In some ways, growing businesses are akin to children: They will go through periods of rapid and transformative growth spurts. Short times of accelerated sales and growing customer bases are often accompanied by growing pains, during which the business must get accustomed to a new pace. While these periods are exciting, as they are typically a sign of success, it is also extremely challenging because that success will only last as long as you’re able to adequately support it.
During such periods of growth, an expanded team is a critical component to sustaining and supporting new demand. In a “chicken or the egg” scenario, it’s important to have a strong team to support the hiring, onboarding and training of new employees. In fact, some studies show that the cost to find, hire, and onboard a new employee can reach as high as $240,000. The cost of making the wrong hire is detrimental to your bottom line—and that doesn’t account for a loss in productivity.
With the onset of COVID-19, many businesses are forced to work remotely, adding an extra hurdle to this already challenging process. In our company’s case, we were looking to scale up our team as our business grew to meet the necessary demand of supporting access to medication across the country, no matter a patient’s pharmacy or location. To accomplish that, we needed extra support. Here’s how we tackled this problem at the onset of the pandemic, ultimately creating a more efficient and seamless process for our hiring initiatives.
Tracking down talent
Finding the right people for a growing team can be a challenging endeavor; hiring the best person for a role and for a company is critical to continued success, and there is often pressure to make the right selection. This challenge is only exacerbated by the current remote work set-up. Cues one might normally get on culture, fit, or personality from in-person interactions can be diluted in a remote environment.
Sourcing talent from your network is an easy way to avoid these setbacks. You never know who people are connected to. They may know someone who just lost their job, or someone looking for a new gig with the exact responsibilities that you’re searching for. A simple post on LinkedIn, or an email out to a networking group describing the position you are looking to fill, and the type of person you’d like to hire, can be extremely helpful in identifying strong candidates. Rather than relying simply on job sites that populate résumés, a second-, third- or even fourth-degree connection will give the person hiring more context on the potential new employee than simply a résumé alone.
Define clear responsibilities
To find the right fit for a role, one must start by clearly defining the role to be filled and the responsibilities the person is to handle. When rapid hiring and onboarding is the goal, being as clear as possible will make this process much more seamless. This means defining the skill sets and behaviors you’re looking for in the role to be filled, as well as what gaps are you looking to close to round out or strengthen the team.
Rather than relying on generic job descriptions such as managing a CRM platform or handling customer service, the job description should focus on the day-to-day tasks that this person will be expected to fulfill. A customer service role, for example, might consist of responding to customer inquiries on one particular issue, reporting those inquiries to a manager and resolving complications as they arise. Such a detailed description sets clear expectations for both the job candidate and the company, increasing the likelihood of identifying a best-match candidate and for that candidate to settle into a role that they expected (which is also helpful for retaining employees).
Create a repeatable system
Any business task which must be completed often needs to prioritize efficiency and effectiveness. A hiring spree is no different. The task of finding, hiring, and onboarding new employees is tedious and time-consuming. The need to do so quickly does not make this process easier.
A repeatable system, designed to support both the interview and onboarding process, is a critical tool for managing this business function. Hiring and onboarding typically requires the input of multiple parties, and several steps to move from the candidate search through the interview to hiring and the new employees’ first day. The more systematic one is in laying out all these steps, the more seamless the process will go.
As a company, we faced a major growth spurt earlier this year that required us to quickly hire and train nearly 60 new employees in a few weeks’ time. To complete such a lofty task, we put pen to paper and carefully laid out our interview and onboarding process. This started with a strong job description, with the hiring manager clarifying what is important for the role. Hiring responsibilities are then handed out to multiple folks who are performing the interviews. Within that process, we build in touch points with the team to see if we’ve found the right candidates or need to adjust and then wrap up the offer and begin the onboarding process.
At our firm, ScriptDrop, we break our onboarding process into two: An administrative onboarding process and a culture onboarding process. The latter includes meeting the team, aligning with a peer who can answer questions about typical, day-to-day tasks, meetings with manager, training concerns, and touch points (which we’ll get to later). In the current remote environment, we’re even more proactive about scheduling these meetings to ensure they’re a priority.
Prioritize adequate tech
Once a new employee is hired, the onboarding process includes both acclamation to the company and its culture, but also the systems and equipment needed to perform the job. IT is a critical component of this, and in the current remote work setting, can be difficult to implement compared to a centralized office environment.
Most employees need basic tools to perform their jobs. That might include a computer, internet access, a suite of programs such as Microsoft Office, and access to company email and any task managers the business might use. This can be a simple undertaking when you’re onboarding a handful of employees at a time. But once you hit large numbers like 50 or above, this work multiplies and can become overwhelming without the right set-up in place.
Equipping new employees with both equipment and access to particular programs must be a cornerstone of your company’s onboarding system. We chose to align this process with our general onboarding process. Once a person has accepted an offer, that person is then flagged for our IT team and they get to work on compiling the necessary resources for that person to do their job. The work in acquiring the physical equipment necessary to access our system is done through our administrative onboarding internal process once an offer is accepted. The team that manages this process is the behind the scenes hero for a smooth start to day one of employment for our new team members.
Build in touch points to replace office interactions
In a traditional office environment, new employees have the benefit of immersing themselves into company culture and engaging with other team members on a regular basis. This is essential to adapt to the company and its processes, but also for bonding with new teammates and feeling part of the team.
This type of integration is easily lost in a remote work environment, where new employees do not have the opportunity to go into an office and learn about their new job and new teammates face-to-face. Therefore to compensate, consider scheduling regular touch points to re-create those “office run-ins” that new employees no longer have access to. We place a strong emphasis on creating that human interaction starting from an employee’s first day. We’ve tapped folks within the departments to simply give a quick “hi” via Slack and to set up meetings to introduce the new hires to the team, so they can put a friendly face to all the names they’ve seen through training (which includes variety of people form the company, to facilitate connection-building). Finally, we host virtual welcome lunches and virtual welcome happy hours, which are remote go-to’s for my today’s online workplaces.
With all of these initiatives, the ultimate goal is to establish a connection between new employees and their team members who can help, but most importantly, it’s to create that safe place so onboarded employees can do their best work
Laurie Boogaard is the COO at ScriptDrop, a health information technology company delivers prescription medications.