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Workplace
Why You Need to Compete for Employees Like You Do for Customers
Workplace

Why You Need to Compete for Employees Like You Do for Customers

by Andrew Robertson and Ben Wigert
Why You Need to Compete for Employees Like You Do for Customers

Story Highlights

  • People assess jobs the same way they assess products
  • Ensure your culture feels genuine in the employee experience every day
  • Continually "re-recruit" employees throughout their career

Employees are now consumers of the workplace. A new generation of worker expectations, greater workplace transparency and a tightening labor market have driven companies to compete for candidates just as fiercely as their products have to compete for customers.

In fact, the practice of looking for a job is so similar to that of looking for a product that "job shopping" is becoming a common term among employees. It makes sense; consumers have access to products and customer service at their fingertips, 24/7, and can easily compare prices, reviews, quality and service.

The reality of today's fast-paced and flexible marketplace is that it conditions people to expect everything to be configured to their preferences -- including jobs.

The most sought-after candidates expect (and can get) meaning in their work, a supportive, collaborative environment, and an employer that can match the lifestyle they want to enjoy.

And companies like Glassdoor make it easy to anonymously review companies and managers. That gives workers the chance to consider insider reviews about companies and job opportunities in the same way they scroll through Airbnb and Amazon reviews. LinkedIn and Indeed make regular job recommendations -- even if you don't say you're looking -- and social media offers people a platform to give their subjective views of their employer.

So, in today's world, what happens at work does not stay at work -- it ends up on the internet in real time. Smart companies recognize this fact as a rich opportunity to get their employment brand promise into the marketplace. But just as products have to meet the demands of the customer, jobs have to meet the demands of the worker.

What Workers Want

A paycheck, a decent benefits package and paid vacation aren't enough to win today's job shoppers anymore. The most sought-after candidates expect (and can get) meaning in their work, a supportive, collaborative environment, and an employer that matches the lifestyle they want to enjoy. In a labor market as tight as this, your organization needs a message that resonates with your best candidates.

The future of your workforce depends on building your bench. To compete in this labor market, companies need to communicate a winning employment value proposition. Represent your culture and define your employment brand strategically around these three requirements:

1. Where your ideal candidates are is where you should be.

All organizations have an employment brand...but it may or may not be one that leaders want to advertise.

Former and current employees can easily share their impressions of you globally, with a powerful impact on your recruiting, for good or ill.

Changing candidates' impressions can be done with careful brand management -- but that brand proposition must be relayed consistently, it must be accurate, and it has to reach candidates on the channels they use and in the language they speak.

There are a lot of ways to do it. Many companies host public events to extend their brand to potential candidates (and customers), some fund charities and community activities, and more and more have social media sites for employees to use.

Former and current employees can easily share their impressions of you globally, with a powerful impact on your recruiting, for good or ill.

Professional networking events, campus recruiting, job advertisements, and online job boards (e.g., Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed) can be effective as long as they reach the right audience, your messaging is authentic to your organization, and you use them to portray the first-person experience of engaged employees.

When claiming and managing your employment brand, ask yourself:

  • Who is in our target market, and where will these ideal candidates find us?
  • How is our culture reflected in our branding and job advertisements?
  • What attracted our best candidates to us, and what do they want out of a career?
  • How are we tracking where our best candidates come from and what they want?

2. Deliver an exceptional employee experience in every stage of the employee life cycle.

The best advertisement for a great job represents the genuine employee experience at your company.

A great experience is what gets your employees excited to go to work each day... but Gallup research shows that today's employees have a lot of expectations for a great job: to do what they do best every day, to have opportunities for growth, job security, respect for their work-life balance, and a focus on their personal wellbeing, among others.

Meeting those expectations through an engaging employee experience validates the brand image that attracts people to you and, after onboarding, sustains their engagement.

Take, for instance, the need to work where you can make a difference. That promise is invaluable in the recruiting and hiring process, and onboarding should affirm that the candidate is a star, who has unique talents, and will provide invaluable contributions to the company's mission.

Keeping that promise is necessary to the brand proposition.

Growth opportunities, recognition and the alignment of individual talent with the company's purpose sustains workplace engagement -- but it also fulfills the expectations of workers.

