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Sometimes there’s comfort in the familiar. We rely on the “tried and true” way of doing things. In the workplace, that kind of dependable consistency often continues for years. And maybe it works — well enough.

But sometimes, the things we take for granted deserve a shake-up.

At Indeed, we are constantly trying to innovate by rethinking old strategies. From engineering to sales to client success and beyond, we challenge every individual in our organization to evaluate what’s working and improve what’s not.

So when it comes to onboarding new hires, we recently started testing a concept we call “impact onboarding.” The basic idea is simple: rather than spend days passively reading policies and attending training sessions, employees are empowered to start contributing to the company immediately. So how does it work?

What if new employees could start contributing on day one?

When companies hire new people, they anticipate a ramp-up period. But we hire people because they’re smart and they’ve shown potential. Not only that, new hires want opportunities to prove themselves early on — so it makes sense for us as employers to find ways to make this possible for them.

Impact onboarding flips the traditional, passive model by providing new employees with opportunities to start giving their best on day one. We want to communicate to new hires that we trust them and hired them for their intellect. And that, in turn, gives them the confidence to be more productive and confident, allowing them to contribute to Indeed faster.

So we’re asking these questions: What can new employees do to improve Indeed or support job seekers or employers in their first week? How can we harness their new-job enthusiasm and fresh perspectives while immersing them in the company culture at the same time?

The act of answering these questions acclimates new hires by facilitating collaboration with other new employees who are in different departments. It helps them build cross-functional relationships and learn company culture in a low-stakes way — relationships that continue after the week of onboarding is over.

How it works

Recently, we tried this new method on seven new hires in engineering, marketing and search quality. The week is rooted in play, so new hires feel empowered to explore themselves and Indeed, as well as to be creative and fun, all while operating under some constraints. We worked with an innovative boutique consulting firm called PlayWell whose mission is to make work more playful. They helped us develop the game-like structure for this pilot.

We split the group into two teams on Monday, and we gave each the theme “Happiness at Work.” Their job was to come up with a project, test and tweak it, and then present it to managers and colleagues on Friday afternoon.

Each group received these guidelines:

  • Come up with a winning idea, build a prototype and then test within one week.
  • Collect outside feedback and make adjustments, or scrap the idea and do something else.
  • Don’t worry about failing, because there’s merit in understanding data to know what works and doesn’t work.
  • Don’t worry about moving the needle; it’s great if that happens but the number-one priority is that the new hires are able to build relationships, learn how we work as a company and have the opportunity to explore, create and bring their best selves to work.

We wanted to make the experience a microcosm of our culture, so we wanted it to be fun as well as challenging. As the challenge progressed, we made teams pick a “shift card” when they hit a roadblock in their thinking and needed a fresh perspective. The card might change an aspect of the game — for instance, making them shift locations from the conference room to a space in the office to spark different thoughts.

Thumbs-up on pilot results

Happiness at work is a broad topic, and that’s precisely why we chose it for this initial, high-impact exercise.  

So how did these two groups raise the happiness factor?

One developed a new way to meet people in the lunchroom on our Austin campus. The other created a website to help new grads find their first jobs. A single theme went two directions: an internal process and an external product.

At Indeed, we develop and deploy ideas, test them and gather feedback. Then we make adjustments, and we put the ideas out there again. Impact onboarding introduces teams to this value right away and sets the stage for a career of innovation.

We are learning that people are capable of so much, even in their first few days. And we’re discovering that our hypothesis is accurate — new people do bring ideas when they first walk in the door.

The future of onboarding

We’ve tried impact onboarding twice, and we’re planning to test it more. Early results show real promise.

What worked so well? Sarah Eadie, who recently joined us on the product marketing team, participated in the workplace happiness challenge with new hires in the engineering department. What did she get out of the experience?

“There’s always trepidation when you start a new role,” says Sarah. “But impact onboarding helped prove to me that I could hold my own with other new hires and work together on something really great. It encouraged us to think expansively and to be ourselves within the group. That made me more comfortable once I started my actual duties.”

Sarah remains in touch with her group from the impact onboarding week:

“We have an existing connection that’s not tied to needing to prove anything to each other. Since we’re all in different departments, we can be candid about feedback, or asking for that ‘one-off thing.’”

Trying new things is always exciting — and it’s especially gratifying when they work. Turning the tables on employees, inspiring them to innovate and considering their ideas with open minds worked wonders for our test groups and program stakeholders. As we continue to refine and perfect this idea, our next task will be to figure out a way to scale it company-wide.

