Category Archives: Employer branding

Digitally savvy candidates expose “Hire-zillas”

Employer branding has always been important to attract top talent, but today it is more significant than ever. The emergence of a generation of super digitally savvy candidates means that the standard ways of building a strong employer brand are no longer sufficient. These candidates are smart enough to lift the curtain and dig deeper.

Research from the job the UK website “Indeed” which collaborated with Censuswide found that 70% of job seekers would not apply for a role until they had researched their would-be employer’s online reputation. More than 56% said they would not apply to a company that lacked an online presence.

Strong web site not enough

Many organisations think that having an attractive careers page ,on a good web site with a strong message is enough to create a strong message.  But is it? As the competition for talent hots up the need for a pristine online presence and  an impeccable digital reputation also increases. Today’s digitally savvy candidates are now coming of age where they are applying for mid-level and even senior jobs. Millennials now have kids and mortgages. There are even more ways they can check out potential hiring companies to see if there is anything going on under the surface. And they know what they are and where to look. Some time I wrote that social proofing was here to stay. Now it is taking over in importance to regular branding.

A “Hire-zilla”

Jason was recently in a recruitment process for a mid-level role. “The web site  was very professional and showed the company had great benefits and what looked like a good working atmosphere. There was generous holiday entitlement, a gym, a Friday tab. They featured interviews with employees just like me all claiming to be really satisfied! It sounded perfect  so I was really excited. But there were some small red flags from the start which I didn’t pay enough attention to. We had communication delays and the interview time was changed several times. I rationalized this by thinking that stuff happens.

There were some veiled remarks about the manager expecting a strong work ethic and emails coming in at 02.00 a.m.  When I finally met him after taking 2 half days off work and seeing multiple other people who told me that the job was pretty much mine, he hadn’t read my CV, or discussed my salary expectations. He was aggressive, almost rude and dismissive of my experience.

Jason has created a great word! Hire-zilla. A big destructive monster in the hiring process. It can be a recruiter or a hiring manager. In this case it was the hiring manager. He continued:

He was a real “Hire-zilla.” It was a terrible candidate experience and there was no way I would ever work at that company, even if they made an offer. When I checked on Glassdoor the reviews were terrible and reflected my experience. There were over 40 testimonials, more than 50% negative. No one had stayed there more than a year and the words “sweat shop” were used more than once. The management had contested some of the comments but in a very hectoring and dismissive way that seemed to be the accepted tone. It was all indicative of a toxic workplace”

Short of putting an NDA  and a non-disparagement clause in employment contracts limiting disclosure then any employer should take this situation seriously. It might not be a brand issue now but it will only be a question of time.

How to handle negative reviews

So what if you are getting negative online comments. One or two are not important. Companies cannot be all things to all people. But over 20? That is a significant message that something is not right.

  • Reflect on the feedback. It’s important to take a step back and reflect before taking action.
  • Respond professionally.  You are only allowed one response, so it’s important to make sure that the tone is direct and correct.  If there are any inaccuracies or false details you can contact the website administrators and they may agree to reviewing and addressing the situation.
  • Value constructive feedback. Negative reviews should be used as constructive criticism of your company’s activities, hiring processes and more. You should view this as an opportunity to discuss  the area or areas receiving criticism and take appropriate action.
  • Evaluate thoroughly.  One negative review can happen, but over 20? That is a strong message. If it is the same criticism multiple times you have a problem.
  • Frame the feedback. Is it one department or team where there is a  single”Hire-zilla” or does it indicate a wider cultural tolerance of toxic behaviours? If it’s one person you need to deal with it. If it’s wider and deeper then a more profound assessment and audit could be necessary including an anonymous employee engagement survey.
  • Encourage positive reviews.  Satisified employees are less likely to post reviews of an organisation on sites such as Glassdoor. Encourage your top performers to add their positive comments. If they are reluctant to do that….. once again you have a problem.
  • Carry out exit interviews. These have different levels of popularity but if an organisation is in touch with its employees then these reviews should not come as a surprise. If you have a NDA or a non-disparagement clause in the contract that is the point at which to remind them of that fact.

There is no doubt that employers can’t pay attention to every negative comment about their organisation. But if you have a high number of  online reviews or comments which reflect badly on you it will lead to higher levels of churn and lower productivity. Eventually your customers will find out and your business will suffer. Today, it is only a question of time before all job seekers will fall under the heading of digitally savvy candidates.

 If your organisation needs support with its employer brand contact us here.
political correctness

When did political correctness become incorrect?

And when did respect become political correctness?

Have you ever noticed how people apologise for political correctness or pour scorn on it as somehow  it’s something we have to justify. We frequently hear sentences starting with “I know this is politically incorrect but…..”  They then go on to say something mildly or even extremely offensive.

