Talent Trends in Private Equity: Acquisition, Retention & Building Culture in Today’s Market

In the current market, the labor dynamic is ever-changing, and organizations with the best talent strategies win. The Healthcare Technology team at Direct Recruiters, Inc. had the opportunity to interview several leaders within the Private Equity Healthcare investment space to discuss their perspectives. Industry leaders shared knowledge and helpful insight on acquisition, retention and building culture for today’s hiring landscape.

Christian Kurth, Vice President
JMI Equity

What are the main traits/experience you look for in leaders?

We look for leaders with a strong track record of success in their prior work experience. That is goal #1. An added benefit is if that individual has domain expertise – we love finding leaders that have grown up in an industry or have “lived experience” in a particular space or sector. This allows them to clearly articulate and anticipate the trends, dynamics, challenges, and opportunities of that particular industry better than we as outside investors could. Executives need to do many things, including setting strong goals and a vision for their company and effectively leading people, but to me, the most important trait is self-awareness. No one is a superstar in every aspect of their job – leaders that identify where they excel and where they need to lean on the strengths of their team are the most effective in my experience.

What is the biggest issue on your plate in regard to hiring?

Speed. We are coming out of the most competitive labor market in recent history (maybe ever) where demand for talent has outweighed supply and employee fluidity has been at an all-time high. It is increasingly difficult to, 1.) hire well, and 2.) do so quickly. We work with our portfolio companies on building efficient and repeatable recruiting and interviewing processes so they can extend offers to candidates swiftly and with conviction. This is a critical component of scaling growth stage companies, as organizations with best-in-class talent lifecycles outgrow their competition.

How are you helping employees avoid burnout?

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet answer to this question. That said, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the creativity exhibited by our portfolio companies around this topic. Some unique ideas include, picking a day for no internal meetings (i.e., no Zoom meetings on Fridays) or shortening internal meetings all together (i.e., doing 45-minutes vs. an hour to give people time to recharge in between meetings). It’s also critically important to have a robust benefits program available to employees, including a defined employee mental health strategy and resources that are actively promoted and easily accessible. Finally, it’s essential that leaders, and especially front-line managers, exhibit empathy and ensure flexibility for their teams. The traditional 9 to 5 is becoming a somewhat antiquated practice, so exhibiting flexibility and empowering employees to take control of their daily work schedule can go a long way in reducing burnout.

What do you think is going to be the next big innovation in healthcare technology?

I’m not sure if this is as much an innovation vs. a trend, but I believe there will be a renewed focus on clinical efficacy and quality as the digital health market matures. The pandemic spurred a tidal wave of innovation as virtual-first care took off to meet the needs of patients and members who were isolated or unable to access traditional care modalities – mental / behavioral health being probably the best example. While the growth in virtual care has greatly expanded access to care, I believe the conversation will shift from focusing on access to focusing on clinical efficacy and outcomes. The digital health vendors that can consistently deliver superior care quality and outcomes will rise to the top and achieve lasting market leadership.

Gordon Crenshaw, Principal
Blue Heron Capital

What are the main traits/experience you look for in leaders?

As a baseline, we look for leaders with a track record of success in their prior work experience. A history of promotions and extended periods of time within the same organization are key. We orient ourselves to references more than anything, both from managers as well as the individuals that a leader managed. We like both top-down references as well as bottom-up references. Ultimately, we look for executives as leaders of people, so experience and track record of how a leader manages people and how he or she manages up is extremely important.

What are your onboarding best practices to ease the transition between companies?

We hope the new leaders of our companies get inundated with as much information as early and often as possible, participating in meetings on day 1 and integrating them into the workflow of a business. With that being said, we want that period of time to be reserved for listening and learning; a little bit of walk before you run. It is difficult not to fall into the trap with a new leader of sprinting towards some company objective or goal, but if you are hiring talented leaders, you want them to be able to weigh in on if we are even running in the right direction in the first place.

What do you think is the greatest cause for turnover?