Think about implementing impact onboarding where you work. If you value fresh ideas, unhindered new hires may be in the best position to propose them.

Paul Wolfe is SVP of Human Resources at Indeed.

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Every day our news outlets and social feeds are full of reports about strife over racial, religious and gender issues. Pair this with a polarized political climate, and it’s clear that the need for the acceptance — and celebration of our differences is vital. This applies to the workplace, too.

Embracing diversity in the workplace encompasses many things: gender, race, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, age and neurodiversity, for instance. Today, business and HR leaders are either working to create a diverse and inclusive workplace or they should be.  

It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s good for business. McKinsey’s report Why Diversity Matters examines how diversity affects profitability and long-term valuation. Companies with the highest gender diversity among their executive management were 21% more likely to show better-than-normal profitability than competitors with the least gender variance in management. Similarly, companies with ethnic and cultural diversity outperform those without by 33%.

So how can we boost our efforts to be as inclusive as possible?

1. Educate your employees

Prejudice can influence each stage of the hiring process. For instance, one famous study found that resumes using the “white-sounding” names Emily and Greg received 50% more callbacks than resumes using the “African-American-sounding names” Lakisha and Jamal. Other research has explored the phenomenon of “resume whitening,” whereby minorities remove details that may reveal their race for fear of discrimination.

So it’s important to train new recruiters and hiring managers to recognize bias and then how to take action. There are lots of good courses available on Unconscious Bias and professional associations that can help you work to eliminate bias from your hiring process.  The key thing is to do your homework and choose the curriculum that is most meaningful to you and your company culture.

But remember: as you introduce this training, reassure your audience that this is not about judging them as individuals.  Bias, sadly, is just part of being human. We start to make a difference when we acknowledge it. Then, knowing what to look for, we can find  ways to correct it.

2. Make job postings gender neutral

Taking gendered language out of postings may help job seekers to see possibilities they may not have considered before and so diversify your talent pool.

The language of job postings can influence the kinds of applicants you attract. For instance, researchers at Duke University and the University of Waterloo found that ads for traditionally male-dominated professions — such as engineering and programming — also prominently featured words associated with male stereotypes, such as decisive and dominant.

This same study suggests that replacing stereotypically masculine wording with gender-neutral phrasing can lead to more gender parity among candidates. For instance, instead of talking about “dominance,” you might instead talk about “excellence in the market.”

Similarly, avoiding words traditionally associated with female stereotypes, such as responsible and together, can attract more men to jobs in traditionally female-dominated fields such as nursing.

At Indeed we phrase our job descriptions in such a way that they apply to anyone. For instance, when hiring for an engineer, we describe characteristics that apply to everyone: “You are someone who wants to see the impact of their work and make a difference every day.”  

Look for stereotypes and rethink them — then reword them. Tools such as this gender decoder or Textio can help to identify biased language in job postings and other communications.

3. Expand the search

If your company isn’t attracting a diverse set of applicants, encourage recruiters and managers to cast a wide net earlier in candidates’ job search.

Do they have good contacts with local colleges and alumni associations? Are they networking with professional association chapters and other groups that offer student memberships?

If your company can sponsor historically underrepresented groups in your area, you can expose many different people to careers they might not have considered in the past.

For instance, Indeed’s Inclusion Team has worked with our own employee-led Inclusion Resource Groups to support many community-based organizations, such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Built By Girls, OutYouth, Asian Family Support Services and many others.

So reach out — you’ll likely find there are many partners eager to cooperate with you!

4. Tell good stories

People love a good story, and good employee stories can do wonders to demonstrate your company’s inclusive and welcoming culture.

If you have a company news page, you could spotlight employee stories. Johnson & Johnson regularly share “personal stories” from employees that reinforce and celebrate the firm’s commitment to diversity. For instance, here’s an inspiring story about an employee who recently transitioned from female to male with the full support of the company.

Tech giant SAP is another good example. Its pioneering Autism at Work program started in 2013 and has provided opportunities to many people who historically have struggled to find acceptance in the workplace. Its news page not only highlights employee stories but also shines a spotlight on the annual conference that grew out of the program.

What stories do you have to share? It doesn’t have to be an article. It could be a video, a social campaign or a review shared on a third party website. Just make sure you get your stories out there.

Demonstrating your own inclusivity and diversity to a wide audience shows your commitment to providing opportunities. By doing so, you will attract candidates who live by these principles, too.

