Why we must bridge the skills gap to harness the power of AI

Executives estimate that 40% of their workforce will need to reskill in the next three years as a result of implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI).

  • We need to make reskilling a strategic imperative to capitalize on this technology while minimizing disruption.
  • The commoditization of AI will be a change agent for the reskilling revolution.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution is upon us, with AI becoming a pervasive force in our daily lives.

While AI brings tremendous potential benefits — from diagnosing illness to predicting earthquakes — the possible disruption from the AI revolution could also be significant. As the rate of AI adoption increases, humans are essential to guiding the technology’s implementation and usage of these technologies.

Before we can fully embrace this revolution, we have an obligation to reskill our talent to use these technologies effectively, equipping them to succeed in today’s environment.

Executives estimate that up to 40% of their workforce may need to reskill as a result of implementing AI or automation over the next three years. This is largely because humans need diverse skills — from technical proficiency to human understanding and adaptability in their thinking — to work most effectively alongside AI. While this percentage seems daunting, the demands on today’s workforce present a unique and exciting opportunity to empower a new group of people to enter desired, skills-oriented jobs in the digital economy.

We need to rethink our approach to reskilling to achieve this goal while ensuring the skills of our workforce match the pace of technological advancement.

Invest in human capital

First, we must stop fixating on whether AI will impact our lives and start managing the elements within our control. While the ubiquity of AI has caused fear of these technologies overtaking human ability, this is not yet the case — and may never be. Human capital is a much more important asset than ever before.

As Dr. Chris Mason, director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction, and I discuss in our book, The Age of Prediction, humans and machines will continue to have a symbiotic relationship. Prediction is an innovative tool for advancement but requires human collaboration to enhance its outcomes. As we move into the future of technology, we should increasingly focus on the value of what we are doing: bringing opportunity to talent and using technology to strengthen our workforces.

Integrate reskilling as a change management initiative

Research shows that few companies to date have taken the call to action for reskilling seriously. Companies have become so preoccupied with filling immediate vacancies that they focus less on internally developing talent for future roles.

While CEOs say hiring is the most important thing they do, many companies are entirely disengaged from the process and feel it is their biggest challenge. With constantly evolving demands on jobs and skills, we cannot solely rely on hiring.

The only way to fully prepare our organizations for the future is through upskilling and reskilling. Leaders need to start viewing reskilling as an organizational change management initiative — preparing workforces for lasting change and offering them the skills required to thrive in a rapidly evolving job market. This transformation goes beyond just training employees. It underscores the importance of creating an organizational context — across leadership, managers and employees alike — in which reskilling will be embraced to maximize success. Doing so might create new opportunities for better-paying and more skilled roles.

Leverage new technology to support education

We are entering a new era for education, made possible by the commoditization of AI. The growth of information and data available to us means there is an ever-increasing opportunity to learn more and to facilitate learning opportunities.

Online learning platforms are expected to grow 19% over the next four years. We need to lean into this trend. With AI breaking down barriers to quality education, simplifying interfaces and providing varied learning pathways, organizations should embrace the accessibility of reskilling programs. Let’s use the widening availability of education platforms to our advantage by building from within, partnering with an academic institution or establishing public-private partnerships. Embedding these kinds of reskilling programs will help ensure a seamless transition toward a more agile, tech-savvy and future-ready workforce.

Online learning platforms can help organizations worldwide close the AI skills gap.

Online learning platforms can help organizations worldwide close the AI skills gap. Image: Statista Market Insights

Closing the AI skills gap

Organizations that recognize the value of human capital while embracing advanced technologies will be most prepared for the future of work. Empowering employees with opportunities to reskill will help them better leverage AI tools, helping to drive business value, improve efficiency and shape the future of success.

Implementing a cultural shift around reskilling will help organizations accelerate this change. Only then will we be able to more fully understand and harness the potential of AI.


How companies can support employees working with cancer to drive better business and health outcomes

  • Cancer has a profound impact on people and the workplace – this often all-encompassing condition requires organizations and employers to create ways to help balance work and life for affected employees and their teams.
  • Digital supportive care services help people dealing with a cancer diagnosis while working – in particular, such tools can help employers and employees navigate fear and uncertainty.
  • Employers can use technology to provide meaningful, personalized support to employees with cancer, creating positive outcomes for both the employee and the business.

Meet Celia. A successful, mid-career accountant at a top firm, she knows how to navigate challenging situations with confidence and poise. But today, in a critical meeting with clients and colleagues, Celia is distracted. Finally, the call she has been anxiously awaiting comes through to her mobile and she steps out of the meeting room to take it.

In the span of a heartbeat, Celia’s world turns upside down as her physician confirms her worst fear: Celia has stage 3 ovarian cancer. Celia’s situation is not unique. In fact, 45% of people diagnosed with cancer are between the ages of 20 and 64 – typical working age.

There has been considerable research published about health and the workplace, and many companies have a real interest in supporting employees in this situation. But there’s a limited understanding of how they can do this – especially in a post-pandemic world where the nature of work and healthcare has shifted significantly.

Helping cancer patients navigate uncertainty and stress

Supportive care isn’t just about medical treatment, it’s about treating the whole person. A patient’s medical care team may engage in supportive care by helping them manage symptoms, make decisions and access psychological, financial or other support services. Supportive care can help cancer patients tolerate treatment, prevent hospitalizations, shorten hospital stays and improve survival rates.

Social relationships across various communities (families, social clubs, places of work or worship) are another source of supportive care. A meta-analysis found that people with stronger social relationships had a 50% higher likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships. Even the perception of social support increased survival by 35%, according to this research.

As cancer patients try to navigate the immense uncertainty and stress of the journey from diagnosis to posttreatment, technology can help deliver this complementary care that improves health outcomes. In a study of approximately 1,000 cancer patients published by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and led by Ethan Basch, M.D., those who regularly reported health outcomes to their care team through a website experienced a 31% increase in quality of life, a 7% decrease in emergency room visits and a five-month increase in survival rates.

That’s why, in collaboration with the Duke Cancer Institute, a Publicis team led by Hugo Manassei, GVP Healthcare Transformation, co-designed a connected intelligent supportive care platform and patient-facing app, called Day by Day. It allowed patients to explore supportive care services, report and track outcomes, and receive personalized content and resources.

Solutions like this could also help employees like Celia navigate complicated workplace conversations and intense psychological stress. There is a real need for this: 50% of cancer patients are afraid to tell their employer about their diagnosis, despite 92% feeling that support at work positively impacts their health.

In 2022, Arthur Sadoun, CEO of Publicis Sapient’s holding company, was diagnosed with and treated for cancer. After making his condition public, he received thousands of messages from others impacted by cancer that exposed the fear they experienced, not only for their lives but also for their jobs.

Soon after, Working with Cancer (WWC) was launched by Publicis Groupe – this movement aims to abolish job fear and insecurity for those impacted by cancer or chronic illness. WWC, which has the backing of more than 1,300 companies worldwide, is committed to providing a more open, supportive and recovery-forward culture at work for all employees with cancer.

Most people experience positive support at their places of employment when they face a cancer diagnosis – but fear they will not. Companies can alleviate this fear with official policies and supportive care that closes the gap between expectations and reality.

Designing supportive care for the workplace

At Publicis Sapient, we reviewed academic articles from 40 publications, covering 15 unique research areas and spanning 14 countries to explore the connection between cancer and work. We found six themes companies can use to develop tailored supportive care for employees dealing with cancer.

1. Social support is a key component of health – and of a healthy workplace.

Employees consistently prioritize social support, effective communication and supportive leadership in a healthy workplace. Support at work looks different for everyone, however.

Many employees who are diagnosed with cancer choose to work through treatment, albeit intermittently or with reduced hours. To help employees continue to contribute professionally, employers must create a safe, supportive and inclusive environment. Employees should be able to benefit from the support of their colleagues without fear of discrimination, but still have autonomy over what health information is shared and with whom.

Virtual communities that enable peer-to-peer support for patients and caregivers could also help.

2. Financial stress can be toxic to employee health and workplace contribution.

The financial burden and distress caused by cancer care can lead to negative health outcomes such as skipping treatment. Lost workdays, poor work ability and changes to employment increase the risk of this financial toxicity, as does job lock, which is the inability to leave a job freely due to lack of health insurance portability.

In addition to digitally enabled financial counseling for managing medical bills, employers should evaluate current policies to safeguard against future financial toxicity. This could include short- and long-term disability policies, critical illness insurance, medical procedure prepayment and job and benefits protection.

3. Fear and loss are amplified in the workplace.

Whether actual or anticipated, changes in job performance can contribute to a sense of insecurity, and individuals with cancer are more likely to experience job loss. The double loss of health and employment can create emotional and practical barriers to returning to work.

To support employees like Celia, employers must invest in strategies for workplace flexibility, covering workload and type of work. They must also empower employees with cancer to seek accommodations that meet their needs and enable meaningful contributions without fear of retaliation.

4. Differing perceptions of cancer stigma impact workplace dynamics.

Many people living with cancer see their condition as highly stigmatized in the workplace. One study showed most employers fail to recognize this stigma, however, which is rooted in outdated beliefs about cancer mortality and concerns about work accommodations and recurrence.

It can arise from well-intended decisions that have a negative impact. For example, Celia’s team members removed her from a group text while she was recovering from surgery because she “shouldn’t need to worry about work”. But she felt isolated and compromised by this well-intended exclusion.

Employers can educate everyone about stigma, its impact and the realities of working with cancer via digitally enabled or blended learning sessions, or as a part of regular ongoing manager training.

5. Mindsets are malleable and prime targets for employer intervention.

People with cancer who adopt an adaptive (helpful) mindset, such as viewing cancer as manageable, tend to report a higher quality of life compared to those with a maladaptive (harmful) mindset, who might view cancer as a catastrophe. Having a positive mindset can be influenced through interventions like reframing activities.