We think the greatest causes of turnover, especially in new hires, are not some of the most obvious, like compensation or culture clashes. What we see as the greatest cause is not being crystal clear on expectations of the job requirement. It’s critical that the preparation for a new hire includes spending a significant amount of time on the job req, roles and responsibilities, as well as making sure the board and leadership team are rowing in the same direction in terms of what will be asked of a new leader or employee. We find that it is this misalignment of what a candidate believes the job is versus what it actually is that is the biggest cause of turnover.

What do you look for when partnering with an executive search firm?

The key word in the question is ‘partner.’ You have to take the viewpoint that your executive search firm is not just a service provider but someone that will work collaboratively with you to build the best organization possible from a talent perspective. At the stage we invest in (early stage, growth stage businesses), many of our leadership teams don’t have significant experience working with an executive search firm, so it is a learning process. We don’t just want our executive search firm to identify great candidates and get to an offer as quickly as possible. We want help with that initial leg work of designing and implementing an effective process. The key for us is a partnership mentality with a great executive search firm.

What is the biggest issue on your plate in regard to hiring?

Given the incredibly tight labor market we’ve been in for the past several years, access to great candidates has been a challenge, but it always will be. We live in a competitive world. For our early-stage businesses, speed is the most challenging aspect of the hiring process. Given the way we like our companies to hire, the importance of culture, the importance of clearly defining expectations of the job, and making sure we don’t miss on a new hire, it has been difficult to keep up with the pace with which people will meet a candidate and lob in an offer. Ultimately, we’re in the people business, and you win or lose based on talent. So, for us right now, speed is the most challenging aspect of the hiring market.

How to Speed Up the Hiring Process

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

In the current candidate-driven market, the name of the game is speed. The traditional hiring process can be a long, drawn-out process that frustrates everyone involved. There are good reasons for taking your time during the hiring process like adequately comparing candidates or finding the best cultural fit. But if the hiring process takes too long, candidates might move on to other offers. It is necessary to move with speed and agility within your hiring process to keep candidates interested. As hiring experts, DRI is here to provide you with the key ways to streamline and ultimately shorten your hiring process.  

Cut out Unnecessary Steps  

It seems like a no brainer, but this first step will be crucial to streamlining your process. Take a close look at your hiring process to discover any bottlenecks or tasks that take a long time. Eliminate any unnecessary steps in your process. For example, if you have candidates fill out a 5-page questionnaire that takes an average of 5 days to return, you might want to revaluate if all the questions on the form are necessary.  

Utilize Technology  

In the midst of the pandemic, we saw an increase in digital interview tools that are still rising in popularity today. By utilizing email, text messaging, social media, and video, you can meet candidates where they are. Perhaps there are limitations on scheduling face-to-face interviews, and in that case, consider scheduling a video call. This also eliminates travel cost and time, ultimately creating a faster, simpler, more cost-efficient way to screen candidates. When you are more flexible with a candidate’s availability to communicate, you will get quicker responses and confirmed interest sooner. 

Streamline the interview process 

How many interviews is your organization putting candidates through? For entry-level and associate positions, two interviews will often suffice. For executive and C-suite positions, an additional interview may be appropriate. Much more than that and you run the risk of losing top talent. Many times, the root of the issue lies in conflicting schedules. Make sure all those involved have interview days blocked off so the process can move forward smoothly and succinctly.  

Speeding up the hiring process without losing the quality of the process will deliver long-term value to your organization. For an added value, work closely with a recruiter to assist you in attracting quality candidates for your roles. At DRI, we build a customized recruiting strategy that fits your organization. We understand that your time is valuable, so we work hard to understand your company to find you the best organizational fit. By making changes like the ones outlined above, you are guaranteed to speed up your hiring process and create an interview process that makes everyone’s lives easier.  

2022 Recruiting Trends to Win the War on Talent

December 23, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

2021 is wrapping up quickly and what a whirlwind it has been! As we reflect on all the hiring challenges we have faced, we look towards the future and predict what trends will be happening in 2022. While each trend is uniquely adopted by any organization, below are 5 trends that Direct Recruiters is predicting will affect your hiring procedures in 2022.

