Where Compliance Matters the Most

Let’s keep it clear from the get-go – I’m not a lawyer, I’m only a layman. A layman who’s been filling out these forms for myself for decades. A layman who’s also hired new employees and have had them fill out these very same forms.

When I had new employees fill one of these Form I-9’s, they couldn’t start employment until they completed it and signed it and provided one of six pieces of identification that establish both identity and employment authorization including a U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card.

And if they didn’t have one of those, then they had to have:

  1. A driver’s license or ID card issued by a State or outlying possession of the United States provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address (or something else from a list of 12 total items)
  2. And a Social Security Account Number card (or something else from a list of eight total items)

The above is taken directly from the instructions of the I-9 form. When I completed them they usually included the latter, the driver’s license and/or state ID card and SSN card, and I’d photo copy them and submit them with the completed and signed I-9, W-4 and other pertinent new employee paperwork.

All of this was done manually because the volume of hires was nominal compared to larger companies processing thousands of new hires per year. But again, if they didn’t have the right forms of identification, they didn’t start work.

Period. End of sentence.

So that’s why I just don’t understand how companies time and time again keep making the same errors, get audited and then fined. For example, Hartmann Studios was ordered recently to pay one of largest fines ever for Form I-9 paperwork violations. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fined the company over $600K for more than 800 violations of I-9 forms. When you start digging, you find example after example of companies screwing up on this one.

The Form I-9, or Employment Eligibility Verification form, has been required since 1986 as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. It was revised in 2013 and that’s when the U.S. government and ICE cranked up the volume even more on ensuring I-9 compliance.

But even when you read the instructions to fill out an I-9 form and your eyes glaze over a little, it’s still one of the easiest required pieces of compliance paperwork U.S. employers can and should be able to complete properly each and every time. Todd Owens, CEO of TalentWise, concurred on this point on the TalentCulture #TChat Show. He made it clear that, while he is also not a lawyer, his technology company does offer onboarding software and his team works with many organizations ensuring they remain compliant when it comes to hiring and new employee paperwork.

The bottom line is this – most companies want and need to scale over time to be successful. They need to sustain that growth and they’ll need the right talent to do it. That means the ideal goal for HR in any organization is building the best performing teams and finding the greatest talent. But that doesn’t come easy – HR can’t focus on talent acquisition and management unless compliance is addressed.

Compliance is a necessity that HR cannot ignore, but it’s increasingly complex, both in our own country and even more so as you enter the global market and have to deal with regulations from other parts of the world. But the I-9 form? C’mon.

But even with mastering the I-9 form, HR technology providers that offer onboarding software need to be scaling partners to their scaling customers so they stay compliant locally and globally. They can and should reduce their risk and so they can focus on what matters the most – growing the business and generating revenue. That’s where compliance matters the most.

For HR to Empower Up

“Wilderness of mirrors
World of polished steel
Gears and iron chains
Turn the grinding wheel
I run between the shadows
Some are phantoms, some are real…”

– Neil Peart, “Double Agent”

Welcome to your new job!

Now, put on these chains and fill out this form…

And then fill out this one…

And then fill out this one…

And then fill out this one…

Darkness descends…

…and excitement slowly seeps away…

We’re talking old school. Not quite the workplace dungeons of the industrial revolution, but definitely of the pre-internet realm. Instead of empowering new employees from before day one, some companies demagnetize their enthusiasm with a day filled with barely legible photocopied paperwork, horribly dry employee handbooks, and outdated training manuals that haven’t been updated since 1999.

All that anticipation and highly engaged first-day energy completely wiped out by the onboarding electronic magnetic pulse, and then we’re left for dead in a paperwork wilderness. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I’ve played Human Resources on TV, but I have actually done the blocking and tackling associated with sourcing, screening, hiring and onboarding. I know first hand, at least in smaller companies, that we’ve been quite guilty of a paper-intensive onboarding experience.