Coaching or small group support programs can help adjust mindsets. Publicis’s Day by Day app delivered live, relevant coaching dialogue via its platform, using videos, calls and messaging, for example.

6. Health trauma and identity transformation can lead to growth.

People’s identity and beliefs can transform during their cancer journey. For some, this leads to positive outcomes, like post-traumatic growth. For others, it can have negative effects on their longer term mental and physical health.

Employers must be prepared to support and accommodate transformations in identity and work values that employees like Celia might experience. Again, coaching and group support during the recovery periods or post-treatment can help, as can reskilling the person to a role that better suits their new identity.

As well as helping employees with cancer, organizations could reap benefits like increased retention and productivity from deploying supportive care. It could also help them build a diverse, inclusive culture with stronger leaders and team members who can thrive at work, even during treatment.

These people could also emerge from treatment with greater empathy, an increased sense of purpose and even renewed loyalty to their company. Ultimately, employer support for cancer in the workplace can positively impact health outcomes.


30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

10 Best Applicant Tracking Systems Shortlist

Here’s my pick of the 10 best software from the 30 tools reviewed.

  1. 1. Greenhouse — Best ATS for sourcing and evaluating large numbers of qualified candidates
  2. 2. Rippling — Best for its automation features
  3. 3. Pinpoint — Best applicant tracking system for in-house talent acquisition and people teams
  4. 4. TalentReef — Best ATS for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding candidates
  5. 5. Trakstar — Best applicant tracking system for collaborative hiring tools
  6. 6. ClearCompany — Best ATS for time-saving automations and mobile recruiting
  7. 7. Tracker — Best ATS + CRM + automation platform for recruitment and staffing agencies
  8. 8. Recruit CRM — Best applicant tracking system + CRM solution for professional recruiting firms
  9. 9. VIVAHR — Best ATS for small businesses
  10. 10. Teamtailor — Best for end-to-end recruitment management

With so many different applicant tracking systems (ATS) available, figuring out which is the right fit for you is tough. You want software to help you source, track, and organize your candidates, plus automation to help you hire faster, but you need to figure out which tool is best. In this article, I’ll help you make your choice easier by sharing my insights on the top applicant tracking systems based on my personal recruiting experience dealing with hundreds of candidate applications.

What Are Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant tracking systems are a type of HR software that helps you organize all aspects of your recruiting process, from sourcing candidates to comparing their skill sets side-by-side and advancing them through the hiring process. They’re designed for professional recruiters and in-house talent acquisition specialists.

Applicant tracking systems can optimize your hiring process, making it more efficient by automating key tasks such as resume parsing, skill matching, and interview scheduling. These features will make your hiring team more efficient by reducing manual work and improving your time-to-hire. Applicant tracking systems can also improve the quality of your hires and support better data-driven decision-making due to their advanced filtering and screening capabilities.

Featured Tools

  1. Deel4.7Visit Website
  2. Trakstar4.3Visit Website
  3. Paycor4.1Visit Website

Overviews Of The 10 Best Applicant Tracking Systems

Here’s a brief description of each applicant tracking system that made it into my top 10 list, including their noteworthy features, pros and cons, screenshots, and pricing details. Plus, I’ve included 20 more noteworthy ATS systems below, in case you need more options to consider.


Best ATS for sourcing and evaluating large numbers of qualified candidates

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909 reviews

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Greenhouse screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

Greenhouse is a recruitment management software that helps you reach, classify, and nurture talent. You can use it to build a robust candidate pipeline and find the best candidates for each available position.

Why I picked Greenhouse: You can easily post on over 1,000 job boards through the software, including both niche sites and major job marketplaces. This helps you reach a large pool of candidates from the outset. You can be confident in where you decide to post because the platform makes recommendations based on historical and industry performance.  

The software stores contact information for all of your candidates, and you can use that data to automate personalized outreach and engagement messages at scale. You can screen and evaluate candidates anonymously and with pre-defined scorecards. This helps you reduce unconscious bias in your hiring process and ensures a fair shot for all applicants.

Greenhouse Standout Features and Integrations

One standout feature that really sets Greenhouse apart is its structured hiring capabilities. Their structured hiring workflow is designed to create a consistent and equitable interviewing experience by determining the requirements, experience, and attributes a successful candidate must have for an open role before the job is posted. By setting these parameters up in advance, Greenhouse creates a scoring rubric you can use to assess all your candidates fairly. This process also ensures role requirements are linked to business decisions, and that hiring decisions are based firmly on data and not other potentially biased candidate details.

Other key features in Greenhouse’s applicant tracking system include team collaboration tools, an internal job board to promote internal mobility, multichannel candidate sourcing, onboarding features to create a positive candidate experience, automated task management, core reports, and a mobile app.

Integrations include over 400+ applications, including Broadbean, Canditech, Calendly, Checkr, Cord, DocuSign, Dropbox, FlexJobs, GoodTime, Google Meet, Indeed, Microsoft Teams, Namely, Paradox, Seek, and many others. Greenhouse also has a Harvest API to support additional custom integrations as well.

Pros & Cons


  • “Essential” (basic) plan offers good value for small businesses
  • Tools to mitigate unconscious bias
  • Ability to cast a wide net for all roles


  • Pricing details are not transparent
  • BI tools only included in top-tier paid plan

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2 Rippling

Best for its automation features

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1133 reviews

Free demo available

From $8/user/month (EOR pricing upon request)

Rippling screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

Rippling is a SaaS product that offers a comprehensive suite of HR and IT solutions, including an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It’s a tool that’s designed to streamline the hiring process, making it easier for businesses to find, track, and hire top talent.

Why I picked Rippling: I chose Rippling as one of the best Applicant Tracking Systems for Recruiting because of its functionality and user-friendly interface. It’s a complete HR platform that integrates with your existing tools and systems. This means you can manage everything from job postings and applicant tracking to onboarding and employee management, all in one place.

What sets Rippling apart from other tools in the market is its ability to automate a lot of the tedious tasks involved in recruiting. For example, it can automatically post job listings to multiple job boards, screen resumes for keywords, and schedule interviews. This can save recruiters time and effort, allowing them to focus on more important tasks.

Rippling Standout Features & Integrations:

Features include payroll, time and attendance, learning management, benefits, talent management, PEO, pulse surveys, and workforce analytics.

Integrations are available with 1Password, Asana, Atlassian, BrightHire, Checkr, Databricks, DocuSign, Dropbox, GitHub, Google Workspace, LinkedIn, Microsoft 365, Netsuite, Sage Intacct, Slack, Typeform, QuickBooks, Upwork, Zendesk, Zoom, and hundreds more.

Pros & Cons


  • Plenty of automation features
  • Lots of native integrations
  • Unique IT management features make it standout


  • Bit of a learning curve
  • No free trial available

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Best applicant tracking system for in-house talent acquisition and people teams

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45 reviews

Free demo available

From $600/month (paid annually)

Pinpoint screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

Pinpoint’s ATS software is designed for internal talent acquisition and people teams rather than recruitment agencies.

Why I picked Pinpoint: Pinpoint is extremely powerful yet easy-to-use with an intuitive design and straightforward user experience. Recruiters and hiring managers can be onboarded and get up and running quickly, with additional customer support always available from their customer success team.

Pinpoint has core ATS and talent CRM features such as job board multiposting and social media advertising, unlimited customizable workflows, automation, interview scheduling, and employee onboarding. Data protection and security features include single sign-on, two-factor authentication, and tools to help manage compliance with local regulations like the GDPR/CCPA.

Pinpoint Standout Features & Integrations:

Standout features that make Pinpoint unique include blind screening to help reduce unconscious bias, candidate scorecards for gathering fast and objective hiring manager feedback, and a suite of reporting tools including a custom report builder. They also offer access for an unlimited number of users, since their software isn’t priced per user, leading to a greater ROI for large-scale in-house recruiting teams.

Integrations are available natively with hundreds of other platforms, including ADP, BambooHR, Canditech, Certn, CodeSubmit, DocuSign, JotForm, Google Meet, Gusto, Microsoft Teams, Namely, Rippling, Sage People, SAP, UKG Pro, Workday, Zoom, and many others. In addition, their Zapier integration supports integration with over 3,000 other tools.

Pros & Cons


  • Exceptional customer success and support
  • Focus on employer brand and candidate experience
  • Powerful automation and careful design for ease-of-use


  • Not suitable for most recruitment agencies due to lack of client management features
  • Some features only available in the Enterprise tier

Visit Website4TalentReef

Best ATS for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding candidates

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Free demo available

Pricing upon request

TalentReef screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

TalentReef’s ATS and recruiting software specifically caters to companies hiring hourly workers. In addition to its staffing tools, it also has talent management features like performance, pay, and position management.

Why I picked TalentReef: You can track applicants through the hiring process and manage the candidate experience using this software. As potential new hires apply to your open roles, you’ll be able to parse through their resumes and conduct assessments for better screening. You can also craft flexible workflows to move candidates through the stages in a way that makes sense for your business, and easily schedule interviews through the platform.

The software also has compliance tools to help ensure you cover all your bases when hiring new workers. It integrates with background-checking systems so you can rest assured new hires are ready and able to work before you make an offer. Speaking of which, customized offers can also be managed through the software. It also has onboarding and performance management tools to ensure new hires start off on the right foot and succeed.

TalentReef Standout Features and Integrations

One standout feature that I really appreciate in their platform is their automated interview scheduling capability. This feature gives your in-house recruiting staff the ability to sync their calendar with those of hiring managers, giving them access to their availability to cut down on rescheduling. You can also send a self-service scheduling link to your applicants to provide a better candidate experience, allowing them to book an interview at a time that works best for them. This module also includes configurable invitation templates, as well as booking notifications for the applicant and manager once interview times are confirmed.

