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  • Writer's pictureBen Jackson

"People are our greatest asset" - Prove It!

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

When you’ve been knocking around the world of recruitment and HR for as long as we have, certain phrases start to generate more than a hint of déjà vu.

Here’s our Christmas countdown of the top 10:

10) New year, new job (expect to see a lot of this over the next 6 weeks…)

9) Passive jobseekers

8) We believe everyone should be able to be themselves at work*

7) It’s a jobseeker’s market

6) Talent pools

5) We’re passionate about diversity**

4) Due to continuing growth, our client has an exciting opportunity for…***

3) Business partnering****

2) The War for Talent (groan)

And of course, our favourite:

1) Our people are our greatest asset

*Presenteeism and internecine warfare pervade every aspect of our organisation due to a corrosive, top-down blame culture

**Sure, our board are all white, male and over-50, but they’re definitely the best people for the job

***Portakabin-based payroll admin

****Totally appreciate the advice. Now JFDI

Now it is, of course, a truism that every organisation is its people, so its people must be its greatest asset. But when you uncover a 2.1 Glassdoor average and a host of vituperative reviews, as a phrase it starts to lose its lustre.

A 2018 PwC report on customer experience suggested that 73% of customers reference experience as a key factor when making a purchasing decision, while 32% would walk away from a “brand they loved” after just one bad experience. OK, so this relates to purchasing services or products, but it’s indicative of a new, experience-driven attitude to which – in a world where review sites exist for almost everything, including of course careers – employers must adapt.

Talentegy’s 2019 report into candidate experience made for some pretty tough reading for those employers for whom the gloss of the employer brand may not be backed up by the quality of the interactions from application to onboarding. A stark finding was that 69% of job seekers who had a negative experience would rarely or never reapply. Let’s just think about that. I’ve worked in some pretty high-volume environments, none more so than Big 4, where, as an example, it is typical to receive around 20 applications per role. When you’re recruiting, say, 2,500 people per annum, that means that around 47,500 people are being rejected by your organisation every single year. If those candidates have a bad experience, imagine the impact to your employer brand and your ability to recruit in the coming years (oh, and don’t forget that – according to the same report – more than 69% of those impacted by a negative experience will share that experience with their network…). Quite simply, huge.

Now it’s good to have some stats to back up the argument, but let’s be honest: we all know that candidate experience is vital. So how can we truly make it better?

Well, there are two schools of thought. The first is that candidate experience is all about how you communicate with your candidates, the messaging, the content and the proactivity/frequency and responsiveness of your comms. We agree that this is important, but to focus purely on this is to fail to understand the true nature of experience. It’s not so much about what you say, it’s what you do.

Our preference is a truly holistic view of candidate experience. This approach looks at every touchpoint of candidate experience, examining the candidate journey, the tools and systems with which they interact at every stage and assessing the quality of that experience from the joint perspectives of efficiency, engagement and – yes – communication.

The biggest opportunity for candidate experience today is also its biggest challenge: technology. The world of HR Tech has exploded in recent years, with chatbots, VR / AR, onboarding systems, engagement tools, recruitment CRMs, assessment platforms (such as video interviewing) and of course the good old ATS all banging the drum for how they can “transform” your candidate experience. And in Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report (it’s a big report, so go to p74!), the majority of respondents expect tech to play an increasing role in recruitment activities over the coming 3 years.

But while lots of these new technologies can help, they can only do so if they are the right technology for the problem you are looking to solve, so the first thing is to really understand what your problem is. Then, even if they are the right solution, they’ll only work if they are specified and implemented correctly, and then fully integrated with your entire HR technology ecosystem. And crucially, as most research tells us, no matter what the tech providers claim, the absolute key is – whatever tech you are using – the experience has to be human. Technology alone cannot do this – the processes that your recruiters and your HR teams manage also contributes hugely. If you can achieve a perfect confluence of tech and process, with an engaged team delivering a high-touch, human experience, then you’ve found the holy grail.

This brings us back to where we came in. The only way to make people believe your boast that “people are our greatest asset” is to walk the walk. An employer brand is important but is, fundamentally, your pitch to your future employees. How they feel as they pass through your process into, hopefully, their future career with you is the true indication of how much you value people. If you haven’t designed your experience to be human, engaging, interactive, responsive and valuable (i.e. they get something out of it, whether or not they secure a role), then why should anyone believe the promise?

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