It’s Still a Candidate Driven Market

As 2021 comes to an end, the lack of available candidates and the surplus of jobs will carry into the new year. Many employers need the same skillset and talents, so candidates have multiple options from many different places. This has created an opportunity for candidates to leverage better salary and benefits and employers have no choice but to comply. Recruiters and talent acquisition specialists must work harder to standout against the influx of calls, messages, and emails. In 2022, expect to see more creative recruiting tactics. This could include better sourcing tactics, more data driven marketing, or stronger brand communication. In the end, those who move quickly to secure qualified candidates will win the war on talent.

 Focus on Retention

In the last few months, we have seen an increase in The Great Resignation as many employees leave their jobs to pursue other opportunities. In an already strained labor shortage, losing these valuable employees creates an even greater issue. 2022 will ensure a renewed focus on employee engagement to increase retention and loyalty. A testament to strong company culture will be less about making the office a fun place and more about ensuring all employees feel seen and heard by their colleagues and managers. The organizations with strong values and a plan to invest in employees will succeed in the competitive market.

The Future of Ai and Automation

Even with new stresses and challenges, resilient recruiters are adapting to the ever-changing market. With the help of AI and Automation, recruiters can use more tools to access more of the available market. Using Ai tools to source, screen, schedule, and chat with candidates during the hiring process allows recruiters to draw in a larger candidate pool for the hiring managers to choose from.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are Must Haves

Employees continue to align themselves with organizations who reflect their own morals. In 2022, companies will realize that diversity and inclusion isn’t just a feel-good initiative but is central to a company’s success. According to McKinsey’s Diversity Wins report, companies in the upper quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability. And companies in the upper quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation. DE&I is becoming increasingly prioritized within organizations who are in search of people to fill roles like “Chief Diversity Officer”, and “Head of Diversity & Inclusion”. Hiring diverse candidates and being transparent in your DE&I efforts will help your company succeed in 2022 and beyond.

Remote is Here to Stay

Many companies postponed their returns to the office this past year and they’re in no hurry to return in 2022 either. Remote hiring, onboarding, and working is here to stay. By hiring remotely, you have access to a larger and more diversified talent pool by not limiting to location. You are also able to recruit, hire, and onboard candidates faster using digital supplemental materials like training videos and virtual meetings.

No matter the industry you are in, change is unavoidable. By understanding the trends that will shape the workforce in 2022, hiring managers and organizations will be in a better position to face the challenges head on.

How to Best Support Working Parents

September 16, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

Parents make up 40% of the workforce. They are managers, supervisors, and essential employees vital to the company. And now, more than ever, working parents need new and improved benefits to support their families and prevent burnout. For a majority of the last year, schools, daycares, and offices were closed. Parents were juggling being teachers, caregivers, and employees. Lines between work and home life were indefinitely blurred. The COVID-19 Pandemic created many challenges for parents and brought to light gaps in support that they need from employers.  

With the challenges that working parents face put on display, companies have new priorities to make parents feel supported at work. Parents that feel involved and included in their workplaces are 41% less likely to leave. Below, we will outline a few specific ways you can build a culture of support for working parents, and retain them at your company.  

Maternity and Paternity Leave 

Allowing parents time to with their newborns is crucial for the baby’s health and your employees’ wellbeing. By offering a great, paid maternity and paternity leave for employees, parents ca Parents were juggling being teachers, caregivers, and employees. n focus on what matters most: their baby. Federal Employee Paid Leave Act recommends 12 weeks paid leave for new parents but the average maternity leave often ends up being shorter. 70% of women take about 10 weeks and 16%–only take one to four weeks off work following childbirth. Mothers who utilize paid leave have only a 2.6% likelihood of quitting their job and a 92.3% chance of returning to the same employer after birth.  

Flexible Work Schedule 

Parenthood offers both the expected and unexpected events that interrupt the average 9-5 workday., Companies that offer hybrid work can help to alleviate the stress parents face in balancing work and life. Flextime can offer unique solutions for working parents by allowing them to accommodate for dropping off and picking up kids from school. Employers still have control over core hours when everyone must be working but employees control the rest of their schedule. There are even more advantages associated with fully remote positions, offering mom or dad the freedom to care for their child without falling behind.  

