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Preoccupation with process, is costing businesses top talent

We always talk of onboarding as a process, but in order to hire the best talent in any market, we need to think more holistically about the candidate’s experience when joining a business. We should want to ensure an employee will move from new hire to prospective leader in a single positive experience.

We always talk of onboarding as a process, but in order to hire the best talent in any market, we need to think more holistically about the candidate’s experience when joining a business. Contributor Claire Darley, Senior Director of Consumer & Business, EMEA – Adobe.

We should want to ensure an employee will move from new hire to prospective leader in a single positive experience. Many businesses, however, are struggling to attract new talent quickly, or in a way that encourages enthusiasm from them. Instead, businesses are preoccupied with improving internal processes, leading to a disconnect between themselves and potential employees. Leaders must aim to move away from thinking of people as just a part of the process if they want to guarantee they’re hiring the best talent possible. While processes matter to organisations, it’s experiences that matter to people.

The first step for a business to take in designing a better candidate experience, is to identify the areas that are creating difficulty between a candidate and employer. One of the most common areas that organisations struggle with is onboarding new staff quickly. Many businesses hire from across the EU, and inevitably deal with a wide assortment of contracts and local regulations. If a candidate in France was being hired by a UK based organisation, for example, they would receive a verbal offer and then wait for the hard copy paperwork to arrive for initial review, which could take up to two weeks. If the contract needed to be renegotiated, the process could take up to another six weeks before it is signed. During this time a business risks losing the candidates enthusiasm and excitement, and they may even become more willing to hear offers from competitors.

The problem is paper
So how do you ensure a better experience for candidates? Mailing physical documents between locations and offices for physical signatures is costly and time consuming. However, it is simple to migrate this whole process to digital documentation. With electronic signatures gaining standardised recognition in the EU under eIDAS legislation last summer, businesses have the framework necessary to onboard candidates quickly and easily.

By moving away from cumbersome paper contracts, organisations can reduce the time it takes to sign them from weeks, to a couple of days. For example, Adobe worked with, the UK’s leading online recruitment service, to reinvent their document processing. Notably, the adoption of Adobe Sign has resulted in the majority of employee contracts being signed and authorised in a couple of hours, up from an average of eight previously. When working alongside documents that can be instantly amended, such as PDFs, candidates can have revised and signed contracts in front of them within a matter of hours. Not only this, but by reducing the time it takes to complete contracts, a business can process more of them – in turn, increasing revenue.

Physical documentation isn’t just wasting the time of candidates, either. Adobe’s recent Document Drain survey of 7,000 European office employees discovered that professionals across Europe are spending almost one day a week on office administration such as printing documents, filling out forms, and chasing people for signatures.

HR professionals are the one’s best placed to lead this paperless transformation. Workflow issues will be apparent to HR professionals, and they can make assessments of candidates and employees’ needs and how these needs can be met with the right tools. For, Adobe’s e-signature solution not only improved processing, but has eliminated tracking and management issues from their previous approach.

The experience in action
Despite refining the administration in the onboarding experience, businesses must also use this as a catalyst to improve the entire experience for candidates. It’s important to strive for transparency by keeping in touch with the recruit, and walking them through payroll and other internal documents too. Their manager could get in touch by phone to keep them informed and excited. This ensures familiarity between the future employee and their employer, and sets them up for success from the first day. It takes more than a quick experience to embrace the best talent, it must be a personal one too.

One of the biggest things preventing many companies from improving their candidate’s experience is technology – or more accurately, attitudes towards technology. Many organisations are still restricted by their use of paper documents, and haven’t yet adopted a digital-first approach. In order to develop their infrastructure and onboarding processes, they should evaluate their existing solutions, and decide which processes they could improve, or remove them entirely. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach for a business; an experience must be bespoke to both employer and employee needs.

That also means looking at process from the candidates’ point of view, cutting out inefficient processes and unappealing time-wasting activities, and instead focusing on moving a person from interested candidate to enthusiastic long-term employee. By utilising electronic documents and e-signatures, and providing an experience driven approach, candidates will no longer be worried their offer has been stalled or withdrawn. In the case of, the business now sees approximately 30% of contracts signed for within five minutes, and over half of all contracts completed in two hours. With digital solutions in place, candidates know exactly what’s happening with their paperwork, and instead of wasting time waiting for the post to arrive, they’re preparing to continue a positive relationship with their new employer.

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