Fingerpaint Sees Substantial Employee Growth; Shares Virtual Hiring, Integration Best Practices

Editor’s note: Fingerpaint, a full-service health and wellness marketing agency with five offices across the country and nearly $80 million in revenue, has seen a 23% headcount growth in 2020 — and the year isn’t over. Nicole Holland, head of people and culture at Fingerpaint, talks about what has contributed to that growth, how the agency shifted to virtual hiring, and a few best practices for integrating new team members in a remote world.

From a hiring perspective, tell us about the growth Fingerpaint has seen in the past year. Nicole: From a headcount perspective, we’ve seen 23% growth in 2020 alone, and made 83 full-time hires. These hires are a mix of newly open roles, replacements, and promotions. Here’s the breakdown: 66 are new positions, 12 are replacement positions, and 5 are replacements due to promotions.

What agency positions have you been hiring for the most? Nicole: This hasn’t changed with the pandemic; creative, digital, media, and account roles are always in high demand.

How has the pandemic impacted hiring? Nicole: Honestly, it has not slowed down for us at all. We are one of the companies that is fortunate to have weathered the pandemic storm. Business is doing great, and, in turn, hiring has been normal—possibly even busier than usual. It has also definitely impacted our turnover rate. Turnover percentage has slowed and is less than half of previous years.

Tell us about how and when Fingerpaint made the switch to virtual hiring. Nicole: We quickly jumped in and adapted when the pandemic started in full force, and the offices had to shut down. We officially went remote on March 12th. It was an easy switch to virtual interviews due to the support from IT, people and culture, operations, and all of the Fingerpaint interviewers! Hats off to our IT department, because without them, we could not have been effectively supported.

How many new Fingerpainters has the company hired virtually? Nicole: 75 full-time employees as of Monday, September 14th.

Wow! That is an incredible amount of people. How has it been going? Nicole: Great! Our IT team was proactive and had a process in place to support a remote workforce. This played a large part in making remote work seamless. We’ve been able to bring on new hires virtually by overcommunicating and mailing their equipment and welcome kits to their homes. We ask them to take photos so that we can announce their hiring to the company and put a face to the name. Our buddy system has gone virtual, and we schedule buddy coffee dates and lunches their first week. Fingerpaint’s culture is strong, and this was made even more obvious through the fact that going virtual was pretty much seamless; everyone had the mentality of “we’re all in the together.”

From an interviewing perspective, what is different when it comes to interviewing a candidate and hiring virtually? Nicole: Video conferencing has been our lifeline. Having a concise interview process was our first step. The people and culture team, along with the operations team, worked hand in hand with each candidate to ensure they had a positive interview experience. Again, we were prepared with a process in place, so the one big change was doing this over video. The biggest difference is that candidates don’t get to see our offices in person.

What is the key to making virtual interviews go smoothly? Nicole: Ensure that you have the proper IT support ready for technology issues that can arise last minute. Have a checklist of even the smallest details:

  1. Check that your platform is functioning that day

  2. It’s okay to have notes and preset questions written down

  3. Check time zones

  4. Stay constantly connected with the candidate

  5. Keep it real; there will be interruptions in the background, and that’s okay. Acknowledge it. That way, the candidate feels comfortable. For us, this has been a way to show our empathy to the current situation we’re all in — whether it’s interviewing or working full-time

We have a great support team who engages with every candidate to ensure they are prepared and acts as a liaison to prepare managers as well.

What advice would you give to other virtual hiring managers? Nicole: 

  1. Be proactively engaged

  2. You don’t have to do it all yourself! Use your team members and those interviewing to help you assess the candidate’s skill set

  3. Make the candidate feel comfortable (see above!); acknowledge the distractions and ask questions to keep the conversation moving

How about candidates who are interviewing virtually — what advice would you give them? Nicole: Be engaging. It is harder to pick up on energy via a video chat. Have substance to what you are talking about. Don’t give flat answers. Also, definitely ask questions of the person interviewing you — make them personal in addition to being work-related. A simple question like, “What have you found to be the biggest challenge for your team while working remotely?” or “What mental breaks do you take during the day?” can set off a great discussion. Keep it interesting!

What makes for a successful virtual onboarding? Nicole: Having a thorough plan in place that provides the new hire with all the information they’d ever need. Our team takes the time to put themselves in the new hire’s shoes. What would this person be thinking or feeling? And we answer those questions or give support before it’s even asked of us. A lot of the questions above summarize this, but in short, here are the key points:

  1. Clear communication, almost overcommunication

  2. Use your video and screensharing when onboarding/training

  3. Set a tight schedule the first few weeks to provide support on what to do

  4. Managers should check in daily during the first week or two

  5. 30-day check-in to ensure the employee has everything they need, whether it’s equipment, training, access to certain programs, etc.

  6. Encouraging new hires to join the fun/cultural events happening