A roundup of experts weigh in on how to attract candidates with high potential.
By Christa Elliott
With many organizations taking a centralized approach to talent acquisition, effective tactics for talent management, customer experience, and big-picture HR strategy are critical. That’s why last month, Geometric Results Inc. (GRI) hosted a webinar, “Holistic Hiring: Accessing New Channels for Talent,” to discuss these issues.
According to GRI Client Services Executive Jennifer Downs, Genesys Vice President of Brand Experience Adam Gould, Forrester Analyst Sam Stern, and GRI Vice President of Solutions and Innovation Jill Parrino, there are three major points that organizations should focus on in order to attract new talent:
• How companies manage employee, candidate, and customer experience holistically
• The influence of employer brand on quality candidates
• The importance of collaboration between HR and procurement
The Employee, Candidate, and Customer Experience
Journey Maps. One of the most useful tools for grounding three different categories of experience in a single, solid foundation is the “journey map.”
“Journey maps are documents that visually illustrate customers’ or employees’ processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their relationships with a company,” Forrester Analyst Stern explains. “They’re most often applied to customers to look at, from the customers’ point of view, how they think of their interactions and goals in interacting with the company.” A survey conducted by Forrester found that 72 percent of GRI and Forrester’s clients are actively mapping customer journeys, but only 16 percent are mapping employee journeys—and that may be why so many struggle to attract talent.
After all, Stern says, workers are multifaceted; they lead multiple lives as employees, as former applicants/candidates, as customers, and in some situations, as managers or contingent workers. Therefore, organizations need to be mapping all of these different experiences and using this feedback to inform the future experiences that they create for each category. This can be achieved by distributing surveys to evaluate the quality of experiences throughout the employee lifecycle—starting with recruiting and ending with the exit interview—or by engaging workers in regular conversations about what HR can improve upon within the organization.
Some demographics to consider when mapping the workforce, Stern says, include the applicants, candidates, new hires, contingent workers, managers, boomerang employees, and employees within different generational cohorts.
Flexibility. All of this highlights the fact that, in many ways, employees are an organization’s most important customers. After all, the demands of workers and the increasing amount of choice they have in how and where they want to work means that organizations will need to investigate new talent pipelines, provide flexible work options, and work harder overall in order to remain competitive in today’s job marketplace.
The world of work is changing, and the traditional labor pool is shrinking as younger workers seek more fluid career opportunities, switch jobs more frequently, and alternate between full-time and non-employee experiences. “Workers are less attached to traditional ways of working and career paths. They value things like experiences and learning opportunities over tenure,” says Gould. “They want more fluidity and more control over their careers.”
Organizations can respond by rethinking total talent management practices, offering talent cloud solutions and experiences that are flexible to accommodate multiple levels and classifications of talent, and working harder to give contingent employees a great experience with the employer brand.
MSPs. Downs agreed with Gould’s call for flexibility and added that employing a strategic MSP provider can make a world of difference in attracting talent. With the help of VMS technology, organizations can better stay on top of the technological and attitudinal changes within their workforces, not to mention collect invaluable feedback about the employee experience.
“To ensure the collection of pertinent and timely non-employee experience insight that other sources aren’t capturing, MSPs can build in data collection as a function of the onboarding and off-boarding processes,” she says.
The Influence of Employer Brand
Data collection and reinforcing values. Research from Forrester found that 61 percent of candidates check review sites such as Glassdoor before applying to jobs, so it’s critical to monitor employer reputation on new platforms and clearly communicate organizational values and goals through recruitment materials.
Stern cites Adobe as a company that illustrates their values well during the onboarding process. In an exercise titled “Stump the Presenter,” the company’s onboarding team challenges new hires to find an example of a position at Adobe that does not link back to their vision of “delighting customers.” Through this presentation, the team illustrates how every member of the Adobe workforce is connected to the company vision, no matter what role they play.
In bolstering and protecting employer reputation, it can also be helpful to ask employee ambassadors to leave their own reviews of their workplace experience on sites like Glassdoor.
Consistency across channels. A single, cohesive message or series of messages will be more memorable to candidates than a group of disconnected, however well-intentioned ideas. Creating branding consistency across all platforms, including career sites, social media, and recruiter outreach will help organizations show candidates what they’re all about. This consistency applies not only to the messaging, but also to the distribution.
In recent years, there has been a push to treat contingent workers more like the traditional workforce, and employer branding can be an excellent way to begin the process. That is to say that sending contingent workers the same branded messages as others in the organization can make them feel more like a part of the team and by extension, create even more ambassadors for the brand.
“The current thinking around employer brand and the contingent workforce is that we should be more inclusive of them and be bringing them into the fold in terms of that messaging,” Gould says. “That segment is growing so quickly that maximizing their level of engagement is increasingly important.”
Generating interest. It is the employer’s responsibility to make the prospect of working for the company exciting and even fun before a job seeker even applies for a position. This can be accomplished by researching what candidates value most in a potential employer and then designing messaging that displays the way that the organization in question measures up. Some features that are easy to leverage include flexibility, work-life balance, and a strong reputation.
Talent cloud solutions can also be transformed into brand extension vehicles that feature tailored communications and trigger ongoing candidate engagement.
Collaboration Between HR and Procurement
A united front. There is also a great need for all employees, regardless of their department or job function, to share the task of presenting the company in a positive light. A single negative experience can damage a company’s reputation in the eyes of customers or potential future employees.
“End customers don’t make distinctions between people who provide products or services. They don’t discriminate between employees, contractors, and partners,” Stern says. “As far as they’re concerned, if you’re representing a brand, they don’t care who you are.”
Break down silos. Stern also made the point that disconnects in communication between different departments or channels—for example employees working in retail locations versus employees delivering web support—can denigrate the customer experience. Organizations must break down silos and encourage collaboration between departments to create a consistent and helpful experience. Should this task become too complicated or political, Stern suggests using an MSP or other external help.
In order to attract talent and make the prospect of working for the employer fresh and exciting, a holistic strategy—one that aligns employer brand; organizational goals; and employee, customer, and candidate experience—is essential. From there, it is the role of HR managers to ensure that HR and procurement are collaborating effectively to see these goals through and working together to promote the organization as a great place to work.