We are constantly trying to drive employee engagement. We find ourselves talking about the topic including why it’s important and how you create it. But when does employee engagement actually start? How do you create something truly memorable that resonates with the human capital you invest in everyday?
It starts days, sometimes weeks or even months before an employee walks through your doors to start their career with you. Typically referred to as the candidate experience, employers today need to think about how they can create memorable first impressions, especially in the age where direct applications are on a downward trajectory and sourcing through talent search becomes more prevalent.
I still find it astonishing that even today organisations haven’t shifted their lens on recruitment and sourcing to the eyes of the candidate. What does the candidate see? What do they really think of you and the experience they’ve had as a potential employee? Designing your recruitment processes from the applicants point of view will help you gain immediate satisfaction from candidates; this I believe is a first step in the sphere of employee engagement.
In my over ten years working in HR with many of those years away from the corporate office and sitting with the business I have learned that the essence of engagement traces back to the cultural fit an employee has with their employer; and we all know cultural fit and the recruitment process should be working hand-in-hand.
Many prospective employees look to an employers brand, the collateral you send them in the recruitment process and your careers website to ascertain how they may fit in your organisation. You can’t just sell the organisation in a phone screen or at the interview; your prospective employee is in most cases an inquisitive one. A prospective employee is constantly researching the company during the recruitment and on-boarding process. Now, what is the first place a candidate or new employee will conduct their research? Your website (where you control the information).
I have found that employers with very “light on” information on their websites about careers, the employment experience, benefits, culture and values are less likely to attract better quality candidates (during the application stage) and increase the time they take to on-board new employees. There are many reasons for this but the primary factor relates to “cultural navigation”; the time it takes for an employee to understand how they fit psychologically, motivationally and emotionally with your company. Cultural navigation is in addition to the work, your processes and your lingo that they need to get their head across in their first few weeks. The burden of cultural navigation can add to the factors that affect engagement and have a greater impact on engagement outcomes. Therefore, consider how you can shift cultural navigation to the pre-employment experience.
What should your careers website look like? At a minimum it will house the roles available; but think about information pages that talk to your benefits, your culture, your values, maybe profile some of your employees who’ve enjoyed a flourishing career with the company – the information superhighway is a valuable tool!
On a final note, how are you measuring the overall candidate experience? Often organisations send out surveys to new employees to gain amongst other things; feedback on the recruitment process. But, what about the pool of people who were unsuccessful? What are they saying about your process and the experience? While they may not have got the job, they may be your customer or someone you may want to hire in the future. It’s important to consider the “unsuccessful candidate” and what insight they can give you. Of course, it may not always be the feedback you’re seeking but under the “disappointment of not getting the job” you may find the key to continuous improvement in candidate experience.