Worried about your bottom line? It’s time to fix onboarding

It’s a universal truth that a great candidate experience can lead to great hires. But employers may not realize just how much a subpar hiring experience can directly impact a company’s overall bottom line, according to a new report.

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The 2023 Talent Experience Report from iCIMS, a cloud-based HR and recruiting software company, reveals that 56% of workers are less likely to be consumers of a brand if they had a bad experience applying or interviewing for a job. That means that employers must curate candidate and onboarding experiences that are seamless and transparent—leveraging both technology and HR expertise.

Informed by proprietary data from the iCIMS platform and a survey of 1,000 U.S. job seekers, the report explored what talent expects from employers during the job search, application and hiring processes—as well as when it comes to internal mobility and career pathing—and how employers have pivoted to meet those expectations.

“Providing a great experience for your internal and external job candidates is no longer a ‘nice to have’; today, it affects the bottom line and is critical for businesses to get right,” says Laura Coccaro, chief people officer, of iCIMS.

A reputational concern

Coccaro explains that it’s never been easier for candidates and employees to air grievances and share experiences—both positive and negative—that they had with a company. So, in this era of digital interconnectedness and enhanced transparency, organizations must take a proactive approach to hiring and onboarding. With the direction of HR, these processes need to be designed not only with the talent experience in mind but also with the company’s reputation in the eyes of the talent marketplace.

For instance, applicants told iCIMS they do not want a hiring experience that leaves them in the dark, so to speak, says Coccaro: An overwhelming 80% of job seekers said that getting status updates during the application process would improve not only their experience but also their perception of an employer. Alternatively, respondents cited a lack of communication from an employer as one of the most frustrating aspects of the job application process.

That frustration, the report found, can have applicants flocking to job review sites with negative reviews, ultimately damaging the organization’s consumer relationship with that candidate and staining the broader public perception.

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Equal attention needs to be given to onboarding once a candidate has joined the organization, as this provides an employee with a first look at what it’s like to be part of a business—revealing whether the “smiley faces and big promises” are for show.

“Employers need to live up to the expectations they set, as the onboarding experience can leave a lasting impression on a new hire—and the internet,” she says.

Onboarding: a tech-enabled human experience

In traditional scenarios, she notes, onboarding consists of mountains of paperwork and manual, administrative tasks. But Coccaro asks: Is reading the employee handbook and safety guide the best impression to give new hires on their first day? Clearly, that’s a no, she says.

Laura Coccaro, iCIMS
Laura Coccaro

With a tech-enabled onboarding experience, Coccaro explains, employers can minimize and even eliminate the time new hires spend on administrative tasks.

See also: The onboarding mistakes that are crushing company culture

“Employees can review these materials before [new hires] start, giving them the time to dive right into their role, meet their colleagues or work with their manager to focus on their goals,” she says.

Onboarding can’t be all about technology, however. Tech can make the process seamless, but human intervention is still needed to give candidates a glimpse into the organization’s culture. “Marrying” these two approaches, she adds, can offer a “more exciting and impactful new hire experience.”

And that will ultimately benefit the bottom line.

“In this digital age where negative experiences are shared openly, it’s imperative to recognize that onboarding is a pivotal part of the new hire journey that can be supported by the combination of technological efficiency with irreplaceable human interaction,” she says. “By striking the right balance, organizations can create an onboarding experience that attracts and retains their valuable talent and fosters a sense of belonging.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].