LAS VEGAS — When it comes to introducing new practices into the flow of day-to-day talent acquisition, HR can't always afford to sit back and wait on strategic changes, said Tony Lee, vice president of editorial at the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Instead, HR should experiment before asking for permission, Lee said, given the dire straits many companies find themselves in due to the current talent market. Otherwise, new ideas may never take off. "Do it and then ask for forgiveness," he told attendees at SHRM's annual conference Tuesday.
Lee recommended a few ways that HR can think about recruiting with a disruptive mindset — and in turn, bolster better talent management habits.
#1: A simple personal touch can reduce 'ghosting'
Before even getting into the complexity of recruiting new talent, employers may want to think about those who they've already hired. Recent fears of ghosting by both applicants far along in the process as well as first-day hires mean HR needs to think about ways to reach out to them more personally, Lee said.
There are several options. Employers can set up new hires with a "buddy," a long-time employee who can take them to lunch on their first day and help them get up to speed. They can place a small gift on a new hire's desk — Lee suggested a bouquet of fruit kabobs. Perhaps the IT department can program a welcome message on the hire's laptop so that it's the first thing they see.
The latter point might be a good test of the organization's onboarding process in and of itself, Lee said. "How many of you can actually have a laptop functional on the person's desk that day?"
#2: Adapt to what younger candidates say they want
Millennials and members of Generation Z may be looped together in talent discussion, but they have fundamentally different expectations of their work due to life experiences, Lee said.
Millennials, for example, have a reputation for job hopping, but may also appreciate an employer that directly engages them on what would make them stay, Lee said. "Don't be afraid to ask that question."
Though research seems divided as to whether most Gen Zers prioritize salary above all else in a job, Lee said the Great Recession's impact has led many members of this generation to be financially conscious, and that HR should have this aspect in mind. Lee also cited research showing 43% of Gen Z prefers face-to-face communication, and he said employers should look for ways to provide face time for Gen Zers.
#3: Make the application process shorter — five minutes is enough
Poor application completion rates result in the loss of quality talent, Lee said, and sluggish processes may be to blame for some early exits.
To test the effectiveness of the candidate experience, he told audience members to apply for jobs at their own companies, looking to bring the average time-to-complete down to five minutes.
One such model is the "red light test," Lee said. Under this analogy, if a candidate were to stop at a red light and begin the application process, they should be able to complete it before the light turns green.
#4: Expand the use of remote work
Most employers now say remote work benefits both the company and employees, Lee said, meaning HR should give more thought to expanding remote work opportunities.
As a proof of concept, Lee appealed to the typical remote-work experiences of attendees. People tend to work harder from home, Lee said, for fear of seeming lazy or otherwise disconnected from their teams. With this in mind, recruiters might consider qualified, out-of-town candidates more readily.
#5: Create and engage with an alumni network
So-called "boomerang" employees provide a quick and easy source of talent that is already familiar with how the organization works, according to Lee. "These can be some of your best new hires," he said.
HR can help such an initiative forward by creating a company alumni network that keeps former employees in the loop. Be wary of re-hiring those who may have been fired for disciplinary reasons, though, Lee said.
#6: Provide a little incentive toward referrals
Referrals are still the primary source of new hires at many organizations, Lee said, but the payments employers offer to workers in order to encourage referrals are often low, if they exist at all.
What HR offers for referrals may vary depending on company size and type of position, but even a gift card could be effective for encouraging referrals to hourly positions. And while the organization should avoid homogeneity, Lee said diverse companies should be able to encourage diverse referrals.