Child Care 

For many, remote work isn’t possible and for kids not yet in school, childcare is essential. Some companies may be able to offer on-site daycare options, making the transition of sending the little ones off easier. Overall, 7% of U.S. businesses offer on-site childcare benefits. Companies unable to provide on-site childcare may find other ways to accommodate parents. This could include subsidized childcare, cost-matching programs for childcare accounts, or partnerships with nearby facilities to offer priority slots and discounts.  

Other Benefits 

Progressive companies may offer working parents additional options to support them and their families. These could include Lactation support through private rooms, free breast pumps, or free breast milk shipping for traveling moms. Fertility and adoption benefits could also be enacted by creating policies to subsidize the cost of fertility treatments and adoption fees.  

Above all, as an organization, manager, or employee, it is important to show compassion and understanding for working parents. Each and every individual has a different situation whether her or she is a parent or not, and it is extremely important for companies to create an environment where employees will thrive.  

September 16th is Working Parents Day. This is an unofficial holiday created to praise those parents who work every day, in and out of the home, to provide a healthy and safe life for their families. Take a moment to recognize someone for their hard work and dedication as they work to support their families and keep up with family meals, practices, new school environments, or just the laundry. To all the working parents out there, Direct Recruiters truly appreciates all that you do!  

Why Companies Hire the Wrong Person (And How to Avoid It)

September 2, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

As a relationship-focused search firm, our employees are our greatest assets. Internally and externally, they represent the company’s core values. At DRI, we want our people to be passionate, positive, goal oriented, and a team player. Our goal when hiring our own employees is to get the right people in the right seats. Occasionally, as all humans do, we make mistakes. People don’t fit, skills don’t match, and we make bad hires. Below we will outline the most common reasons on why companies hire the wrong person and how you can prevent it.

Maximizing potential is reliant on your employees. Each employee represents a percentage of probable annual revenue and if every employee is not performing to their potential, it’s unlikely you will reach your goal. Finding a candidate that checks all your boxes is rare but there are steps you can take to ensure that you get the right person for both your needs and theirs.

1. Reevaluate your Hiring Process

Most often, we hire the wrong person because we are rushing to fill the spot. The turnover that the economy is currently facing certainly is not helping. But settling on the first person who meets the minimum criteria may end up in a vacancy later down the line. The best way to combat this is to clearly define your “must-have” qualifications. Outline the key criteria that a candidate should have to not only fit the job description but you company culture too. Hiring Managers should create a cost analysis of onboarding anew employee. By putting a price on how much it costs to get a new employee fully trained, you can invest early in the right candidate.

2. Experience isn’t Everything

Experience is not expertise. A candidate’s attitude and disposition are equally as important as their skills and experience listed on a resume. It’s easy to be starstruck by a resume. A well written resume is important but not the end all be all. Behind the resume is a person who is going to be successful in only a certain environment. Remember that a resume shows chronology but what’s most important is solutions that the candidate presents today.

3. Be Cost Efficient

How much does it cost to onboard and train the wrong employee? According to the 2020 Training Industry Report, the average company in the U.S. spent $1,111 per employee on training costs.  Not only are you wasting time and energy but you’re wasting resources too. Managers and teams will be required to spend time training the new hire. This can result in a loss of productivity and efficiency. Besides training resources, you are compensating an employee who may not be meeting expectations. When that employee leaves (and they will), you have to start the process over. Not only is this draining financially but your team’s morale suffers too.

People are your organization’s most prized asset and hiring the wrong one can be costly and draining. Collaborate with your team to build an accurate evaluation of candidates to spot red flags early on. Go beyond the resume and ask critical thinking questions to help you asses a candidate’s behavior and attitude. You can never 100% know whether a candidate will work out or not, but prevention is key.

