Laura Del Beccaro
CEO & Co-Founder Sora

Laura is Co-founder & CEO at Sora, a new HR automation tool that makes it easy to personalize employee workflows like onboarding and offboarding. Prior to Sora, Laura was an engineer at First Round Capital and Mixpanel, and prior to that was in Management Consulting. When she's not at work, she loves playing & watching soccer, eating pasta, and being in the sun.

Follow Follow

In this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast, William speaks with Laura Del Beccaro about why your HR processes break.

Laura is co-founder and CEO at Sora, with a mission to empower people-focused teams to create exceptional employee experiences. Listen in on the convo and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Show Length: 28 minutes

Enjoy the podcast?

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast with William Tincup. Of course, comments are always welcome. Be sure to subscribe through your favorite platform.

Music:

This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s William Tincup and you are listening to The RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Laura from Sora, and we’re going to be talking about why your HR processes break. And we’ve dedicated at least 10 hours to this conversation. I’m just kidding. Talk about 30 minutes or so. We could talk for days if not weeks about this, but we’ll try and keep ourselves contained. Laura, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Sora?

Laura:

Of course, I’m Laura. I am co-founder and CEO of Sora. And we started about three years ago now, mainly got started actually, because my partner switched at his company from a customer facing role into a people operations role and was really excited about all of these initiatives he wanted to implement and particularly excited about employee onboarding and making it the most amazing experience ever and long story short, didn’t get to do almost any of the things he really cared about doing, because there was just so much administrative tedium that was holding him back.

Laura:

And so we talked to a bunch of HR teams and people teams, and realized that there was a lot of this barrier to doing important strategic work that we all know is demanded of HR and people teams at this point, because of all of these tedious processes. And so we made it our mission to automate as much of that as possible while still having a very employee facing and human process. And that’s where we’re at now.

William:

So Sora, it’s technology?

Laura:

Yes, it is software that helps you sync all of your HR tools together so that they’re actually talking to each other and then allows you to automate and customize whatever processes you want on top of that.

William:

Oh, I love that. I love that. Well, first of all, so many of the processes, at least historically, have been… It’s not just the minutiae and change management of people not wanting to change, et cetera, but it’s also been highly personal. Take that onboarding experience that was Jean’s onboarding experience that he or she had made. And so changing it was an affront to a person where, processes should be personal. I mean, the creation of a process shouldn’t be personal, but that’s also been a big barrier to change.

William:

So when you’re talking to HR, and I mean, first of all, this all makes sense, right? So let’s talk a little bit about where and why their processes break. So we’ll deal with some of the wheres and then we’ll deal with some of the whys. So where have you seen so far as you’re digging around and helping people, helping your clients, where are processes breaking down for them?

Laura:

So some of it is communication based. So for example, X person created this process, but a lot of it is actually still in their head and then maybe they actually left the company. And now there’s three other team members who don’t really know exactly what the process was. It’s not written down anywhere. So that’s a big part of the problem, is just, we don’t have the process codified anywhere. And definitely not in a way that all of the relevant stakeholders can understand it.

Laura:

Another thing is just changing workplaces. So obviously during COVID when everybody had to go remote. And now that there’s some continuously remote companies, there’s some hybrid. But even if you just have more than one office, there’s inherent complexity there, where certain employees need different information than other employees, and you can’t just have one process for every single employee. A lot of companies have different types of employees working in not just different locations, but different types of offices entirely or are part-time or full-time. And all of these different variables add up to different combinations and permutations of processes. And all of that is again, really hard to document, but also just leads to things falling through the cracks due to a lot of complexity and not quite understanding how the process should work.

Laura:

And the other thing is just lack of resources and/or a difficulty working with other teams at a company. So there’s a lot of coordination, HR, if anything is like purely a team of coordination with IT, with recruiting, with legal, with new hires. And if those teams aren’t totally understanding the process or aren’t totally cooperating with the process that you want, that introduces a lot of breaking processes as well. So if… in some cases we’ve had customers where IT refuses to work anywhere outside of Jira, which is fair, they need their own processes. And that means that the HR team needs to work inside of Jira, but also work inside of Slack to deal with the recruiting team and email to deal with the new hire or the terminating employee or the employee going on parental leave or whatever the case may be.

