Updated: Aug 6
Your resources are limited, and the work is piling up. The gaps in your roster have your capacity handcuffed and you’re desperate to build your team before the backslide of unmet expectations crushes your client list and chokes your sales funnel.
Where do you turn?
Where Can I Find Good Help?
BY JOSHUA PAXTON
Recruitment and talent retention challenges faced by human resources are presenting new opportunity for marketers to offer solutions in refining the employee value proposition and employee experience.
The pressure felt by human resources professionals has grown immensely since 2019, and it’s not getting any easier.
With added responsibilities, communications needs and an evolving market of talent expectations, an innovative manager might try a new lineup.
Drafting a marketer to collaborate with your HR team could create a winning combination that rewrites your employee value proposition and drives your business forward.
McLean & Company is a research and advisory firm that published a 2022 HR Trends Report, based on data they gathered from surveys sent to 826 professionals in September 2021.
A keynote in that report was a 150 per cent increase in the stress levels of human resource team members since 2020.
Shockingly, 58 per cent of respondents have no plans to implement programs to support their HR professionals. In addition to traditional responsibilities like safety and training oversight, 83 per cent of survey respondents reported that at least one of diversity, equity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, or environment and social governance has been added to the HR department’s portfolio.
A QUICK LOOK AT HR TRENDS 2022
McLean & Company (YouTube) 2021 was a year of reactive solutions to new HR challenges...The labor market is more competitive than ever, and organizations are struggling with attracting and retaining talented employees. HR’s role continues to evolve in the face of new priorities from organizations and employees alike.
Also in that portfolio is the expectation to provide navigation through pandemic related health and safety crisis, guidance on the changing landscape of flexible work environments and most recently, the growing pressures of talent acquisition following the “Great Resignation” of 2021.
An informed and experienced marketer can make a positive impact coming to the aid of a taxed human resources team with creative solutions to help address festering challenges.
The promotional products industry has been developing incentive and reward strategies for decades, pioneering company culture campaigns, connecting work from home environments and providing branded communication tools for talent acquisition and retention.
As an asset to HR, the marketer critically revaluates the company’s employee value proposition (EVP) not from the position of a consumer, but as a potential (or current) employee, and brings an added perspective to the team responsible for growing the most important asset in the business.
WHAT IS AN EMPLOYEE VALUE PROPOSITION (EVP)?
AIHR (YouTube) What are the most important things you should know about it? Your EVP is the core of your Employer Brand and should characterize the substance of your organization and why it is unique. In this video, we explain what the EVP is, and we outline some the most relevant aspects that you should be aware of.
Laura Maddison, BA, MBA, is a senior HR business consultant with Humani HR, an organization that helps small and medium-sized businesses with all aspects of their human resources. Their team focuses on the people and culture of growing companies. With nearly 20 years' experience in the human resources field, Maddison has witnessed the changing dynamic of recruitment.
“I think the biggest change [in recruitment] is that candidates are really interviewing employers now and, while what they are looking for can vary, they really do know exactly what they are looking for. Some want shorter work weeks, some want a lot of flex time, some want more money, others will take a lower salary if the position and organization match their values. I think the one thing they are all looking for, though, is to be a part of something bigger! I hear this a lot.”
Communicating an organization’s mission statement provides a prospective employee with an understanding of their contribution within a greater purpose. This is typically supported by brand value statements, outlining the guidelines of corporate culture in pursuit of the mission. These key pieces of information can quickly help a candidate identify if a place in your company provides a feeling of satisfaction, and fulfillment of their individual needs or values.
A marketer will look at where and how a job posting is shared and ask if the location and communication best aligns with the expected values of an ideal employee.
Understanding the type of person you are looking to attract to your team can prove more valuable than determining the specific skill set the vocation requires. As entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson once said, "Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”
WHAT QUALITIES AND INTERESTS MAKE YOUR IDEAL EMPLOYEE?
In the same way that a marketer will research target consumers, understanding the desires and interests of your ideal employee will help guide your decision-making in where and how to advertise your available position(s).
Maddison shares advice her team provides to clients, expressing the need to get creative in where and how you share job postings to connect with the best talent options.
“You really need to find a way to stand out and you need to put that out there. Rather than just posting your openings on the usual job sites, you need to put them all over the place and network like never before. You have to get creative and be flexible, think outside the usual boxes, in order to get in front of applicants.”
Within the 2022 HR Trends Report, McLean & Company comment on the relationship between recruitment and retention, calling them “different sides of the same employee value proposition coin”. Understanding EVP is answering the question, "What’s in it for me?"
As a prospect in an employee's job market, an applicant enters an interview with the mindset of “they need me.”
Whether purposeful by training, or as result of an opportunity to reflect on personal value, the applicant expects the organization to demonstrate the value they bring to the table in exchange for the skills, experience and problem-solving the applicant brings to the company.
Maddison breaks this down into a series of smaller questions to help organizations prepare their presentation for a prospect:
What sets your business apart?
What does your mix of compensation include?
What type of culture do you promote in your company?
Why should someone work for you when there are other alternatives out there?
