Flexible schedules, working from home and well-stocked snack stations—perks made popular by tech organizations that trickled down to the rest of the country—aren’t relevant in a COVID-19 world. While many companies have pivoted to remote work, attracting and hiring candidates has changed. HR must look for new options to move candidates from offer to employee. Here are a few ideas.
Play up the company’s ideals and purpose.
According to a recent study by human resources consulting firm Mercer, half of employees say they want to work for an organization that offers responsible rewards. Nearly four in ten (37 percent) say they are motivated by strong corporate values, mission and purpose, and 36 percent favor companies that focus on social equity and environmental protection. The same study found that so-called thriving employees, who are prosperous in health, wealth and career, say they are four times more likely to work for a company that ensures equity in pay and promotion decisions. The upshot: Employees are more likely to accept a job if they feel kinship with a company and like its ideals, said Steve Guyer, a partner in Mercer’s career practice.
“A lot of individuals are looking at the company itself and kind of looking at the decisions of that organization, and whether they really believe in what the company does. The attraction is not just about comp and benefits anymore—although they are still important. It’s more of making that personal value connection,” he said.
Focus on the career journey.
Job candidates are also very concerned about not just the job that they take today, but where their career path will take them tomorrow. Guyer said some candidates are still jumping from company to company just to attain a bump in salary or a new title, but most would rather put down roots at a company that will help them move ahead in their careers. HR professionals can make that part of the interview process, laying out future job opportunities and giving examples of company employees who have moved up or around the company ranks.
“We’re seeing more and more organizations through our survey work as well as our interactions with our clients that career management is one of the major attractors for a new career opportunity. They’re looking to understand what opportunities they’re going to have within the organization,” he said. “Having a roadmap that they can take advantage of and refer to when thinking about their career, I think is a huge benefit for all employees.”
Offer better insight into your culture.
Not every employee will fit into the company’s culture, but if there’s a good fit, an employee’s tenure is typically longer. Julie Zadow, senior vice president and chief marketing officer in residence at Demand Spring, a marketing revenue consultancy, says one of the best ways to lure a new employee is to let her hear from current employees what it’s like to work for the organization.
“Don’t underestimate the value of asking a top candidate, ‘Would you like to talk to some people who aren’t part of this interview process about what it’s like to work here and what it’s been like to work here since we made the move to virtual?’ Again, it’s about humanizing the job, the transition experience, and owning part of what that’s like for your candidate,” she explained. “And as an extra bonus, you’re also creating opportunities for [candidates] to connect and find alliances within your culture, possibly before they ever even show up.”
Information about culture and internal programs should also come from the HR team as well, said Laura Seestadt, HR director of health care marketing and communications company Omnicom Health Group. “We go through information such as the mission of our company, a look at our leadership team, and important programs and initiatives that we offer as an agency.”
Use marketing to help sell human resources. When it comes to sales collateral, human resources may have employee handbooks, benefits e-books and workplace culture information on the company website, but if you want to successfully sell your organization to candidates, you could be doing more.
Consider working with your marketing counterparts, using them as the equivalent of an in-house agency, Zadow said, using that team to help craft recruitment and offer materials that will sell your company in a way that a voice or Zoom call can’t. “Marketing can help HR create a video that shows the company culture, work and goals as well as help craft personalized video messages for each individual department,” she said.
Be transparent about salary and bonus structure.
With the sudden boom in remote work, the most sought-after candidates can work for companies all across the country, Zadow said. It will pay off to explain to top candidates exactly how they can earn raises and bonuses.
“Prior to COVID-19, salary managers have gotten away with coming to the table with their ‘best straight salary offer’ and then saying that [a] bonus was defined by ‘corporate value and top- and bottom-line objectives.’ What does that really mean? Salary managers are missing the opportunity to contextualize total comp in a way that—with a little more conversation and a little more personalization—might get a really strong candidate to say ‘yes’ a little faster.”
Go for the hard sell.
In the past, recruiters and hiring managers may have been reluctant to let a candidate know just how much they liked them. Now it’s time to stop playing hard to get. If you’re making an offer, let candidates know that they are a top choice and that you’re looking forward to bringing them onboard. Zadow said hiring managers should be creative with their outreach to boost their chances of having the candidate accept the offer.
“Send a top candidate follow-up video messages about why current employees hope that they might join the company. [This] is going to—when done right—seem incredibly specific and unique,” Zadow said. “Little personal touches let candidates know that they are the person that your company wants the most.”
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