Laura:

And that’s a lot of extra complexity for an HR team when nothing is in one place. And so Sora actually helps you go where the work is. We will create a ticket in Jira if IT needs to work in Jira. And then we will listen for any updates in Jira and make that same update in Sora so that you know when something’s done, but you only need to check one place. You don’t need to spread yourself thin and make everything work across all the other teams. So lots of different places at [crosstalk 00:07:01] .

William:

I love it. Well, I mean, again, we could do a 10 hour show, right? So we, we could just start in sourcing, go all the way to outplacement. We’d [inaudible 00:07:10] broken processes everywhere, but for the audience it seems like, and correct me if I’m wrong, three components that you brought up was a process needs to be articulate or articulated. If you want to go that far, it’s got to be either some type of agreement. People have to understand it and it needs to be adaptable on some level.

Laura:

Yeah.

William:

Is there anything else that you’d mix into what makes a process?

Laura:

I think you hit the nail on the head. The adaptability is definitely a big piece as your organization changes…

William:

Right.

Laura:

…it already is complex, but as it continues to change, it needs to be able to be updated without spending millions of dollars on consultants or getting a ton of technical help or anything like that. It needs to be able to be owned by you and iterated on by you.

William:

So that brings up, and will bring up the question, Okay, so let’s start with an existing process. How should we audit and make it optimized? Right. So how should we audit a process? And in comma, if we don’t have a process, how should we start from scratch to build a process?

Laura:

Such a good question. And we get this question all of the time. So we actually help companies totally free of charge with creating processes from scratch, just because we’ve seen a lot of amazing processes across our customers at different stages. So small, medium, large companies in different locations. And we love helping, obviously our mission is to help people teams create exceptional employee experiences. So part of that is helping craft some of the experiences themselves without any sort of consulting help. The way that we think about our processes is there is a decent amount of content online. And I just read dozens of articles and pick and choose the little things that I like from each process. And then I just try to take a step back and make sure that it’s also our own, like in what way is this special to Sora?

Laura:

In what way does this personify our brand or make someone feel particularly connected to Sora specifically? So that’s how we go about…

William:

Right.

Laura:

…crafting our own processes. In terms of auditing existing processes, so much of it is just about getting it down on paper. If you had to try to put it in a spreadsheet and have who owns this particular piece? When does it happen? What are the different variations of it? So what are the edge cases where if somebody has visa requirements, we actually do this extra step. And just putting it down on paper is the first thing. A lot of the tangential benefit that we’ve seen so our customers get is turns out a recruiting team and an HR team and a payroll team at one of our customers was doing the exact same thing. They were all doing the same step, but none of them knew it because their process wasn’t in one place, it was in three different places for each of those teams. And so just putting it in a single document and trying to make sense of it holistically is a huge, huge start.

William:

So two follows ups but you can pick either one of them or both. One is how does one know when a process is indeed broken? So there’s that, and then the other is how frequently should one audit a process.

Laura:

Those might go hand in hand. So if and when you notice that a process is broken, for sure, it’s time for an audit. Outside of things breaking, I typically try to audit things maybe once a quarter or once every six months, just to have a healthy, check-in. How to know when something is breaking often is relatively obvious because some ball got dropped, something fell through the cracks, which is just exceedingly common and you’re not alone, but it definitely means it’s time to start thinking about how we can avoid that in the future. So some ball got dropped or you got some feedback. Really, really important to start, if you’re not already collecting feedback on all of these processes, whether it’s onboarding, offboarding, parental leave, 401k election. Anything that you do, very helpful to start collecting feedback and actually looking at it. And a lot of times a catalyst for someone coming to us is we’ve gotten a lot of feedback that our termination process is super broken and/or just really impersonal, what can we do to improve that experience? So those are some of the tell-tale signs.

William:

I love the feedback. I love that you brought up feedback and because again, some of this it’s functional. Right. And you can tell, okay, well we didn’t send Jim the employee handbook. Okay. You either did or you didn’t, [crosstalk 00:12:59]. But some of it’s also feelings and emotion and other things that… how did you feel? How did this process… How did you like going through it? How did you, on the other side of it, what could we do to make it better, et cetera. So there’s some process improvement, et cetera. Do you see processes either now or in the future being rated?