Others say that they are simply tired of it and feel it inhibits their right to express themselves freely. They say they “loathe obsessive political correctness.” The reality is that political correctness was politically imposed on us because as individuals and groups we fail to treat all people with respect and dignity they deserve of our accord. We seem to need outside guidelines to be respectful.

Political correctness is defined as:

the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

What is happening is that certain layers of our communities look back to a time when they didn’t have to think before they spoke or took action without reflecting on the potential negative impact on others. It might have been at a time when as a dominant group, their life view was the one that prevailed and they could share opinions and use language that was racist, sexist, homophobic, or held prejudicial views against a specific group which was offensive in its nature. We see it now on social media in an extreme form and amongst some leaders who are offensive and abusive. They share their biases and prejudices openly about specific demographics  with few, if any, repercussions.

Incivility on the rise

According to research from Christine Porath of Georgetown University incivility is on the rise. There has been an increase of 13% since 1998. She also notes that 66% of these instances of incivility occurred between a manager and an employee. Incivility impacts employee engagement with all the downsides. Two-thirds of those employees who experienced incivility, “intentionally give less to their organization as the result. 25% take it out on the customer.” More than 50% of employee don’t report  incivility for fear of repercussions.

The reality is that most organisations don’t realise that their culture might be toxic until their employee engagement survey gives bad news. Most managers would be horrified to find they would be considered to be a toxic boss. 

How does workplace incivility manifest itself?

Workplace incivility has been defined as low-intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target. Uncivil behaviors are characteristically rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others.”

Here is a check list of areas where incivility and lack of respect can appear in the workplace:

  • rudeness – this is complex and can be difficult to define precisely because cross cultural differences have to be factored in as well as personal levels of tolerance and bias. It can be conveyed in writing, verbally and through body language.
  • unfairness  – playing favorites, inconsistent treatment of colleagues, facilitating gossip, withholding information, exclusion
  • poor time keeping – late for meetings or missing deadlines. It implies that you think you are more important than everyone else.
  • distracted or not giving full attention. Smart phone usage is rampant in this group. See above.
  • interrupting
  • talking over someone
  • dismissing a colleague’s view-point
  • name calling
  • attacking the person not the argument
  • adopting an either/or position rather than also/and
  • use of bad language
  • jokes and banter with racist, sexist or comments that belittle a person or a demographic
  • invading someone’s personal space
  • emoting – yelling, slamming doors, throwing things
  • lack of courtesy and good manners. No please or thank yous.
  • bullying  – this can be verbal, physical or emotional. The result is the employee feels psychologically unsafe in the workplace and is likely to be disengaged with all that implies for business success.
  • Exhibiting bias in a way that favours one demographic over an other

Impact on business of incivility

The impact on employee engagement of a lack of political correctness and increased incivility is significant.

  • Increased employee turnover
  • A high level of employee grievances and complaints.
  • Absenteesim and sick leave increased
  • Increased customer complaints
  • Drop in productivity
  • Conflict caused by miscommunication
  • Disconnect with leadership
  • Resistance to change
  • Reduced collaboration
  • Reduced innovation
  • Low levels of accountabilty

The very same managers who will think they are thoughtful and decent people will tick many of those boxes you see above. So next time you have negative feedback from your team, or the employee engagement survey gives a lower than expected rating, it’s think long and hard about our own behaviour and whether we are uncivil at a very basic level. Leadership language and behaviour matters and political correctness helps keep us on track. It’s about being mindful of others.

Now might be a good to to apply some political correctness if it doesn’t come naturally and spontaneously.

If you need support with your talent pipeline contact us now.

toxic boss

7 tips to avoid being a toxic boss

Last week I wrote a post “5 ways to avoid a toxic workplace culture.” This took a macro view of workplace culture. I have been asked by many readers to give practical tips to avoid being or becoming a toxic boss.

There is an old adage that says people leave bosses not organisations so all managers are responsible to some degree for employee engagement. But it can be easy for a leader to slip into becoming a toxic boss under pressure from an unrelenting  corporate world especially if no training is given. It is the seemingly unimportant, imperceptible daily actions which can have the greatest impact on employee engagement.

Dealing with adversity and ambiguity

External factors such as sector, financial or senior leadership crises occur, but it is how the boss responds in these circumstances that counts. I have worked with countless individuals who have been laid off and even when they are firing people,  they still respect good bosses. Without exception the best leaders are the ones that can sustain employee engagement despite ambiguity and adversity, even when they are making redundancies.

Many very well known and established businesses have pockets where individual bosses do not know how to manage their teams and create a toxic atmosphere. On an every-day level it’s the first line supervisor who has the greatest impact on employee motivation and commitment. Lack of employee engagement has a significant impact on the bottom line and with 81% of employees reported to be potentially open for a move and the cost in terms of innovation, customer service, creativity, mental well-being and overall productivity is high.

