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Throw ‘em into the Lion’s Den or Coddle Them?

small_3222146311The age-old debate about onboarding new or newly transitioned employees. Is the sink or swim method best, or should you hold their hand through the learning process? We aren’t all natural-born leaders and we don’t always know which route, or combination thereof to take when it comes to training. The end goal is to build a productive, cohesive and engaged team. So what training and management methods will get you there?

While there is no secret recipe, there are some tried and true practices for getting your new team members where they need to be in a timely manner.

GTS
Pardon our language but we love this phrase, “Google That Stuff”. We all have those people in our lives, the ones who constantly ask us questions that they could surely Google. This happens a lot in the workplace. Instead of learning lessons for themselves, employees will hop over to someone else’s desk and use up their time to explain or teach them something. It goes without saying that mentorship and proper training should be made available to new recruits, but it is often unclear where to draw the line.
 
When someone needs help, a lot of us have the tendency to jump right in to the rescue. This knee-jerk reaction can actually end up inhibiting the self-sufficiency of those around us. Don’t be afraid to say, “Google That Stuff”.
 
Make Expectations Clear
A major onboarding and training problem that can lead to delayed productivity is when management is unclear about their expectations. There is a big difference between holding their hand through the onboarding process and leading them through the onboarding process. Chucking a handbook and a training log in at them does not a happy new employee make. There should be a clear and defined onboarding and training strategy of which the manager should be a major part.
 
Being New is no Excuse for Subpar Work
63% of bad hires can be attributed to the employees failure to produce the proper quality of work. Yes, there will be a learning curve and adjustment period. A couple of other leading factors of the common bad hire are failure to meet deadlines and immediate attendance problems. These are all vital areas in which to set the bar high. It is because they’re new that they should try harder, never be late and turn things in early incase there is more work to be done. Being new shouldn’t be framed as an excuse, it should be presented as a driving factor.
 
With most anything, a good balance is needed in the onboarding process. Making sure that employees can stand on their own two feet, while facilitating growth and engagement means knowing when to step in and when to step back.
 

Social Collaboration and Learning

small 3231178720Social networking and the ease of communication that technology has brought have forever changed the way we interact. These tools have also changed the way we learn. Social collaboration integrated with learning management is a new trend in interactive learning management systems.

Leaders in the learning management systems industry have embraced social networking and collaboration as tools in their software and systems. This integration of social networking and collaboration in learning management has been tied to workforce innovation and productivity. These new tools facilitate workforce cohesion and make sharing information a whole lot easier.

According to a Chief Learning Officer post on web-based learning and collaboration,

“By breaking out of the traditional “formal” and “informal” learning silos — and embracing the synergy that exists between these two areas — organizations open themselves up to potentially greater results, including more productive employees, shorter time to competency for new employees and partners, and more engaged employees.”

Social collaboration as it relates to learning can be part of formal and informal training and learning management. As companies strive to figure out the best medium for the delivery of information, it’s important to turn to the experts. Every industry and each employee have their best practice ways to convey different types of subject matter. Finding what works for your company should part of the dialogue between software providers and company decision makers.

There are several different ways companies can incorporate social collaboration into their learning management systems such as blogs, podcasts, forums and mobile apps. While these tools don’t bring new information to the table, they are more user-friendly, promote collaboration and allow learning on the go, anytime, anywhere.

The addition of social collaboration to learning management is all about making the process easier for everyone. Instead of flying 150+ people out to Las Vegas for a conference at which most attendees will be too hung over to remember, you can offer a podcast, a 24/7 knowledge library, online videos or expert advice on the company blog.

These tools also allowed for a seamless relationship between informal learning and formal training. Those on the job tips and tricks that employees learn through experience and collaboration can now be integrated into the formal training process. When companies facilitate this union between formal training and informal learning it ensures compliance and consistency. For instance, someone who isn’t afraid to seek advice or guidance might have a leg up on the employee who prefers to stay to themself. The addition of social collaboration to the LMS places everyone on the same field with the same opportunities to learn.

As learning management systems grow with social media, employees are given optimized forms of learning and training and employers are able to document their progress. Companies can offer social collaboration and networking to their employees, but if it is not tracked through a system or software, there is no way to prove that employees are actually seeking out and retaining the information. Social collaboration should be a part of the learning management system to fully ensure compliance and enhance the employee’s opportunity to learn and grow within the company.

