THE STATE OF
A Whitepaper by Electric
Across all sectors and business sizes, the competition for talent continues to intensify. People Teams, in particular, are under immense pressure to tackle increased turnover, while simultaneously filling newly created positions.
Maintaining and growing headcount has never been more challenging. Yet, this focus on recruitment is critical if businesses are to emerge from the upheaval of the past two years, and embrace the opportunities that now lie ahead.
Of course, recruitment isn’t the only priority for People Teams. To make a lasting impact, new hires must be successfully onboarded to reach their full potential, and retention strategies must be implemented to support both new and long-standing employees.
People Teams are set to play a vital role in powering small businesses to bounce back from the Great Resignation. Electric surveyed 172 HR and People Team professionals, in businesses with up to 500 employees, to understand their outlook for the year ahead.
Keep reading for our findings on 2022 hiring plans, the current state of onboarding, and the technological obstacles to progress.
Following an extended period of workforce change and uncertainty, small and medium-sized businesses plan to hire aggressively in 2022.
Do you have plans to increase hiring in 2022?
Most, however, are struggling to recruit for vacant roles. 68% of survey respondents said they plan to increase employee headcount in the coming year, while 53% said they are finding it challenging to fill open positions.
Are you currently struggling to fill open positions?
A shortage of applicants and competition for talent were the most commonly reported obstacles to recruitment. To compensate for a difficult market, most small businesses appear to have invested in their hiring efforts. In a positive finding, less than a quarter of respondents cited insufficient recruitment resources as being an issue in their organization.
If you are struggling to fill open positions, what is the reason why?
However, even with increased effort and resources, recruitment struggles are likely being compounded by an elevated rate of departing employees. Just under half of survey respondents (47%) experienced higher than average employee turnover in the past year, making expansion even more difficult for People Teams who may be struggling to simply maintain critical headcount.
These recent shifts in workforce mobility reinforce the need for strong retention strategies to complement hiring efforts. Without structured plans in place to retain top talent, People Teams can find themselves caught in an endless cycle of overwhelming recruitment demands.
In light of the current competition for talent, it is reassuring that the majority of small businesses recognize the need to form a positive first impression during an employee’s early days and weeks. Three quarters of survey respondents said their organization now has a structured onboarding process in place.
That being said, over 60% of respondents said their onboarding process lasts less than two weeks. Considering that it takes up to eight months for a new hire to reach full productivity, new employees are likely experiencing a significant gap in support. To effectively equip new hires for success, onboarding should extend far beyond the week-one basics of email and device setup.
How long does your onboarding process last?
How efficient do you feel your organization’s onboarding process is?
Despite the relatively short timelines involved, the sentiment surrounding onboarding processes is mostly positive. Only 7% of respondents said they find their onboarding process to be inefficient. It is worth noting, however, that a significant cohort (45%) labelled their onboarding as only “somewhat efficient,” suggesting an awareness that there is room for improvement.
Of course, a true assessment of onboarding quality can only be determined by its subjects: the employees themselves. Soliciting feedback should be the first step for HR and People Teams seeking to improve their onboarding process, and promisingly, 69% said they currently ask for this input.
Is the feedback you receive from new employees on the onboarding process mostly:
It is perhaps unsurprising that those who proactively invite assessment also receive mostly positive evaluations (68%) from new hires. This figure indicates significant improvements have been made in recent years, considering 2017 research found only 12% of workers strongly agreed that their organization did a great job onboarding new employees.
Do you find onboarding to be a challenging or frustrating aspect of your role?
While progress has clearly been made, a significant segment of HR professionals (52%) still find onboarding to be a challenging or frustrating aspect of their role. This suggests that, while new employees are generally supported and onboarded adequately, there is a disproportionate demand on hiring teams’ resources in order to achieve this output.
Frustration with onboarding processes is likely exacerbated by the pressure on People Teams to expand recruitment and retention in the coming year. Given that most are attempting to scale these efforts within existing or reduced resources, the only viable solution is to improve efficiency.
Of course, it’s not just People Teams who stand to benefit from streamlined productivity. Among survey respondents, the responsibility for onboarding typically falls on a combination of HR and People Teams (59%), hiring managers (39%), and administrative or workplace management staff (21%).
Who in your organization is responsible for the employee onboarding process?
75% said they have dedicated IT resources to support the onboarding process, yet, a significant percentage of respondents still expressed frustrations with IT-related onboarding tasks – ranging from system access management through to device procurement and provisioning. This indicates the technology resources available aren’t quite meeting the heightened needs of hiring teams.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of employee onboarding?
As a result, People Teams are losing valuable time to the routine administrative tasks involved in getting new hires up and running, and are consequently distracted from other more strategic projects. 42% of survey respondents said IT limitations in the onboarding process mean they have less time to spend on recruitment and retention initiatives, while 39% said they lose time to repetitive tasks that could be automated.
Do you experience any of the following challenges as a result of IT limitations in the onboarding process?
To achieve the ambitious workforce plans that most small businesses have set out for the year ahead, People Teams need to be empowered to nurture existing employees and source new hires. Instead, much of their time is consumed by repetitive administrative tasks that could be streamlined.
Deployed effectively, technology is an invaluable asset in making these processes less labor-intensive. However, while the majority of small businesses have IT resources in place for their People Teams, it appears that most have yet to achieve true efficiency in this space.
Survey respondents highlighted a number of IT improvements that would make them more effective in their roles, with the common theme being tools to automate and streamline repetitive administrative tasks, and to improve the visibility of onboarding management.
Which of the following IT supports would make your job easier?
However, it is clear that more resources aren’t necessarily the answer. Finding efficiencies in existing resources appears to be a more realistic solution, particularly given that hiring additional IT staff or increasing spend is not an option for most teams. Almost one third of respondents said they are currently struggling to fill open IT positions, while 26% said a lack of budget to recruit additional IT professionals was an obstacle.
What obstacles do you face when seeking additional IT support?
Likewise, adding new software to People Teams’ toolkits may not provide the appropriate support. In fact, additional tools could inadvertently worsen workloads that are already under strain from juggling multiple, disconnected resources. When the quantity of SaaS apps already in use by most organizations is taken into account, it becomes apparent that consolidation and centralized management would be a more effective approach.
How many SaaS applications does your organization use in total?
Faced with heightened recruitment demands in 2022, there is a risk that People Teams’ retention strategies could fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, this is only likely to contribute to ongoing employee turnover, and perpetuate the cycle of reactively filling vacant positions.
Successful onboarding is fundamental to breaking this pattern, ensuring new hires reach their full potential as quickly as possible, and improving the overall engagement and productivity of an organization’s workforce.
The majority of small businesses have successfully implemented structured onboarding processes, and technology is increasingly playing a role in supporting these efforts. However, technical onboarding tasks are not without their frustrations, and it is evident that HR IT could be better aligned with organizational needs.
Without eliminating needlessly repetitive tasks from People Teams’ workloads, small businesses will struggle to reach their workforce targets in 2022. Enhancing and streamlining process-heavy aspects of People Teams’ roles will empower them to focus on their other critical responsibilities: growing teams, retaining talent, and powering business success.
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