Employee Drug Testing Amidst the Legalization of Marijuana

August 19, 2021

By Jason Herbert, Partner

Marijuana legalization has made strides in the United States in recent years. As of 2021, 18 states (plus DC) have completely legalized the recreational adult-use of cannabis and 37 states have legalized medical use of marijuana.  However, there is still a stigma around cannabis – medically prescribed or not. In many places, marijuana usage can be a barrier to a job. It is completely legal for a potential employer to administer drug tests. Laws vary from state to state but there are guidelines that most everyone must follow.

Applicants are required to know that they could potentially be drug tested as part of the screening process. This information can be listed in the job application or posting. Similarly, you could have already been offered a job, contingent on passing a drug test. Overall, most companies that intend to drug test candidates include that information in their job applications. In most cases you have little choice but to agree to drug testing or drop out as an applicant. In addition, all applicants for the same position must be tested similarly and all tests must be administered by a state-certified laboratory.

To Test or Not to Test; That is the Question

How does this affect states where recreational use is legal? This creates an interesting paradox. Without testing, there could be more job applicants and employers have better chances of getting the strongest candidates with a larger pool of prospects. On the other hand, with testing, employers can be sure they hire drug-free employees who will be safe on the job. Safety on the job is paramount therefore having an outright ban on marijuana usage is simpler for employers than handling it case by case. Depending on the business, drug testing might be essential. Truck drivers, bus drivers, and train operators are still tested for marijuana under the U.S. Department of Transportation laws.  Many companies that contract with the federal government and receive federal grants are required to maintain drug-free workplace policies as well. According to the  , they believe there is no level of cannabis use that is safe or acceptable for employees who work in safety sensitive positions.

Trial and Error

With the ever-changing state of cannabis law on a federal level, the nation is essentially in a “trial and error” situation. Employers have no choice but to keep up with these circumstances. The medical aspect of cannabis further complicates the matter. Several states have specific laws protecting medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination. Employers can require drug testing before and during employment if medical marijuana users are exempt from discrimination. As it pertains to recreational use, testing can return positive results weeks after a person uses marijuana. There is no way to tell if someone is a habitual user or if it was a one-time event.

Instead, companies should look for tests that measure performance impairment—some of which specifically target marijuana’s impact on qualities such as short-term memory.  “One trend we are seeing is that employers are not getting rid of drug testing completely, but they’re rethinking the frequency with which they test and/or the amount of time between testing,” explained Jonathan Havens, a partner and co-chair of  . Some employers are also “cherry-picking” which roles they drug test candidates for, focusing on roles that pose safety concerns. Less commonly, companies are transitioning away from screening candidates and employees for marijuana use.

Currently, employers and employees must continue the “waiting game” until federal and state employment laws come to a decision on the legalization of cannabis. As recruiters, we have seen a variety of methods for drug testing and screening candidates in general. What has your company done, and how do you see this evolving in the future?

How to Build a Winning Team: Sourcing and Retaining Top Talent

As a part of DRI’s Olympic Summer Series, we are offering you exclusive advice on how to achieve your dream team. Whether you are a manager or a president, we offer you leadership advice to best propel your team into the future. Olympians aren’t born, they’re trained.  

Training Your “Olympians” 

As a leader, you are only as strong as the weakest member of your team. Your job is to make sure that everyone is in the right place to work towards the whole group’s success. By giving them opportunities that can lead to increasing their own capacities, you invest in your team. When you place high value on each individual member and share their contributions openly, bonds deepen, and teams can understand the greater purpose.  

Getting the “Go(a)ld”  

Start with communicating clearly and concisely. Don’t expect your team members to just know exactly what you mean. If you have communicated your goals clearly, they will feel more driven to provide it for you. To reach and exceed goals, your team must all be on the same page. By sharing a roadmap for success, all team members can have a clear idea of where exactly they are going. Start by setting SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and with a Timeframe. By setting goals with these attributes in mind you and your team can deliver results.  

Championing your Team 

Listening leads to Leadership. By appreciating your team members and championing their greatness, you can more easily communicate your goals with your team. Winning teams are developed under leaders who can flex and bend their own personalities around each team member’s needs.   