5. Build an inclusion team

If your company doesn’t already have one, consider adding an inclusion leader to head up your diversity and inclusion strategy.

This leader can advocate for inclusion inside your organization, spearhead partnerships with external organizations dedicated to advancing inclusion, set up speakers’ series and advance the formation of inclusion groups where members can collaborate and host outreach events. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

At Indeed, employees have formed groups including iPride, Women at Indeed and the Black Inclusion Group. These groups are themselves highly inclusive: any employee interested in supporting their aims and efforts can join. We also attend conferences and workshops with other companies that have similar groups.

On the national level, our Inclusion Team has formed partnered with organizations such as Disability:IN, an organization that focuses on the inclusion of people with disabilities; Anita Borg, which is focused on the advancement of women in technological roles; and Out & Equal, which advances LGBTQ equality in the workplace.

Wrapping up

Inclusion is not restricted to any one company, and the more that those of us working to create a more welcoming workplace team up to learn from one another, the better.  In this area of business, there should be no competition — only partnership.

So let’s all strive to create workplaces where the rich and incredible diversity of the human race is celebrated and all employees can be their true, authentic selves. Together, we can do it.

Paul Wolfe is SVP of Human Resources at Indeed.

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After weeks of reading through resumes and interviewing candidates, you think you’ve found someone who would be a good fit for your business. Now it’s time to start reeling them in with an offer they can’t refuse.

This isn’t simply a matter of picking up the phone and telling them the job’s theirs if they want it. In today’s tight labor market, you can’t assume that people will just accept a job offer simply because they receive one.

The art of the offer is a dance. There are steps that each partner must make. As the lead, it’s up to you to set the pace and keep the rhythm. You don’t want to step on your partner’s toes, and you know there are lots of others waiting in the wings for their chance to step in and take your partner away. Clearly, you’re going to need to make all the right moves.

The verbal offer

Step one is the verbal offer. Do this over the phone if possible. Generally speaking, the printed word isn’t as good at conveying those revealing unspoken clues and nuances we express when speaking. These subtle signs can convey a lot about the candidate’s interest in your offer, and if you don’t make the offer via an actual conversation, you could miss them.

Let them know straight away that you’re extending an official offer of employment to them. Be sure to provide such important details as the job title, start date, compensation, bonus structure, pay frequency, plus any legal constraints (like noncompete clauses) and the date by which the offer should be accepted or declined.

If possible, make a link between whatever professional goals the candidate told you about in the interview and the offer. For example, if they told you that career growth is important, be sure to highlight training opportunities that are available to your employees.

After you’ve provided all this information, it’s okay to ask if they can verbally accept your offer now. That said, it’s important to be sensitive to the candidate’s current situation, especially if they are employed. Switching jobs can be stressful. The candidate may be looking elsewhere for reasons that have nothing to do with how happy they are at their current job.

The written offer

If you were able to get verbal acceptance over the phone from the candidate, it’s time to move on to the written offer.

This should include all the information you gave them in the verbal offer, as well as their start date, their future manager’s name and the contact info for someone who can answer any questions they might have before they start. You should also prepare them for things that might affect their start date, like a background check or the completion of work with their current employer.

Get the written offer in their hands as soon as possible with a physical letter or a PDF in an email. To keep the momentum going, it’s a good idea to give them a tight deadline of a few business days to respond with their written acceptance. After you’ve sent it, follow up via phone or email to make sure they received it.

If they accept the offer, be sure to continue to follow up once a week between now and the start date. The longer that space of time is, the greater the risk that the candidate might back out.

Never assume you’ve got it in the bag! The offer isn’t really accepted until they’re in the office on day one, getting to know the rest of the team.

After the start date

After the start date has passed and the candidate has become an employee, your work still isn’t done.

Onboarding is an art, and the thinking on the right way to do it has evolved in some very interesting ways recently. So don’t neglect it!

Help your new hire acclimate to the new environment by introducing them to their coworkers at a team lunch. Get them into a mentorship program so they can get ramped up. Stay engaged with them for the first month or so to make sure their expectations of the role match the reality so you can identify and address any issues early.

But what about the candidates who aren’t receiving an offer? It may seem like a small or insignificant thing, but how you let them know can impact your business’s reputation, and in today’s hyperconnected, share-everything world, that is no small matter. Often the rejected candidates make up a larger pool than those we accept, so their experience is just as important as that of the candidates we hire.