That commitment to meeting expectations allows employees to feel as valued and excited about their future throughout their entire employee life cycle as they did on the first day.

After all, employees must be continually "re-recruited" by their employer throughout their career.

And when it's time for an employee and employer to part ways, a great employee experience can last longer than the job.

Employees should exit organizations feeling appreciated for their contributions and proud to be part of the alumni network.

This can be a pivotal moment for an employment brand, because exiting employees can have a big impact on their work friends, customers and potential employees.

And when it's time for an employee and employer to part ways, a great employee experience can last longer than the job.

Employees who strongly believe they had a positive exit experience are 2.9 times more likely to recommend the organization as a place work.

3. Ensure the culture of the organization feels genuine and is present in the employee experience every day.

Every company has a unique culture, and it has a huge impact on the employee experience throughout the entire life cycle.

That's why it's so important to understand your mission and purpose as it really exists and, if need be, seek to align it better with the actual experiences of your workers.


That's how to make culture functional rather than aspirational. And a clear view of your real culture helps recruits see themselves in your workplace, understand how their need for purpose can be fulfilled, and become excited about being "one of us" in your culture.

That feeling should last through the entire employee life cycle -- but it usually doesn't. Just four out of 10 workers say they know what their company stands for and what makes it different from competitors.

This disconnect represents a missed opportunity to differentiate an organization's employment brand to current and future employees -- and to create a competitive advantage in the war for talent.

To align your employee experience with your culture, first ask yourself:

  • How is your culture represented in the employee experience?
  • How is it not represented and what would you change?

Just 4 out of 10 workers say they know what their company stands for and what makes it different from competitors.

Each stage of the employee life cycle represents an opportunity to strengthen or weaken your employment brand -- there is no standing still.

Strengthening your brand requires designing experiences that continually enhance clarity, consistency, alignment and commitment to the organization's culture.

An engaging employee experience, tethered to a clearly defined culture, creates a unique, authentic experience for employees to live and recruits to envy.

It also translates to improved performance and a substantial return on investment. Only four in 10 employees strongly agree that the mission and purpose of their organization makes them feel their job is important.

Move that ratio to eight in 10 employees, and business units could realize an average 41% reduction in absenteeism, a 50% drop in patient safety incidents, and a 33% improvement in quality.

High Demand

When crafting an employment brand message, make sure that what you say about your company, the employee experience and the organization's culture reflects the reality your organization lives.

Misalignment between message and reality creates confusion, reduces retention and hurts your brand image in the end.

And workers are more willing than ever to leave: 35% have changed jobs within the past three years, 91% of employees left their company to do so, and 67% of current employees are saying now is a good time to get a quality job.

Many organizations are beginning to realize they must pay closer attention to the moments that matter most in the workplace. Those moments extend through the entire life cycle, and a badly managed employee experience can send people straight to Glassdoor to air their grievances.

Remember, the people you're trying to attract are probably someone else's employees. Do their current employers know that the job experience they offer falls so short that it's turning their star workers into your top candidates? Do they know that they're losing in the market for consumers of the workplace? Or do these employers think people stop judging the quality of a job once they're hired?

They don't. All workers are consumers of the workplace.

A great employee experience managed throughout the employee life cycle while being tightly aligned with culture wins the war for talent.

Each stage of the employee life cycle represents an opportunity to strengthen or weaken your employment brand -- there is no standing still.

Use the experience you offer at every stage of the employee life cycle to "re-recruit" your employees -- even when people leave. The alumni network can be powerful -- ex-employees are always brand ambassadors, for better or worse -- and every day is a chance to prove that your organization meets their expectations.

Obviously, workers are in high demand and the best of them command a buyer's market: people are landing jobs, sight unseen, after a single phone interview.

If your company wants to compete in that market, it has to appeal to the customers in it.

The customers -- or rather, potential new hires -- have made their expectations clear to you. Your company needs to make its brand message just as clear to them.

Andrew Robertson is a Managing Consultant at Gallup.

Ben Wigert is Director of Research and Strategy, Workplace Management, at Gallup.

Jennifer Robison contributed to this article.


Gallup https://www.gallup.com/workplace/245480/why-need-compete-employees-customers.aspx
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