Tips to improve your candidate and employee experience

By Carlos Santos

Much is discussed about communication and employer branding, with a primary focus on attracting and hiring talent. While this is certainly important, many things can still go wrong during the employee journey, from hiring to onboarding, growth and development, and offboarding.

Before communicating anything, it’s important to ensure that what you communicate accurately reflects the reality of your organisation. Creating unfulfillable expectations serves no purpose.

After taking care of this, the next task is to be consistent and align with the company’s values throughout the employee’s journey. The values must be evident in all communication, from job postings, recruitment, onboarding, and talent management, to offboarding. A transparent and fair recruitment process or a fun onboarding experience can be tarnished by a negative offboarding experience. An employee’s memory and feelings about the organisation are shaped by their most intense and significant experiences, even if there were many positive ones. If a single bad experience outweighs the good, that is what the employee will remember.

That’s why consistency is key for a positive impression and lasting memory of their time with the team.

Ask a company’s current employees what it’s like for them to work there, and you’ll get a good idea of the organisation’s culture. Ask their former employees, and you will know the true reality.

Along with maintaining consistency and aligning expectations, here are some practical tips I have gathered from my experience for each stage of the employee life cycle:


Hiring & Attraction 

  • Listen before communicating. Before creating a huge employer branding plan based solely on your own perspective, take time to hear others’ opinions. Avoid the mistake of promoting an idealised version of the company that isn’t accurate. There are no inherently good or bad candidates or cultures, only differences in context and individual preferences. The goal is to understand what the company truly is and communicate it accurately to attract like-minded individuals.


  • Practice transparency, honesty, and authenticity. Be transparent with candidates and stakeholders involved in the process. Knowledge empowers and brings peace of mind. It also helps establish trust and empathy. Don’t shy away from being truthful, such as informing a candidate that there are no current openings for their profile, the interviewer is on vacation and will delay the process, or their expected salary isn’t possible. This helps the candidate understand the situation and potentially provide solutions. It also allows them to make a well-informed decision based on reality, avoiding stress or disappointment from a lack of information.


  • Focus on adding value. The recruitment process should be viewed as an “infinite game” (Simon Sinek) where the goal isn’t just filling a vacancy. Each interviewer has the potential to greatly impact a candidate’s career, whether it’s through advancing them in the selection process or sharing feedback and ideas during the interview. Even if a candidate isn’t the right fit for the position, there is always an opportunity for the company to deliver value and have a positive impact. I’ve seen instances where rejected candidates took feedback, gained new insights, and returned for a later vacancy and were eventually hired. It’s all a continuous journey.


  • Stay in touch. Communication is key during long recruitment processes. Keep the candidate informed about their status to avoid feelings of neglect or uncertainty. Regular check-ins, even just to say there’s no update, help the candidate feel reassured and informed about the process.



  • The first week sets the tone for success in the first year. Thorough preparation is essential: have all necessary equipment ready, organise the schedules of onboarding participants, prepare the workspace, set up email accounts, grant accesses, and provide a comfortable chair, etc. Proper preparation not only creates a positive impression of organisation and professionalism but also fosters empathy and a sense of anticipation. It also welcomes new employees.


  • Have a clear and communicated agenda. Too often, my onboarding was just “watch some YouTube videos” or “wait for Paulo from IT to set up your email”. Having a clear schedule with defined activities, timing, who is involved, and location reduces stress and improves the absorption of information for the new employee. Of course, there can be time for watching videos and bonding with the team, but in a structured and intentional manner.


  • Balance time and information. New hires may know about your business, or not. They may learn quickly or need more time. The company wants them to be productive and connected for the long term but also wants them onboarded quickly. Find this balance through monitoring and feedback to improve future onboardings.


  • Both processes and people are essential, but a process is useless without people to carry it out. Strike a balance between efficient processes and the needs of those who use them. A highly structured process won’t work if people can’t follow it or don’t understand it.


Growth & Retention

  • Let everyone progress at their own pace. There is no one-size-fits-all career management formula. Create a fair and consistent process that accommodates individual needs, goals, and aspirations. Avoid having a rigid talent management plan based on specific timing. Don’t make an employee wait for recognition or advancement if they deserve it now. Foster a flexible environment where individuals can grow and have their contributions acknowledged at the right time for them, not just for the company. This could be the deciding factor in retaining an employee long-term.


  • Foster merit-based practices. Establish transparent, objective processes that promote meritocracies such as 360 feedback, relevant KPIs, collaboration, mentoring, and impact metrics. Clearly define what merit means in your organisation, assess it systematically, and communicate it openly.


  • Transparency, did I mention it? Yes, it’s important in everything you do. Without clear information, speculation takes over. Ensure that you provide transparent information to avoid misinterpretation. Imagination is great, but not always appropriate.


  • Clear expectations. Ensure mutual understanding of what’s expected from each other to avoid misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. Misalignments in expectations often cause issues, even if they seem small.


  • Communication is the root of all evils and all solutions. If it’s valid that the lack of effective communication can create problems, it can also be used for their resolution. Deep down, communication affects relationships, motivation, performance, expectations, etc. I believe that 90% of the world’s problems stem from communication problems, so don’t let that stone settle in your shoe, and if it does, solve the issue quickly.


  • Win/Win! Focus on creating scenarios and conditions for everyone to win. For the company to gain an impactful and motivated employee, and for the employee to have the return of his effort and delivery in the form of evolution, recognition, salary, satisfaction, or skills. Think of work relationships as marriages, if the two aren’t happy and better for being together, that marriage won’t last.



  • Emotions. Understand and respect negative emotions, and embrace and encourage positive ones. It is never easy to change jobs, either for those who change, for those who stay and have to hire again for that position, or for the team itself to have to do a new onboarding and who knows, even become overloaded with temporary work. As someone in HR, it’s part of the job to deal with exits and turnover, but instead of focusing on the loss, see the positive side and focus on the growth and evolution of those involved. Encourage a positive goodbye for the sake of maintaining good relationships and leaving positive memories.


  • Be swift in transition. Quickly executing a well-planned and clearly communicated process can make transitions smoother and reduce stress. Aim to create an efficient, transparent, and compassionate process that helps individuals smoothly transition to the next chapter.


  • Adopt an empathetic and positive mindset. Instead of assuming you know everything and that your perspective is the only correct one, acknowledge that you may not have all the information and try to approach others with empathy and an open mind. Validate your ideas without judgment, and strive to understand and connect with others in a curious and friendly manner.