Laura:

I think that’s a very interesting idea. One of the things we want to start doing is automatically helping you incorporate some feedback into improvements you can make. It’s really hard to digest feedback from hundreds or thousands of people, but there are themes and it’s really important to pay attention to it. And so yeah, absolutely think process iteration based on the feedback is really important. And it’s part of why the adaptability again, to your point is huge. Even if you’re the most thoughtful possible about your process, it’s not going to work for everyone and you’re going to learn as you go. And so you have to start incorporating these things to continuously make it better. And that’s why we all got into this work, right, is to make sure the feelings to your point are great and that people feel special and feel motivated and productive and all the things we all want to feel at work.

William:

It’s interesting because you can technically get it right. Let’s take onboardings as an example, you can get all the technical and tactical things, the checklist and all that other stuff right. But a person that goes through it feels like it’s real sterile.

Laura:

Yes.

William:

Doesn’t feel like there’s no emotion. Doesn’t get the vibe, doesn’t get the values. They were romanced in recruiting, dropped off in onboarding and all the checklists, everything was done, like everything was done and even masterfully done, but they didn’t feel it. And so it is art in science. I mean, to some of these, maybe some of it’s more science than art, but if there is a balance and I think it’s really interesting to think about each of these as even micro processes blended together, which leads me to ask you, one question, but it’ll lead to another one is how many processes do you think exist in HR, from sourcing to outplacement?

Laura:

Dozens and dozens.

William:

I thought you were going to go billions and billions.

Laura:

Yeah. That honestly could be viable. Yeah. It depends on the complexity of your business. Could totally be hundreds depends on what you call a process.

William:

Right.

Laura:

In some of our customers’ cases, it’s actually just one email template that they have to send 70 different employees every other Friday. It’s technically just one email, but it’s a process it’s every other week, it’s like three painstaking hours of this person’s in HR’s life that we are able to automate in seconds. And so some processes are as tiny as a single email. Some are as huge as like 150 steps that require a little bit of logic and filtering, but there’s processes everywhere, every type of communication with a candidate, with an employee, with a prior employee all fall under some kind of process.

William:

So two things, one is interesting examples without naming names. Of course, just some interesting examples of processes that you’ve helped out with people you’ve seen that have needed help and you’ve helped out. And the other is just common break points that you routinely see from company to company or complexity to complexity. You’re like, oh, okay, this is common. And maybe it’s common because of COVID and because of hybrid and remote work, work from home and all those other things. So maybe it’s common because of the last 18 months, that’s it. But on one side, I’d love to get your take on just interesting processes that you’ve seen that we’ve needed to reimagine and what they look like. And the other is just common break points.

Laura:

Speaking of COVID, one of the interesting parts we, we have seen is just collecting some information and creating some kind of process around a return to work. So several of our customers have surveys asking when people plan to come to the office, before they plan to come uploading some kind of combination of proof of vaccine or test results, managing protocols via a process that will allow you to audit and, make sure you’ve been recording all of this information. Other interesting processes, one of our customers allows their employees to take [inaudible 00:18:28] courses and pay for them, but then get reimbursed by the company. And that used to be a pretty annoying process where somebody would slack the HR team. I need to get reimbursed for this. The HR team would send them some Google form. And then there were a ton of different communication pieces that needed to go out.

Laura:

There were some data that needed to be updated in the payroll system and we’ve automated all of that. And employees can self enroll in that process in Sora so that HR actually doesn’t need to initiate anything. The employees just figuring it out themselves and not waiting on anything. And speaking of data, that is to your second question, a really big theme that we see across all of these processes is, as something as simple as onboarding you’re, you’re going from being a candidate in a recruiting system to an employee, and anywhere from one to three to 20 other systems. And there’s a lot of manual data entry involved in that transition and it’s human data entry. And so there just will be errors sometimes. And, and there’s horror stories of somebody not being able to log into their email for like three weeks because there was just a simple typo in their last name.

Laura:

And that’s a technical [inaudible 00:20:01] of onboarding to our earlier we’re just a [inaudible 00:20:13] machine. Nobody [inaudible 00:20:19] them. They can’t even do their work for three weeks. So it’s a really big deal. So data entry, anything that involves data transition is A error prone, but B just extremely tedious. That’s a big, big theme we see. Another one is communication and meeting employees where they are in email or Slack, but doing it in a scalable way and being able to surprise and delight employees at scale and feeling like there is a personal experience happening and wanting to create that so badly, but not having the time to do it barely having the time to get everything technical done. Those are the biggest themes that we see.

