By Alex Tolbert
Many small and mid-sized businesses are growing and creating new jobs these days, but most aren’t hiring quickly enough to fill them effectively.
According to the 2019 BerniePortal Recruitment Report, inefficient hiring processes are putting these organizations at a disadvantage in the war for talent. Facing the most competitive job market in 50 years, the report indicates improving the hiring process and prioritizing retention are critical in maintaining a fully-staffed workforce and steady business growth.
Reducing time to hire, streamlining applications and prioritizing onboarding can help small businesses find more and better candidates in the competitive labor market.
Top talent isn’t on the job market for long
Quality applicants are generally off the job market within days of looking for a new opportunity, but most small businesses are hiring at a much slower pace.
The survey found that nearly half of respondents had a hiring process between 14 and 30 days, while 20 percent reported an average time to hire as between a month and six weeks. Thirteen percent said it takes their organization longer than 45 days to bring on a new hire.
What causes an extended hiring process? Many HR professionals at small organizations are working as “teams of one,” and responsible for a variety of organizational needs, including hiring. As a result, it’s easy for hiring tasks to pile up and get pushed to the backburner.
Small businesses must reduce their time to hire
The survey indicates that reducing an organization’s time to hire is one of the most actionable ways HR teams can recognize more and better applicants in their pipeline. Committing to a 24-hour response time after receiving a resume is a simple action item most organizations can take, but doing so requires streamlining other responsibilities.
Technology can add a lot of value for organizations looking to accomplish this. HR software solutions reduce the amount of time organizations spend on tasks like applicant tracking, onboarding, benefits administration and more – freeing up valuable time to spend on recruitment and retention.
To get more applicants, make the application process easier
According to the survey, many small businesses’ application processes are actually deterring candidates from applying.
Some organizations require applicants to complete a complicated, multi-step process, entering the same information multiple times or through multiple websites. There is sometimes a perception that these steps will “weed out” less capable employees, and this mindset may have made sense when unemployment was much higher and businesses saw an overwhelming number of applicants. But today, it deters quality candidates from applying.
Many applicants are looking for positions via mobile devices on job sites like Indeed, so taking the hiring process online through job boards and applicant tracking software can make this process easier for both potential hires and admins. However, the survey report found that just 17 percent of respondents are using applicant tracking solutions.
Don’t forget retention
Because of the time and financial commitment associated with recruitment – Glassdoor reports companies spend an average of $4,000 per new hire – retention is also a high priority for HR professionals.
While turnover is a multi-faceted issue, one opportunity the survey identified to improve retention was creating a positive, team-focused onboarding experience. In general, a positive onboarding experience prioritizes the new hire’s early connection with their direct colleagues, the broader company and team leadership.
However, many organizations are spending the majority of a new hire’s first few days on paperwork that could be managed prior to their first day. By onboarding online before the new hire begins, HR professionals can ensure more time is spent integrating with the team and ramping up to new responsibilities.
Small businesses have to move quickly
Small and mid-sized businesses are losing out on quality applicants due to the limited bandwidth these organizations have to spend on recruitment and retention.
To find and retain better talent, small businesses can reduce their time to hire, make their applications simpler and faster to compete, and create a positive onboarding experience. Tech tools can help smaller organizations accomplish these steps and make the most out of their hiring efforts.
The full survey results can be found here.
Alex Tolbert is the founder and CEO of BerniePortal, the all-in-one HRIS for small and mid-sized businesses. He is an industry-recognized expert on HR technology, the benefits industry, small business operations and software development. Connect with him on Twitter: @BerniePortal