CandE Research Takeaway #8: Offer Time and Onboarding Engagement

This is part eight of Talent Board’s 10-part “CandE Research Takeaways” series. The previous posts are available on our Articles page.

The offer/onboarding stage of talent acquisition is a mixed bag of good news and not-so-good news, as Talent Board’s 2020 North American research shows.

For instance, 57% of participating candidates waited less than a week between their final interview and receiving a job offer letter. That’s good news. The not-so-good news is this figure inched up only two percentage points from 2019. Plus, at just 57%, employers have plenty of room to improve.

Another example: the percentage of candidates who received an offer letter four weeks or more after their last interview didn’t escalate in 2020. It remained at 11%, the same as in 2019, which is good news. The not-so-good news is that so many final-stage candidates still wait a month or more for an offer letter, and employers failed to make any progress on this issue in 2020.

In many ways, offer/onboarding is the least arduous stage of talent acquisition, yet it’s the stage where employers tend to lose momentum.

Bridging the Candidate and Employee Experiences

By the time they reach the offer/onboarding stage, employers have already sifted through all of the applications, screenings, and assessments … analyzed the results … conducted interviews … weighed their options … and made their final selection. The heavy lifting is pretty much over. Now it’s just a matter of negotiating the offer and bringing the new hire onboard.

While that’s true enough, HR and hiring managers often forget that new hires are essentially still in the final phase of their candidate journey, meaning there’s still a bit of candidate experience work to be done such as asking new hires for important feedback about their experience. And this is where companies stumble. In fact, employers have told us in our benchmark research the past few weeks that their onboarding needs work.

Here are three key areas in the offer/onboarding stage where employers would be wise to raise their game, as reflected in our 2020 research:

  1. Issuing timely offers—As noted above, only a little more than half of candidates are getting offers within that optimal window of a week following their final interview. It’s critical that employers make job offers as expediently as possible because collapsing the timeframe between final interview and offer can significantly improve their ability to hire the most sought-after candidates. When employers make an offer within one week of the final interview, candidates’ willingness to rate their experience as “great” and to increase their relationship with the employer increases 67%. This figure is 64% for Latin American employers and 62% for EMEA employers.
  2. Asking for feedback—44% of North American new hires in 2020 were not invited to provide any feedback on their candidate journey and the hiring process before their start date, and only 24% were invited to do so before their start date. In another one of those not-so-good-news instances, 8% fewer candidates were asked for feedback in North America than in 2019. In Latin America, just 30% of new hires were asked for feedback after their start date (down from 88% in 2019); in EMEA, 38% of new hires were asked for feedback after their start date (down from 47% in 2019); and in APAC, 43% of new hires were asked for feedback after their start date (down from 53% in 2019). Not great trend lines. These numbers all represent significant missed opportunities for employers across the globe to gather insights that can help them improve retention in both the short term and even beyond year one. As I’ve written previously, asking candidates for feedback has positive impacts to a company’s employment brand as well as its bottom-line. Specifically, when employers ask new hires for feedback prior to their start date, these individuals are 129% more willing to increase their relationship with the company—and not just as employees but also as potential buyers. At the end of the day, asking new hires for feedback shows you care about their opinions and experiences, which effectively builds a strong bridge between the candidate journey and the employee journey.
  3. Onboarding engagement— In 2020, 56% of North American employers sent no marketing or congratulations packages/content to new hires. In addition, only 39% had new hires complete a candidate experience survey prior to their start dates; just 28% ensured that recruiters followed up with new employees within six weeks of their start dates; and a mere 10% held candidate experience focus groups or debriefs within the first month of new hires’ start dates. Clearly, employers are missing an important chance to increase initial (and very possibly long-term) engagement and retention levels along with brand affinity and employee loyalty levels. The global outlook for 2021 is middling at best: recruitment marketing is fifth on the list of top 10 anticipated recruiting initiatives this year among employers worldwide. Hopefully, employers will reconsider and recommit to recruitment marketing because it’s a potent tool for starting new hires on the right foot.

The Perpetual Candidate Experience

The candidate experience doesn’t really end when a person is hired. It transitions into the employee experience. If you step back and look at the experience holistically, it’s all actually a single extended journey that begins the moment candidates first encounter your employment brand or check out one of your job openings … and it ends only after they’ve left your employment.

When the transition from candidate to new hire takes place and your onboarding experience is a positive one, individuals are more productive in their first few weeks and are more likely to stay with you beyond their first year. This has a direct positive impact on your company’s success and bottom line. Of course, all of these benefits are at risk when onboarding goes badly. Elevate your game in the three areas highlighted above and your risk will plummet.

In my next post, I’ll focus on perception gaps in the candidate experience. As always, if you’re interested learning more about how your company’s candidate experience stacks up, participate in our 2021 CandE benchmark research program. Click here for details.


Be safe and well.

Kevin Grossman, Talent Board President

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