We all know that candidate experience matters. Why? Because whether or not they were hired, candidates are going to walk away with an opinion about your company- and you want their opinion to be positive. That’s what “candidate experience” is, by the way: The impression people have based on what they went through during your organization’s hiring process.
The real dilemma for HR and recruiting leaders is what their company can do to stand out to candidates. In a sea of potential employers clamoring to “out-perk” each other- depending on your industry and market- you can raise salaries, increase benefits, or offer unlimited PTO. And you can’t forget about any of the “fun to work here” bonuses like game rooms, happy hours, or team-building adventures. But creating a better candidate and employee experience really begins with discovering what your candidates expect and what your new hires want.
We know what you’re thinking: Higher salaries, right? Not necessarily. According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3.5 million Americans quit their jobs every month. That’s 2.3% of the labor force. While some analysts like to blame the tight labor market and the temptation of higher paying jobs, the data doesn’t exactly back that up. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, a staggering 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.
In your case as well as theirs, knowledge is power. And their want for a more enriched education is partially generational. LinkedIn’s research found that a quarter of Gen Z and Millennials say learning is the number one thing that makes them happy at work, and 27% of Gen Z and Millennials say the number one reason they’d leave their job is because they weren’t given an opportunity to learn and grow. When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. If your employees don’t feel like they have the ability to move up in your organization, what’s the point of staying?
Creating mentor programs to improve the candidate experience and new hire onboarding
The most crucial time in the candidate journey is new hire onboarding. Historically, onboarding has been treated as a single event rather than a process: New hires are passive participants in a one- or two-day orientation. In order to improve this experience, shift towards delighting new hires. Provide them with the support that they need to be productive as soon as possible, for as long as they need it. Creating a mentoring mindset from day one can be the fundamental support that improves candidate and employee experience. New candidates and employees will feel like they have a person they can go to for questions and resources.
Mentors can teach new employees about the organization, offer advice, and provide support in social and cultural terms. Creating mentoring opportunities during your onboarding process means that new employees will feel comfortable asking mentors questions they might not ask their managers and become more knowledgeable about their new company. It also sets your new hire up with the expectation that your company is genuinely invested in their success, as well as opportunities for training and development. In short, mentors can be the biggest thing that shows your new hires that they matter.
How Google’s Buddy Hire Program creates a mentorship mindset
Providing new hires with a mentor, or “peer buddy”, can have a positive impact on both productivity and retention. Some of the most successful companies have already caught on to creating a mentorship mindset. Under Google’s “Buddy Hire Program,” most Nooglers (Google’s affectionate term for its new hires) are assigned a mentor to help speed progress towards becoming a productive employee.
IBM’s Royal Blue Ambassador Program provides every new hire with an experienced employee mentor for 30 days in order to help them adapt quickly to working at the firm. Beyond 30 days, IBM has a volunteer collaborative group known as its “grassroots community” which continues to help new hires transition into IBM. And they’re getting results!
In 2019, after piloting an onboarding buddy program that involved 600 employees across the organization, Microsoft found that the more often an onboarding buddy met with their new hire, the greater the new hire’s perception of their own productivity was. In fact, 56% of new hires who met with their buddy at least once in their first 90 days felt like they’d quickly become productive in their role.
That percentage increased to 73% for those who met two to three times with their buddy, 86% for those who met four to eight times, and 97% for those who met more than eight times in their first 90 days. It also improved job satisfaction. After their first week at Microsoft, new hires with buddies were 23% more satisfied with their overall onboarding experience, compared to those without buddies. This trend continued at 90 days with a 36% increase in satisfaction.
As a result, Microsoft decided to expand its pilot program by creating an internal site for hiring managers that’d match new hires with an onboarding buddy, along with guidance on what makes a good match. Once matched, automated reminders were sent to the new hire, the manager and their buddy to encourage consistent engagement, particularly during the first 90 days of employment.
Creating a bridge between the candidate and employee experience
New hire mentor programs help create a bridge for new employees between the general knowledge they have now, versus the information specific to their new role within their new organization. Historically, the transition from being a newbie to a seasoned veteran has been awkward. The process is in need of a personal touch; a guide to provide mentorship and friendship that provides support in a new employee’s journey.
In participating with a mentorship program, these newbies are able to build relationships with peers and acclimate to the culture having a built-in support system. The programs also benefit the mentor, giving them a sense of purpose and responsibility helping them grow and evolve in many different ways. Through mentorship opportunities, both parties feel that they’re improving themselves, and feel as though they’re doing something important for their organization.