Create and cultivate your team’s culture. Whether it comes from leadership or is discussed as a team, creating shared guidelines can ensure a streamlined process for how people will work together. You must commit to this culture. The most important thing for a company to live by is their stated values. When you find people that exemplify your core values, it is easier to promote and reward them.  

A Guide to Understanding your Employees Personalities Better

July 8, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

Think of personality tests as a sneak peek into the mind of your employees. Discover their work ethic, learning style, approach to conflict, and their workplace hierarchy. While there is no definitive science behind personality tests, it is an interesting, unique way to discover how candidates can be a fit for your company. But not all personality tests are the same, so which one could be beneficial for you to apply to your onboarding process? Discover the 3 most popular personality tests and how you can apply them to your workplace culture.

Myers-Brigg Type Indicator Test

Myers-Brigg classifies people into four different types of psychological classifications based on the 1920s research of Dr. Carl Jung. It categorizes a person as either (1) an Extrovert or an Introvert; (2) Sensing or Intuitive; (3) a Thinker or a Feeler; and (4) Judging or Perceiving. After a series of questions, your personality is coded into a unique combination of 4-letter classification. A short description follows your coded classification that can clue potential employers into how you learn and how you come to conclusions.


The Enneagram test is based on the Enneagram personality theory, which classifies personalities into 9 types: the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger, and the peacemaker. This test is helpful to understand how members of a team will work.

Big Five Personality Test

The Big Five Personality Test is a useful tool for discovering and understanding strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. After rating a series of statements about how applicable and true they are to you, you receive a percentage score on all 5 of the personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

How does this affect your culture?

Through assessments like personality tests, you can examine how your people shape your culture. By utilizing these tests, you can communicate more effectively and minimize conflict. It can also benefit your employees by allowing them to understand who they are and what they need to thrive. However, it is not effective to evaluate potential candidates on only their personality test results. Having candidates take job-related skills assessments, behavioral-based assessments, and leadership skills assessments in addition to the personality tests can more accurately match you with your perfect candidate. DRI partners with organizations like PRADCO, a talent, development and management company who offers assessments to clients, as a part of our retained search model, Direct Retention. Read more about our partnership with PRADCO and their organization through this Thought Leader Interview with PRADCO VP of Consulting Services, James Lundquist.

Red Flags of Recruiting: What to Watch Out for

June 24, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

In an industry that can be perceived both negatively and positively, finding a good recruiter can be a long and stressful process. You want someone that has you and/or your company’s best interests in mind, not their own. Below, are 3 red flags to watch out for when working with a recruiter.

Unprepared and Unprofessional

As a candidate or client, engaging with a recruiter who is unprepared and unprofessional is a red flag. As a client, you want someone who is familiar with your company culture and the position you’re offering. From a candidate perspective, the recruiter is the first introduction to the client’s company. Lack of prior research and knowledge of the industry ruins the recruiting process before it has even begun.

Lack of Testimonials

You know a recruiting company is legitimate if they have a list of testimonials from both clients and candidates singing their praises. Unless the recruiter is new to the industry, satisfied clients and candidates should be willing to give a short review of the recruiter and their process. Be wary of companies who claim to be the best but have nothing to show for it.


Beware of recruiting firms that “ghost” after a placement has been made. Recruiters who don’t follow-up with either the candidate or the client after the placement has been made is a big red flag. Moving onto the next placement, without having a follow-up with the last client or candidate can leave a bad taste in the mouth. It’s almost a guarantee that they won’t work with the recruiter again, nor will they be willing to give a testimonial.

What Good Recruiting Firms Do:

  • Understanding Strategy

The best recruiters collaborate with their clients to create a detailed profile of their business, job opportunity, and dream candidate. Good recruiters are focused on finding the right fit for their client. At DRI, we work closely with our clients to establish a strategy that best highlights the needs of the client. We set goals for them throughout the recruiting process, interview process, placement and onboarding of the candidate.