The toxic boss

Individual managers are rarely held accountable for employee engagement unless there is a crisis in their department or division. If the manager is responsible for generating revenue the fact that his/her employees show signs of demotivation is frequently overlooked. This also applies to more serious cases of sexism, harassment, bullying and unethical practises. Sometimes leaders and shareholders just want results with no questions asked. They are less concerned with the how until there are issues. A high percentage of the career transition coaching I do is rooted in poor leadership and lack of employee engagement, although they may not be the visible presenting issues. All of these negatively impact any employer brand.

Greatest asset

Business success might have nothing to do with a great corporate culture but about market conditions. The real test is what happens when business is challenging.  It is the same leaders who say that their employees are their greatest asset, but their behaviour is not consistent with their so-called mission or values statement.

Highly engaged and motivated employees should be any organisations greatest assets. But very often they get the least attention. At one time the people part of the business was even designated “human capital” which sounds more like “human cattle.”

Old school managerial style

There are many managers in post who subscribe to what would be considered a more old school style of management. This is a “command and control” approach rather than influence and persuade. It’s not necessarily always older generations who subscribe to this philosophy either. As millennials dominate the workforce they are looking for a more inclusive leadership style which is about transparency, flexibility and influence. Good barometers are not just in your employee engagement survey but comments placed on social proofing sites when people have left. These are frequently dismissed as the rantings of disgruntled ex-employees, but  if there is a consistent theme then it’s worth paying attention to the message.

Many pundits also dismiss the exit interview. These can add value if done correctly and there is transparency. Many employees are reluctant to be open for fear of reprisals and poor references looping back to the point about transparency. If fear replaces respect then any manager is in trouble.

7 tips to avoid being a toxic boss

Many managers have no idea that they have moved into the toxic zone where they are alienating their employees and not engaging them. In tri-partite discussions there are some who take a hard-line “this is how I am .. get over it” but others are genuinely shocked, upset even and open to change. Here are some simple every day  tips to bring that change about.

  1. Walk the talk – all leaders should embody their message and do as they want others to do. This means engaging regularly with your team and not sitting in an ivory tower sending out directional emails. You need to be out there seeing what goes on and being visible.
  2. Exhibit empathy – this doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything your employees say or do, but if they have a problem or a concern try to walk in their shoes and experience a situation from their point of view. It’s also about respecting their boundaries in terms of time and communication.
  3. Listen and be inquisitive – the most motivating bosses are the ones that listen and communicate openly and transparently. If a topic is not for discussion for any reason you can say that and let them know that as soon as you can you will involve them. Find out what is going on for them. Be up front that you may not always be able to act on what they want but you will always be willing to listen. Understanding your employees and being open with them is key to motivation. They won’t be open with you if you are closed with them.
  4. Be ethical – conduct yourself with integrity and with the values you subscribe to. Don’t play favourites and always be neutral and just. In an era where there seems to be a pronounced absence of leadership values it’s important to align yourself with values that employees trust and respect.
  5. Give responsibilities – empowerment and accountability are great motivators. Make sure your team have the proper skills and tools to do their jobs properly. Give credit, thanks and recognition when it is due and support them all the way even if the team comes under scrutiny.  All of these practises lead to increase confidence which benefits the employer and enhances the employer brand. This is the time when there is an I in team. Above all do not micro-manage. This is a consistent reported characteristic of a toxic boss and one of the single most damaging management flaws. It implies lack of trust, and is stifling and demotivating.
  6. Develop their careers – offer training and personal development opportunities. Sponsor and mentor as appropriate. Promote them where possible and give constructive feedback when their career goals are not being met. If promotion isn’t realistically feasible maintain their personal development and learning. Long serving solid employees offer as much value as the whizz kid hot shot.
  7. Create a team charter – one of the simplest ways of empowering any team is to agree guidelines on the things that are important to them, communicating goals and agreeing norms and values. This could be about communication style, the way meetings are run, dress code or protocols for the resolution of disagreements and conflict. An inclusive management style will have an immediate impact on employee engagement.

A strong highly motivated team will be more creative, productive and committed to the organisational mission. Make sure that you are on the right side of the line to avoid being a toxic boss.

Check out our corporate training programmes HERE!

 

toxic workplace cultures

5 ways to avoid toxic workplace cultures

Very often those leading or working in toxic workplace cultures are unable to see things how they really are. Bad habits and behaviours are so deeply ingrained that the individuals involved no longer notice. Or if they do, they make excuses “That’s how he/ she is” or “that’s the way we do things here.” 

Then there is a crisis or a disruptive event that exposes a way of working for what it really is.  It might be a significant error of judgment with extensive fallout bringing a demand for third party accountability. We saw this in a multitude of recent scandals: the President’s Club, Oxfam, Miramax and the Starbucks racism exposure. It might be a solitary whistle blower who has finally had enough or their conscience is tested.  Chris Wylie’s exposure of Cambridge Analytica comes to mind. Or it could be a class action where a group of aggrieved employees campaign together to highlight systemic injustice as we saw with the female employees at Nike. 

