Employee CommsHR

How Employee Comms Can Influence Recruitment and Retention


 — October 26th, 2021

How Employee Comms Can Influence Recruitment and Retention

When was the last time you visited a careers site?

I must confess, I’m a bit of an addict because I’m genuinely interested in how it feels to work for different employer brands.

How about the time you last felt compelled to visit an employers’ careers site because something had grabbed your attention — a news article or an employee review?

There’s a real difference isn’t there?

Because some brands position themselves in such a way that it’s impossible not to be drawn into their world (while you wouldn’t be able to identify others if the brand name was removed.)

How to Promote Diversity & Inclusion in Your Workplace: Employee Storytelling

Just take a look at the job sites for employers like Innocent, Lego, Nandos and Apple — it’s no surprise that they all hold seriously good reputations as great places to work.

The way we speak to people can make or break their perception of employers and therefore affect our ability to recruit great candidates and ultimately, retain them.

So, what makes the organizations above so different?

The answer is their people experience; throughout the whole hire to retire cycle they treat their employees as their customers (and if you’ve ever been in contact with one of the above organizations you’ll know what I mean).

“People who love going to work are more productive and more creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better.”

(Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek).

Why am I talking about people experience?  Well, I’ve recently been working with clients on their PX strategies and while that’s a much broader subject, the role that communications, both internal and external, plays within it always excites me.  And this is why.

According to Jobvite, top priorities for recruiters currently include improving the quality of hire, increasing retention rate, and growing the talent pipeline, which can all be enhanced by a positive people experience.

The 2019 Employee Experience Index from BetterUp identified the following six elements that have a real and measurable impact on PX:

  • Authenticity
  • Engagement
  • Optimism
  • Purpose and Meaning
  • Social Connection
  • Belonging
Put simply, Internal Communicators have an opportunity to enhance all of these elements, and in turn, inform, inspire and engage people at every people experience touchpoint.

Let’s bring that to life.

1. Recruitment and attraction

Did you know that employee referrals have the highest applicant-to-hire conversion rate?

And while only 7% of applicants received are employee referrals, they account for 40% of all new hires of which nearly half (47%) have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies (Jobvite), which is extremely efficient and cost-effective for the organization.

So how are you encouraging and supporting employee referrals?

  • Do you have a recruitment communications plan?
  • How are you communicating your vacancies internally?
  • Are you proactively asking your people to refer friends and family and explaining the benefits?
  • Can you provide the recruiter with statistics and examples of culture and engagement from Comms and Engagement surveys?
  • Does the recruitment language reflect your internal tone?
  • How might you involve your people in the recruitment, eg video stories, team blogs

2. Onboarding and Induction

According to Jobvite, communication is a growing challenge with candidates throughout the hiring process (28% vs 20% in 2017).

I’ve heard many stories from new joiners who have had a job confirmed verbally, only for the organization to go dark, leaving them feeling undervalued and vulnerable; not the start you would hope for!

Or people showing up on their first day with no access to offices, equipment, or, worse still, not being expected.

Or, being left to their own devices remotely, without any welcome or direction.

Now, of course, these are extremes and thankfully for every one of these bad examples, there are even more brilliant ones.

  • Do you have an onboarding communications plan?
  • Which stakeholders should be involved and are leads clearly identified?
  • Are the appropriate tools available for Day 1 (laptops, sign-ons, templates, passes, phones, etc)
  • What does the person need to know – now, tomorrow, next month? Where will they find it?
  • Who should they go to for support?  Contact lists, buddy system
  • What are the key milestones over 30, 60, and 90 days?

How can you help your recruitment team with some of these challenges?  What and how can you communicate to make a great first impression?

3. Vision, Purpose, and Values

According to Deloitte, only 38% of leaders say their organization's purpose is clearly communicated, and more alarmingly, almost a third (31%) of employees think this is the case.

With 85% of employees saying they are most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news, and 74% say they are missing out on the information (Trade Press Services), this is a real opportunity for IC.

We’ve surely all heard the story of the NASA janitor; here was a man connected to, and living, his purpose.  How are we similarly inspiring people?

