The Start of the New Post-COVID Employee Relationship — Pillar #1: Attraction

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on June 22, 2022

Editor’s Note: Given the lingering questions surrounding employee disengagement and the connection to customer loyalty, The Wise Marketer has put together a new thought leadership series we hope will shed some light on the topic. We have asked the Employee Engagement experts at Hinda Loyalty to offer a framework for understanding and attacking the issues facing so many of our readers. The 5-part series began with an introduction to The Four Pillars of the New Employee Relationship

Part 2 of the series focuses on the First Pillar: Attracting the right employees. Reader participation and feedback is always welcomed. We’ll continue the series throughout the summer and conclude with a webinar (registration available here) bringing it all together.

By: Theresa Thomas, CLMP™, Hinda and Ric Neeley, Hinda

When you have a choice of three options, how do you choose amongst them?

That is the issue in today’s talent marketplace.

Employees now have their choice of jobs and employers need to find ways to make their job the one the recruit wants. This asymmetry of jobs to workers is creating a huge problem for companies who have traditionally been able to hire without needing to worry about competing offers.

While being an employer of choice (aka, attractive) isn’t new — Harvard Business Review stated in an article from 2015 that companies needed to “strengthen their organizations’ brands.” The focus then was the talent shortage and therefore the employee brand was how companies “closed” the deal with their targeted recruit. The best brand won over a recruit who might be considering three similar offers. The brand helps break the tie.

However, the post-COVID employee relationship is different. People looking for work know they have more power than in the past and are exercising that power by looking at the company’s entire footprint — not just the compensation and benefits. And the things potential employees are looking for today are very different than we would have thought just a few years back.

Today, companies not only need to provide similar compensation and benefits as their competitors but also as companies never seen as competitors. Taxi companies never had to worry about someone hopping into their personal car and stealing business until Uber came along. Companies now compete for talent with other companies AND the gig economy. Companies need to up their game and view employment through the lens of the employee and not simply through the lens of the “market” in general.

First, let’s define what we mean by attraction.

What is Attraction?

Attraction is the sum of the experiences that potential (and existing) employees have with your company brand. Too often companies leave HR responsible for Attraction. But Attraction is much, much more than that. Attraction lives in your marketing department. Attraction lives in the C-Suite. Attraction lives in the front-line employees who deal with consumers/customers. In other words, Attraction is the force that is created when all the elements of a company’s brand are pulling together, aligned on the company's mission and values. Attraction is what happens when a brand isn’t trying to sell or recruit. It is the pull, not the push.

Unfortunately, many companies have a hard time manifesting these brand values outside marketing messages.

Why is Attraction Important?

Attraction is important because it reduces the amount of recruiting you must do (and pay for) and increases alignment between applicants and the company. If a company has a great (and visible) brand, people with similar values will seek them out. The company gets more to choose from and once chosen, those employees are more likely to stay. A strong company brand makes it cheaper to get fresh recruits and lowers cost due to reduced attrition. Win-Win and Win because the employee is now working at a company that aligns with their personal brand. The employee is connected at more than the transactional level (pay/insurance) and connected at an emotional level. Over the long haul, emotion trumps money.

So. What Do Companies Need To Do To Be More “Attractive?”

Branding may seem difficult but in general employees always want to feel good about where they work. Today, however, they have more power to actually get what they want.

According to one Forbes article, “diversity and inclusion, location of work, and technology the candidate will have access to are key touchpoints.” The World Economic Forum 2022 Labor Landscape document suggests workers want enhanced “hygiene” factors such as work location flexibility, competitive pay, skills development, a focus on mental wellness, work time flexibility (PTO, 4-day work week, etc.).

The report states, and we believe it to be the umbrella for all the prior employee wants, that

Culture matters; it's the attraction and retention tool that eats strategy for breakfast. The heightened focus on reshaping company culture to build trust, retain remote teams and energize the employee experience will call for an Employee Value Proposition that brings a sense of purpose and wellbeing plus empathetic leadership for a digital world.”

The culture at your company is now a mission-critical asset. Without it you can’t compete for and attract the right people to your organization.

The Tactics for Attraction

Knowing what employees want isn’t enough to get them to choose your company. Your company has to walk the walk demonstrating commitments to employees. Your reputation must attract them. How do you do that?

1) The number one thing you can do is create reasons to talk about your company, either purposely via planned brand marketing or organically via sharing and employee posts. Your future employees are out there on the web watching videos, reading tweets, checking Glassdoor, etc. You can’t ignore those channels just because you’re not a “person” but a company. You and your company need to play the game they play.

2) Your company and people in it should be encouraged and helped to post updates regularly to the various social feeds. Don’t make it mandatory or track it … just help them learn the tools so they can share their good fortune as part of your team. Your employee demographics and your industry may determine which networks make sense, but everyone should understand that social isn’t just for kids. Everyone uses it. And those that use it the most may just be the right people to bring you into the future.

3) Find ways to highlight how employees can grow in the company. Make sure you celebrate promotions publicly — or certifications, etc. Your job is to make sure potential employees can see personal progress is possible at your company. Provide shareable information and graphics your employees can put on their various networks. Positive word of mouth is how you get more attractive.

4) Use your own internal tools to help train and practice posting to social feeds. Every internal engagement platform these days has social feeds. Monitor them. Use the info for ammunition for your own company posts in the social realm. Employees experienced with your internal tools will be better prepared and more effective in the wild.

5) Create mentors in the employee population that can help social media-shy people get comfortable with the process of posting information supporting the company. Employees are more likely to learn from and be comfortable with a fellow employee helping them than a trainer or even a boss.

At the end of the day “Attract” is a function of how well current employees feel they connect to the mission and values of the organization and how well the company promotes, advertises, trains, and enables sharing of positive employee messages and their feelings about you as an employer.

“Attraction” is a positive feedback loop on the entire employee relationship.

Remember, engaged and empowered employees are happy to share their good fortune via social media and word of mouth. This leads to more targeted and better fitting candidates who will be more connected to the company culture faster and deeper leading to greater engagement which creates more points of connection sharing how attractive your company is. One begets the other and vice versa.

But what is engagement and how can you impact that in your organization? That’s the topic for our next post on Pillar #2: Engage. In the next discussion in a couple weeks time, we’ll show how the “Engage” pillar connects to the Attract pillar, and how companies can craft better engagement strategies in a work environment.

Don’t Forget. Get Priority Access

If you didn’t do it with our initial post in this series, then take a minute and visit here to sign up for a complimentary eBook and a reserved spot for our webinar around the 4 Pillars. The webinar will cover all the information in the whole series and during which you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in dialogue that will help you drive greater employee engagement and advocacy.