  • Reviews and Recognition

Reputable recruiting firms have many resources to support their claims of being top-notch companies. DRI is a nine-time winner of the NorthCoast 99 Award, recognized on the Forbes Best Professional Recruiting Firms List for 2021, and we are active members in our community. With a quick visit to our website, you can find all our testimonials of prior and present candidates and clients. Many speak to our attention to detail, industry experience, and clear communication.

  • Follow-up

Good recruiters keep in contact with the client after the placement has been made. At DRI, we monitor the candidate’s progress comparing them to the goals that were outlined at the beginning of the search. We regularly follow-up during the first 12 months following placement. At Direct Recruiters, Inc. we are committed to the success and satisfaction of every single client and candidate.

To learn more about Direct Recruiters, Inc. visit www.directrecuiters.com or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Virtual Onboarding

April 8, 2020

By Shawna Rosner, Director Legal Solutions Group

While we navigate a crisis and pandemic to the likes of which we have not encountered before, some work must go on. Firms and companies across the country are moving forward with hiring and starting new hires remotely. Last week, I had two attorneys begin their jobs remotely which required virtual onboarding. I thought it might be helpful to give some tips and insight into this new but real phenomenon. How can your company start strong with a new hire during this time or at any time when working with a remote candidate?

For many new hires, the first day is the first time they get to meet their full team and other colleagues. Let’s face it, the first day of a new job is the start of a new relationship, with your firm or company but also the start of many new relationships, with colleagues. It is essential to make a great first impression regardless if it’s in person or virtual.

To start, there are a few key factors to consider when onboarding someone virtually. Take some time to plan and create an agenda for the new hire. Try to do your research and think about what the candidate will need to know about joining your company. Having the manager involved as much as possible is likely to lead to more success.  Being overly communicative to the candidate before the start date and throughout the process is a good practice to keep him or her engaged. Additionally, ensure that all material, onboarding documents and forms that need to be signed are all digital and the new hire can view and/or sign things virtually. The hiring team should also prepare any company-issued technology needed and set up a plan for the new hire to pick this up safely. I have also heard of needed technology and paperwork being personally delivered by IT or other administrative staff to the new hire’s home to avoid having to come into the office at all.

The first week is a crucial point in virtual onboarding. Where normally a simple email to a team telling everyone to stop by and meet the new hire, now is the time to circulate more personal questions during a virtual email introduction to the team. A client of ours began the onboarding process before the actual start date by sharing emails within the team introducing the new hire and sharing a couple of things about themselves. The candidate shared the email thread with me. I was happy to see the humor displayed. It made me, an outsider, feel like the team was a real family just through this short series of emails and I know the new hire was more than excited and relieved by this virtual introduction to his new work family. Another welcoming idea during the candidate’s first week is, if available, coordinate a way to send the new hire your company ‘swag’ to his or her home as a welcome gift.

In addition, integration calls (conversations with the supervisor or manager) are key to making the new hire transition at a time when popping in the office to ask questions can’t be done. Get creative with you integrate your new hire.  Zoom can be used for coffee dates with individual team members and happy hours with the whole team. Meeting with departments like Human Resources and IT should be set up through video calls with the ability to screen-share and go over any operational systems, platforms and tools the company uses.

For some companies, virtual onboarding isn’t a whole lot different as they may already have new hires watch video trainings or utilize Skype or the like for orientation. For others, this is completely novel and a bit daunting to tackle but it is successfully being done.

One factor in virtual onboarding is company security. In this time of stay at home and shelter in place orders around the country, only essential businesses are operating. For those businesses that remain essential in their state, new hires may still be required to come into the office for a brief amount of time to pick up a laptop, connect their phones to company email and complete employment verification. They are then free to work remotely and do the remainder of their onboarding online. Some companies do not allow employees to use their own laptops or desktops because of security risk. As I previously mentioned, this can also be done via personal delivery.

As virtual onboarding is new for so many, it makes sense to adjust the process based on feedback.  At this time of crisis all of us are challenged to be more flexible and roll with the punches, the same will hold true with hiring.  The pandemic at hand is going to require new hires to fill current and projected needs. Virtual onboarding may be a new process to many but measures can be taken to make sure an employee’s first days with a new company are inclusive, positive and successful!