Everyday issues too

We need to shine a light to ask how  organisations get to a place where in extreme cases implosion is just a question of time leading to an external investigation and reckoning. This is not just about the at times illegal and the ethically dubious. The normalisation of deviance manifests itself beyond the big issues, to every day workplace practises that we are all involved in. Many of us take them for granted. It can be creating a culture of overwork, promoting the domination of one group at the expense of another, allowing a negative communication style to predominate, and accepting the unacceptable, all contribute to the creation and embedding of toxic workplace cultures.

Organisational impact

The impact on organisations is substantial.  Cultural toxicity impacts employee engagement, productivity, creativity, retention and exaggerates churn. Lack of engagement costs 1% of payroll in the U.S and absenteeism from work in the EU is estimated at 2.5% of GDP across 27 member states, or 6% of working time. Mental health issues are at an all-time high and research from Gary Hamel of the London Business School suggests that 63% of the global workforce are not engaged in the workplace and 81% are open for a move. All of these elements will be reflected in the bottom line and employer brand. Starbucks closed 8000 coffee shops for half a day to carry out unconscious  racial bias training – at what cost? The President’s Club closed totally. A Volkswagen executive has been jailed for his role in the cover up of research data on diesel emissions. Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape.

5 ways to avoid toxic workplace cultures

What can leaders do to make sure their workplaces are healthy and sustainable and don’t slide into toxic workplace cultures?

#1 Create a genuine mission statement 

Corporate values can be a bit of a grey area which don’t seem to be applied on a daily basis. Saying one thing but doing another is the way toxic workplace cultures take hold. It’s important for leaders to define their core values and then walk the talk and not simply pay lip service. Make sure these values are publicly displayed and everyone knows what they are and are signed up for them. Include them on the web site and in onboarding protocols.

#2 Understanding little things make a difference  

Toxic workplace cultures frequently start with what seem like insignificant but expedient short cuts. Bad practises and corner cutting are oftentimes rooted in the little things. Turning a blind eye once sets a precedent, which unchecked will mushroom into a practise or a norm. This can be allowing the big sales generator some lea way with complaints about sexism, the raging of a senior manager to go unchallenged or “flexibility” on expenses.

#3 Don’t make excuses

At the root of all defences are the claims that whatever happens is in the interests of the business. It is necessary to maintain market share, to stay ahead of the competition, increase margins and sales or cut costs. All those excuses foster toxic workplace cultures. Like Topsy they also grow exponentially until there are clusters of bad practises, which rarely exist in isolation.

#4 Have pristine processes

If organisations genuinely want to prevent toxic workplace cultures they have to set up pristine processes that everyone trusts for open, respectful and respected communication.  It is vital to create an inclusive environment where employees can call out issues that are bothering before they escalate, without fear of reprisals. This also means having fail safe protocols for the more serious stuff, so that everyone knows that anything reported will be dealt with in a neutral and effective way.

#5 Carry out an audit 

It’s very hard to make an objective assessment of any culture where we play a central role or are deeply committed to. So carrying out an evaluation by an external provider in the way that company accounts are audited will only add value.  An objective assessment may flag up some hidden messages which will divert a crisis before it becomes one.

For your talent pipeline needs contact us now

 

Graduate recruitment tips for SMEs in 2017

Graduate recruitment can be expensive and not always successful, with heavy investment needed at the upstream identification end.  There is a high risk of low return on that investment if the downstream end isn’t tightly managed. Large corporations have huge budgets to invest on job fair stands and online campaigns.They make scores of offers. But all is not lost for SMEs if they go about the exercise in a structured and strategic way. They will still be able to attract the best candidates for their organisation, if their graduate recruitment process is sharp.

Best as we know, is a very nuanced word.

I started my early career running graduate recruitment programmes and in 2017 I observed improvements, contradictions, some changes and the same old. Some things that you would think would have changed, simply haven’t. Graduates are pretty much the way they have always been. Some are open, others arrogant. Some get it, others don’t. Some are focused others are not.

Managing expectations

The World Economic Forum report lists the 5 things that Millennials look for in a job .Holidays, working with great people and flexible hours are important factors, with money and job security listed at the top. Research from Deloitte indicates work life balance, professional development, sense of meaning, the impact on society and high quality products are also key drivers.

My own experience would be in line with the Deloitte research, although work-life balance was not mentioned once by any one of the hundreds of graduates I talked to this year. The focus was more on lifestyle in general. I found that the connection to family seemed stronger than I had encountered in other years.  They key mentions to me were: career advancement (very important) ethical products and leaders and meaningful, impactful work.