We’ll be tackling this subject very soon. In the meantime, why not have a look at our handy Indeed Hiring Guide for more tips on how to hire quality candidates?

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You don’t spend all that time, effort and money on sourcing, vetting and hiring great candidates only to have them leave your company just a few short months later—but according to one survey that’s exactly what 31% of new employees do within six months of being hired.

To mitigate this, the same kind of high-touch strategy you use to nurture and hire candidates should be employed during the onboarding process.

The excitement you established before the candidate started should be built upon once they are inside the company. Set the tone for an inclusive, mission-driven culture in those crucial early days of employment. After all, those new hires are an asset right from the moment they walk through your doors.

The art of onboarding

At this year’s Indeed Interactive, Paul Wolfe, Indeed’s SVP of Human Resources, shared his thoughts on the art of onboarding and why getting it right is so important to your organization.

In this short video, Paul explains why Indeed takes onboarding every bit as seriously as the rest of the hiring process and why the company is rethinking traditional strategies of familiarizing new hires with their work.

Challenging conventional wisdom, Paul argues that this valuable time should be spent on more than just passively absorbing information about the company. Even in these early days, a new hire’s fresh perspective can be harnessed to innovate and provide solutions to challenges—a process he calls “reverse onboarding.”  

He also takes a look at internal mobility and why the candidate experience matters so much for those employees who may leave but return to you one day.

Want to know more? Watch the video for tips on how to set up onboarding processes that could benefit your company for years to come—and see below to learn how Indeed can help you find candidates that match your needs. 

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You don’t spend all that time, effort and money on sourcing, vetting and hiring great candidates only to have them leave your company just a few short months later—but according to one survey that’s exactly what 31% of new employees do within six months of being hired.

To mitigate this, the same kind of high-touch strategy you use to nurture and hire candidates should be employed during the onboarding process.

The excitement you established before the candidate started should be built upon once they are inside the company. Set the tone for an inclusive, mission-driven culture in those crucial early days of employment. After all, those new hires are an asset right from the moment they walk through your doors.

The art of onboarding

At this year’s Indeed Interactive, Paul Wolfe, Indeed’s SVP of Human Resources, shared his thoughts on the art of onboarding and why getting it right is so important to your organization.

In this short video, Paul explains why Indeed takes onboarding every bit as seriously as the rest of the hiring process and why the company is rethinking traditional strategies of familiarizing new hires with their work.

Challenging conventional wisdom, Paul argues that this valuable time should be spent on more than just passively absorbing information about the company. Even in these early days, a new hire’s fresh perspective can be harnessed to innovate and provide solutions to challenges—a process he calls “reverse onboarding.”  

He also takes a look at internal mobility and why the candidate experience matters so much for those employees who may leave but return to you one day.

Want to know more? Watch the video for tips on how to set up onboarding processes that could benefit your company for years to come—and see below to learn how Indeed can help you find candidates that match your needs. 

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So you’ve gone through all the resumes and identified the candidates who have the skills, attitude and aptitude mojo your business needs, and now it’s time to move on to the next phase of the hiring process—the interview.

Interviews are important when it comes to testing the impressions you got from the candidate’s resume, and can provide you with a more complete sense of how qualified they are for the role, but remember that the process goes both ways.

They are learning about you as you are learning about them. Both parties should be putting their best foot forward, and on your side of the table, that means having a game plan.

This brief meeting might be the only chance you have to interact with the client prior to hiring them, and you’re going to want to get the most out of the opportunity. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

Before the interview

We can’t overemphasize the importance of communication, and that is especially true during this part of the process.

In addition to letting the candidate know when and where the interview will take place, help them make it on time by giving them detailed traffic information or an alternate route.

If you have a security guard or receptionist on duty, give them a heads up that you have a very important guest coming to visit.

Will the candidate need to show an ID when they arrive? Let them know. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to give the applicant a friendly reminder call or email the day before.

Have your questions lined up

Take a little time to reread the job description you posted and write out the skills that you think will most apply to the open position.

Don’t forget to include relevant soft skills like communication, teamwork, flexibility and problem solving.

Use them as a guide while you’re coming up with questions to ask during the interview. Will you be interviewing multiple candidates?

Make note of which questions apply to all of them and add them to the list.

Read the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines

And while we’re talking about preparation, do you know the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines for pre-employment inquiries? You should. Some interview questions could be used as evidence of discrimination.

In fact, a staggering 35 percent of job seekers reported in an Associated Press and CNBC study that they have been asked illegal questions during an interview.