Other key features within their applicant tracking system include chat applications, SMS management, branded career pages, job board management, a talent community, campaign communications, onboarding tools, compliance monitoring, performance management, and reporting & analytics tools.

Integrations include various job boards and social media platforms, payroll and HRIS systems, training and LMS software, POS systems, and background check services.

Pros & Cons


  • Recruiting and talent management in one place
  • Specifically designed for the needs of hourly workers
  • Customizable workflows and templates


  • Pricing is not transparent
  • May not be suited to salaried workers

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Best applicant tracking system for collaborative hiring tools

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188 reviews

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Trakstar screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

Trakstar Hire, formerly RecruiterBox, is one of the main products of Trakstar, which also includes Perform, Learn, and Trakstar Insights. It’s a comprehensive HR hiring software with an applicant tracking system tailored to small and midsize businesses. Trakstar Hire is a best-of-breed solution that is purpose-built for streamlining timelines, improving candidate experiences, and identifying top talent.

Why I picked Trakstar: Their ATS solution allows HR teams to create and publish multiple job postings on different social media platforms, job boards, and talent recruitment services. They also give you the option to sponsor your listings to maximize visibility and receive applicant CVs through customizable application forms.

Their bulk upload feature gives the ATS more scalability, allowing users to import multiple resumes simultaneously. Once the resumes are imported, the platform’s resume parser automatically extracts all the candidates’ vital information to create their profiles.

Trakstar Standout Features and Integrations

One standout feature of Trakstar Hire is its recruiting workflows, which can be easily customized to reflect the various stages of your organization’s hiring process from end-to-end. Recruiting specialists can use the software to view workflows and keep track of the status of the top job applicants as they progress through the recruitment process.

Recruiters can also collaborate with other members of the team by sharing candidate profiles, interview schedules, and other tasks, all without ever leaving the platform.

Other key features include interview scheduling tools using a shared calendar, plus Outlook and Google calendar integrations, automated responses, email templates, and reminders to make team collaboration that much easier. Career site management tools are also available with Trakstar Hire, along with candidate sourcing, offer management, and the core recruiting ATS.

Integrations include ADP Workforce Now, BambooHR, Checkr, Google Workspace, Intuit Quickbooks, Namely, Office265, PandaDoc, Slack, and Zoom.

Pros & Cons


  • Résumé parser supports high volume recruiting
  • Strong team collaboration features
  • Integrates with other Trakstar modules for easy onboarding workflows


  • Pricing details and plan features are not transparent
  • Small list of pre-built integrations

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Best ATS for time-saving automations and mobile recruiting

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247 reviews

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

ClearCompany screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

ClearCompany is an easy-to-use applicant tracking system (ATS) that has empowered thousands of companies to attract, screen, and hire better talent. You’ll also unlock tools to engage your team and use strategic insights to keep recruiting competitive.

Why I picked ClearCompany: I appreciate the many time-saving automations their platform includes, such as interview scheduling workflows, and the ability to expedite the candidate communications process via automated emails or pre-built text recruiting campaigns. When combined, these features can help hiring teams accelerate their hiring process and identify top talent faster.

ClearCompany is best for companies based in the U.S. and Canada.

ClearCompany Standout Features & Integrations:

Standout features for ClearCompany include their mobile-friendly interview packages, and their Advanced ClearText suite that meets candidates where their are (on their mobile devices) by offering ClearText and Text-to-Apply features for candidates, as well as bulk texting and text recruiting templates for your talent acquisition specialists. Plus, their pre-built recruiting report templates track all the key data points you’d expect (candidate demographics, pipeline sources, time to hire, etc.), saving you from having to set your reports up from scratch.

Other key features include candidate sourcing, automated screening, candidate grading, text & video interview scheduling, EEO/OFCCP compliance reporting, numerous integrations to help you post jobs, AI-assisted job descriptions, and an additional full-service background-checking option that’s available as an add-on.

Integrations are available natively with 100+ programs for assessment tests, background checks, calendars, job postings, payroll and benefits, and SSO.

Pros & Cons


  • Lots of integrations to help with skill testing
  • Recruiting tools link to other modules to support easy employee onboarding
  • Automatic candidate screening and grading saves lots of time


  • Information on plan features and prices is not readily available
  • No free trial available

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Best ATS + CRM + automation platform for recruitment and staffing agencies

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99 reviews

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Tracker screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

Tracker is a recruitment and staffing software that acts as a combined ATS and CRM (candidate and/or client relationship management) system. The tool is designed to help staffing and recruiting firms manage and optimize their candidate, client, marketing, and operational processes.

Why I picked Tracker: I selected Tracker because of its dual purpose as an ATS and CRM system, plus several unique features that make it a great choice for any organization with a heavy customer relations focus. This includes their back office functions that help with client onboarding, assignment management, and accounting, as well as their integrated vendor management system (VMS) that helps teams proactively source talent 24/7 thanks to their rules-based parsing engine and auto-match technology.

Tracker Standout Features and Integrations

One standout feature that can save a lot of time is their AI-based candidate ranking feature. This feature uses machine learning to monitor candidate engagement and combines these details with existing candidate data already in Tracker from previous applications. By combining these data sources, their AI agent helps to rank candidates and present the best fits for your open positions using this proprietary ranking methodology.

Other key features worth noting include tools for sourcing candidates, nurturing and matching applicants, 1-way and 2-way video interviewing, a built-in team TrackerChat app, and a full-featured mobile app, plus tools for marketing vacant positions. You can also set up custom candidate portals, dashboards, workflows, and reports easily thanks to their user-friendly interface. Plus, Tracker also offers tools like resume parsing to remove resume formatting and help eliminate manual data entry.

Integrations include a wide variety of job boards, as well as third-party tools like Outlook, Gmail, Google Chrome, LinkedIn, Office 365, and QuickBooks through their RESTFul API. You can also connect Tracker to 30+ other software solutions using their Zapier API integration.

Pros & Cons


  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
  • Ability to customize views, fields, workflows, and more
  • Highly regarded local support and success team


  • No background check integration
  • No built-in payroll, but integration with QuickBooks and others

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8Recruit CRM

Best applicant tracking system + CRM solution for professional recruiting firms

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65 reviews

14-day free trial

From $50/user/month

Recruit CRM screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

Recruit CRM is an applicant tracking system and customer relationship management (CRM) tool designed to automate and manage all the touchpoints in your recruiting process.

Why I picked Recruit CRM: Recruit CRM is particularly beneficial for staffing agencies and talent recruitment services due to its built-in tools for stakeholder feedback on applicants and its effort-to-revenue ratio report dashboards for each of your clients. Their software’s ability to generate customized client invoices for placed candidates also helps recruiting agencies stay organized, track unpaid bills, and monitor revenue generation easily. Within their ATS, there’s also a helpful assignee tag so your team knows who is working on what.

Recruit CRM Standout Features & Integrations:

One standout feature worth highlighting is the CRM side of their platform, which is geared towards the clients you’re recruiting for, not the candidates themselves. Their CRM gives you a place to save notes regarding your clients, set up automatic email campaigns, generate and track invoices, and create customizable sales pipelines to help you bring in more clients.

Other key features within their ATS module include the ability to source candidates directly from LinkedIn, excellent hiring pipeline visualization and organization tools, and the capability for candidates to update their own user profiles. It also offers email and calendar integration to make interview scheduling easier, and a Kanban board to manage the steps associated with sourcing and hiring, like interviewing and background checks.

Integrations are available with over 5,000 apps like Asana, Google Workspace, HubSpot, Slack, and Typeform by connecting a paid Zapier account to their system. This vast range of integrations allows you to do everything in one place, saving you a ton of time. They also have a REST API to support additional integrations as well.

Pros & Cons


  • Includes powerful AI features like resume parsing, email sequencing and candidate matching
  • Huge list of third-party app integrations (over 5,000 via Zapier)
  • Includes Boolean and radius searches to capture more candidates
  • Includes a powerful Chrome sourcing extension


  • Custom branding locked to highest paid plan
  • No freemium plan

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Best ATS for small businesses

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34 reviews

7-day free trial

From $89/month

VIVAHR screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

VIVAHR is an all-in-one applicant tracking system that’s designed to make the whole recruitment process a lot easier. You can use it to help you manage your job postings, sift through resumes, and keep track of applicants.

Why I picked VIVAHR: I included VIVAHR in this list because it’s got all the features you need without being overly complicated or expensive. It’s also very flexible, so you can adapt it to different hiring workflows as needed. You can use automations to post to 50+ job boards at once, share job openings over social media, create custom pipelines, and communicate with candidates through text messages.

VIVAHR Standout Features and Integrations

One standout feature I really love about VIVAHR is its collaborative hiring tools. You can involve your whole team in the hiring process, which can really help to ensure you’re making the right decisions. It also has a great candidate ranking system, which makes it easy to see at a glance who your top applicants are, while also eliminating any unconscious biases.

Other key features include resume parsing, tools for collecting employee referrals, and the ability to send digital offers to top-tier candidates, which can be signed with e-signatures. VIVAHR also supports bulk actions, which can save high-volume hiring teams even more time.

Integrations are available with over 860 apps, including CRM systems like Twilio, Salesforce, HubSpot and Pipedrive, and with work operating systems like Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365. It also integrates with numerous job boards, including LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter, which allows you to post jobs to multiple platforms with just a few clicks.

