Years ago, I attended a breakfast hosted by the Northeast Human Resources Association where a management consulting firm discussed recruitment that emphasized employer branding. I had been considering a more strategic look at recruitment and this presentation solidified it for me. The following outlines one way of thinking about recruitment.
Recruitment as a sale
Most organizations realize that recruitment is, at least partially, a sales process. The question is: What are you selling? Many organizations conduct recruitment as if they were selling job content and salary. Some have progressed to understanding that the most effective interview is a two-way interview: the candidate sells him/herself to you; you sell your organization to them. But how do you know what organizational characteristics to sell? What is it about your workplace culture that would mean something to potential employees? Workplace Branding provides some answers.
There are generally two challenges in recruitment, sorting out inappropriate candidates for easy-to-fill positions and locating candidates for hard-to-fill positions. Strategic recruitment addresses both issues.
Recruitment efforts have evolved from newspaper classified, to a few online sites, to multiple job postings, social networking sites and a host of other more sophisticated and aggressive candidate sourcing methods. As recruitment for hard-to-fill positions becomes more competitive, chances increase that your good people will be approached by search firms attempting to lure employees away from their current assignment. The less attention you pay to employee satisfaction, the more vulnerable you are to unsolicited head hunting calls and premature turnover. High training costs and long orientation periods make this particularly painful. When approached, will your employees say, “No thanks,” I’m happy where I am?”
I envision a world where all nonprofits know the workplace strengths their employees appreciate most and who promote these strengths internally and externally; where turnover is low and candidates are attracted to employers who offer them a better fit. Workplace branding combines target marketing and sales with strategic planning and employee satisfaction. It strengthens the workplace in areas of most importance to employees. If you are a large organization, promote career paths and advancement. If you are small and can’t pay well but are well-managed, promote sound leadership and employee opportunities for rich experience. Consider promoting an innovative work group solution that allows employees to influence results. The bottom line – determine your strengths and leverage them.
First, survey your employees for what they like and don’t like about working for your organization. What brought them to you in the first place? Fix the things they don’t like, as long as these changes are consistent with your mission and high quality and continue to cultivate the things they do like. Create a workplace branding vision-sometimes called an “employment promise.” Deliver on this promise at every employee relations opportunity. Promote your brand internally and externally. Sell the elements employees like best, during recruitment. Monitor key indicators to see how you are doing and continue improving over time.
What do employees want most?
Numerous studies over time have identified some variations on the following 10 employee satisfaction themes:
• Interesting work content;
• Advancement opportunities;
• Fair compensation;
• Opportunities for enriched assignments;
• Strong leadership (leaders that adhere to principles and apply them consistently);
• Opportunities to be heard by management;
• High, consistent work standards;
• An employer with integrity/character;
• An employer known for quality service/products; and finally
• The freedom to make decisions affecting their work unit.
Will it work?
I have employed these concepts in a variety of organizations with great success. Improvements in recruitment efforts, particularly with employees who value the work style of your particular organization, are easy to measure. In addition, this approach improves the engagement of your best performers and protects you from aggressive head hunter tactics.