Here are 6 graduate recruitment tips for SMEs

But what do SMEs have to do to get the right talent for their organisations?

1. Career Services

University Careers services continue to be mixed. Their web sites are easier to navigate than I remember and they do seem to be more in touch with what’s going on in the market than before. In general I found the level of CVs higher than in previous years, so they are obviously working with their students to produce better results, which is always a positive. Some use their job boards as revenue generating operations and charge for their service. Others have fees for a placement. I didn’t use these options, which was a good decision. I found like any job board the results were generally poor and it was direct approach via my network and digital sourcing worked best. LinkedIn Recruiter was helpful to a point. The quality of contact varied between universities with some acting as if they were doing me a favour connecting me to “their graduates”.  I bypassed their system and used general sourcing methodologies.

2. Values and Vision

Looking for employment in line with their values and vision seems to be a key motivator for 2017 graduates. Many are open to working for SMES especially those that replicate their own beliefs. So although hiring managers from SMEs fear competition from the top players, many students are looking for smaller more flexible environments. Some of the big name employers are perceived to be working with, or have strong links with top ranked universities, giving preferential treatment to graduates from those establishments. A strong big name employer brand isn’t necessarily always going to win the day. In October 2016 budget supermarket Aldi out-positioned Google in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. 

Lifestyle decisions seem to be critical. I observed larger numbers than usual being very specific about their general needs with regard to friendship groups, relationships, family commitments and geographic location. There was no mention of work life balance with regard to time, even those new graduates who are already parents. And there where some. I saw little evidence of graduates yearning for independence and desperate to escape the nest. Rather the reverse. Family commitments seemed more significant and many had lived at home to save money during university to reduce student debt. We looked for indications of independence in other ways. A high number openly referenced the influence of their parents. Almost all had worked to support themselves through university and workplace exposure was an added bonus. There seemed to be a higher number of mature students.

3. Speed is of the essence

Today the recruitment process needs to be speeded up. Graduates expect rapid responses and high levels of engagement. Corporates are frequently not set up to reach decisions as fast as they need to be for this demographic. Expect high levels of fall out if you are not running a smooth operation with a clear timeline  to manage expectations. Very often final year students have exams and dissertations well into July of the academic year. Making your application process as seamless as possible is important without asking them to jump through too many selection hoops.  Regular communication is vital even if you have nothing to say. They like to be kept in the loop. Many will not read emails for days – agree in advance what platform you are using and advise them to monitor communication channels frequently. This is where smaller companies may have an edge with fewer approval layers. I advise you to use it.

4. Online presence

This generation is digitally savvy and will research your company online. Skilled and experienced at picking up digital anomalies, all online communication needs to be on point. Any detail no matter how small will be picked up. Because I focused on online sourcing, I tapped into students who had a reasonable professional presence. Anecdotally I would say that this had increased in the last year. Employers need to have compelling web sites with some space dedicated to the career advancement featuring younger employees.

5. Long short lists

Graduates will agree to participate in a process and do accept alternative offers if they receive something better or just something quicker. It’s important to have longer than usual short lists and to move swiftly on final decisions. This is where ongoing communication is imperative.

6. Everyone makes the pitch

Graduates need to see enthusiasm from everyone in the process. They are looking for work as a life experience which is a major shift. Many are saddled with significant debt and commitment to future training and  career development needs to be spelled out. They have expectations of corporate life gleaned from TV and the movies. Very often the office on a plant or some industrial site is a far cry from what they have in their heads. Your brand needs to be sold convincingly by everyone. I used researchers nearer to the demographic in age than I am and they provided invaluable insights and could put expectations into perspective. One researcher was well versed on where the best music scenes could be found in relation to the hiring locations. This proved to be invaluable information, clearly something I might struggle to do.

So although SMEs have concerns that the big corporates will cream off the best talent, a strategic, targeted, flexible search which taps into core values of the graduating demographic will prove to be a big bonus. SMEs still have the opportunity to attract the best talent for them.

If your organisation wants support for graduate recruitment now or in 2018. Contact us.   

 

Social proofing is key to the recruitment process

Social proofing is here to stay  –  so be prepared

Brendan O’Brien Partner – Technology Recruiting posted a LinkedIn update about comments on the social proofing site Glassdoor.com.