 

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JefferyTurner via
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Some Fantastic Pearls of Management Wisdom From Phil Libin

small__4771136128Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote has a reputation for his untraditional management style. Instead of following the mold of those before him, Libin decided to take a step back and really concentrate on what he wanted the culture of Evernote to be like. From the technology they use to their communication methods, Evernote does things a little differently. Libin did an interview with Adam Bryant from the NY Times, and here are some take-aways.

No Offices
In an effort to create a more cohesive and engaged work space, nobody in the Evernote building has an office. Instead of having practices in place that create a ladder feeling, Evernote’s workspace is wide-open and flat. Pay is really the only indicator of seniority. There are not great parking spots or preferential treatment, everyone is out in the open. In referencing traditional perks of C level man agent Libin said, 

“They create artificial barriers to communication. They create artificial things that people focus on rather than just getting their job accomplished. We try to have an organization that just helps you get your work done, and then it’s my job to eliminate all of the risks and all the distractions so you can just focus on achieving.”

So instead of hiring those who will leave a trail of blood on their way to the corner office, Evernote attracts employees that are driven achievement, not status. 

No Phones
That’s right, there are no land line phones in the Evernote office space. Every employee has smart phones and their plans are paid for the company. Libin saw that phones were just not needed, so he got rid of them. This isn’t Libin’s first company and it most likely won’t be his last. With each company, his goal has been to eliminate one piece of unnecessary technology. Libin said,

“We’re not a sales organization, so we’re not making a lot of calls. If you’re at your desk, you should be working. And that’s actually worked really well. I don’t think anyone misses phones. Even though it’s one big room, it’s actually fairly quiet because no one is sitting there talking at their desk.”

No Email
This sounds crazy right? Email has rapidly become the cornerstone of business as we know it. But if you take a step back and look at its flaws, it starts to makes sense. Have you ever gotten a string of emails forwarded to you, you open it, read through the dozens of back and forth messages and are simply left wondering what this has to do with you and why it was sent? So then you read it again. This all too commonly used forward button has caused a lot of wasted time. According to an Atlassian inforgraphic on time wasters at work, the average productivity cost per employee based off of unnecessary emails is about $1,800.

“We strongly discourage lengthy e-mail threads with everyone weighing in.” Libin add, “Plus, it’s dangerous because it’s way too easy to misread the tone of something. If you want to talk to somebody and you’re a couple floors apart, I kind of want you to get up and go talk to them.”

While Libin prefers face-to-face communications, the Evernote workspace has a robot through which you can communicate. Right?! Anybots allow employees to log in and drive it around. The controller can see through the robots eyes and hear what the robot hears. Additionally, the robot has a screen, making it possible to have causal face-time conversations with people at their desk. 

Along with other practices like unlimited vacation time and voluntary training programs, Libin leads his team in a different way, and it seems to be working pretty well for Evernote. Libin explains his methodology best when he said, 

“We always try to ask whether a particular policy exists because it’s a default piece of corporate stupidity that everyone expects you to have, or does it actually help you accomplish something? And very often you realize that you don’t really know why you’re doing it this way, so we just stop doing it.”

photo credit: Jordanhill School D&T Dept via photopin cc

Four Free Ways to Better Your Workplace

small__385583570We spend a whole lot of time there. It’s a place of learning, stress, friendships and so much more. Why not work at improving it? If we have to be away from our friends an family 40+ hour/week, perhaps a stab at improvement is worth while. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics graph, the average worker between the ages of  25 and 54 with children spends the largest chunk of their time on work at, 8.8 hours. The second largest chunk of time was dedicated to sleep, at 7.6 hours. For most companies, there isn’t a “Workplace Betterment” budget, so unless we all work for Google or Amazon, this is a group, shoe-string effort that takes a little creativity. 

Give Them Some Choice
Traditional offices have the same desks, same chairs, same devices and same walls. Let your team know that they are free to make some choices about their workspace and facilitate the changes. Maybe someone prefers sitting on an exercise ball sometimes, maybe they want to take a laptop and sit outside for a while. They’ll have to come in for a charge, and exercise balls are meant to be sat on in 20 minute intervals. The up and down and movement are stimulating. People perform better when they get up periodically and walk around. Personal touches to their workspace allows employee to get more comfortable. It can also facilitate more interaction among your team. 