Pros & Cons


  • Suitable for small businesses or enterprise organizations with multiple locations
  • Numerous software integrations available
  • Well-suited for hiring trade services, hospitality, and healthcare workers


  • Could use more job board integrations compared to other systems
  • Starter package has limited features

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Best for end-to-end recruitment management

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Teamtailor screenshot - 30 Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) of 2024: Reviewed & Compared

Teamtailor is an all-in-one hiring platform that helps companies with their recruitment processes, including applicant tracking. The software is user-friendly, cloud-based, and accessible from any device.

Why I picked Teamtailor: The software can be used to track applicants all the way through your recruitment process. You can craft dynamic applicant forms to suit the unique needs of your open roles, and take bulk candidate management actions to streamline your process. The software’s integrations allow you to source candidates directly from social media profiles and easily share job postings across social networks.

Advanced search and filtering tools help you quickly uncover top candidates based on specific skills or qualifications needed for a job. Candidate data can also be filtered by location, salary, education, and years of experience, and you can add notes and tags to candidate interactions. The software’s relationship management tools help you manage your communications with potential candidates and stay in touch with past applicants.

Teamtailor Standout Features and Integrations

One standout feature for Teamtailor is its comprehensive reporting and analytics, which measure key recruitment metrics like time-to-hire and cost-per-hire. You can also create custom reports and dashboards to gain further insight into your hiring funnel, applicant sources, and candidate quality. 

Other key features include custom candidate stages, action triggers, dynamic applicant forms, bulk candidate actions, custom reports, communication tools, automated talent pools, employer branding, and customizable career pages.

Integrations include BambooHR, Checkr, JobMatch, LinkedIn, and Workday, plus social media integrations with Facebook and Instagram that help can help you find and engage with potential candidates where they spend their time online.

Pros & Cons


  • Comprehensive analytics suite
  • Automated funnels help streamline your hiring process
  • Friendly and clean user interface


  • Limited native integrations (though they do have an API)
  • Some advanced features are only available on more expensive pricing plans

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Preview Image - <h2 class="c-block__title b-summary-table__title c-listicle__title h3" > Side-by-Side Comparative Chart</h2>

Side-by-Side Comparative Chart

Review all the tools we just covered in this convenient table where you can see them side-by-side. Click on the button below to open the table:Open Comparison Chart

Other Applicant Tracking Software

Here are a few more recruitment ATS tools that didn’t make the top applicant tracking systems list:

  1. ManatalBest applicant tracking system for social media recruitment & AI tools
  2. RecruiteeBest applicant tracking system for automated notifications
  3. PCRecruiterBest applicant tracking system for detailed recruitment analytics
  4. VidCruiterBest applicant tracking system for high-volume recruiting and candidate screening
  5. BullhornBest applicant tracking system for time-saving automations and integrations
  6. FreshteamBest applicant tracking system for growing businesses
  7. Breezy HRBest ATS for diversity & inclusion recruitment
  8. SmartRecruitersBest ATS for enterprise-level talent acquisition
  9. EddyBest applicant tracking system for small, local businesses
  10. LeverBest ATS with integrated recruitment CRM capabilities
  11. WorkdayBest applicant tracking system for software integrations
  12. RecootyBest ATS software for ease of use
  13. SAP SuccessFactorsBest applicant tracking system for data analytics and reporting
  14. GoHireBest for industry-specific customizations to help businesses scale
  15. iCIMS Talent CloudBest for advertising job postings
  16. JobAdderBest for 3rd party integration options
  17. Oracle TaleoBest for large enterprises
  18. AviontéBest ATS for staffing agencies, including payroll & billing
  19. monday.comBest for creating customized workflows to visualize your recruiting pipeline
  20. Zoho RecruitBest applicant tracking system for staffing agencies

Selection Criteria For Applicant Tracking Systems

Curious how I selected the best applicant tracking software for this list? To develop my shortlist, I evaluated and compared the details for many popular applicant tracking systems. I then used my selection criteria below to see how each platform stood up to the next one.

To further hone my list, I also put myself back into my old recruiting shoes. This helped me recall all the key features I found useful back when I was dealing with large volumes of candidate applications myself.

Key Features

Here’s a list of the key features I assessed while building this list of the best applicant tracking systems:

  • Talent pools: The ability to build of a roster of potential candidates for each position, or future positions.
  • Talent pipelines: A visualization feature that shows you where each candidate is within the recruitment process. Key phases include screening, interview, background check, references, offer, etc.
  • Workflow automations: These are automations that take care of menial tasks like sending out interview reminders, following up on references, or sending bulk rejection emails.
  • Candidate screening tools: Incorporated tools to assess candidates on specific skills using exams, questionnaires, skill assessments, or other ranking tools. This helps to compare qualified candidates side-by-side before deciding who should advance.
  • Direct links with job posting sites: Many ATS systems automatically submit new postings to popular job boards as soon as they’re published.

A Solid UI and UX

When you’re in a never-ending loop of hiring candidates, you don’t have time to mess around with software that feels awkward to use. Instead, you need a system with a clear and easy-to-navigate user interface (UI) that organizes each step of the recruitment process for you. Helpful UI features include visual recruiting pipelines, colour-coding or visual status flags. These simple features make it easy to digest your information at a glance, without needing to open each record to see the status.

These types of features also go a long way to creating a good user experience (UX). You want your day-to-day interaction with the software to be positive, rather than facing endless frustration every time you use it. This is why the choices in my list below all have high scores for usability. They offer simple interfaces without endless clicking or scrolling to access the features you need.

Workflow Automation & Notifications

Many aspects of tracking and screening candidates are tedious. That’s why workflow automations are so valuable when you’re up to your eyeballs in applicants and struggling to keep up. Common automations include tools to send out interview reminders, or follow up on reference checks. The best systems also include tools to send out personalized thank you or rejection emails in batches, saving you a lot of time.

Mobile App Accessibility

This is an important feature to consider, especially if you’re working in an industry where your candidates are deskless or often mobile. After all, 89% of job seekers use their mobile devices to search for open positions, so it’s crucial to make your job openings mobile-friendly.

The best applicant tracking systems are fully accessible from mobile devices. They should also include the ability to communicate with candidates via text message right from within the platform. This helps to elicit faster candidate responses, while also allowing your recruiters to stay on top of updates in real-time from anywhere.

Direct Links to Job Posting Sites

This is another helpful feature that saves recruiters a lot of time. By integrating with these platforms, you can publish your vacant posting once, and distribute it across a network of job boards instantly. No need to waste time copying and pasting the same position to multiple job boards. Instead, let the software do that work for you through their automatic job board integrations.

Software Integrations

The best ATS software should also integrate with popular email providers and digital calendars. This helps to improve productivity and transparency for team-based hiring. Bonus points for any systems that integrate with human resources information systems (HRIS) too.


I always prefer software with transparent pricing models. I want to clearly see which features I’ll receive at each price level, and which I won’t. Also, free trials are valuable, as they’ll give you a first-hand look at how the software would work for your specific business context. I’ve selected the software above with this in mind.

Frequently Asked Questions About Applicant Tracking Systems

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions you may have about applicant tracking software and how it works:

How do applicant tracking systems work?

Are there different types of recruitment ATS software I should consider?

What benefits can I expect to gain by using an ATS?

How much do applicant tracking systems cost?

Why use an applicant tracking system?

In the never ending race to snag top talent, world of recruiting moves quickly. This is true for both recruiters, as well as the software they rely on. Here are some trends that are developing in the recruiting and ATS software space to help address the core needs of recruitment professionals.

1. AI-Driven Screening & Skill Matching

One of the biggest challenges for recruiters is managing large volumes of candidate applications and data quickly. The integration of AI capabilities has revolutionized ATS systems by using machine learning algorithms to quickly scan resumes to uncover the applicants with the most skills that match your job requirements. This helps to significantly speed up the candidate screening process while also taking a skills-first approach to eliminate any potential hiring biases.

If this sounds like the type of software you need, I recommend reviewing this list of the best AI recruiting software for some cherry-picked options.

2. Hiring Bias Reduction Tools

Diversity, equity, and inclusion has grown in importance in recent years, and one of the best ways to build a more diverse workforce is by using technology that helps you eliminate unconscious bias naturally. Many applicant tracking systems now include tools to anonymize applications by removing identifying details like candidate names, gender, age, and ethnicity. Doing so allows recruiters to evaluate candidates on their skills, experience, and qualifications only, creating a more equitable hiring process for all candidates.

Interested in digging a bit deeper? Here are some tips for identifying bias in hiring and how to tackle it.

3. Mobile Optimization

With both recruiters and candidates spending more time on their mobile devices than ever, it’s only natural that ATS software has become more mobile-friendly over time. According to Appcast’s 2022 Recruitment Marketing Benchmark Report, 67% of job applications are now completed on mobile devices. Popular mobile optimizations include:

  • mobile-friendly job applications
  • career pages that support SMS alerts or notifications for new postings
  • applications via text
  • the ability to text candidates directly from your ATS

To ensure your recruitment efforts stay comparable to those of your competitors, it’s important to invest in a modern applicant tracking system that incorporates these trends. By leveraging AI tools to help you surface the most talented applications, ensuring your team focuses on unbiased skill-based hiring, and optimizing your hiring funnel for mobile friendliness, you’ll be sure to improve your time-to-hire and provide a better candidate experience for your future new hires.

Other Software Reviews

As you can see, there are a lot of options to consider when it comes to ATS systems and sourcing the best candidates for your open positions. And the fact that 98.9% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS is also a strong indication of just how important these software systems are.

However, your journey doesn’t have to stop here. If you’re looking for a different type of applicant tracking or recruiting software, please take a look at my other specialty lists too:

  • Cloud Recruitment Software for Hiring Teams
  • Enterprise Recruitment Software for High Volume Hiring
  • Recruitment Automating Software for Hiring
  • Recruiting Database Software for Hiring Teams
  • Recruitment Software for Small Businesses
  • Recruiting Agency Software for Recruitment Firms
  • Video Interviewing Software for Virtual Interviews
  • Background Check Software

What are core work hours?