  • What’s your organization’s ‘Putting a Man on the Moon’ story?
  • How have you communicated your vision and values?
  • Think about the language and tone.  Is it in a language that employees understand?  Is it reflective of the organization and conveying the message you want?
  • What about your values?  Have you involved your people in creating these?  Do they feel a part of them or, as I’ve seen many times, are they written on a card and hidden in a drawer or included in a presentation that hasn’t seen the light of day?  How can you keep them alive and inspirational?
  • Do your leaders role model your values and recognize others for doing the same?
  • How skilled are your managers in translating your purpose, vision, and values to a local level?

18% of Gen Z, 23% of Millennials, 23% of Gen X, and 32% of Baby Boomers view a company with a purposeful mission as a top factor when considering a new job (LinkedIn Global Talent Trends)

Regularly review and create ways to incorporate vision, purpose and values into your communications. According to a survey by the New York Times, employees who derive meaning from work are three times more likely to stay at their organization.

4. Engagement

When Glassdoor created its list of the 100 highest-rated CEOs from employee reviews in May 2021 following a year of pandemic disruption, according to reviews, employees felt that the highest-ranked CEOs adapted to change, redefined visions and led with transparency, all while being dedicated to the health and safety of employees.

Trust in senior leadership is a leading factor of long-term employee satisfaction and highly-rated CEOs are statistically linked to companies with great cultures and financial performance.

  • What opportunities are you creating for your leaders to listen to and speak with your people?
  • How are you measuring leadership trust and behaviors?
  • How are you measuring trust and behaviors for your people managers?

Diversity and Inclusion, Wellbeing, Sustainability, and change programs should all feature in your internal communications plans.

Using the ‘Know, Feel, Do’ model, think about how your messages will land with your audience, along with providing opportunities to ask questions and feedback.

Regular measurements such as focus groups, pulse, and communications surveys, along with content analysis, will demonstrate how your messages are being received as well as providing good direction on what people want to hear.

5. Learning and Development

According to Gallup, 87% of millennials (75% of the workforce in under ten years) claim that development and career growth are very important to them.  However, 40% of employees who don’t receive the necessary training leave their job in the first year (Go2HR).

I’ve seen many Organizations where sophisticated L&D programs and subscriptions sit dormant because people are either not aware of them or don’t understand how to get access.

Work with your L&D Team to make it a regular part of your communications plan, ensuring that managers are equipped to dovetail this to performance reviews and development plans to ensure that opportunities are maximized.

6. Reward and Recognition

63% of employees who were ‘always’ or ‘usually’ recognized said that they are ‘very unlikely’ to job hunt in the next 3 to 6 months. In contrast, only 11% of those who are “never” or “rarely” recognized would agree (Survey Monkey).

While R&R generally doesn’t sit with the IC teams, again it’s an opportunity to help promote it as a lever to advocacy and retention.

Recognition is as much about celebrating the little things – the small gestures and ‘thank you’s’ - as it is the bigger celebrations and reward ceremonies.  When considering a job offer, 60% of respondents in an Appirio report said that feeling appreciated by their managers is the most important factor.

How can IC support and showcase great examples and experiences of recognition?

7. Employee Advocacy

We’ve briefly touched on some areas in which IC can enhance and develop the people experience which in turn creates employee advocacy.  Why is this so important?  Well, let’s take a look at some of the stats.

  • Job seekers rank social media and professional networks as the most useful job search resource compared to job boards, job ads, recruiting agencies, and recruiting events. (CareerArc)
  • Employees of socially engaged companies are more likely to stay at their company, feel optimistic about their company’s future and believe their company is more competitive. (Prophet)
  • 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company (Weber Shandwick)
How to Promote Diversity & Inclusion in Your Workplace: Employee Storytelling

So, you can see the impact that people experience has on employee advocacy, extending well into the offboarding experience and beyond.

As ICs we understand the importance of sharing open, transparent, and timely information with our people.  Employees want to feel trusted (and in turn trust the organization) and valued and they want to understand how they are making a difference. 

The prevalence of social media and platforms such as Glassdoor and Indeed provides a channel for employees to publicly share their views of these experiences, and more.

Better than any paid advertising and recruitment campaigns, your people are your greatest promotion tool.  Use IC to inform, engage and inspire them at every people experience touchpoint and they’ll be your greatest supporters.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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