While the EEOC’s site doesn’t list out specific questions that are forbidden, it does provide a list of topics to avoid, and these include race, sex, national origin, disability status, age, religion and ancestry. 

Familiarizing yourself with the rules can save you potential legal headaches further down the road, including costly lawsuits.

Topics to avoid

A good rule of thumb is to look at each of your questions and ask: Is it related to the job? Will it always be interpreted correctly? Does it apply equally to all? This can wind up eliminating questions that on the surface might seem like harmless small talk.

These can include:

  • What year did you graduate from high school? Anything that hints at ageism should be avoided.
  • Where do your kids go to school? This can be interpreted as an employer trying to learn whether you might be leaving early to pick up kids from school or even miss work due to a child’s illness. 
  • How was the drive in?  This might be construed as implying the candidate lives in a bad area, has a terrible commute or could always be late or working from home.
  • Where is your surname from? This is another example of a seemingly friendly question that can be interpreted as an attempt to figure out a person’s ethnic background. It’s not relevant to the job they are interviewing for and can be used as evidence of discrimination.
  • What does your wife/husband do for a living? This could be construed as trying to suss out not only the applicant’s marital status but their sexual identity.

If you’re looking for more examples that fit in these categories, there are plenty of great articles and guidelines out there that can help you avoid stepping on any legal land mines.

The big questions

Hiring the right person is one of the most impactful decisions your business can make, and the interview is one of the few, if not only, chances you’re going to have to get to know your candidates. Don’t get caught flat-footed. Be ready.

By now, you’re probably thinking through some great questions to ask your interviewee. Hold that thought! We’re going to be addressing some big interview questions that are frequently underrated and overlooked on the pages of this blog very soon.

Aaron Schwartz is Senior Manager, Employer Insights at Indeed. Learn more about how to make great hires in The Hiring Handbook.

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Stories about giant companies with deep pockets make for fun reading. But the truth is that not every firm can afford to provide employees with profit sharing options or on-site child care.

Most employers live in a different reality: one where every dollar counts and the name of the game is making the biggest impact possible with the most economical use of resources.  

Being lean isn’t just a virtue—it’s central to success. This applies to head count, too.

But there can come a point when you can get a bit too lean. Sure, investing in extra staff is expensive, but sometimes not investing in new staff can be even more costly because doing too much with too little can damage your business.

Here are five signs to help you identify when it’s time to invest in people.

1. Beware the signs of burnout

Working hard is great. But be careful that you’re not pushing people past their limits.

If team members keep telling you that it’s difficult (or impossible) to get all their work done, that’s a warning sign of too many responsibilities and not enough people to complete them.

Pay attention to nonverbal cues, too.

Have you noticed an uptick in the number of projects that aren’t getting finished? Are too many of them taking too long to execute? Is it tough for your team to set—and stick to—goals? Do ordinarily cheerful people seem stressed and irritable?

All these could be signs of burnout. If it’s not dealt with, your employees might leave, increasing the pressure on those who remain and making your staffing situation even more problematic.

2. In a management vacuum, no one can hear you scream

Do you feel like you’re constantly fielding questions and approving requests on matters both big and small? You know you’ve hired good people, so why do they keep asking you about every little thing?

Well, they probably need more oversight, training and support than you alone have time to provide. And if you can’t do it all, then it could be time to hire.

A strategic management hire can make a team function better. By putting someone in place to keep an eye on processes and handle all those day-to-day questions and decisions, your team will be freed up to contribute more.

They’re not the only ones who will benefit. Filling the vacuum will mean less stress for you and more time to focus on the crucial strategic tasks related to running your business. You’ll free yourself up to concentrate on the big picture.

3. Saving money is costing you money

Sometimes you can pinch a few too many pennies; and sometimes waiting too long to hire (or not hiring at all) can wind up costing you money.

Let’s say you’re seeing an increase in overtime pay, or you have scheduling gaps and rely on the same few people to fill shifts—those are signs of an under-resourced team.

Overtime can get costly, and it’s definitely not a long-term solution. In fact, it can increase the risk of burnout among overextended employees, who might seek a better work-life balance elsewhere.

Losing an employee doesn’t just mean that you’re out the investment you put into helping them develop skills and experience. The time taken to find a replacement will also cost you money. Meanwhile, you’re spending all your energy refilling a role you already had filled, instead of finding the additional help you really need.

