Based on Adam’s mainstage session at Transform Live 2019. Access the session recording here.
As a history buff, I appreciate the context and life lessons we can learn from past stories. You can look back and see how the way things unfolded in the past shaped where we are today, and how they might influence what can happen in the future.
And if history has taught us anything, it’s to never repeat the same mistake twice. We can use the failures of our past to better inform the decisions we make today.
And, I believe there’s a better way to approach Employment Branding.
We know that the best employment brands accurately reflect the company’s culture and vibe. But how many of those employment brand leaders actually go back and listen to their employees and realign their efforts after an EVP has been created?
So often we spend our time and energy externally, we forget our most precious assets: our current employees. By putting more resources into creating a feedback loop with employees — listening to and learning from their experiences — we will drive better assets and create a happier experience for future workers.
Say hello to the Employment Brand Infinity Loop.
WHY LISTENING IS SO CRUCIAL
News flash: talent acquisition is hard!
There’s a shortage of talent. People are moving faster than ever before. Employees are unhappier and pickier than ever. These are the facts, and it’s the foundation of where we are as an industry. And it’s only going to get worse.
In 2018, the average job tenure was 4.2 years, a perfectly reasonable number. But look a little closer and you’ll see the looming peril. The average tenure for workers 55-64 was 10+ years, while the average for workers 25-34 was only 2.8 years. As that older generation retires and the younger one floods the workplace, that average will come way down — perhaps by half.
And here’s a stat that really hurts as an employer brand leader: only 19% of people agree that “what their employer portrays matches what it’s like to actually work there.”
Go back and re-read that. Less than 20% of people say that “what we sold them is what they actually experience.” Folks, we’re doing it wrong.
Recruitment marketers should be alleviating these issues, not making them worse. Instead, what we see across the industry is that in the face of people who are on the go more than ever and have attention spans shorter than a goldfish, we’re simply picking up our bullhorns and shouting into the abyss.
If we all know that talent acquisition is hard, why are we making it harder? Why are we shouting instead of listening?
SHIFTING FROM FUNNEL TO INFINITY LOOP
We need to start at the top to solve this problem.
Most companies treat employment brand as a top-of-the-funnel activity. It’s not. The design of the funnel itself is inherently flawed — when you have a funnel you are forced to flow from the top to the bottom. There is a distinct start and end.
But that’s not how we should be thinking. And that’s not how we should be operating.
Because employment brand isn’t a funnel at all. It’s a loop.
The Employment Brand Infinity Loop is a more natural and effective design. The first few steps of the loop should seem very familiar, as they are common practice at many companies now:
- Promote your brand and content
- Attract candidates into your company’s orbit
- Engage with candidates
- Drive candidates to apply
- Convert candidates into new hires
- Onboard new hires
- Improve internal communications and develop consistency with company perception and reality
- Retain engaged employees, advance their careers and nurture them into advocates
- Receive referrals from employees, starting the loop all over again
It’s in between this portion of the loop and the rest of the loop that so many organizations create a roadblock that impedes success. This is where the disconnect happens — between conversion and onboarding — that breeds unhappy employees and an unbalanced experience.
That experience you’ve worked so hard to create and sell upfront should continue through the employee experience. Otherwise, you’re perpetuating the disconnect. This is where we need to get better.
The loop includes our happy, loyal employees and it means we should be dedicating attention internally, not just externally, to further our talent acquisition efforts. It means we should be spending more time enhancing the experience of our current employees, listening to their feedback — good and bad — and cultivating a stronger, more consistent, on-brand work environment. It means we should be nurturing employees into brand advocates, so they drive referrals and fill job openings faster.
It means exceptional talent acquisition starts from within.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR EMPLOYMENT BRAND INFINITY LOOP
We’ve gone down this path at Cox Enterprises and have executive support across the company now. But, not all companies have the same resources and support. You may not have the ability to build and develop a calculated Infinity Loop that includes new employee benefits, well-crafted landing pages, deftly-executed external communications and other time-consuming methods like we did.
But you can create an Infinity Loop of your own no matter your budget. I have four (fairly) simple steps for you:
Listen. Amazing how often we forget to listen, right? Scouring review sites like Glassdoor or social media platforms like Twitter and seeing what people are saying about your brand requires minimal effort and no additional resources (or budget!). Conduct external surveys with candidates and internal surveys with employees. Go to Town Hall meetings or other public gatherings. People have opinions about you. All you need to do is pay attention.
Analyze. Take the feedback you’ve gathered and look for themes. Remember: reviews almost always skew negative, so don’t react impulsively to every discouraging thing you see. Look for common threads and compare feedback across different channels. Make sure you partner with HR and internal comms as you embark on this.
Act. Get buy-in from your TA and HR leadership and act as a cohesive team. Share your learnings and decide who is going to handle what efforts. As you begin to plan and execute different tasks, make sure you are staying synced with what is going on so you can turn that into recruitment marketing content.
Apply. Follow the Employment Brand Infinity Loop (or build a slight variation that suits your company’s needs) and start nurturing happier, more engaged employees.
IT CAN’T BE THAT EASY … CAN IT?
It kind of is. Consider this: It’s been proven that happy employees generate 20% more revenue (happy salespeople can drive over 37% more sales alone).
Happy, engaged employees are more present and productive and attuned to the needs of customers; they’re also more observant to the processes and systems of the company. Highly-engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
And, happier employees help talent acquisition by boosting reviews and ratings on review sites, serve as advocates to friends and family, drive referrals into your pipelines and build internal pipelines with organic career growth.
And this is not a coincidence: Stock prices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” rose 14% per year from 1998 to 2005, while companies not on the list only saw a 6% increase. Plus, SmashFly’s latest research on the Fortune 500 revealed companies earning an A or B in recruitment marketing practices (227 total companies) posted $71B in annual average revenue in 2018 — $16B more than Cs, Ds, and Fs (273 total companies)… combined.
This data should help as you convince your leadership to start listening more. Learning more. And adapting how you think about your employment brand.
Because, remember, you don’t control your employment brand. Your employees do.