Every company in Silicon Valley — and around the world for that matter — is hunting for a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining top-notch employees. But contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t need Ritz-Carlton retreats or on-demand errand services to attract the best and brightest.
Most smart professionals care more about finding a good culture fit in a company that values operational harmony and facilitates productivity. In other words, a workplace that allows them to get things done. But how can companies avoid the bureaucratic traps that so often stifle this efficiency?
I believe the answer lies in reinventing human resources. As the wants and needs of the modern workforce evolves, so too must the role of HR — it needs to become a more comprehensive function that encompasses the entire employee experience.
Here are five tips based on my experiences for re-inventing old-school human resources into a true employee experience that fosters a dynamic, healthy culture.
1. Turn onboarding into a team sport.
A 2014 survey from BambooHR, an HR software provider for small and medium-sized businesses (which we also use internally), found that 76 percent of new hires list on-the-job training as the most important thing a company can provide in the first week to get them up to speed and contributing quickly. At Nitro, we approach this challenge by turning onboarding into a team sport, ensuring the entire office is involved on some level.
For example, as soon as an offer letter is signed, we send out a welcome email from our team. On the first day, we set the new employee up with a “Nitro-mate” — usually someone from a different team — who acts as a buddy. New employees also have lunch with their team to get properly acquainted. Even though we have more than 100 employees, we still think it’s important for the new hire to have face-to-face time with our CEO to get the overarching vision and corporate strategy directly from the source.
Remember though, onboarding is not just a short-lived initiative. Be sure to continually check in with new hires, especially during the first 90 days — a critical window for assimilation. Nearly one in six employees quit a new job within six months, so successfully bringing someone on board is the first critical step to creating a strong employee experience foundation.
2. Make the workplace fun.
Nobody wants to view their job as a place where they have to be chained to their desk from 9 to 5. Incorporate fun activities into the workday to keep things light. On Fridays, to celebrate the arrival of the weekend, we have new hires push a beer cart around the office and distribute beverages, which is a good way for new faces to meet old ones. Cultivate a fun daily work environment, but also take time out to throw special events for employees, such as trivia nights or afternoon baseball games.
3. Gather and listen to employee feedback constantly.
The suggestion box is a relic of the past now that you can leverage technology to proactively gauge employee satisfaction. As a global company with offices on three continents, it can be difficult to figure out if we’re delivering a consistent employee experience. We use Culture Amp, an employee engagement survey platform, to conduct surveys twice a year that touch on everything from leadership to development to perks. We also send out surveys after we make internal changes (e.g., new lunch vendors, switch in benefits) to measure reactions.
Keep surveys anonymous, if possible. The ability to be open and honest is unbelievably refreshing for employees, and might even lead to some surprising findings. Don’t forget to learn from departing employees as well to find out what can be improved.
4. Make it easy to get stuff done.
In order to compete in the age of the connected consumer, companies practically bend over backwards to make their customers happy. Shouldn’t the same apply to employees? Make it easy for employees to perform the HR functions that are important to them, such as requesting time off, finding information about benefits and talking to someone about any issues that are arising in the workplace. Cut through the red tape and paperwork that HR has become synonymous with to allow employees to spend more time focused on their role. There are some great cloud-based HR software platforms out there that can help with this.
5. Put employees first.
Great employee experience is first and foremost about protecting and supporting the employees, not just the company. By providing employees with an engaging environment that enables them to enjoy their work, they can contribute positively to the business. At Nitro, we strive to provide great benefits and perks, along with career and personal development. We encourage our employees to keep sharpening their skills through education and training with our Nitro University program, as well as helping causes close to their hearts through our Nitro Gives program. Ensuring that you have happy and fulfilled employees promotes great performances.
At Nitro, we find that by abiding by these five tips — onboarding as a team, making the workplace fun, gathering and listening to employee feedback, making it easy,and putting employees first — we’re able to attract and retain awesome talent. So companies looking to find and keep the best of the best should focus on creating an outstanding employee experience and get rid of their old-school HR.