And if you’re turning down contracts because you don’t have the people to do the work? It’s going to be tough to grow your business. In situations like this, hiring someone can empower you to capitalize on opportunities and drive new revenue.  

4. Customer service is slipping

The signs that it’s time to hire may not just be coming from your existing team. Do you see an increase in customer complaints about responsiveness and transaction quality? Are orders going unfulfilled or going out late?

Customers might be frustrated that no one is picking up the phone when they call, or clients may be starting to notice that more and more deadlines haven’t been met.

If this persists, then it’s a sign that you should hire people before the situation deteriorates and customers start to get really unhappy.

Adding new team members can help make sure that client emails don’t fall through the cracks and that customers receive timely responses. The result? Fewer complaints and more business.

5. High-value employees are doing low-value work

You wouldn’t waste money, so why waste talent? If you hired your employees for their unique skills and expertise but they’re spending too much time on admin and entry level work, then it’s time to consider bringing on someone to support them.

Let skilled employees do the work you’re paying them to do. There are lots of other people out there who are at the start of their careers and hungry to get a jump start. In the process, they can take some of the load from others’ shoulders and help contribute to your company’s growth.

In addition, they represent an investment in your company’s future. By bringing in entry level workers, you may uncover new talent that will benefit your business further down the line.

Sure, every business owner needs to be careful. But taking too long to hire or not hiring at all can be a mistake. Growing your team can help you grow your business, and when done strategically, investing in new hires can not only save your company money—but it will help you make more, too!

Aaron Schwartz is Senior Manager, Employer Insights at Indeed.

Learn more about how to make the perfect hire in The Hiring Handbook.

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Americans certainly work hard, but many of us play less than we might like—or is good for us. Although employees can accrue more time off as they spend more time with a company, the standard issue two weeks PTO remains a fact of life for millions.

In fact, the U.S. is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn’t guarantee employees any paid vacation. 

Compare this to countries like France, with 30 paid vacation days per year, or Australia with 20 paid vacation days, and it’s easy to see how the U.S. earned the nickname “The No Vacation Nation.” To make it worse, 54 percent of Americans don’t even take the full amount of their vacation time.

Overwork is a problem

The tendency for Americans to overwork has negative consequences for both employees and employers. Work-related stress has been linked to serious health risks. A recent study estimated the effects of workplace stress are similar to those of secondhand smoke. The effect of working long hours in particular was an estimated 20% increase in mortality.

Despite the commonly held belief that working more hours leads to “more stuff getting done”, overwork negatively impacts productivity as well. One recent study showed that managers could not tell the difference between employees who worked extra hours, and those who simply pretended to. And overwork can lead to decreased work performance, more mistakes and absenteeism.

Open PTO is a potential solution

So what are employers to do to address this issue? How can employers provide sufficient paid time off (PTO) while ensuring work gets done? A solution some companies are pursuing is open PTO—putting no cap on the number of vacation or sick days an employee can take off per year.

Currently, only one to two percent of companies offer open PTO. Many of the companies offering this benefit are in the tech industry, such as Netflix, Hubspot and Dropbox. However, other companies are jumping on board as well—General Electric and Grant Thornton (an audit, tax and advisory firm) recently began offering open PTO.

This may sound radical and it’s reasonable for employers to fear that this non-traditional leave policy could lead to abuse. Will employees take half the year off? Will company productivity plummet? It turns out that under open PTO policies, employees often take less time off than under traditional PTO policies, potentially due to feelings of guilt or internal company competition. So the risk may be that they are even more prone to overwork than before!

Time off only helps when you take it

In order to reap the health and productivity benefits of employees taking more time off, companies should go beyond simply offering open PTO, and encourage employees to use it. Top executives within a company can set the example. For example, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, has been vocal about taking 6 weeks of vacation time a year, and he insists that his employees should make use of the policy.

Two years ago, Indeed took the leap of offering open PTO, and has seen striking results. Some of the outcomes include:

  • Over 20 percent year-over-year increase in vacation days taken by  employees.
  • A 30 percent increase in vacation day use in the US alone.
  • An extremely productive 2017 with record company growth.
  • Low attrition and high engagement.
Open PTO as a recruiting differentiator

Indeed chief economist Jed Kolko notes that as wage growth has accelerated, this has upped the ante for employers in an already tight labor market. Companies should consider other avenues beyond wage increases and common benefits like health care to remain attractive to job seekers.

