Most organizations start small, but that doesn’t mean they all want to stay that way. In fact, in growth-minded companies business strategy and goals can ramp up very fast – and HR needs to keep up. But when you suddenly find yourself staffing to scale alongside ambitious goals, it can be difficult to shift your recruiting and onboarding practices and strategies to match the volume of hiring leadership now expects.
So how can HR reset staffing practices without losing sight of what makes a small business so special – the close, collaborative relationships between the people who work there?
The challenge: Scaling in a way that's practical and personal
When growth-minded organizations secure more funding to expand, uncover strong demand for their products or services, recover enough from external events like COVID-19 to start growing again, or experience any number of other positive events that spark increased staffing demands, the temptation is always to move ahead as quickly as possible to capitalize on the opportunity. But it’s critical at these moments for you as an HR professional to create the space with your executive team to ensure you set yourself up for success.
Ask some key questions about your current recruiting and onboarding processes to identify areas of strength and areas to focus on improving as you scale up:
- How manual are our staffing practices? Is it easy to repeat steps consistently or does it go differently every time we hire and onboard a new person?
- At what stage does our candidate review process usually get hung up?
- What makes our job listings stand out from others in our industry? Do they highlight our organization’s brand and mission?
- How smooth is the transition from candidate to new hire at our organization? How many steps are involved in that process? How often do new hires, managers, and HR have to repeat processes?
- At what stage do new hires tend to lose momentum with onboarding? Do people usually complete the process or do they leave it unfinished as their responsibilities increase?
- How relevant is our onboarding process to the different roles we’re hiring for? Can we adapt it to fit different jobs or is it the same generic process for all employees?
- How easy is it to get data on and evaluate our recruiting pipeline and our onboarding experience to see what’s working and what needs adjustment?
The intention that should be in the back of your mind as you walk through this initial exercise should be getting to a balance between efficient staffing processes and engaging recruiting and onboarding experiences. When you grow, it’s tough not to fall into strategies that are either fast but very generic or slow but very personalized. Let’s look at some ways HR can avoid that.
The practical: Managing recruiting and onboarding efficiently
Something that’s very helpful to keep in mind as you set out to scale your staffing practices in a balanced way is that the moves you make to get more efficient should be designed to free up your time for the more personal touches and strategic focus. These balance points don’t have to be opposed; they can work together to build an approach that fits your organization’s newly expanded needs.
So what major opportunities to gain efficiency are there in your recruiting and onboarding processes that will give you the time back to think about strategy and experience? Here are a few places you could look at to start:
- Job posting: Make sure you can quickly leverage templates to populate new job reqs when hiring for similar positions and can post those reqs efficiently to the channels you use most rather than rewriting them every time. When hiring at a larger scale, you won’t have time to individually post out jobs in a variety of job board accounts, so think about how you can do that from a single location instead.
- Recruiting phases: Set consistent steps candidates should go through to be qualified for hiring so all stakeholders can easily track the process. If possible, also create one workspace from which candidate phases, information, feedback, and hiring teams can be managed.
- Hiring process: Ensure that when you decide to hire an applicant, it’s easy to transfer their information into a new employee record and there are minimal redundant tasks that they, HR, and the hiring manager have to perform. They should also automatically be assigned to an appropriate onboarding track.
- Onboarding: Give new hires and managers quick visibility into the steps that should be completed to prepare for different roles, and automatically update the status of those steps as new hires move through them.
As you can see, the foundation for most of these opportunities for efficiency is automation. When you’re scaling up staffing practices manual and paper-based tasks will bog you down more quickly than they did when you were hiring smaller volumes of people. Modern recruiting solutions are a must.
The personal: Communicating culture and collaborating internally
I think most people who have worked at a small business would agree that even though they come with their own set of challenges, what makes them special is the close relationships that can be built. So how can you keep that feeling when you expand? Well, a lot of that starts with the tone you set in the recruiting and onboarding process, how well you present your culture and brand during it, and the steps you take internally to collaborate with managers and other stakeholders to meet the organization’s new hiring needs.
Some recent survey data from a research report UKG did with HCI shows that 65 percent of HR professionals discuss and plan for sourcing, recruiting, and hiring with the managers at their organizations either daily/continuously or weekly to monthly. And 52 percent do the same for onboarding. Sounds promising, right?
Unfortunately, the issue is that at the same time – as we’ve touched on in a previous post – the report exposed that even in high-performing organizations HR doesn’t have much confidence in many of their people managers’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. The trust needs to be built up between HR and managers in order for increased hiring volume to work, and that’s just one of the important personal elements that also need to be tackled as you refine recruiting and onboarding to scale.
Luckily, it turns out working on your plan for scaling up staffing collaboratively with the other stakeholders at your organization can be a great way to start getting everyone on the same page and working toward more trusting internal relationships. Let’s take a look:
- Connect on strategy: HR is the bridge between leadership, managers, and employees when it comes to aligning overall business strategy with people processes. Use that position to understand both the goals your leaders have as the organization expands and the gaps managers and employees see that need to be filled to meet those – this will help prioritize recruiting targets.
- Connect on culture: Through multiple channels, such as pulse surveys, town hall meetings, or text notifications, create opportunities to find out what your people think is special about your organization, as well as where improvements could be made. Then make sure you set standards for job descriptions and your career site that reflect these shared values to help your openings look unique to applicants.
- Connect on brand: Your career site is an important location where you can express your organization’s brand. Make sure you’re aligned to the writing style and design of the wider website – this could be an opportunity to connect with your marketing department and apply some of their strategies to your recruiting pipeline. This also applies to onboarding, which is a great place to highlight brand and introduce multimedia elements like video that introduce your organization in a dynamic way.
- Connect on communication: Ultimately, scaling your staffing practices will rely more heavily on strong communication than ever before. Work with your stakeholders to discuss how best HR can build trust and set standards around participation in hiring teams, mentorship during onboarding, and which channels of communication people can expect regular outreach and check-ins through.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s always a ton of pressure to move fast when recruiting volume is increasing, but taking a breather and touching base with the organization on your next steps will ensure you set up processes that work and get buy-in from the people who will be helping you to move them along.
Conclusion: Growth requires resetting HR expectations
When we start talking about growing your small business to the next level, the reality is that recruiting and onboarding are just the tip of the iceberg – but it’s critical to get them right first because you will need the right people in the right places to make your expanded plans work. If you’re looking to see all the ways HR can reset relationships and focus on the right areas to help your organization grow, I highly recommend you take a look at our Great Reset Research Report with HCI. If your growth strategy is accelerating, this information will get you started out strong.