It's 2012, and the corporate landscape is a lot different than it was 20 years ago.
The media has undergone fundamental changes, and the way companies engage with customers has evolved. Social media has revolutionized the way people experience and engage with brands. More importantly, it’s changed what people expect from brands. It’s no longer enough for companies to simply push their goods. People want to learn, share, experience something novel, and form relationships. And they want to do all of this quickly, easily, and intuitively.
At the same time, our understanding of human decision making and buyer behavior has evolved, thanks in large part to the work of behavioral economists. It’s not enough to produce a high-quality, affordable product. Focusing strictly on quality and value is unreliable, and largely irrelevant, these days. Someone else will sell whatever it is that you’re selling, and they’ll do it better, or more affordably. Further, if people only bought the cheapest or highest-quality products available, 99% of us would be out of business. My point is that people don’t always make decisions logically; instead, decisions are heavily influenced by social and cultural factors.
It seems that while behavioral economics and social media emerged and evolved independently, they both lead us to the same conclusion: it’s all about the experience you can provide your customers. If you stick to traditional (push) methods, you will fall behind. No one will trust you, you won’t stand out from your competitors, and you won’t grow. To stand out nowadays, you need to build an emotional connection, tell a story, and deliver an experience that taps into the needs and desires of your audience.
The same holds true for HR. Your market consists of your candidates and employees. Offering a competitive salary and an interesting job description is no longer enough to make you stand out. Top talent has tons of options, and can find similar job requirements and salaries at plenty of companies. So what makes them apply to yours? What makes them choose your company once they’re offered a job? And what makes them stay at your company once they’ve accepted a job? It comes down to the experience you can offer your candidates and employees.
Build a strong employment brand
Make it easy for people to find you and quickly understand who you are on social networks and your company’s website and career page. Tell a story. Tell people what makes you different. Use your company’s logo, colors, and other branding. Take advantage of video. People are particularly responsive to faces, so show pictures and video of your current employees. Talk about company events and achievements. Interact with potential candidates. Answer their questions. Make sure your candidate experience is pleasant – after all, if you don’t value them as a candidate, you won’t value them as an employee.
Additionally, make sure you stand for something. A strong mission statement and clear values should not be underestimated. If it’s engaging enough, it might even gain you recognition – take, for example, the Holstee Manifesto, which has been shared online over 500,000 times and viewed 60 million times. That’s right – a mission statement was viewed 60 million times. I’ll admit, reading it made me want to work for them – simply because I was inspired by what they stand for.
Foster a Positive Company Culture
Differentiate yourself. Build a strong company culture that people want to be a part of. Your employees will perform better if you can make work a pleasant experience that they look forward to.
Make sure your employees feel valued – or better yet, make sure your employees ARE valued – from their very first day on the job. Nurture your new hires. They want to know what it will be like to work for your company. They want to know who they’ll be working with. They want to know what the office looks like. (Shameless iCIMS plug: An Onboarding portal is a great tool for giving new hires a glimpse into your company culture and allowing them to get the headaches of HR paperwork out of the way before their first day on the job.)
Once they’re up and running, give your employees what they need to grow. Help them learn. Guide them. Be accessible. Social media has led millennials particularly to expect transparency, openness, and collaboration. Reward them for their successes, and help them learn from their mistakes. Be patient. Acknowledge their hard work. Provide incentives to motivate them. Help them to feel connected to your company’s goals and mission. Help them see how their work impacts those goals. The more connected and valued they feel, the more likely they are to thrive, grow, and stay at your company.
In the world of Human Resources, the best employment brand and company culture will win the hearts – and therefore, the minds – of top talent. Provide a positive, motivating, engaging experience, and you’ll see your quality of hire and retention rates soar!