The unfortunate reality is that new employees decide their tenure with a company within their first six months on the job. That’s not a lot of time – but it sure adds up to a lot of recruitment and ramping costs.

Last week the 2014 Candidate Experience Awards were announced. What was obvious is that more and more companies have extensive programs in place to improve their overall candidate experience and ensure they provide a positive, rewarding experience as jobseekers. But many of the award winners admitted that they don’t have a very good “internal candidate experience” and many neglect to focus on the bridge between the two when those final candidates transition to new employees.

Of course what doesn’t happen next can and does have a long-lasting effect on their engagement, productivity and tenure. Therefore, it cannot be underscored enough why employers must improve their onboarding processes, where new employees (regardless of classification) are immediately immersed in the company and its culture, rather than hiding them in paperwork shadows on day one.

I’m proud to have just finished HCI’s Human Capital Strategist (HCS) Certification, and part of the coursework included the following Onboarding Essentials:

  • The time it takes for people to become proficient in their new jobs is critical.
  • The “Breakeven Point” according to Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, is a huge productivity factor that is overlooked by many organizations.
  • Focus on the first 30-60-90 days to get employees off to a fast start.
  • Different breakeven points for jobs, depending on complexity and the applicability of the talent supply pool.
  • Engagement levels are high when joining a new job, but then can quickly decline.
  • Onboarding should be viewed not as an administrative duty but an engagement and developmental experience.
  • The research is clear: a careful and planned onboarding program leads to higher engagement and productivity, and reduces turnover.

Yes, that second to the last one: onboarding should be viewed not as an administrative duty but an engagement and developmental experience.

Unfortunately due to increasing corporate complexity and a constantly changing regulatory environment (not to mention a tightening corporate budget), HR has had little choice but to spend its limited time administering process first, and engaging people second.

To get the engagement, automating as much of the administrative onboarding process as possible is imperative. Otherwise, there’s no way HR (or anyone playing HR on TV) will get to the empowering that Todd Owens, CEO of TalentWise, told us about on the TalentCulture #TChat Show:

HR technologies today are supposed to free HR from routine administration, while helping them keep their organization compliant. Ultimately, it’s about empowering them to deliver a more productive and engaged workforce.

Indeed. However, not all of us in the HR software industry feel that way, or at least develop that way, but I know my mothership PeopleFluent does, along with a few others like TalentWise (in full disclosure, we’re partners). We both certainly know and acknowledge that HR carries the talent torch for us every day. It’s responsible for recruiting, hiring, training and engaging their organization’s most important asset – the people.

That’s why, for HR to empower up, they need to be:

  1. Better Automated. Streamlining the hiring process with the right technology platform enables HR and new employees to focus on the work at hand and immediately immerse into workplace culture. Allowing your new hires to quickly and painlessly move from their offer letter, through whatever “checks” your organization has in place (background and drug screening for example), to onboarding completely gets them ready to go on day one.
  2. And Empowered (as well). Empowering HR from day one is the ultimate outcome, which in turn creates a productive and engaging day one for new hires and co-workers alike. The hundreds of hours of administrative labor saved each year when the paper-process is “turned off” empowers HR to be strategic and to create a sustaining, high-performing, competitive organization today. That’s the business partner the executive team wants in their powerhouse.

Rebooting the human interaction in human resources is what talent engagement is all about and what will ultimately drive the business outcomes that make the top-down and the bottom-up alight with smiles.

photo credit: joshuahoffmanphoto via photopin cc

5 Reasons To Unify Your Hiring Process

Employers invest significant time and money to find the best candidate. However, too many companies are jeopardizing their investment by failing to unify the subsequent hiring process. The hiring process bridges the gap between recruiting and day one, most often served by a wide variety of point solutions.  These point solutions can be simple paper or fax-based processes, or quite automated, such as an electronic I-9 solution, drug testing or background screening system. A disjointed hiring process doesn’t talk well with payroll or core HR systems and requires too many unnecessary steps for both the candidate and HR.