Giving employees more control over their schedules leads to higher productivity and deeper engagement. Here’s how to do it.

The data is clear: Employees want flexibility not only in where they work, but also when they work. But for leaders accustomed to the old 9-to-5 office-centric culture, schedule flexibility can feel like new territory that may have you scratching your head wondering, How in the world do we implement this?

Take heart, a flexible schedule is not the same as having no schedule at all. Team members still need pre-set time to work together to collaborate, debate, or tackle complex decisions. But on the other hand, that doesn’t mean they should fill the entire workday with back-to-back meetings, leaving no time for solo, focused work.

Schedule flexibility doesn’t mean a free-for-all with no structure. Flexibility only works with predictability. What employees want is flexibility within a framework.

Sheela Subramanian, Senior Director (she/her)

-Sheela Subramanian, VP, Future Forum

Future Forum Pulse data shows that two-thirds of global knowledge workers prefer what we refer to as “flexibility within a framework”—a predictable schedule that allows for the autonomy to make adjustments day over day. To meet that demand, what we’ve found works best in most cases is for teams to set what’s called “core work hours” or “core collaboration hours” as part of your team-level agreements.

Core work hours, defined

A pre-designated timespan when team members agree to be “live” and available to one another for meetings or feedback, allowing employees the flexibility to adjust working hours during the rest of the day.

Human communication is inherently “bursty”—meaning that it naturally alternates between periods of high activity and periods of little to no activity at all, assert researchers Anita Woolley and Christoph Riedl. As the duo explained to the Harvard Business Review“Our research suggests that such bursts of rapid-fire communications, with longer periods of silence in between, are hallmarks of successful teams.”

By scheduling shorter bursts of collaboration time (versus the standard office norm of “working hours from 9 to 5”), you unlock a lot more productivity. In the Spring 2022 Future Forum Pulse, employees with access to flexible working hours reported 20% higher productivity than employees with pre-set, fixed schedules.

Benefits of core work hours

Working together with your team to set core work hours is far more inclusive of all working styles and life circumstances, allowing employees to devise their own non-linear workday to best suit personal and professional needs. Parents can pick up kids from school, and night owls or early birds can time their focused, solo work to the hours of the day when they feel most alert. Core hours also reduce the meeting load, eliminating the risk that too many meetings will cut against your employees productivity and wellbeing.

Future Forum research shows that knowledge workers who say “I spend too much time in meetings” are 38% more likely to experience burnout. And employees who say, “I feel pressure to let my colleagues know I am ‘at work’ and being productive” and “I feel pressure to respond to messages quickly, even if they’re sent after standard working hours” are nearly twice as likely to experience burnout.

When Dropbox instituted core collaboration hours as part of their flexible work strategy, Chief People Officer Melanie Collins explained the initiative to employees in this way:

“The intent of this setup is to encourage non-linear workdays where employees gain more control of their time and have more time for things like deep work.”-Melanie Collins, Chief People Officer, Dropbox

How to get started with core work hours

When deciding the optimal window for your team’s core work hours, consider: 

  • Team members’ various time zones. (First thing in the morning East Coast time isn’t going to work well if you have team members on the West Coast or different time zones around the globe.)
  • Individual preferences for morning or afternoon meetings. (Are some team members parents whose children will be home from school in the late afternoons, making collaboration more difficult? Are some simply not morning people, making a midday collaboration more effective?)
  • How much individual, focused work versus collaborative work do team members require? Teams that do a lot of solo work may need fewer core work hours and may even want to set aside one or more meeting-free days during the week.
  • Remember, core work hours don’t have to be the same every day; In some cases, your hours may vary early in the week versus later in the week, depending on the needs and wishes of the team.

Other key areas to consider when deciding on schedule norms are:

  • Do you need or want to craft a separate norm around dedicated focus time (not just core work hours)? Some teams appreciate being as explicit as possible to avoid the potential for misunderstanding.
    • For example: “We prioritize and dedicate two-hour focus time blocks from 1 p.m.–3 p.m., every weekday.”
    • As another example, Slack has created Focus Fridays and Maker Weeks as designated longer windows of focus time for employees. 
  • Can you be more proactive about preventing focus time distractions?
    • For example: “We default to ‘notifications off’ during non-core collaboration hours or focus time.”
  • Can you minimize the pressure to be “on all the time” by being intentional about your expectations for response time?
    • For example: “We set clear expectations for who needs to respond and when, and we reserve off-hours escalations for truly urgent issues, via text or phone call.”

Examples of core work hours

When Dropbox introduced core work hours, senior leaders had concerns, like: “How will I be able to meet with people in different timezones?” and “How will I condense eight hours of meetings into just four?”

Core hours needed to be aligned to time zones, for example, a window of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the West Coast synched with noon to 4 p.m. on the East Coast, which meant that everyone could collaborate during a reasonable timeframe but still allowed flexibility in the schedule so people could have lunch with a family member or pick up a kid from soccer practice.

Dropbox VP of Design Alastair Simpson laid core hours out as an infographic, and the concept instantly made sense:

Norms around core work hours could show up in your team-level agreements in several ways:

As a team, we have the following norms around our schedules . . .

  • Core work hours: We expect team members to be available for in-sync work between the hours of 9 a.m.–1 p.m. PT, Mondays through Thursdays

(This is an example from the Future Forum team balancing West Coast and East Coast members.)

Or, for global teams:

  • Core work hours: We expect team members to be available during four-hour windows each day for synchronous collaboration, aligned to timezone. 

What is psychological safety at work?

Does your team feel safe to make honest mistakes? If not, you may be stifling creativity and innovation.

As an executive, you may feel at liberty to speak up without fear of repercussions and loss of respect. But do you know if your direct reports feel the same way? How about the managers and individual contributors who report up to them?

Your answer points directly to the degree of “psychological safety” present in your workplace. Amy Edmondson, the Harvard professor who coined the term, says psychological safety is a “critical driver of high-quality decision making, healthy group dynamics and interpersonal relationships, greater innovation, and more effective execution in organizations.”

With that much at stake, psychological safety is an important phenomenon for leaders to understand—and monitor.

Psychological safety, defined

“Psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.”Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School and author of The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth

Psychological safety is rooted in the idea that employees who feel a sense of mutual trust and respect will outperform employees who feel inhibited by a culture of recrimination.

Benefits of psychological safety

Having strong psychological safety creates an environment where team members feel supported and encouraged to learn and innovate. Organizations with a high degree of psychological safety will see:

  • A culture of learning: In psychologically safe environments, “people have the humility to know what they don’t know and the curiosity to rethink the way they’ve always done things,” writes organizational psychologist Adam Grant.
  • More creativity: While the old performance-oriented cultures often prioritize short-term results and time-tested processes over long-term growth and worthwhile risks, learning cultures have long been shown to foster innovation and creative problem solving. 
  • High-performing teams: Groups with a culture of learning and the comfort to think and act creatively are more likely to innovate, adapt to changes, and reap the full benefits of diverse perspectives.

How to start creating psychological safety

Psychological safety starts at the top, with executives developing and modeling the leadership behaviors they want to see across the organization, communicating transparently, and leading with empathy.

Create clarity

  • Consider documenting team-level agreements, a set of guidelines that establish expectations for how team members work with one another.
  • Use the first 5-10 minutes of your weekly 1:1s to provide feedback. Ask for feedback directly: “What can I do to be a better manager?” Give feedback as well: “Here’s one thing you can focus on this week.” 
  • Schedule “stay interviews.” Conduct one-on-one meetings with team members to assess their risk of attrition. Pose direct questions to gather feedback on what’s working and what’s not:
    • What do you like about your job? What gives you energy? What saps your energy?
    • If you could change something about your job, what would it be? What would make your job more satisfying?
    • What opportunities will help you stretch and grow?

Accept and own mistakes

When people are afraid of making mistakes, they’re less willing to take risks—which ultimately stifles creativity and innovation. As a leader, it’s up to you to model that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Do this by owning up to your own mistakes, then describing what you’ve learned and exactly how you’ll change tack to be successful in the future.

Share what’s hard

If you’re going through personal challenges—recovering from an illness or injury, supporting a sick child or family member, overseeing home renovations that make it hard to focus, transitioning to an empty nest—tell your team. While there’s no need to overshare, articulating what you’re working through can be really helpful in making your team feel connected to you and safe to share their own challenges. 

Ask for help (so others will too!)

Asking for help is one of the easiest ways to model that it’s safe to be vulnerable. Come to your next team meeting with a question or problem that your team can help solve. A few examples: 

  • How can we make our meetings more productive? More inclusive? 
  • Do we want to modify how we check-in on progress as a team? If so, how?
  • Where do we think there are silos of information and how can I help break those down? 

Create spaces for human connection

The more we learn about each other’s personal lives, the more connected we feel and the more trust we build. From starting staff meetings with icebreakers (e.g., What was your first concert?”), to hosting team volunteer time off (VTO) days, to creating and distributing personal user manuals, it’s worth making time to foster personal connections among your team.

In-person gatherings should be planned with intention to make time for building social connections and camaraderie – with budget allocated for memorable and productive employee experiences. For example, see how Datavant infuses a mix of strategy, celebration, and team building at offsite events. 

Datavant San Diego Offsite
At health data software company Datavant, employee gatherings feature an intentional mix of strategy, celebration, and team building. Making time for social connection is one key to fostering psychological safety on teams.

Practice brainwriting over brainstorming

Brainwriting allows your team to generate ideas ahead of live review, creating psychological safety for diverse teams and involving more voices that might normally go unheard in rooms where senior and more extroverted voices tend to dominate.