An open PTO policy provides employers with a unique advantage that can significantly impact talent attraction and retention. Here are some of the ways that open PTO can help attract talent and increase productivity:

  • Attract Millennials – Millennials tend to stay longer at jobs that offer flexibility than those that don’t.
  • Improve and speed up hiring process – Employees love open PTO, not only for the opportunity to take more time off, but also because it enables them to achieve a better work/life balance.
  • Show you treat employees as adults – Open PTO increases trust between employees and employers by demonstrating employees are free to manage their time and meet productivity goals on their own schedule.

Every firm needs to make its own decisions about what is best for them, and some may not feel comfortable offering open PTO to employees. But for those firms that choose an open PTO strategy, it can truly be a game changer, increasing productivity company-wide, improving employee morale, and helping to attract and retain talent.

Paul Wolfe is SVP of Human Resources at Indeed

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As a recruiter, you always want to find the best possible candidate for a position—and your hiring managers share the same goal. But although you are working towards identical ends, it doesn’t always feel that way, does it?

Yes, your hiring managers want you to fill their open roles, but they also have their regular responsibilities to think about. As a result, they just aren’t focused on the task in the same way that you are. Maybe they only think about it when you check in with them. This can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations.

So how can you fix this situation? The early conversations you have are critical. If you set clear expectations from the beginning, the smoother the process will be, with better results for all. Here are four ways to do just that.

1. Kick things off with a strategy meeting.

Let’s start with job descriptions. To get the best results, you need an up-to-date, detailed, and nuanced understanding of both the role and what the ideal candidate looks like. But your hiring manager doesn’t have much time, so all you have to go on is an old job description from a year ago.  

Some recruiters recommend asking hiring managers to fill out an “intake form” which goes into greater detail about job responsibilities and candidate requirements, as well as subjects like personality fit and any relevant history on the position. It’s a nice idea, but busy people are reluctant to fill out forms, so you may strike out with this tactic.

Instead, set up a strategy meeting with the hiring manager. Run through the questions you would include on the intake form yourself, using them as a conversation starter and opportunity to dig deeper into the role. This will give you more clarity, and the conversation format might unearth additional important considerations. You can also record the conversation via hangout or Skype to capture those nuances as the recruiter is working on the role.

Strategy meetings help put the hiring manager in the right mindset, laying out expectations at the very beginning—which is no bad thing.

2. Keep it real and keep each other honest.

Chances are that you have worked with at least one hiring manager who asks for the world’s most versatile, skilled, personable and overall extraordinary candidate. Of course you plan to deliver the best person possible for the role, but sometimes those asks can get unrealistic. As a partner in the hiring process, your goal should be to challenge those assumptions. All of us have blindspots and expectations that we need help managing. Keep it real and keep each other honest.

If this is the case, say something right away. One strategy for addressing the situation is to ask the hiring manager to rank requirements by importance or divide the list into must-have qualities and great-to-have qualities.

You might also recommend boosting the compensation to attract more high quality candidates. At the very least, point out the unrealistic aspects of the hiring manager’s demands, to prevent unpleasant surprises later on.

3. Support your viewpoint with data.

It’s also important to bolster your assertions with facts. Come prepared to lead conversations, not passively listen. Move away from saying “I think” and start saying “let me show you.” The former can fall on deaf ears; the latter will get your hiring manager’s full attention and engagement in dialogue. By coming prepared with information on the position and the types of candidates seeking those roles, you’ll have more credibility in those critical early conversations.

For instance, you can share role and location-specific data on:

  • The ratio of job postings to candidates seeking that position
  • The top employers in your area for this role  
  • Salary benchmarks

Where can you find this information? You can search for it online but that’s time consuming, and the results are not always reliable. An alternative for Indeed Featured Employers is to use our new Hiring Insights tool, which gives you detailed self-serve access to job market and candidate data so you can share the reality of the local job market with the hiring manager.

Hiring Insights consists of two reports: Market Insights and Candidates Insights, both of which are accessed through Indeed Analytics. It’s easy to use and contains a wealth of information that can you equip you for conversations with hiring managers. (Check out this post for more information.)

4. Set a timeline.

Speaking of realistic expectations, the timeline for making a hire can be a minefield of misunderstandings. Get a crystal-clear picture of the hiring manager’s time constraints and make a schedule that you both agree on.

And be sure to give yourself the best chance at success. Tell the hiring manager what things you need to stay on schedule, such as weekly check-ins and feedback on candidates within one to two days.