At TalentWise, we believe a unified hiring process, where systems work together and where data flows seamlessly, is critical to long term engagement and retention of your new hire. We’ve built our business around this. Here are five reasons your organization should take a hard look at your hiring process and start unifying it.

1.  Compliance.

This is a no-brainer for HR. Costs of non-compliance are higher than ever. From the federal to industry and corporate compliance, HR needs to ensure they have their “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed. This is where automation shines. Smart forms ensure that information provided by the candidate is both complete and validated.  Furthermore, workflows are designed to reflect the latest legislation, including updated forms such as the I-9, W-4, and state tax withholdings. Instead of managing this process through will and determination alone, a unified hiring process can manage this process for you, with compliance “baked in.”

2.  Candidate Experience.

This is the hot topic of the day, particularly with Millennials and competitive job markets. A poor hiring experience can mean your organization will come up short in the war for talent. Conversely, a great hiring experience will set your company apart. No candidate wants to rekey information into multiple systems, scan paper forms or be required to find a fax machine. By automating tedious new hire tasks and leveraging a single automated system to navigate the hiring process, HR can reduce the number of candidate interactions, eliminate redundant data entry, and allow the candidate to complete the onboarding process anytime, anywhere, from just about any device.  Besides winning talent, a great hiring experience puts the candidate well on his or her way to becoming an engaged and productive employee.

3.  Efficient HR Time.

Hiring top talent is a most critical function of HR. Time should be spent sourcing top candidates and engaging new employees, not quarterbacking a paper-based hiring process. Eliminating time spent on “administrivia” frees up time for quality onboarding and strategic initiatives that increase new hire engagement. Let technology automate the tedium; eliminate email notifications, fax, and paper chasing; and save priceless human interaction for activities that matter the most.

4.  Corporate and employer branding.

The hiring process is the candidate’s first close-up look at the corporate culture. The recruiting chase is over, leaving the candidate to navigate their first administrative process as an employee.   Social media has changed the game; so let’s hope it goes well. If a candidate is subjected to a disjointed process, they are more likely than ever to talk about it. Furthermore, the lines between candidates and customers have blurred. Every employee is a brand advocate and every unhappy candidate is a potential lost customer. How you hire is a key part of building your brand.

5.  Costs.

Everyone is looking to save money, but it’s surprising how few people are looking at the real costs of hiring. Recruiting costs are tracked down to the dollar, but few employers are tracking the costs associated with moving from job offer to day one. Multiple vendors and platforms are expensive; more expensive is the time spent trying to manage them all, and even more expensive than that is the cost of losing a frustrated candidate to a competitor. A unified hiring process will reap tremendous savings – but first HR must understand the real costs of their current hiring process.

So where to get started? The first thing to do is to define your process. You have one, even if you don’t realize it. It may just be a checklist, or perhaps tribal knowledge spanning several departments. Do your best to document your process and pay particular attention to the candidate experience. How many distinct interactions does the candidate have prior to their first day?  How many systems are involved? How many emails are they sent? How many times are they asked to log in?  Does information from the recruiting process seamlessly flow into the new hire process, or are they required to provide information again? A unified hiring process, with a single portal for candidate and HR access, is a game changer for employers. Bridge the gap between recruiting and talent management and make your organization the winner in the war for talent while ensuring compliance, saving time and money, and communicating the brand you want to be.

(About the Author: Todd Owens is the President and Chief Operating Officer at TalentWise and has been with the company since 2006. Todd previously held senior Product Management and Business Development roles at both Wind River Systems and Siebel Systems. Early in his career, Todd was a United States Navy submarine officer serving aboard the USS Pogy (SSN 647) and on the Third Fleet staff.  He has twice been recognized as a “Superstar for outsourcing innovation in support of HR organizations” by HRO Today magazine.  Todd holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy and a Masters in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.)

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