Even in a scaleup, poor onboarding is the enemy of your tech recruitment strategy

22 July 2021

We talk a lot about perfecting the hiring process, whether it’s streamlining your hiring through automations or creating a personalised candidate experience that genuinely reflects who you are as an employer. The experience you make for potential candidates greatly influences how you’re perceived as an employer. Therefore, it’s no surprise that businesses spend vast amounts of money to perfect their careers sites, promote their employer brand and personalise the candidate experience as much as possible. A candidate experienced in 2021 should be simple enough that candidates can apply quickly, personal enough that they feel valued and involved at all touchpoints (even if it’s a rejection) and create a true reflection of your company. All these aspects will help you improve your quality of hire and set the tone for life as one of your employees.

However, hiring tech talent is only the beginning of the challenges a scaling tech company faces. It’s one thing to source this talent and have them accept a job with you against the competition, but what happens after that? If your candidate experience is perfected and candidates feel nurtured throughout the application and interview process, then what happens when you sit them at a desk?

This is where the onboarding process proves vital. If it’s good and new hires feel supported, then they’re more likely to stay with you long term. If it’s terrible, and they feel alone or unsure of their role, they’ll probably leave you, and you’ll be faced with higher recruitment costs and the challenge of finding yet another person to fill the position. Studies show that 69% of employees will stay for more than three years if their onboarding experience is good, while 20% will leave within 45 days if it’s terrible. A scaling tech business cannot afford to be hiring every few weeks, which is why the onboarding experience is so crucial.

Onboarding takes up a lot of your senior team’s time. They have to give up their own tasks to train and ensure new hires settle in. In a scaling business, your teams often don’t have this time to give up, leading to new recruits being left to fend for themselves. However, if you’re going to abandon employees as soon as they sit down at the desk, it’s a poor reflection on your employer brand and undoes the hard work you’ve put into perfecting the hiring process. In addition, poor onboarding will lead to high turnover rates and further recruiting down the line.

We’re looking at some common mistakes and assumptions made during the onboarding process to ensure your scaling business doesn’t fall into the trap.

Assuming Onboarding Starts on Their First Day

Onboarding doesn’t just start on their first day when they reach their desk. It’s so much more than that. From the second a candidate accepts the offer, you need to ensure they feel welcomed and supported. You need to ensure they have everything they need to begin work, from laptops to an email address, as failure to do this by their start date will make you look disorganised. You also need to ensure they’re clear on what they need to do or bring on their first day. If they’re coming into the office, do they know how to get there and how to get in? This could be an issue if the interview was virtual, but it should be clarified even if they interviewed in person. If they’re working remotely, will they have everything they need sent to them before the start date? Will you provide any extras as a welcome gift? There’s so much to consider before they even sit at their desk. Lack of consideration will show and reflect poorly on your employer brand.

Skills Don’t Mean They Can Jump Straight In.

You cannot expect that just because someone has skills and experience, they’ll be able to jump straight into a job. Yes, they may be so proficient in CSS and JavaScript that they could code in their sleep, but they won’t know the more minor details of how your company works. From simple things like who to contact for specific needs, where to save work and even how to organise their tasks, there is a lot of adjusting required when starting a new role. So it doesn’t matter how senior your hire or how skilled they are; you still need to find a team member to dedicate time to show them the ropes and help them settle in. Plus, if anything, it’s just lovely to put a face to the names of people you’re working with outside of the interview setting.

The Hybrid Working Challenge

The onboarding process has become even more significant with the rise in remote and hybrid working. If your teams aren’t going to be in the office full time, it’s even more difficult to welcome a new team member, train them and make them feel like a part of the team. It’s a huge problem. If they’re working alone, they may feel isolated as they can’t get to know their teammates on a personal level and are largely left to fend for themselves. Also, if team leaders or line managers decide to work from home rather than come into the office to welcome their new hire, it almost looks like they can’t be bothered to invest any time in them (unless they have a good reason). Either way, it doesn’t look good for your employer brand. Often, candidates are left to fend for themselves when working remotely; your existing teams are busy, and when not in the office, it’s harder to train these people as they can’t just shadow you or have you check tasks quickly. 

Training virtually is difficult, although not impossible.

Saying You Don’t Have the Time To Train

In a scaling tech business, everyone is busy. Employees are often forced to wear multiple hats, and if your business is growing at speed, everything is full steam ahead. However, no one can be too busy to train. Firstly, if you let new hires know that you’re too busy to teach them, they’ll feel more like a burden and won’t feel welcome. Secondly, it’s worth investing the time. You hired these people for a reason, whether it’s to take on an entirely new task or to relieve pressure from someone else in the business. Whichever your reasoning, taking the time to onboard and welcome them initially means that they’ll be working independently sooner. A senior hire who is in charge of their projects and departments will need very little training, but taking the time to show them minor details and introduce them to your business will help avoid mistakes and show them the company culture. A more junior hire may take more training, but the sooner you do this and more effort you put in, the faster they’ll be able to take jobs from senior team members, which is the ultimate goal.

False Promises Become Clear

Suppose you don’t correctly invest time and money into the onboarding process and leave new hires to work out their role and the company’s workings for themselves. In that case, any discrepancies in your employer brand promotions will become clear. You cannot claim to be a friendly and inclusive company if you leave them sat a laptop in their home for 8 hours a day with no contact. The first few weeks of a job should be the most exciting, and it’s the time for employers to showcase their company culture and prove the employer brand they show the world is replicated throughout the business. As we’ve said countless times before if the version of your workplace you present to the world doesn’t match the actual company culture, it can result in a high turnover or worse; you could be exposed as a liar. In these initial few weeks, false promises become apparent to new hires, which alone should be a reason to invest more effort into the onboarding process.

As a tech RPO provider, we help many brands recruit the best talent and refine their Employee Value Propositions, which can be used to support and underline the onboarding process. Establishing authentic pillars of your company culture will help you establish an onboarding process in line with your employer brand and create a consistent candidate and employee experience.

For more information about our flexible approach to RPO and how it can help your scaling tech business, contact us.

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