In professional sports, there are often reports of teams bidding for the services of star players. It is becoming more common practice to sales-pitch a team’s history, winning culture, development program, philanthropy, community support, partners and regional assets like attractions, medical services, schools and real estate, all in an attempt to connect with an athlete’s personal values to compete with the offers of other franchises.
This sort of package presentation is an example of establishing an employee value proposition. You showcase for the prospect all the collective benefits of team membership, above and beyond salary compensation.
AND THE WINNER IS... ?
Modern recruitment can feel a lot like waiting on an all-star athlete to announce their next team contract. Candidates are informed and purposeful, shopping options in search of a best-fit for their talent and values.
One of the greater hurdles experienced in modern negotiation is the expectation of a flexible work environment. This could include flexible work hours, or an opportunity to work remotely. As reported by McLean & Company, survey results show that industries that operate primarily onsite are experiencing a greater challenge. For example, remote-capable industries recorded a 39 per cent increase in candidate ghosting in 2021, while primarily onsite industries responded with a 57 per cent increase.
Why are candidates not returning calls or emails to move forward through the hiring process?
It may be due to a lack of personal connection with the organization and the opportunity. When the importance of individual values outweighs the offer, there is no feeling of accountability to move forward with the hiring process. How you communicate your available position is your opening argument for why a candidate should join your team.
As Maddison explains, you can’t miss your window of opportunity to connect a prospective candidate with your brand values.
“It’s important to showcase your culture right from the start. That job posting is going to tell potential applicants a lot. The tone, the messaging, your values all highlight what you, as an employer believe is important. If applicants share some, or all, of that with you then there’s a connection and you have started to get them engaged.”
According to the businesses surveyed by McLean & Company, there was a 25 per cent increase in time invested by human resources in talent acquisition, and this effort remains priority one, even amidst the growing list of responsibilities.
WHAT DOES MARKETING ADD TO TALENT RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION?
Marketers can provide creative solutions that generate increased efficiencies by improving candidate engagement and reducing the time investment by applying sales solutions like market research and purposeful communications.
But top talents are in demand, so you can’t dawdle when there’s a positive response.
“My colleagues and I are continuously surprised by candidates who apply and within days they have another offer on the table that they accept. It’s not so much that this happens, but that it happens more regularly. Employers need to know what they want in their perfect candidate, and they need to be available to ensure that the recruitment process moves quickly, and smoothly in order to get the best candidates. No more waiting for weeks on end to get a panel together.”
Virtual presentations are being employed more regularly to connect potential hires with managers and human resources more quickly, and in-person meetings are becoming less frequent.
It’s an opportunity to share short conversations, explore interests and engage in a more informal environment. The thought process behind this includes belief that a virtual meeting generates less pressure for the applicant, allowing them to be more comfortable, and that it tests an ability to connect and participate in a remote environment.
“The stage you set from the beginning is what your potential new hire will remember. If it is honest, straightforward, relaxed but you have good, smart people around the table you might send the message of hard work, but people centric. You want them to imagine being a part of that team!”
But even if the interview is a success and a new hire is successful, the work doesn’t end there. Onboarding is a significant moment in the development of the employee’s relationship with the company.
CREATING A MEMORABLE ONBOARDING PROCESS
Zappos Stories (YouTube) Onboarding doesn’t have to be on-boring. In this episode of Zappos Stories, Senior Corporate Trainer Stephanie Hudec talks about Zappos’ four-week new hire training and onboarding program.
Onboarding is your first impression on the newest member of your team and will establish their mood and value baseline.
A marketer recognizes the importance of relationship building and the impact of a meaningful gesture to express appreciation and membership. Maddison recalls her own introduction to Humani HR, and the experience that energized her excitement to be part of the organization.
“Before I even started, I received a package from Carly Holm, our CEO, that had all sorts of great stuff for someone new to the company: a sweatshirt with our logo, a notebook with logo, pens, a warming mug, and a lovely card welcoming me to the team. It was really amazing to feel that, before even doing anything, your employer invests and engages with you and is making you feel welcome!”
But culture isn’t built on one gesture alone. If your organization values team members and relationships then you’ll continue recognizing the contributions that your team members bring to your day-to-day operations and find ways to personalize those moments when you can.
“There are also lots of neat offerings when we [Humani HR] meet! Some of it branded, and some of it just because it’s something that Carly thinks we’ll enjoy or get a kick out of.”
In the same way that Humani HR provides assistance to companies for their human resources needs, marketers can approach human resources teams with services and solutions for their employee recruitment and retention challenges. Marketers apply sales and communication experience developed from years of attracting consumers to brands, services and products to help reshape an organization’s employee value proposition.
By working together to identify employee needs and values that align with your mission and brand, you can better target your ideal employee with purposeful messaging.
Engaging career and relation-ship building activities foster a positive working relationship and enhance your ability to attract and retain top talent. By growing your recruitment team to include a marketer, you share the weight of responsibility over extra shoulders and reduce the pressure on human resources.
- as featured in marketingedge magazine August 2022 - click to open e-magazine