Why HR best practice starts with the offer letter

The UK economy is heating up, and the competition for hiring new talent is at fever pitch. We’re seeing small businesses grow in size and number, with staff being brought onboard rapidly to fill sales, technical and other job roles. As this demand continues to grow, prospective employees find themselves in stronger positions than before. Employers must now go the extra mile to acquire new talent. So how can small businesses makes themselves a more attractive proposition than their competitors to the cream of the workforce?

First impressions are critical

The on boarding process can be a tricky operation. HR departments and staff are under pressure to onboard staff quickly and efficiently, yet they face numerous obstacles which draw the whole process out. For rapidly-growing organisations the HR ‘department’ is often just a single staff member – if the post exists at all. Senior staff members may have conducted interviews and approved a new hire, only to find that contracts are delayed as this sole staff member is unavailable due to annual leave or capacity issues. An over-reliance on their skills and knowledge means senior staff must await their return; a delay which may prove the difference between hiring your number one target and losing out to a competitor.

Prospective employees may be chomping at the bit to join an organisation only to experience this delay before they’ve even started. A positive first impression quickly turns into a negative experience as prospective employees feel neglected. In business terms, you should view this prospective employee as a customer; this delay is bad customer service. It puts your organisation in a negative light and prospects might wonder how far this spreads throughout the business. First impressions are critical. You don’t want a prospective employee doubting you before they have even joined.

Out Of Office

Other issues are at play when it comes to the onboarding process for small businesses. It’s not only HR staff who might be unavailable when you need them; what about the new hire themselves? It’s possible they’re between jobs and may be travelling or living and working across multiple locations. Getting them to review offer letters and contracts can take more time than you would like. For small businesses going through rapid growth, this delay isn’t ideal. Staff need to be taken on swiftly to fill roles and hit the ground running. Some small businesses even find themselves taking a gamble and hiring in advance of a role becoming available, as they’re aware there will be the usual delays in the paperwork. For small businesses working to tight budgets, this is not a smart way to operate.

A human touch

HR operations need to get recruitment right from the very first offer letter. If prospective hires receive their paperwork in order and in a timely fashion, they’ll be impressed by your business’ streamlined operations. One solution lies in automating HR workflows. Using Digital Transaction Management (DTM) technology, you can build a template contract offer document which is personalised and distributed to new staff automatically and digitally. Not only does this save time and money as paperwork is not printed, posted, scanned or faxed, it reduces margins for error when it comes to ‘not in good order’ paperwork. New hires will suggest alternative start dates, as it suits them, which means contracts will have to be adjusted. With DTM, that can be done on the fly. With traditional pen and paper, that means starting the entire contract process over. The savings in material costs alone from these multiple contract distributions will be significant.

Adopting digital technologies like DTM will also speed up your operations. Should your HR department lead be away for whatever reason, staff can draw upon existing templates to send information across themselves. All it takes is a name change and date update. This adds a human touch at no extra effort. Prospects can also access their paperwork from their mobile device. Whether they’re across town or out of the country, they can easily sign all the required information for their contract and send it straight back, without the need to print anything off.

Finally, when it comes to hiring new talent, technology adoption can itself be a selling point for your organisation. If your small business is using modern, efficient technology, it markets you well. New hires will be confident that workflows are in place which encourage productivity, which can even tip them from ‘maybe’ accepting your offer to a firm ‘yes’. Delight your staff members even before they’ve joined your business by using technology within HR that puts your business at a competitive advantage.

Jesper Frederiksen is the Managing Director of Docusign EMEA. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

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