Reward with Freedoms
As long as company information is safe, employees should be given their choice of device as well. BYOD is becoming very popular. 60% of companies are now switching over to BYOD. People are accustom to their own favorite technology, so let them use it if there’s no harm in it. 

Additionally, people absolutely love the freedoms that come along with teleworking. There must be something to this relatively new trend because 20% of today’s workforce telecommutes. If the type of work permits, perhaps you can reward employees with a few days of work from home. This is also a great way to find out if this model of work is a good match for your company. These little freedoms are what employees love. 

Not every industry is built for a work from home model, you can still offer some time off, early days, extended lunch times. More often than not, people will prefer personal time over a Subway gift card. If they want a sandwich they’ll buy it, they simply can’t buy more time.

Push Vacation Time
On that note, we have learned from Companies like Evernote and Netflix that holding a tight rein on vacation time is an outdated business practice. Employees that take vacations are more productive, less stressed, happier and healthier. It’s not just enough to let employee know that they can take vacation, because they won’t. It has been successful trend for employers to lead example. They too return to the office in a better state for work. 

Work on Your Management Team
The work is getting done and everyone is coming in on time seems to be the standard that a lot of companies hold their managers to. This is way below where the bar should be set. HIgh turnover is mostly attributed to issues with management. Keeping the lines of communication open, gathering feedback from employees and offering continued management training is vital to the health of any organization.

photo credit: herval via photopin cc

Trust Me, You Need a Social Policy

small  2687444500

As the presence of social media steadily grows, companies are shaping their workforce social media policies. HR professionals were asked to list their most problematic policies in this 2013 HR Policies: Practices & Changes survey, and social media policies led the way at 41.7%.

 

  • Some are lax, asking employees to merely use their common sense when posting online. Zappos prefers this method, following their personal responsibility work culture tone.
  • Others are stringent, full of a thousand different things that they are strictly forbidden to post. BBC’s ten-page policy gets pretty specific.
  • While other employees prefer to encourage their employees to post and participate along loose guidelines.

 We’ve seen what can happen when rogue employees take the social reigns. Serious damage can be done to the company’s image when employees aren’t given guidelines or repercussions for negative posts. One of the more popular instances of this happening occurred when a St. Louis Applebee’s waitress lost her job for posting a picture of  a receipt online that had a ridiculous customer note on it. A virtual meltdown ensued, and you can read the step step of the case here

On the other hand, a lot of companies like Marriott are embracing social and encouraging their employees to become brand ambassadors online. You can check out some highlights of their campaign here. The company’s social media policy along with the culture, will dictate which side of the fence they land on: censored and secure, or encouraged and taking a chance.

Not Everyone Has Common Sense
This might sound harsh, but boy is it true. We’ve all worked with bright, capable people who always manage to get the job done with a a smile, but in other realms of their life, don’t seem to have a lick of sense. Not everyone is out to tear the company down, but well meaning employees who don’t know how to use social or don’t know how to use it appropriately, need to be given guidelines. A post on social media policies from HR pro Paul Chaney says, “Not everyone uses professionalism or common sense in their social media interactions. Spend a little time reading some people’s Facebook posts and it won’t take long to realize that quite the opposite is true.”

Protection First
On this blog we talk a lot about brand building, it’s not easy, it takes time and resources. There are a lot of examples out there of scorned employees putting a serious dent in the company employer brand via a social uprising. Social media policies should be put in place to first protect the company and its brand. It should be very clear what is acceptable and what isn’t. Some companies ban their employees from sharing any information about their company. While there is strong case for keeping companies safe in this manner, an employer brand is best built with the help of, well…employees.

Facilitating Brand Advocacy Second
While security for the brand should come first, your policy shouldn’t just be full of “don’ts”. The policy should clearly define what is not acceptable, but it should also define what is encouraged. Encouraging employees to share and engage vis social media puts the company in a positive light, strengthens social relationships in the workplace and creates brand ambassadors.