Set up “pop up” rules for team gatherings

Recommended by Priya Parker, facilitator, strategic advisor, podcast host and author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, being explicit about rules overrides unspoken cultural norms. This gives everyone clarity on what is expected and leads to greater psychological safety. Sample “pop up” rules include when and how to ask questions, when casual conversation is encouraged, and when to keep your video on versus when it’s ok to turn it off. 

“When you’re not explicit, you marginalize the people who don’t know the dominant code.” 

Priya Parker

Priya Parker, facilitator, strategic advisor, podcast host and author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters

Example of psychological safety

An internal experiment at Slack revealed the importance of creating clarity when asking employees to provide unvarnished feedback. In this example, a Slack in-house researcher studied a Slack engineering team that had expressed interest in more mechanisms for a feedback loop with leadership.

In response, researchers deployed a new leadership feedback functionality within Slack itself. The workflow served up a task window that asked employees how they felt on specific topics. Employees were prompted to fill in their open-ended input and press submit. They were told their responses were confidential, but that leadership would circle back on feedback during regular sessions (e.g., coffee chats).

Seems straightforward enough. So what was the result? As it turned out, adoption was strikingly low on the feedback mechanism. In spite of citing that they had good working relationships with management, employees reported that they were concerned about their name being attached to feedback and who, specifically, would see the feedback.

The team’s hesitation to give feedback on certain topics speaks to the subtle, hidden nature of psychological safety. To ensure this level of trust, leaders must embrace comprehensive, wide open communication that creates clarity at every turn. The lesson here is that when asking for input through a tool like this—or other mechanisms like surveys—leaders should proactively communicate how the feedback will be used, what information will and won’t be anonymized, and exactly who will have access to participant responses.


What is proximity bias?

Here’s how to combat proximity bias, a cognitive glitch that has serious implications for workforce equity, company productivity, and employee attrition

After more than two years of pandemic-related upheaval, many companies have finally settled on long-term policies dictating when, where, and how their employees are expected to show up to work. 

As of June 2022, 49% of global knowledge workers were working in a hybrid arrangement, spending some of their time in the office and some of their time remote; 34% were full-time in the office; and 18% were full-time remote.

The fact that three out of every five global knowledge workers now have at least some flexibility to decide when and where they work is ultimately a very good thing; knowledge workers with flexibility consistently report less stress and anxiety, better work-life balance, and greater satisfaction with their jobs than fully in-office workers. 

But in offering employees more flexibility, leaders need to beware a major pitfall: in a 2021 Gartner survey, 64% of managers said they believed that office workers outperform remote workers—and that those office workers should be first in line for the next raise.

Those managers were expressing what experts call proximity bias, showing a preference for employees who they spend more time around. It’s a cognitive glitch that has serious implications for workforce equity, company productivity, and employee attrition.

As more and more workers demand flexibility, how can executives make sure all employees are treated fairly, regardless of working location?

Proximity bias, defined

An unconscious tendency to favor the people we’re physically closer to. In flexible working environments, proximity bias heightens the risk that in-office workers will receive preferential treatment simply by spending more in-person time with their managers.

What is proximity bias?

Psychologists coined the term “proximity bias” in the 1970s to describe an unconscious tendency to form more positive perceptions of people we’re physically closer to. On hybrid teams, proximity bias causes managers to value employees who show up in the office more highly than remote workers—even though reams of research show that remote workers are typically more productive than their in-person counterparts.

Left unchecked, proximity bias can steer managers into promoting less effective employees and shortchange those who don’t put in the same amount of facetime. And because white men are both disproportionately likely to be in leadership positions and to want to work from the office compared to people of color and women, proximity bias runs the risk of hampering companies’ progress on DEI goals and perpetuating racial and gender inequities.

Examples of proximity bias

The early research on proximity bias established links between physical proximity, familiarity, and positive sentiment. A 1974 study showed that police academy recruits formed stronger bonds with classmates whose last names were closer to theirs in the alphabet, since seating charts arranged students alphabetically by last name. (Other work has expanded the concept of proximity beyond physical distance. World Cup ski jumping judges tend to give higher scores to jumpers who share their cultural background—what the researchers called “cultural proximity bias.”)

“There’s lots of research showing that just being around somebody a lot makes you more familiar with that person, and that—unless there’s something really offensive about them—familiarity leads to an increase in liking,” says Dr. Kimberly Elsbach, an organizational psychologist and emeritus professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. 

In our personal lives, proximity bias serves as a kind of mental shortcut that shapes our relationships with our friends and family. In the corporate world, Elsbach says, proximity bias pushes companies toward a culture in which employees who spend more time in the office are first in line for the choicest assignments, promotions, and raises—regardless of their actual work output compared to their out-of-office colleagues. For example, a 2015 study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that remote workers at a travel agency were less likely to earn promotions than their in-office counterparts, even though the remote workers were 13% more productive.

Elsbach says proximity bias pushes companies toward a culture in which employees who spend more time in the office are first in line for the choicest assignments, promotions, and raises—regardless of their actual work output compared to their out-of-office colleagues.

Elsbach’s research explores how an employee’s career prospects hinge less on their output and more on the amount of facetime they can put in with their colleagues and bosses. In a study published in 2010, Elsbach asked 60 corporate office workers to read a short description of a hypothetical colleague who is always at their desk, both during and outside of normal work hours. She then gave participants a list of 15 words and asked them to circle which words had appeared in the description they’d read. Participants frequently circled “dependable,” “responsible,” “committed,” and “dedicated”—even though those words hadn’t actually appeared in the written descriptions.

“This is called a ‘misidentification task,’” Elsbach explains. “When you misidentify words in the description that weren’t actually there, it’s a sign that you have unconsciously or spontaneously attributed those traits to the person. We found strong support for our hypothesis that if you are seen in the office more often—just seen, as in the person perceiving you has no information about your performance and doesn’t know what you’re actually doing—you could be playing video solitaire, for all they know—but if you’re just visible at work, you were rated much higher for attributes like ‘committed,’ ‘reliable,’ ‘dependable,’ and ‘dedicated.’”

These traits, Elsbach points out, are commonly found on performance appraisals. So the facetime bias “could actually make a difference in things like promotions. But it has nothing to do with your actual output. And managers don’t even know they’re doing it. That’s why we call it a bias.”

In a later study of employee evaluation methods at the UC Davis Medical School, Elsbach observed this dynamic in the wild: Though department policies encouraged working remotely and taking leaves of absence, leaders acknowledged taking facetime into account when evaluating their employees. 

Who’s most affected by proximity bias?

Our Summer 2022 Pulse data shows that Asian/Asian American, Black, and Hispanic/Latinx knowledge workers prioritize flexible work at higher rates than their white counterparts. Working mothers are also likelier to want flexibility than working fathers, according to the data.

This makes sense. When people of color can work from home, there’s less of a need to “code switch,” or modulate their behavior, appearance, or speech to fit into the dominant culture. And flexible work allows employees with caretaking responsibilities to coordinate their professional responsibilities around their obligations to their children or elders.

So it’s not terribly surprising that white and male workers—who have historically dominated the corporate world—are much more likely to prefer a traditional office environment. Back in February 2022, white employees were already 17% likelier to be back in the office full-time.

Since white and male employees are both disproportionately likely to be in management roles and to want to work in the office full-time, “proximity bias inflicts the greatest damage on women and people of color,” said Katica Roy, CEO of Pipeline, a platform that equips HR teams with data and insights on their workforce’s gender inequities. “Companies that offer hybrid work arrangements need systems to neutralize bias between in-office and remote workers so they don’t further entrench intersectional gender inequity gaps.”

“Proximity bias inflicts the greatest damage on women and people of color.”

Katica Roy, CEO of Pipeline

— Katica Roy, CEO of Pipeline

Fortunately, researchers and experts consistently agree on a suite of changes companies can make that ensure they’re treating remote workers fairly.

Strategies to overcome proximity bias

  • Flexibility with guardrails: Knowledge workers overwhelmingly want flexibility, but most also recognize the benefits of guardrails. An environment where employees have absolute freedom to come into the office whenever they want is primed for proximity bias, since some employees will want or be able to show up more often than others. 

    “I think the hybrid workplace is the most at risk for inequities creeping back in,” says Ella Washington, professor of practice at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the founder of Ellavate Solutions, which provides diversity and inclusion strategy and training for organizations. 

    Companies such as GitHub and Automattic have countered proximity bias by ditching the office altogether and requiring everyone to work from home all of the time. At Slack, the leadership team instituted what they called “executive speed limits,” a commitment to modeling flexibility by agreeing to spend no more than three days a week in the office. 

    “Our CEO, Stewart Butterfield, challenged all of his direct reports to set an example by limiting our time in the office, and by focusing that in-office time on team events and customer interactions—in other words, on the activities that really benefit from being in person,” says Slack Chief of Staff Robby Kwok. “This was a deliberate effort to counter proximity bias; we knew that no matter what our official policy stated, if employees saw executives in the office regularly, they would believe they needed to do the same if they wanted to advance.”

“We knew that no matter what our official policy stated, if employees saw executives in the office regularly, they would believe they needed to do the same if they wanted to advance.”

Robby Kwok from Slack

– Robby Kwok, Chief of Staff to the CEO at Slack

  • Build digital-first systems: Flexible teams must invest in technology and systems that make the arrangement as equitable as possible. That could mean that if one member calls into a meeting on Zoom, everyone else brings their laptops to the meeting room and logs on to Zoom as well.

    “High-tech audio and video screens can offset subpar webcams and sound,” said Scott Hitchins, chief marketing officer at Interact Software in an interview with Reworked.co.

    If meetings are only optimized for workers in the office, or important decisions happen in casual, fly-by conversation, employees who don’t or can’t come into the office are at a serious disadvantage.