What unites all this advice? Above all: communicate. When everyone is informed from the start, and kept informed throughout the process, the risk of misunderstandings is greatly reduced. The result? You’re much more likely to emerge with a good experience for everyone involved—including the candidate.

Aaron Schwartz is Senior Manager, Employer Insights at Indeed.

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So the phone screen went well, and you really like the candidate. Now it’s time for the in-person interview. You find a mutually agreeable time, everything looks good… and then—the candidate cancels on you!

Suddenly you’re back at square one.

It’s frustrating, but hey—at least the candidate actually emailed you to cancel. What about those other times when they just don’t show up? For small to midsize businesses, the frustration is even greater since owners and managers wear many hats. They may even be doing all of the recruiting themselves.

Record low unemployment  means that candidates have options. And more options means more cancellations and no-shows for recruiters. But does it really have to be that way? Here’s the good news: There are steps you can implement today to cut down on this problem.  What are they? Let’s take a look.

1. Just how interested is the candidate?

Yes, you’re busy and you need to hire someone quickly. However, it’s crucially important that you take your time to find the right person for the job. So the first step is find out whether a candidate is genuinely interested in the position.

How do you do this? Don’t delay—have a detailed discussion during the phone screen interview. Use this time to make a connection and to learn more about the candidate. Help them understand the job by thoroughly explaining the role and its responsibilities. In return, try to dig into the candidate’s career aspirations, the reasons why they are looking to change jobs, and (of course) their salary expectations.

Above all, listen. Do their answers align with the role and the company culture? You need someone who is going to be a great fit for both.

2. Keep in touch

Excellent communication and engagement are essential, so be up front. Ask the candidate during that initial phone screen to let you know if they suddenly need to cancel or withdraw. The sooner you know, the faster can continue your search.

But you don’t want them to cancel, of course. So follow up your phone screener with an email to remove as much uncertainty about the job as possible: include all the stuff you would want to know if you were the one searching for a job—essential company info, key facts about the role and the next stage of the interview process. And make sure you confirm interviews more than once. Don’t just rely on that initial email. Follow up closer to the time.

What else? Be friendly. Be genuine. Be real. Let them know how much your company appreciates their interest. Let them know who they’re going to be talking to when they come in for interview. Make that human connection early: This helps build a foundation of trust between you and the candidate, reducing the risk of cancellations and no-shows.

3. Value the candidate’s time

He who snoozes loses, so try to schedule in-person interviews quickly. After all, the longer you wait, the more this increases the chances that another company will beat you to the punch.

The people you are talking to lead full lives and often have tight schedules. Flexibility is key here. Consider getting on their calendar by offering to interview them over video, or outside the office setting in a coffee shop, or even after work hours. How badly do you want to hire this candidate? Sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile.

Sure it’s inconvenient, but the investment could pay off in the end. Flexibility is another way to show a potential candidate that you care. I’ve done interviews at Starbucks before: Give the candidate every reason to say yes by making the experience as painless as possible!

And avoid rescheduling interviews unless it’s absolutely necessary. From a candidate’s perspective it’s disruptive and disorganized.

4. Be honest…with yourself

Don’t take cancellations personally. Instead, view them as an opportunity to learn. Seek feedback from those who dropped out or didn’t show to target problem areas. See what you can do to improve the hiring process at your company. This is a chance to reflect and address the ways you could fully meet the candidate’s needs next time.

You can get this information from other sources, too. If there’s a trend or increase in drop-offs then you should take a critical look at how your company is perceived externally. Are there negative reviews online written about people’s experiences? Is the interview process a two day marathon? Is your salary range aligned to the industry average?

In today’s world you can’t ignore what people are saying online. Instead learn from it, or take control of the conversation by creating your own Company Page where you can share information about life at your company, while responding to feedback and engaging more deeply with job seekers.

5. Don’t give up!

You know the adage, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again?” It applies to the recruiting process, too.

Never give up or lose hope—and don’t get so antsy that you hire someone just to fill the position. By stopping the recruiting process too soon you could be missing out on the opportunity to find a truly great match for your company.

Chances are that if you like a candidate, other employers will too. So if you can, create a buffer against no-shows or cancellations by picking out a few qualified candidates to bring in for an interview. If you typically narrow down your candidate pool down to three candidates, try increasing that number to five: better safe than sorry.

By implementing the strategies and tactics above, you’ll stand a much better chance of cutting down on no-shows and finding the right candidate for a job at your company. The talent is out there—now go get it!

Ed Delgado is Director of Global Sourcing at Indeed.

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