You’re Not Zappos, but You’re Getting Close
Zappos is one of this companies for which a loose, common sense policy works. This works for them for several reasons. Zappos’ hiring process, company culture and employer brand are so strategic that their employees seem to be on autopilot for building the brand. They have created a foundation of employees and structure that lend to a fantastic social presence. We can’t all be Zappos but a strong, yet welcoming social media policy will get us closer.

Social media is no longer just a way to “stay in touch”. Social media has become a deeply ingrained part of our everyday lives. By 2020 it is projected that 46% of all U.S. workers will be Millenials, and social media is extremely important to them. 64% of them ask about social media policies during job interviews and 24% of those say that it would be a key factor in accepting a job offer. Employees are going to post, they need guidelines to both keep the brand safe, and grow it at the same time.

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Anderson Mancini via
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Support that Supports

small  4941547991We’ve talked a lot on this blog about choosing the right software for your company’s needs. The software should be able to grow, be cost effective and actually work. One of the main considerations however should be support. Technical support, upgrades and updated knowledge libraries are all so very important in order to have effective and relevant software. Even the best software in the world is useless if no one knows how to use or update it. Great support looks a little like this…

Proactive

Does your tech support call you? Leading software companies (like us) have realized the importance of offering relevant and timely tech support. Industry leaders in the software business have taken notice of customer feedback, and started to make their support proactive. Visibility has become known for it’s proactive tech support offering features like “touch base calls“. These calls are designed to faciliate the proper use of the software through ongoing training and support. Instead of waiting for the call from the frantic client trying desperately to get something done in a timely manner, proactive support answers the questions and fixes the problems ahead of time.

Optimized

As clients use the software, they find their own ways of doing things. These aren’t necessary the ways in which the software was designed to be used, therefore it is not being used optimally. Vendors who offer great support want clients to use the software to the best of its potential. Happy clients are retained clients, and this happens through the optimization of the software. “Wow, I didn’t know it could do that!” is phrase that a good tech support representative should hear often.

Transparent

Have you ever had a question about your software, picked up the phone, and waded through a 5 minute-long automated system, only to end up with a sales person charging you for the call and the support? This is an all too common frustration with software support. When choosing your software, be sure to ask questions about support and it’s associated costs. Will each call cost me? How much? What if the matter isn’t resolved? Ongoing support should be a part of the package.

On the Line

Zendesk has a nifty infographic on the importance of call centers in customer care. An overwhelming majority of customers prefer to contact customer service phone, 79% in fact. Having software support that actually answers the phone is vital to productivity and sanity. Although most companies can’t answer the phone 24/7, there should be some type of support available around the clock.  

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Zappos Raises Their Quitting Bonuses?

small__1454922072That’s right, you read that correctly, Zappos CEO Tony Hseich, offers new hires $2,000, plus payment for work done, in the first week of employment if the employee quits. Sounds crazy right? Well as it turns out, only 2-3% of people take the offer. This bonus has been raised $1,000 since its advent.

Ending a job on Friday and starting at Zappos on a Monday would be ideal for candidates, but that really isn’t how it usually goes. Most people that start new positions have had a lapse in employment. Even if that lapse was short, the cost of living keeps adding up, and the checks aren’t coming in. When a new hire is offered $2,000 to walk out the door, this can be a very tempting prospect for a lot of people. This speaks volumes about their company culture and employer brand.

Ever since Zappos hit the e-tail scene, they have made a name for themselves in customer care and speed of service. This brand of service doesn’t just happen because of policies, this kind of care happens when employees are engaged and invested. When employees first start at Zappos, they are put through a 4 week immersion of the brand, culture and values that Zappos runs on, it is during the first 1-2 weeks that they are offered the quitting bonus. So why does Zappos offer it and how do they get away with it?

For most companies, if they were to offer this kind of bonus, they’d go down in a ball of quitting bonuses, but Zappos isn’t most companies. They have put their money where their mouth is when it comes to protecting their culture and values. It’s one thing to claim a culture, it’s quite another to put money down on it. This genuine culture and brand starts with their employees.

This doesn’t only facilitate a great image; it’s a very crafty and effective tool against the all-costly bad hire. 25% of companies surveyed for a MindFlash infographic said that a bad hire in the last year has cost them at least $50,000. Hseich has found a pretty ingenious way to filter out those that wouldn’t fit into the company culture putting their loyalty and excitement about the company to the test right away.