    Combatting proximity bias is one more reason to hone your company’s commitment to asynchronous communication: opt for memos over meetings, longer and more composed updates over busy back-and-forths, and brainwriting over brainstorming. And documenting progress and blockers on a board like Basecamp, Asana, or Jira steers teams away from the need to keep up with fast-moving conversations over email or instant messaging while making information equally available to all employees.
  • Measure results, not inputs: Research from Elsbach and others shows how proximity bias causes remote workers to miss out on networking opportunities, ambitious assignments, promotions, and raises—and that too many leaders still rely on subjective, trait-based performance indicators to guide these important decisions, rather than on objective, performance-based metrics. 

    “You should treat performance evaluations and promotions like you treat your sales KPIs,” Roy says. “Make them objective and transparent. Sales reps know their numbers. They know what they need to succeed. Their conversion rates are based on objective data, not subjective feelings.” For evidence on how objective metrics can counter biases and improve equity, Roy pointed to Scotiabank, which saw the number of women in senior management rise from 18.9% to 31% four years after it adopted a transparent career advancement process.
  • Base promotions on weekly goals instead of annual reviews: Gleb Tsipursky, head of the future-of work-consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, coaches his hybrid and remote corporate clients to do away with annual performance reviews, and instead to adopt weekly or bi-monthly check-ins with each employee. These check-ins should be structured around interim goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—or SMART. 

    “A goal for a week might be to create a piece of marketing and send it for approval. Did you get that done or not?” Tsipursky said. When it’s time to make decisions on promotions or raises, both managers and their employees have a collaborative record of how many goals the employee met, so nobody’s surprised. Regular check-ins also ensure remote team members get more one-on-one time with their managers, so workers on distributed teams are less likely to remain out of sight, out of mind.

Right now, proximity bias threatens to undercut progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion for remote workers. But there’s some hopeful news, too. Over the past year, executive respondents in our quarterly Pulse survey have consistently rated proximity bias among their top concerns with the shift to hybrid work. 

It won’t happen automatically, but with commitment and attention, executives can help make sure that the mass transition to flexible work is an opportunity to build a more equal, healthier, and more efficient future for tens of millions of workers worldwide.


38 Key HR Policies & Best Practices (With Examples)



  1. What Are HR Policies
  2. Typical HR Policies
  3. Benefits 
  4. Downsides 
  5. HR Policy vs Corporate Policy
  6. When To Develop HR Policies
  7. Policies To Include
  8. Policies To Avoid

When any startup or small business expands, the human resource management challenges you face become increasingly complex. 

As more and more people join the organization, it becomes harder and harder to ensure consistency and manage employee issues on a case by case basis. The solution is to create some company policies.

This article is going to help you do exactly that – providing you with an overview of human resource policies and procedures, complete with examples.

Let’s start though, with the basics.

What Are HR Policies?

Human resource policies are rules and processes that govern the employment relationship between the employer and employee.

What HR Policies Do

HR policies are an important part of how your business is structured and regulated to ensure compliance and actions consistent with culture. Some benefits of HR policies include:

  • Describe the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees.
  • Guide employees and leaders clarifying expected behaviors.
  • Help promote a happy and healthy workplace.

Who Manages HR Policies?

An organization’s human resources team (or whoever is responsible for HR activities) is often responsible for creating and maintaining HR policies. Most HR policies apply to all permanent, temporary, part-time, and full-time employees within an organization. 

In tandem with the HR policy creation, you’ll need an HRIS platform which typically includes HR policy management software features to supports the HR team maintain, manage, and process detailed employee information and human resources-related policies and procedures.

What Are Typical Types Of HR Policies?

There are many types of HR policies and procedures that a business, (and its employees) may benefit from implementing over time, such as health & safety, security, use of technology, employee conduct, leave, recruitment, and selection and termination.

Here are some more detailed examples of HR Policies:

HR Policy Area Specific HR Policy Examples
Recruitment and Selection Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Hiring Practices
Promotions and Transfers
Leave and Time Off Vacation
Statutory Holidays
Family Leave
Parental Leave
Bereavement Leave
Medical / Sick Leave
Personal Leave of Absence
Jury Duty
Health, Safety, and Security Health and Safety
Workplace Violence
Drugs and Alcohol
COVID-19 Protocols
Employee Conduct Harassment
Sexual Harassment
Conflict of Interest
Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure
Time and Attendance
Working hours
Remote working
Dress Code
Performance Management Performance Management
Professional Development
At-Will Employment
Disciplinary Action
Use of Technology Computer Usage and Security
Personal Devices at Work
Work-Related and Personal Use of Social Media
Work Travel Travel Authorization
Expense Reimbursement
Hotel and Rental Car
Meals and Per Diems
Remote Work

A detailed overview of HR policies organizations will benefit from implementing over time

11 Benefits of HR Policies

HR (Human Resources) policies can play a crucial role in the effective management of an organization as it scales. Here are some of the benefits to consider.

  1. Consistency and Fairness: HR policies ensure that all employees are treated fairly and consistently which helps maintain a sense of justice and equality, important for employee morale and satisfaction.
  2. Clear Guidelines: These policies provide clear guidelines for decision-making and expected behavior. This clarity helps in reducing confusion and misunderstandings among employees and management.
  3. Legal & Regulatory Compliance: HR policies help organizations comply with employment laws and regulations, providing legal protection not just for the company but also for its employees – crucial to avoid legal issues and fines.
  4. Improved Efficiency: Standardized policies streamline various HR processes like recruitment, onboarding, and performance evaluations which can lead to improved efficiency.
  5. Conflict Resolution: They provide a framework for addressing and resolving workplace issues and conflicts. This helps in maintaining a harmonious work environment.
  6. Risk Management: Well-defined HR policies help in mitigating risks related to employment issues. They provide guidelines on how to handle sensitive matters like harassment, discrimination, and employee grievances.
  7. Performance Management: HR policies aid in setting clear performance standards and provide a basis for evaluating employee performance. This contributes to the overall productivity of the organization.
  8. Organizational Culture: Policies help in shaping the culture of an organization. They set expectations for behavior and interactions, which can foster a positive and productive work environment.
  9. Employee Development: Policies related to training and development ensure that employees have opportunities to learn and grow, which can increase job satisfaction and retention.
  10. Recruitment and Retention: Clear HR policies can make an organization more attractive to potential employees. They also play a role in retaining staff by ensuring fair treatment and providing a clear path for growth and development.
  11. Enhancing Employee Engagement: Policies that focus on employee wellbeing, diversity, and inclusion can enhance employee engagement and commitment to the organization.

HR policies can be foundational to the smooth and efficient operation of an organization especially as it scales and grows. They provide the structure to effectively manage people and in a happy, productive, and legally compliant workplace.

Downsides Of HR Policy To Consider

For a young, growing organization, implementing HR policies doesn’t come without its costs if they’re not if not written, implemented or managed properly..

As you’re creating and implementing policies, remember to consider some of the downsides of HR policies, and try to mitigate against them in the wording of your policies.

  1. Over-Regulation and Bureaucracy: Excessive HR policies can create a rigid, bureaucratic work environment, stifling creativity and innovation, and leading to inefficiencies and frustration due to slow decision-making processes.
  2. One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Standardized policies may fail to address the unique needs of different departments or individuals, leading to dissatisfaction and reduced effectiveness in addressing specific challenges.
  3. Resistance to Change: Employees may resist policies they view as overly restrictive or unnecessary, particularly if implemented without sufficient communication or consideration of employee feedback, leading to a lack of buy-in and potential conflicts.
  4. Negative Impact on Morale and Employer Brand: Strict or punitive policies can harm employee morale and the organization’s reputation as an employer, potentially making it difficult to attract and retain top talent.
  5. Legal and Compliance Risks: Poorly drafted, outdated, or non-compliant policies can lead to legal challenges and compliance issues, posing significant risks to the organization.

To mitigate these downsides, it’s important for organizations to regularly review and update their HR policies, ensure they are clearly communicated and understood, and maintain a balance between necessary regulation and flexibility. Involving employees in the development of these policies can also help in ensuring that they are well-received and relevant to the needs of the workforce.

Is An HR Policy The Same As A Corporate Policy Or Guideline?

The terms “HR policy”, “corporate policy”, “company policy”, and “workplace policy” are often used interchangeably and refer to the same thing. 

However, some corporate policies may apply to more general operations of the organization, and may be created and maintained by a department other than HR (e.g. facility access, computer security, disaster preparation, etc.).

Policies are a set of rules, not guidelines. 

According to HR Expert Tim Reitsma, “When I hear the word policy, it can be read as a restrictive word. But if we replace “policy” with “guideline”, unfortunately, it doesn’t hold the weight that needs to be there.” 

Where Are HR Policies Usually Found?

A key part of a new hire checklist and orientation program is to review, together with the employee, the specific policies that could impact them on their first day or in their first week.

HR policies may exist as written policies, as digital and/or printable policies, and in locations that are easily accessible by employees. Typically they’re saved within the HR software, but sometimes within a company intranet or shared drives. They are often found in employment contracts, employee handbooks, and company policy manuals. However, the level of detail in each of these will vary.

Why Aren’t All HR Policies Included In The Employment Contract?

Your company’s employment contract might define how much vacation a team member is entitled to, while a separate vacation policy would describe how an employee can request vacation, how it’s approved, what happens if it’s not all used, etc. 

The separation ensures that the employment contract isn’t overly long and complex. It also enables you to customize certain aspects of an individual’s employment, such as how much vacation leave they’ll receive (employment contract), and keep this separate from the general leave policy (employee handbook). 

Documenting policies outside the employment contract also allows policies to be updated over time, without updating each individual’s agreement.

When Should You Develop Human Resource Policies?

Some HR policies might be determined by organization needs, or when certain aspects of the employment relationship become too difficult to handle on a case-by-case basis. 