Wow! Just had another candidate cancel an onsite interview based on a Glassdoor review. Pulling out of an interview based on a Glassdoor review is the equivalent to making a critical life decision based on what a Kardashian said…rant over

What surprised me was that he was surprised. The development of social proofing as part of a corporate branding strategy, whether it’s AirBnB, Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, Rentalcars.com or Uber is a key part of the way we make consumer decisions today. We wouldn’t even think of going out for dinner, making a hotel or theatre reservation without checking the online reviews. It was only a question of time before it was going to be applied to the workplace on a wider scale. Glassdoor.com and PayScale.com have been around for a decade (the former) and even longer now for the latter. They have also been recently joined by sites such as InHerSight and FairyGodBoss which are active in the gender equity space.

social proofing

Read: 7 tells you are on the brink of losing your team

Candidate experience

Employers check out candidates online, it should therefore be expected that they will do likewise for the employer, the hiring and line manager and even the recruiters. Social proofing is considered by companies to be a prime marketing opportunity for their products. We are all invited to leave reviews and “likes” at every available opportunity

But part of the process is a need to be mindful of, and prepare for, potential negative comments. If a pattern does emerge, any organisation would investigate, whether it’s the state of the bedrooms, the taxi experience, the quality of the mashed potatoes or the holiday rental Fiat.

In the recruitment process less than positive feedback is an automatic and immediate heads up to any candidate, that they should start checking the voracity of the comments. If we would consult social proofing platforms for a dinner date which lasts 3 hours, we would be mad not to be as thorough, if not more so, for our careers. This can be done via actual networking, as well as other online platforms. As a career coach I would strongly recommend my clients pick up a phone if they could, to someone in the organisation or the sector, to investigate the detail and the sub text.

The words smoke and fire come to mind.

For the employer, it’s a great opportunity to address specifically flagged up issues, which impact employee engagement and retention. That is, the issues that cause people to quit.The candidate can then decide if the comments from ex-employees are significant enough to be deal breakers for them, or the superficial rant of a disgruntled quitter.

Read: 6 sandtraps that cause onboarding fails

Part of the routine

I routinely check for any comments about my clients on social proofing sites to see if there is anything out there in the ether we should know about. I’m a great believer in no surprises. One client had retention problems at a manufacturing site in rural USA and the realisation that these comments were gaining traction in cyber space and impacting their global brand, made them sit up, pay attention and take action. It also flags up that the exit interview process is not functioning properly. None of this should come as a shock if correctly carried out. If no systems are in place to track employee engagement and attrition then it will be horrifying.  The issues could be about onboarding, salaries, general conditions and benefits, the culture or even one specific manager.

Bill Boorman suggests in the New Rules of Recruiting  that real candidates track an organisation via multiple channels, for up to 7 months before making a decision to join.

Applicants apply for jobs or a specific role, but candidates are attracted by the company: they go on LinkedIn, Facebook and investigate the company and interact with it.

Social proofing is here to stay. Recruiters and hiring managers have to accept that and prepare to leverage good feedback and tackle the negative. It’s a perfect opportunity to identify where any problems lie.

For top-level, savvy executive search services arrange a call

Social recruitment makes relationship building vital

Relationship building has always been a key part of any recruitment process. But today technology has shifted the focus, as the process becomes increasingly social. Organisations who don’t keep up with the pace and direction of  these social recruitment changes are going to get left behind in their search for top talent.

CV Black hole  

Despite high levels of unemployment recruiters and hiring managers bemoan the lack of the right, top quality candidates.  end of ATSJerome Ternynck CEO of Smartrecruiters suggested that the mis-use of A.T.S. has reduced the possibility for developing relationships,  leading to the infamous CV black hole.  Control, compliance and storage have become the overriding criteria,  rather than relationship management to engage and close the best candidates.

Many companies forget  the candidate experience, with 91.4 % of unqualified candidates reporting zero contact beyond the automated acknowledgement of application receipt. Candidates cite the lack of any contact at all as biggest frustration of all. A huge number of potentially excellent candidates simply disappear into the ether, generating what Bill Boorman referred to as the “Employer Bland”

Social Media

At one time the terms applicants and candidates were used interchangeably, very often with an applicant becoming a developed candidate following a screening process. Social recruitment makes the distinction is far more fluid. This has a new significance not just for job seekers, but recruiters and hiring managers. Many employers now look at the public and social media profiles of potential employees as part of the vetoing process, which can highlight much about the personalities and characteristics of any candidate. An employer endorsement in the public domain, adds increased value.

Touch points

Today, successful social recruitment is about marketing, collaboration and relationship building. At #HRTEchEurope,  Bill Boorman referred to this shift as the Talent Tipping Point. Defined as  the optimal point  at which an organisation reaches the ideal number of connections across various channels to meet future hiring requirements.  Formal processes are no longer necessary to get there and social media platforms from Facebook career pages, Twitter followers, web site subscriptions or LinkedIn Groups and company pages all make strong contributions. These searchable data points make it easier for companies to identify potential employees in a more effective and timely way, reducing the number of untargeted applicants and increasing the number of targeted candidates.

From a job seeker’s perspective there are now have many different ways to learn about the culture of a target company. Organizations can also create multiple opportunities to manage candidate expectations in the hiring process.

The average candidate apparently now follows a company for 7 months,  with as many as 40 connection to an organisation. They are increasingly connecting with companies via LinkedIn and other social communication channels, Fan pages, Twitter accounts etc. So for job seekers and companies alike, developing a relationship is becoming increasingly important to make the shift from applicant to candidate.