With the right model, and a rock solid employer brand, Zappos has found a way to cultivate a positive company culture, while weeding out the bad seeds, at a minimal cost. Although the 2-3% take the bonus and jet, that ends up being a fraction of the cost of a traditional bad hire. This new and surprising type of bonus won’t work for everyone, but it sure is working for Zappos.

photo credit: SAN_DRINO via photopin cc

Zappos Raises their Quitting Bonus?

small__1454922072That’s right, you read that correctly, Zappos CEO Tony Hseich, offers new hires $2,000, plus payment for work done, in the first week of employment if the employee quits. Sounds crazy right? Well as it turns out, only 2-3% of people take the offer. This bonus has been raised $1,000 since it’s advent.

Ending a job on Friday and starting at Zappos on a Monday would be ideal for candidates, but that really isn’t how it usually goes. Most people that start new positions have had a lapse in employment. Even if that lapse was short, the cost of living keeps adding up, and the checks aren’t coming in. When a new hire is offered $2,000 to walk out the door, this can be a very tempting prospect for a lot of people. This speaks volumes about their company culture and employer brand.

Ever since Zappos hit the e-tail scene, they have made a name for themselves in customer care and speed of service. This brand of service doesn’t just happen because of policies, this kind of care happens when employees are engaged and invested. When employees first start at Zappos, they are put through a 4 week immersion of the brand, culture and values that Zappos runs on, it is during the first 1-2 weeks that they are offered the quitting bonus. So why does Zappos offer it and how do they get away with it?

For most companies, if they were to offer this kind of bonus, they’d go down in a ball of quitting bonuses, but Zappos isn’t most companies. They have put their money where their mouth is when it comes to protecting their culture and values. It’s one thing to claim a culture, it’s quite another to put money down on it. This genuine culture and brand starts with their employees.

This doesn’t only facilitate a great image; it’s a very crafty and effective tool against the all-costly bad hire. 25% of companies surveyed for a MindFlash infographic said that a bad hire in the last year has cost them at least $50,000. Hseich has found a pretty ingenious way to filter out those that wouldn’t fit into the company culture putting their loyalty and excitement about the company to the test right away.

With the right model, and a rock solid employer brand, Zappos has found a way to cultivate a positive company culture, while weeding out the bad seeds, at a minimal cost. Although the 2-3% take the bonus and jet, that ends up being a fraction of the cost of a traditional bad hire. This new and surprising type of bonus won’t work for everyone, but it sure is working for Zappos.

photo credit: SAN_DRINO via photopin cc

Time-To-Fill is Going Down the Tubes

small__91147636The world of job searching is getting tougher for candidates. It is taking employers longer and longer to pull the trigger on new hires. Even great candidates with all the right skills and values are left wondering and waiting the phone. According to research done economists Steven J. Davis, Jason Faberman and John Haltiwanger, vacancies are staying open far longer than they used to. In 2009, the average time-to-fill was 15 business days, compared to today’s 23 days. Time to fill is such an important metric in HR and recruiting, so why is this process taking even longer?

They’re Shaking in Their Boots Over Bad Hires

As we steadily pull through the tail end of this recession, a lot of employers are working in fear of bad hires more than they were before the hard times hit. As the recession took hold, companies were conducting mass layoffs and tightening belts whereever cuts could be made. This mentality is holding on strong. The cost of high turnover can end up crippling companies. For small businesses (less than 65 employees) the cost of each turnover is about $8,000. Recruiters and hiring managers are so reluctant to hire quickly because they’re worried about hiring poorly.

Skills vs Openings

It is also theorized that this lengthier hiring process can be attributed to a disconnect of skills between the 4 million job openings vs the 12 million unemployed. Especially in fields that require higher skills there seems to be a gap between demand and skilled candidates. Taking a look at what industries are growing vs the skills of the emerging workforce presents us with one of the attributes of this slowing process. There seem to be too many of the wrong candidates.

What is it Costing HR to Keep them on the Hook?

