Over the last few months, I’ve been supporting a number of SMEs with the recruitment of several key positions. It’s been an enjoyable time for me as I have been partnering directly with the CEOs/MDs and it has given me a different insight into the recruitment challenges that smaller growth businesses face. Most of my time is spent talking with HR people who are well versed with regards to strategic talent acquisition, however, the busy CEO has many things competing for their time and with often no dedicated internal recruitment resource, this strategic element can get overlooked.
What has been interesting to me is that they are great businesses, doing great things with awesome people but they are not always telling people this! Their approach to recruitment has always been very transactional and because of this, they have struggled to communicate the strength of their employer brand.
You may think that you have to be Google to benefit from your employer brand. This is not true, everyone can. Don’t get me wrong being Google does help, however, smaller businesses have many attractive qualities that they don’t always leverage when considering their Recruitment processes.
I want to get people thinking about how they approach their talent acquisition and shift the focus from painful transactional activity to one of enjoyable ongoing marketing activity.
Why should I promote my Employer Brand?
Firstly, we should start with why employee engagement is important?
Smart business people understand that their employees are not a cost but in fact a vehicle to drive profit. Treating your people with courtesy and respect is not only morally the right thing to do, but also commercially astute as you’ll make more money.
We often use the phrase “People drive Profit” and it’s very true. If you have better quality people who like where they work and feel valued, then their performance levels will rise and your investment in your people will pay dividends.
Once you move your mindset from one of cost centre to profit centre, then you’re going to be keener to invest into them!
If you think about a restaurant for example. A team who feels respected, happy and well paid, will look after your guests in a better manner than a team who hate where they work, are stressed because of money issues and live-in sub-standard staff accommodation.
The first team will create an environment where people want to stay longer, visit again and recommend to their friends. The second team is likely to have more sickness, higher turnover and lower levels of customer service. The boss of team 2 may be quite proud of their commercial prowess by keeping their staff costs down. They probably do also wonder, however, why they haemorrhage so much cash on the back end through absenteeism, high levels of turnover, declining sales and general poor behaviour. And that’s not even counting the stress of having to deal with all of this!
Look after your people and they will look after you!
The way that you recruit your people plays an important role in how you achieve these higher levels of engagement. If you are going to invest in your people properly, then it makes sense you want to hire those that are going to be best suited to thrive in your environment.
Recruitment therefore should not be viewed as just a transactional process, but rather as an ongoing marketing activity. If you have a really good place to work, then you want to tell people about it. This is in simple terms – Employer Branding.
The promotion of a positive employer brand allows you to attract interest from potential candidates in advance, which you can then take advantage of when you have a live vacancy to recruit. If you recruit in a specific geographic location or within a certain specialism, then promoting yourself as an employer of choice to this audience makes a lot of sense.
When recruiting you can cover the active market with the traditional job board model, however, to engage non-active job seekers you need to adopt a more strategic approach. It’s relatively easy to attract those that have not got a job, as they need one and so they are much more active and likely to take whatever happens to be out there.
If, however, you want to attract those that already have a job or high demand skillsets, then you need to show them why they should want to work for you. The likelihood is that will earn similar money already, work similar hours and so what’s special about you?
If you need a chef in the winter season, then saying you have a kitchen and they can come and cook in it for 40 hours a week in return for some money, is unlikely to get you the best chef out there. Those guys have options and so you need to make sure your opportunity is at the top of their pile.
A hastily composed post on Facebook, with minimal detail and the request to “please share” is unlikely to reach this part of the market. If you don’t really care about your recruitment process, then you can’t expect that good quality candidates will care too much about applying.
The promotion of a positive employer brand will however help you to reach these candidates, as you will have people interested in your business before you actually have a relevant job vacancy for them. If they can see that you offer an exciting place to work, you look after your people and have opportunities for development, there is a higher chance of them applying and joining your business.
It also has value from a general marketing perspective. People like doing business with people that look after their people. It makes them feel good.
What can you do?
The first thing is that you have to remember it is not all about you. Recruitment is a 2-way street and so you need to start thinking about how you can attract people to your business rather than just setting out a list of demands.
There is no exact science on how you do this, however, an easy place to start is the creation of a strong careers section to your website. This is a real opportunity to inject some personality into your recruitment process. You can use video to introduce your business or incorporate employee success stories and include what attracted them to the business and what they like most about working there. You want to show that you have an inclusive culture and proactively look for development opportunities for your employees.
It’s not all about money but if you have a strong reward package then you can also include this and any other information that supports the fact that your business is a great place to work.
Once you have started to do this, you want your marketing team to include the promotion of your employer brand within their marketing strategy. They can for instance use your social media to celebrate promotions, welcome new starters or anything else that promotes your business as an employer of choice.
Alternatively, you can hire me and I will help you do it!