Other policies should be developed proactively to help guide, empower, or protect employees; bring clarity to organizational issues; or protect the broader interests of the organization.

Here are some general guidelines on when you should create HR policies.

Create Policies Directly Related To The Employment Contract

A good place to start is by creating policies that are directly related to employee benefits and the rights and responsibilities of both the employee and the employer, as outlined in the employment contract.

For example, many employment contracts will specify vacation eligibility, various types of leave benefits, and how the employment relationship can be terminated (e.g. at-will employment).

Related HR policies would go into deeper detail on the procedures related to these things.

Refer to the section below for some examples to help you understand how policy implementation differs between the employment contract and the employee handbook.

Create Policies That Will Positively Impact Employees And The Organization

Joerg Clement, a senior leader in the machine vision industry, summarizes it best: 

Implementing processes and policies is the foundation of an organization’s commitment to continual improvement. Customer and employee requirements and expectations evolve over time. It is important to be able to respond to changes in markets quickly, and that comes from aligning your processes and policies to achieve successful outcomes.

Focus on those HR policies that have the greatest positive impact on employees and the organization. When considering a new policy, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will this policy empower and protect employees?
  • How will it create a strong and high-performing workplace culture?
  • Are the organizational values and principles supported?
  • How does this policy help us create a successful and cohesive team?
  • Will this policy minimize risks to the business?
  • Will this policy satisfy applicable legal requirements?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, it’s likely a policy worth creating!

What HR Policies Should Be In Your Employee Handbook?

You’ll need to create written policies directly related to the employment contract or required by employment law.

The following six policies can positively impact full-time and part-time employees, and the organizations that implement them.

  1. Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Policy
  2. Harassment Policy
  3. Remote Work / Telecommuting Policy
  4. Social Media Policy
  5. Workplace Health And Safety Policy
  6. Leave And Time Off Work Policy

When in doubt, use labor laws, other applicable laws (local laws, provincial / state laws, federal laws), and common labor relations practices as a starting point 

For example, employment legislation like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans With Disabilities Act in the United States, and the Employment Standards Act of BC in Canada, set out the minimum requirements of employers with respect to many of these policies.

Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Policy

The push toward workplace equality, whether it’s race or gender equality, has never been greater. Given recent worldwide protests against systemic racism and movements like Black Lives Matter, it should also be at the top of your mind.

Most research, such as this study from Glassdoor, shows that job-seekers want to know that prospective employers care about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

According to PwC, 87% of global businesses say diversity and inclusion is an organizational priority. 

Job site companies Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter recognize this, with Glassdoor launching new products designed to help create more equitable workplaces. They recognize that creating a comprehensive policy and program, and making it public, can make the difference when hiring top talent.

Salesforce has a Chief Equality Officer, which demonstrates their commitment to equality and their support at the most senior levels of leadership, and their “Equality for All” policy is available on their website, describing their values and beliefs in equal rights, equal pay, equal education, and equal opportunity.

Harassment Policy

Like diversity, equity, and inclusion, policies against harassment have never been more important.

The purpose of a harassment policy, like this one from Google, is to outline your company’s position in regards to appropriate and respectful conduct in the workplace, and to reinforce the responsibilities of all parties in achieving and maintaining a positive work environment.

According to the Canada Labour Code, harassment and violence is defined as: 

Any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment.

Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of harassment. The #MeToo movement has brought to light many serious issues and the significant harm that harassment and violence can have on people.

As a result, consider having a separate company policy, or section within a more general policy, to address sexual harassment. 

A good harassment policy will also cover other types of harassment, including racial slurs, physical threats, and derogatory jokes.

Remote Work / Telecommuting Policy

The COVID-19 coronavirus has caused a crisis of global proportions, impacting individuals, businesses, and world economies.

As a result, many businesses have chosen to adopt work from home (WFH) and remote work policies to help manage through this crisis. 

It’s expected that this trend will continue beyond the current pandemic. A March 2020 survey of CFOs by Gartner, Inc. revealed that 74% of respondents will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19. 

Big companies like Shopify, Microsoft, and Facebook are permanently shifting more employees to work from home. Canada-based Shopify has even posted many of their remote work systems strategies on their website.

A remote work HR policy, like this example provided by Remote.co, should include:

  • Company history of remote work
  • Who is eligible for remote work
  • How often / long a team member can work remotely
  • How to request a remote work arrangement
  • Communication protocols and standards with team members
  • Tools, equipment, and resources needed to support remote work.

Social Media Policy

Social media is an important component of any digital marketing strategy. How your business is represented online, by you and your team members, can mean the difference between brand success and failure.

Setting some rules for team members around how they use social media, both personally and professionally, minimizes risks to your business, your brand, and the motivation and engagement of your team members.

No one wants to be embarrassed about the organization they work for because of the social media activities of a co-worker.

Most HR policies are “living policies”; they need to be regularly updated and kept relevant. That said, social media HR policies generally need to be updated more often than most, due to the constantly changing social media landscape.

Vancouver-based Hootsuite, a social media management platform, offers some excellent guidelines for developing your own social media policy, as well as a helpful social media policy template.

Workplace Health And Safety Policy

An occupational health and safety policy, such as this one from Lyft, will often outline procedures, workplace conditions, emergency contact information, and other special requirements (e.g. COVID-19 safety protocols) needed to protect employees.

Organizations such as the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also require certain minimum standards be in place to protect the well-being of employees.

Workplace violence is directly related to employee health, safety, and security, but typically has its own separate policy.

For example, Disney’s employee policy manual has an entire section dedicated to health, safety, and security, and includes a workplace violence policy.

Leave And Time Off Work Policy

The reality is that people occasionally need time away from work to deal with health issues or family emergencies, or just to go on vacation somewhere tropical!

Having clear and comprehensive leave policies can help your team members by removing the stress of knowing how you will support them through difficult times, such as those faced with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

These human resources policies outline employees’ eligibility for leave and the processes by which they take it. 

Here are some of the different types of leave policies you should consider creating, in rough order of priority. (Note that all of these types of leave have associated employment laws that set out minimum requirements).

Types of Leave Policies

  1. Statutory Holidays: government-recognized holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas
  2. Vacation: scheduled time away from work to rest and relax
  3. Medical / Sick Leave: time away from work due to illness or hospitalization
  4. Family Leave: related to the care, health, or education of a family member
  5. Parental Leave: time for a birth parent to care for a newborn
  6. Bereavement Leave: related to the death of a family member
  7. Leave of Absence: extended, unpaid time away from work for personal reasons. 

Leave policies can also be somewhat controversial, depending on how they’re implemented. The next section on “policies to avoid” will talk about what to avoid when creating leave policies.

Which Policies Should You Avoid Including In Your Employee Handbook?

In addition to those policies that are important and necessary to include in your employee handbook, it’s also important to know which ones could negatively impact your company culture, demotivate employees, or dissuade potential employees from joining.

You should avoid creating policies that are too bureaucratic and rigid, don’t demonstrate trust in your team members, or are simply outdated and no longer relevant in modern, people-focused, and progressive organizations. 

Following are some HR policies that you should leave out entirely, or approach with caution when it comes time to define them.

Strict Dress Code

There are some situations where dress guidelines are still appropriate e.g. at customer meetings or trade shows, but in general, the days are gone when it was OK for a company to dictate the color of a person’s trousers, or whether they could wear jeans or not. 

Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, reduced the automaker’s 10-page dress code to just two words that apply to most organizations: “dress appropriately”.

Inflexible Time Off

Provide your salaried employees with flexibility when they need to take a bit of time here and there to attend a doctor’s appointment, or go to a parent-teacher interview.

Unlike hourly employees, you don’t need to make them track every hour that they work and don’t work, like credit and debit entries on a bank account. 

Mistrustful Bereavement Leave

“Hmm, so did your grandma really die?” That’s the last thing any of us would want to hear after a devastating personal loss, but that’s exactly what you’re asking if you implement a bereavement leave policy that requires proof of death, like a death certificate.

Many progressive organizations also offer their employees paid bereavement leave, so that they don’t need to take precious vacation time (which should be spent resting and relaxing) or sick time to deal with a family crisis.

Personal Cell Phone And Internet Usage

Human resource policies that prohibit employees from using personal mobile phones at work, or using work computers to access the internet for personal use, are rapidly becoming outdated. 

Psychology research has shown that taking breaks at work is necessary to maintain energy, motivation, and focus.

Taking a walk, doing some stretching, or meditating are all great ways to take a mental break.

If the weather isn’t accommodating, surfing the internet, cruising social media, or chatting with a friend outside of work are also good alternatives. 

Of course, doing too much of these things isn’t ok, but these cases are usually rare, and can be dealt with one on one with your team member.

And… Remember The Importance Of Clarity, Language, And Tone

Keep in mind that policies, no matter how positive their intent, can still be perceived as authoritarian and bureaucratic. 

How your policies are written and presented can therefore have a big impact on how they’re received by the people in your organization, and on the organizational culture you’re trying to develop.

Carla Nordean, Director of People and Culture at Squirrel Systems, notes: “The overall tone of the handbook has a huge impact on the culture. If your handbook is worded with oppressive language (“employees must / must not…”), new hires may question whether they’ve joined the right organization.

Tim Reitsma adds: “The language we use in our organizations matters when we write policies. There are some that are ‘you must”, but we can soften the language to be something like, “you are responsible for”.”

What Do You Think?

Have you developed HR policies and, if so, which ones did you develop first? Do you go through policies with your team members one on one? Are they included in an employee handbook that’s easy for people to access? What HR or company policies do you think are essential for people, culture, and HR professionals to have in place for today’s organizations? 

There are a ton of examples of HR policies, but how you word them is important and should align with company branding and mission statements.