely nailed that one. It really comes down to the story and the data. And when we think about the data, we think a lot about ROI, which is how can we improve our return on investment of these changes or this technology, or whatever it may be. What I would say is talent care like Sapling, we’re lucky enough to work with hundreds if not thousands of organisations that approach similar junctures or have similar opportunities, not challenges to work through. And often there’s a wealth of resources which we can provide in either consulting on different paths you could take, different material around how to calculate ROI and asses ROI. So I wouldn’t be afraid to explore what paths there are and really lean on a great software event is like TalentCare to guide you on that path as well, and help you make the best decision for your organisation.

Ciara Slattery

Okay, I’m gonna jump right into the next question, which is for Andy. And I think, Andy, you probably have been asked this question quite a few times over the past few months. But this particular question is, how can we make new people feel like part of the family in the same ways as those of us who are on-boarded in person? So really, in this new normal, how are we making people feel the same when they’re on-boarded remotely as those six, 12 months ago who were on-boarded in person?

Andy Crebar

Yeah, it’s a great question. And it can be a tough situation. We had team members joining early this year. Let’s say in January, February, March. We had team members joining in April that thought they were coming into an office environment that had to start remotely. And we’ve had team members that have on-boarded completely remotely since then.

One thing we speak about internally is consistency is key. We run a hybrid model of our organisation in which we have offices and distributed team members. Their being consistent across those experiences is so important, and it may be something as simple as a Friday happy hour for the San Francisco team. Well, how are we empowering our Vancouver team members or our remote team members with something of similar benefit. When it comes to on-boarding, ensuring that those remote team members have just as a consistent experience, I would take the time to compare what are those key moments or key experiences which we get in an in-person environment which we wanna make digital. It could be things like swag, it could be things like a team video, a team welcome card.

A lot of these things whilst may seem difficult to do in a remote environment, I would just cut off and take just a little bit more effort, and I think a lot of those experiences feel cool, can go a long way. So I’ll compare around what were those critical experiences, and map them out and how many can we deliver on. If we’re not delivering on some of those experiences, what additional model can we go towards. One thing we do internally at Sapling is make heavy use of videos. We use a number of different tools and recording a quick hello or a welcome while sharing different experiences on Slack or Teams can often go a long way in really building that cohesion intimacy, which you can often miss from a in-office environment. Eric, did you have anything to add on that?

Eric Smith

We are a fully remote company and have been since we started. So we don’t actually have offices where people come, and so we’ve lived in this world for a while. And it took us a few years to figure it out, but every Friday we get the whole company together, and we do just 15 or 30 minutes of shout-outs and time together and talk a little bit about things. We do more formal things, of course, but there’s nothing like a corny joke every Friday afternoon to make people feel like they’re part of the team.

Andy Crebar

There, you have it.

Ciara Slattery

Great. Eric, our next question is for you. How do we engage candidates and keep them engaged when we are in a hiring freeze?

Eric Smith

That’s a really interesting question. And in this up and down labor market it’s not just hired freeze, you might be freezed, then you’re unfrozen then you’re frozen again, so we see that quite a lot. So let me just… Some basics here. The best way to keep track of a candidate and to keep engaged with the candidate today in today’s environment is by text. It’s not email, it’s not anything else, it’s not a thing they log into, it’s not a portal, it’s text. And if you’re not texting with your candidates, you’re likely to lose them anyway, because people just don’t check the things you thought that they were checking in the old days. So I would say just simple reminders in doing that kind of thing can be really, really important.

There are certainly some ways that you can gather up candidates through your career site and your application process that allows them to know that you are really interested in them and you’re putting them into parking lot for a while. But that engagement is really important and we just say it all the time. Your system should allow you to text and for you to be recording the full conversation of those text conversations with those candidates. And if it doesn’t, it’s hard to go back and actually see if you’ve been keeping in touch with them. But a good system will support that and text is the number one way.

Ciara Slattery

Yes, thank you Eric. I’m very conscious here of the time, we have come up on 60 minutes. So there is a couple of questions we haven’t answered. I think it might be best to answer those by email. Does that work for you both later today?

Andy Crebar

Of course.

Eric Smith

Fine with me. Yeah sure.

Ciara Slattery

Okay, great. So yeah, I can see a few questions here, Lisa, Karen, Rebecca. We will get to your answers later today. For now, I’m gonna wrap things up because we’ve already taken 60 minutes of your time. So we do appreciate your patience this morning. This is a live webinar, and we will be sharing a recording later today. So, yeah, thanks everybody for joining us and have a great rest of your day.

Eric Smith

Thanks very much.

Andy Crebar

Thanks everyone.