How These North Bay Companies Are Using Technology to Speed ​​Up New Hire Onboarding

Simply Solar CEO Cliff Johnson said technology has reduced his Petaluma company’s administrative workload by 75% to onboard and hire new talent.

“The way it worked for us was we were able to automate it from start to finish,” said Johnson, who has employed people for 14 years. He and other HR and corporate leaders in the North Bay are looking for ways to cut red tape.

New hires at the nearly 100-employee Sonoma County company no longer have to come to the office on their first day to complete paperwork. Instead, they spend time at headquarters to familiarize themselves with how the company works, learn about its goals, and see how they fit into the bigger picture.

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The Petaluma-based company began transitioning to an automated onboarding and human resources management system in February 2021, adding an applicant tracking system in May of that year.

After jobs are posted through the platform and people have applied, Simply Solar can track and score resumes by anyone with access to the system.

“What it does is allow us to collaborate and make hiring decisions quickly,” Johnson said.

An offer can then be made with one click, tax disclosures and other documents secured, and onboarding completed through the same portal. Payroll is also part of the software system.

Since people didn’t switch jobs initially, the pandemic has forced companies to be more deliberate about finding workers, Johnson said.

“We had to develop a system where, for lack of a better term, we were looking for candidates. We were no longer just passively recruiting. We were very aggressively looking for talent,” Johnson told Business Daily.

Last February, Simply Solar hired an employee to serve as a dedicated recruiter. Johnson says it’s cheaper than hiring a recruiting firm, which he says charges 45 percent of an employee’s annual salary as a placement fee.

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Far Niente Family of Wineries and Vineyards has also changed its onboarding strategy.

“About a year ago, orientation consisted mostly of new hires and human resources paperwork, and then most of the immersion was done at the departmental level,” said Julie Secviar, Far Niente’s vice president of human resources. Far Niente in Kerville, Nickel & Nickel in Oakville, EnRoute in Sevastopol, Bella Union in Rutherford, Post & Beam in Oakville and Dolce in Oakville.

“We’ve now grown it into a one-day program where we share information with the company’s senior leadership about their division and how each position is integral to our success,” Secviar told the Wall Street Journal. “We end with an immersion in our wine portfolio, our vineyards and a guided tasting.”

Christine Hunter, senior vice president at Central Valley Lumber in Napa, used an applicant tracking system at her previous job, so she wanted to apply the technology to her current workplace. In October 2021, construction supply company automated recruitment and boarding.

“When employees go to work on their first day, they’re at work, not filling out 2-inch packages. They can fill out at home, where they have all their personal information, and that makes the most sense,” Hunter said.

The applicant tracking system does not misplace documents, allowing for updates so no one has outdated documents in their filing cabinets and information flows in a more timely manner, she said.

Central Valley Lumber has 219 employees at seven stores in Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Yolo counties, as well as at its headquarters.

“What I’m doing in terms of recruiting and onboarding isn’t revolutionary. I think all of HR is trying to streamline and make it easier for managers. Now we have better metrics that people can see,” Hunter said. Say.

Metrics might include knowing exactly how many people have viewed job postings, employee retention rates, how long it takes people to complete onboarding tasks, and productivity.

It’s also about the employee experience, Hunter said, by making the process seamless from applying for a job to interviewing to onboarding to getting paid.

Katie Kuruliak, director of talent and culture at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, said, “Technology has expanded the reach of our recruiting team. Fairmont utilizes a proprietary platform to assist with talent assessment. The tool helps identify strengths in many areas, including: cognition, personality and motivation.”

Fairmont has 250 full-time, 72 part-time and 59 seasonal employees.

“Like many businesses, the resort has implemented smart strategies to hire, retain and onboard new service professionals,” Kuruliak told the Journal. “We have expedited the interview process and in some cases can issue offers to candidates within hours.”

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