Previous applicants 

With an improved candidate experience, all previous applicants become potential future candidates. The creation of an effective candidate C.R.M. system (treat your candidates as you would a customer) companies amass significant qualified information on individuals who have interacted with the company at one or more levels. If a candidate experience has been  good, even if the outcome is not positive, the candidate could well be interested in engaging in another process.  60% of candidates are never asked to provide feedback on their screening or interview experience so most organisations have only a limited idea of how they are perceived.

Add company alumni to this group and the possibility of “returnships”  to women who have taken parenting leave and left the organisation,  then the reach of any organisation is extended.

Savvy companies make a policy of creating career information for every demographic  – past and present employees as well as potential ones.

So how prepared are you for social recruiting?

 

The candidate journey and employer brand

Employer brand

Much time is spent encouraging and coaching candidates to create and present a Personal Brand to make the right impression on potential employers. But many organisations are not as in touch as they should be with their employer brands. By that I mean how they are perceived not just by current employees, but by prospective candidates.  For many the concept of employer branding is some part of a passing social media fad which will be replaced by the next fashionable trend within weeks.  To others it’s the domain of large conglomerates with massive budgets.

But like it or not all organisations have employer brands. They just don’t realise it or even know what their brand is. Very often leadership teams scratch their heads in wonder when their company fails to attract the best talent,  blissfully unaware that their brand has tanked to all time lows.

One thing for sure is that the concept of an employer brand is definitely not a fad. It will not go away and will become more important as economies move into recovery.  Companies will need to start flexing those brand muscles to attract and retain the best talent for their organisations.  A pristine employer brand will be key in any upcoming war for talent.

Flexing brand muscles

Today any news travel fast, but bad news travels faster.  Online research allows all information to circulate with speed and unfettered. Poor employee and candidate experiences do the rounds at high velocity. So when  employees complain about long hours, salary issues, lack of strategy, unfilled vacancies, not being able to take vacations, reduced perks and poor leadership, it’s not a case of “if” these problems seep onto the wider market – but when.

Only 13% of employees are reported to be engaged at work. The much touted war for talent is seemingly on the horizon as we move into recovery. More than 66% of employees are categorized as actively passive (executive search speak for open to the right offer!) creating a strong and appealing employer brand is critical in today’s market to maximise a talent management strategy.

Damien told me yesterday that he had been contacted by a recruiter earlier this week.  The consultant made five sloppy mistakes that left him feeling uncertain if he wanted to proceed: he was late for the telephone interview,  he did not send the necessary job profile beforehand as promised,  he called via a VOIP platform where the connection was so poor he couldn’t understand what was being said and  then did not follow-up promptly with paperwork. An interview proposed on the phone has not been confirmed in writing. He has now filled his afternoon.

These are small things,  but cumulatively they become compounded to form an overall negative impression, especially when the competitor’s hiring team is on the ball.

Candidate experience

The candidate journey should be a seamless and incremental process where he/she becomes familiar with the organisation  to such and extent that they are so highly motivated that they are ready and waiting with pen at the ready to sign a contract shortly after receipt of a written offer. Every level of engagement should be “on brand” and convey the essential message of the core values of the organisation.

Is your company struggling with your candidates’ experiences? Check out services and training to create a strong employer brand 

This brand plays an integral role at every stage in the candidate development process and should be firmly embedded for maximum success across every intersection of interaction:

  • Website – easily navigable and informative giving clarity and consistency to the brand image and core corporate values. This is  usually the first point of contact and can “make or break” at this stage.
  • Use of technology –  text, social media invaluable for entry-level recruitment particularly.
  • Application process –   user-friendly and simple to follow with numerous possibilities to save information and modify afterwards
  • Communication  – timely, positive, effective for keeping the candidate warm.
  • Screening –  thorough, professional, open
  • Interview  – everyone from the receptionist to the hiring manager should be aware of the brand image to convey
  • Interaction  – timely, effective, professional
  • Offer –  uncomplicated, ethical and transparent
  • Rejection – empathetic and encouraging paving a way for the future
  • Welcome pack and induction instructions should be clear, informative and motivating
  • Onboarding support – to achieve a seamless transition

The employer brand is intrinsic to the whole spectrum of the recruitment process.  It is not just about what companies do that sends resonating messages, but what they fail to that will set warning bells clanging.

It’s time for many companies to  go through a thorough self-assessment to establish what shape their employer brand muscles are in.

The return of the office Christmas party

The festive period is now upon us. After several years consigned to the doldrums by diminished, recession ravaged budgets, I have it on good authority that this year, with the green shoots of recovery the good old office Christmas party is back in full force.