Advertising the position, background checks, screening and interviewing all take time and money. The internal recruiting time per hire is usually anywhere from 30-100 hours. Multiply that the hourly rate and that ends up being quite a bit of money. When candidates are now expected to go through multiple rounds of interviews and seemingly pointless tests, this process is taking far longer than it should. With pressure from higher ups to hold off on the hire until the perfect candidate is found, recruiters and hiring managers don’t have much of a choice.

What is This Doing to the Candidate Experience?

With this lengthier hiring process and reluctances to actually hire, candidates are loosing time, money and patience. In this NY Times piece we follow Paul Sullivan, a video editor looking for a new job. During his sixth interview he is actually approached a security guard who had seen him there so many times that he thought he was an employee who kept forgetting his security badge. Sullivan said, “He couldn’t believe I was actually there for another interview. I couldn’t either! But then I put on a happy face, went upstairs and waited for another round of questions.”

Maren Hogan, HR pro weighs-in on the trials of the hiring process: “Let’s just say, burnout is common. But candidate experience is (and always will be) a huge part of the recruiting and retention process. And one of the ways that you can make your candidates’ experience really amazing, is to NOT WASTE THEIR TIME!”

Open communication about positions and actual needs with the hiring manager can save everyone a world of wasted time and resources. These lengthier hiring processes aren’t really helping anyone. Candidates and hiring managers alike are becoming more frustrated with this reluctance to pull the trigger.

 

photo credit: scragz via photopin cc

Time-to-Fill is Going Down the Tubes

small__91147636The world of job searching is getting tougher for candidates. It is taking employers longer and longer to pull the trigger on new hires. Even great candidates with all the right skills and values are left wondering and waiting the phone. According to research done economists Steven J. Davis, Jason Faberman and John Haltiwanger, vacancies are staying open far longer than they used to. In 2009, the average time-to-fill was 15 business days, compared to today’s 23 days. Time to fill is such an important metric in HR and recruiting, so why is this process taking even longer?

They’re Shaking in Their Boots Over Bad Hires

As we steadily pull through the tail end of this recession, a lot of employers are working in fear of bad hires more than they were before the hard times hit. As the recession took hold, companies were conducting mass layoffs and tightening belts whereever cuts could be made. This mentality is holding on strong. The cost of high turnover can end up crippling companies. For small businesses (less than 65 employees) the cost of each turnover is about $8,000. Recruiters and hiring managers are so reluctant to hire quickly because they’re worried about hiring poorly.

Skills vs Openings

It is also theorized that this lengthier hiring process can be attributed to a disconnect of skills between the 4 million job openings vs the 12 million unemployed. Especially in fields that require higher skills there seems to be a gap between demand and skilled candidates. Taking a look at what industries are growing vs the skills of the emerging workforce presents us with one of the attributes of this slowing process. There seem to be too many of the wrong candidates.

What is it Costing HR to Keep them on the Hook?

Advertising the position, background checks, screening and interviewing all take time and money. The internal recruiting time per hire is usually anywhere from 30-100 hours. Multiply that the hourly rate and that ends up being quite a bit of money. When candidates are now expected to go through multiple rounds of interviews and seemingly pointless tests, this process is taking far longer than it should. With pressure from higher ups to hold off on the hire until the perfect candidate is found, recruiters and hiring managers don’t have much of a choice.

What is This Doing to the Candidate Experience?

With this lengthier hiring process and reluctances to actually hire, candidates are loosing time, money and patience. In this NY Times piece we follow Paul Sullivan, a video editor looking for a new job. During his sixth interview he is actually approached a security guard who had seen him there so many times that he thought he was an employee who kept forgetting his security badge. Sullivan said, “He couldn’t believe I was actually there for another interview. I couldn’t either! But then I put on a happy face, went upstairs and waited for another round of questions.”

Maren Hogan, HR pro weighs-in on the trials of the hiring process: “Let’s just say, burnout is common. But candidate experience is (and always will be) a huge part of the recruiting and retention process. And one of the ways that you can make your candidates’ experience really amazing, is to NOT WASTE THEIR TIME!”

Open communication about positions and actual needs with the hiring manager can save everyone a world of wasted time and resources. These lengthier hiring processes aren’t really helping anyone. Candidates and hiring managers alike are becoming more frustrated with this reluctance to pull the trigger.

 

photo credit: scragz via photopin cc