The best HR topics from Greenhouse Open 2016

Open 2016 title card

5 mins, 12 secs read time

Not gonna lie – we’re still pretty reelin’ from the whirlwind that was Greenhouse Open 2016! Three days of non-stop learning, networking, and – ahem – partying have got us spent!

But what a ride it was. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out overviews of our Day 1 Structured Hiring Workshop and our Day 2 keynote & breakout sessions.

Whether or not you were able to join us last week, we’re excited to cover and present to you the best of the best content from the entire event. Read on for top insights, ah-ha moments, and thought-provoking quotes from our sessions:

Box user story

Greenhouse Co-Founder & CEO Daniel Chait kicked off Day 2 of Greenhouse Open by explaining the current shift in our industry from HR to The New People Teams. He shared the story of one of Greenhouse’s customers, Box, and how it is a great example of a New People Team using data beyond the old HR model to drive exceptional business results. (This example was definitely inspiring for all the companies in the audience feeling the pains of hyper-growth, too!). Dan explains that at scale, basic processes break down and even simple questions become difficult to answer, such as, “Where are my good candidates coming from?”, “Where are the candidates in the process?”, and “Which interviewers have submitted their feedback and which haven’t?”. But Box solved these woes with the following 4-step process:

  • Data: Capturing simple things like where the candidate came from and who is taking a long time to schedule and asking yourself if you can find any trends—and then documenting what they are

  • Analysis: Running lots of reports (think: candidate flow by source, pass rates by interview stage, and standard KPIs like time to fill) and asking lots of follow-up questions (think: “Do candidates from different sources perform equally after passing our initial screens?” and “Who is taking a long time to schedule?”)

  • Insight: Deducing the reasons behind the data points you collected in the previous step, such as: “No matter where they were sourced from, once they passed our screening stage, they passed later stages at equal rates” and “On some teams candidates were getting ‘stuck’ at some stages”

  • Action: Taking appropriate measures to rectify any issues, such as gamifying the process, e.g. giving recruiters goals of dwell times in certain stages and then measuring their progress every week and then after eight weeks, giving a prize to the winning team (and for lower-scoring teams, providing coaching)

Keynote: Josh Bersin

Josh Bersin, Principal at Bersin by Deloitte, delivered brand new research to our audience, revealing how today’s organization is different by design. Josh explained the epidemic of “the overwhelmed employee” in that in today’s modern, tech-driven world, employees are more stressed than ever, as they are constantly pressured to be on their devices, attending to emails, online meetings, and social media. But this is just one disruptor of the new workforce landscape of today. A conference attendee showed Josh’s slide where he captures all four:


Stemming from this list, Josh explains that millennials in the workforce demand rapid career growth and that this is forcing companies to rethink their learning & development programs as well as their approach to performance management. Old performance management methods aren’t going to work anymore, he says, because 50% of the rating you get is based on your manager’s bias, not on your actual performance. A redesign of performance management, however, is to fortify the idea that teams are the center of the company. Let the teams set the goals and then build them up.

Talent Marketing Strategies

Tarek Pertew, Co-Founder & CCO at Uncubed, explained that the future of talent marketing is based around video and virtual reality as mediums. Not only are prospective candidates becoming bored with text and static content, but it’s also harder for companies to accurately and uniquely relay their brand and tell their stories through these methods well enough to do them justice. Tarek all made us scratch our heads and think with this one: “With your employer brand, are you telling people something or are you showing them?” Clearly, “showing” them is what will give you that competitive advantage.

Onboarding by design

Dave O’Neill, Communication & Culture Manager at Airbnb, took to the stage to present the company’s ultra-cool onboarding model, dubbed “The Hero’s Journey”, helping People Teams to re-design their onboarding program and successfully integrate new team members.


In this “journey”, you ask yourself a set of questions and with the thoughtful responses, you’re better equipped to design a purposeful onboarding experience for your new hire. Here are some questions pointing to steps in the journey as illustrated above:

  • Call to Adventure: “What are the top 3 reasons why a candidate should choose your company?”

  • Crossing the Threshold: “Ideally, what does the first hour of their first day feel like? What are they excited about? What are they nervous about?”

  • Challenges: “What meaningful task or challenge can the new hire complete within their first few days?”

  • Allies: “Who must the new hire meet to be happy and productive in their new role?”.

Measuring the ROI of people practices: Crafting the business case for unlocking investment

Maia Josebachvili, VP of People & Strategy at Greenhouse, introduced us to the concept of Employee Lifetime Value (ELTV). Much like marketing is responsible for generating leads and sales is responsible for revenue, People Teams are responsible for maximizing ELTV. Therefore, People Teams need to frame their proposals for improvements and programs to the executive team as ELTV business cases, to show how investing in People will bring ROI to the organization. And now for the jaw-dropping stat: We learned that making even small improvements in people practices—specifically hiring, onboarding, culture, and management—can give a 6x return on ELTV! But this can only be accomplished if People Teams have what they need to focus on ELTV. One attendee quoted Maia:

Therefore, an investment in people starts by companies investing in their People Teams – to provide them the tools, resources, and manpower they need to create change.