With an optimistic outlook about an upturn,  many organisations are going back to hosting their annual office Christmas knees-up.   A simple Google search on the topic produces almost one million results in 57 seconds would testify to this hearsay.  The physical reminders are all around us. Tacky earrings, seasonal ties and notices about Secret Santa gifts. The office Christmas party is firmly on the calendar.

Post recession

For most companies the lavish budgets of yester year, with no expense spared events at restaurants or hotels are still history. I’ve only ever read about  the ones featuring ice sculptures, flowing Veuve Clicquot and cabaret artists that people have actually heard of.  My experiences, especially in my early career,  have been more centred around parties characterised by Micawber like frugality: a few mince pies thrown together in the staff cafeteria, accompanied by a solitary glass of something singularly and poisonously unpleasant.

My first ever boss invited me  for Christmas lunch,  ordered two cheese and onion sandwiches, before knocking back five double G & Ts and then going on to eat my leftover onion to take away the smell of the gin.

But for a great number, these renewed office festivities are a return to the dread that they faced prior to the economic crisis. This is synonymous with being forced to make small talk with the boss (or worse still his/her partner) eating limp canapés and drinking inferior plonk with co-workers they would prefer to spend less time with, not more.

Super party-ers 

However,  there are always the super office party goers who regardless of the economic climate subscribe to the theory that if the drinks are on the house they are most definitely going to make the most of it.  These are the ones whose drunken aberrations (which  they don’t remember happening and have no wish to recall … ever)  provide the high-octane fuel of office gossip, well after the half-year results have been published.

Opportunity

For the savvy networker they can represent a great and unique opportunity to raise internal visibility and make strategic alliances. On what other occasion is the whole company brought together under the one roof,  at the same time?

By that I don’t mean chasing the co-worker who figures in their sexual fantasies around the photo copy machine with a sprig of mistletoe. Or slurring to a senior executive that a box of cereal contains more strategic elements than the latest sales plan. That is a true story.  Nor obsequiously trying to ingratiate themselves with executive Board Members who wouldn’t recognise them in a line- up thirty minutes later.

The office party can be a great opportunity to look into your own organisation to simply identify the people whom it would be great and useful to know.

Research them.  Introduce yourself and tell them exactly that!

Have a great time!

Are we seeing a resurgence of candidate power?

Candidate power

Top candidates making greater demands
As the worst of the recession seems to have bottomed out and economies are hopefully experiencing an upward turn, I have noticed a slight, but perceptible shift in the executive search process. Organisations had their pick of top talent for probably 3 years, the challenge during that period was being able to sift through the sheer numbers of applications to identify the best candidates. Hiring managers who could during this period, choose their terms of engagement, are currently meeting candidates who are more demanding. Top candidates are now involved in multiple processes, very often with their existing companies being prepared to enter a bidding game and making counter offers to retain key employees.

Normal candidates
I’m not talking about corporate prima donnas, who are playing one company off against another, or leveraging their current employer with empty threats to move. These are genuinely top class individuals who have probably been held back by the lack of opportunities, caused by the economic downturn. In the intervening years we have been exhorting candidates to research and prepare to create good impressions with potential employers. But now is it organisations which are found wanting and not making the correct impression on candidates?

Internal audit
Perhaps now is the time for hiring companies to carry out internal audits to check that they are operating to best practises: They should be satisfied that:

All stages of the recruitment process from sourcing, interviewing, offer and onboarding, especially candidate communication and management, is efficient and timely. Any hiccoughs or delays in any part of these processes will result in losing the preferred candidate. Lost candidates = lost revenue, as positions remain open for even longer.

Salary and benefit levels are in line with the market. If hiring managers don’t know what market rates are – now is the time to find out.

Development and training programmes are in place to guarantee employee engagement in terms of future career opportunities.

Tomos, a recently graduating MBA suggests ” After a period of stagnation candidates need to know that companies are offering career development opportunities. For me this is as important as the salary package.”

Employer branding and reputation are strong. Just as employers can research candidates on-line, the reverse is also true. It is becoming increasingly easy for candidates to establish the corporate culture of any company by asking well placed connections, a few carefully constructed sentences about hours worked, vacation times, bonus systems, management style and so on. Glowing references from existing employees are a huge boost to the recruitment process. However, even a well-intentioned comment can send the wrong signals. One contact decided not to apply for a position when an internal connection within the company mentioned that he had a closer relationship with his Blackberry than his girlfriend.

First impressions count
Organisations which are complacent about any aspect of their hiring systems might be in for a wake up call. As Matteo, a Business Development Manager actively looking for a new opportunity confirmed, the recruitment process is the first encounter with the overall corporate image. If that isn’t strong, other areas of the company can be brought into question. “I was involved in 3 different search processes. All opportunities were attractive in different ways. The offer I accepted came from the company with the most professional hiring procedure. I felt it was one indication of how the company was managed from the top down

First impressions cut both ways.