William:

How do you interact with folks that might have reluctance around this? Again, some of this is just personal, right? You’ve been at a place for a while. You’re an HR leader. Some of these things you’ve probably built yourself or you’ve had a hand in building and you come along and tell them that things are broken, which it’s like telling someone that their baby is ugly, not quite, but how do you interact with folks that have some more reluctance around [inaudible 00:21:47] cause really, I’m getting at vulnerability, right? How do you get to the vulnerability and let them really let you understand what’s working and what is not working.

Laura:

Yeah. We usually don’t get honestly, a ton of resistance from the people who built the process. Oftentimes the people who built the process are the people who are most wanting it to work well, because they’re like “I was so thoughtful about this and nobody’s implementing it the way that I imagined. It’s just not working. There’s so much more I want to do and we can’t get to it.” And so usually they’re pretty hungry for making it go as smoothly as they had imagined it when they designed it. We do sometimes get some pushback from, let’s say a systems expert who could technically connect systems themselves or could technically do some of this automation work with their technical skills. And what we enable is HR teams to own those things themselves without the technical help. And so that’s extremely attractive to HR. Occasionally that technical help is like “well, what about me? What am I going to do?”

Laura:

But we’ve never replaced anyone’s job at all. We very much are focused on enabling people to just work on higher level strategic things. And so now this technical help can start to do way more complex automation work or general technical work that they couldn’t get to before, because they were changing some copy in an email that HR needed them to change. And so it’s all about taking away the base level work that should be a given and should be just standard and not standard in an uncustomizable way, but standard in a bare minimum way where of course we should be doing all these communication pieces. Of course we should be doing all of this and then allowing everybody else on the team, whether it’s technical people, HR teams, recruiting teams to finally get to those initiatives they’ve been putting off quarter after quarter because they can barely stay above water with all of that bare minimum stuff they have to do.

William:

Yeah. It’s like you look at the non-value add, the stuff that has to get done it’s minutiae has to get done. Papers need to get pushed, filed, et cetera, but there’s a better way of doing it. And I think that that’s one of the things you tackle and that y’all are tackling in particular that layer of stuff that people don’t need to do, let’s get that out of the way so that you can get on to more strategic things that are in your brain or on your list. And you wanted to do. Advice that you give CHROs and chief people officers, et cetera, on how they source folks to deal with process redesign and change management and communications, et cetera. What I’m thinking about in particular is do they have a person that just follows around the organization or if it’s in onboarding? Is it the onboarding team, et cetera?

William:

Do they need a person that’s just great at process re-engineering and just can move literally from alumni to [inaudible 00:25:22] to employee, to candidates easily? Or do you work with the teams that are in those particular areas?

Laura:

Yeah. The pattern we’ve seen most often is this emergence of an HR operations team. They’re pretty much the team I think you’re describing of-

William:

Yeah

Laura:

…how do we figure out, take any process? How do we manage all the different sub teams within HR, all the different sub teams within recruiting, all the other stakeholders involved, make it somehow, excuse me, streamlined process that is smooth for employees and managers and all these sub HR teams and everyone involved really. And that goes across all the processes from alumni to candidate to employee. And so I think HR operations is that background that people are looking for. And it’s a really tall order to be able to do all of those things. And so I think that’s where we’ve seen the most excitement is for an HR operations team who doesn’t really have any tools specifically designed for them.

William:

Right.

Laura:

We allow you to take all of those processes, put them in one place, all of the different places you communicate and enter data, put them in one place and manage everything from this HR command center, if you will.

William:

100%. Laura said it, I 100% agree with it. If you don’t have an HR operations person and or team you’re already behind. So please do that because again, there’s marketing operations, sales, operations, there’s even recruiting operations. So there’s a reason that those things exist. HR operations needs it. They’ve needed it for a while, it’s a great way to get the conversation started. Laura, thank you so much for coming on The RecruitingDaily Podcast and talking to us of why HR processes break. I absolutely appreciate it.

Laura:

Of course, it was super nice to meet you and thanks for having me.

William:

Awesome. And thanks for everyone listening to The RecruitingDaily Podcast, until next time.

Music:

You’ve been listening to the Recruiting Live Podcast by RecruitingDaily, check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and [email protected]

 

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


Discussion

Please log in to post comments.

Login