Talent acquisition costs are a major expense for companies. Finding the right employee not only involves finding people with the right skills, but it is equally important to hire people that fit your culture. Poor culture fit can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). These include costs incurred for recruiting hours, lost productivity, vetting potential candidates and cost of vacancy (direct costs such as the opportunity cost of a vacancy, indirect costs such as sliding customer service levels and loss of market share, and soft costs such as decreased team performance, morale and under-utilization of space and equipment).
In the past, when there wasn't much online activity and social media, companies could put out ads and other promotions to attract new talent. However, this has completely changed in the last few years with the advent of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social channels. Employees now have the power to influence and drive not just your products or services, but also your hiring.
Consider these statistics:
- Employees have 10x more followers than corporate accounts, according to a 2013 study done by Cisco.
- Employees have more credibility, individually, than executives. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, in just 5 years the credibility of regular employees has increased a full 20% more than any other category, and dramatically ahead of that of the CEO.
- More than 60% of candidates use social media as part of their job search, and they aren’t doing it to find job postings – rather, they are looking for cultural information about your organization. (Jobvite Job Seeker Survey 2016).
- 92% of people trust their friend’s/family opinions and recommendation more than advertising or marketing (Nielsen)
- 70% of job seekers hear about companies from their friends & family
- 75% of people have made a decision about a brand based on a conversation with a peer (Edelman Trust Barometer 2016)
Putting the Cart Before the Horse
It is obvious that companies need to focus on creating advocacy programs which can help them leverage employees as the channel to market their brand- a program that's usually at intersection of marketing and human resources. However, in a rush to set up these programs companies make the fatal mistake of hastily setting up enterprise social and/or brand advocacy platforms that let employees share on social media -- which is like putting a cart before the horse.
Three Steps to Creating Culture and Successful Brand Advocacy
In order to set up a successful brand advocacy and talent acquisition program, companies will have to create a strategic program that includes the following:
1. Trust, Transparency and Access to Information:
Companies first need to build a culture of trust and transparency where employees feel that they are not being kept in the dark, where their leaders are being empathetic to the their needs and where their career goals align with the company's goals. To create this environment, companies need to constantly provide information to their employees directly from the senior leadership.
Most technology companies or those that employ white collar workers provide intranets which have tons of information but that only adds to the problem - employees have to wade through information to find what they want and the messaging isn't personalized at all. Companies that hire blue collar workers who are offsite and can't access computers have always had indirect word of mouth communication or communication through memos etc., which leads to ineffective or a lack of communication with your front-line employees. As workforces change, in both these cases, companies can leverage smartphones to disseminate only relevant information directly to the employees wherever they are and make it personalized.
Lack of access to information can result in big damages - for example, if the manager at this Dollar General store knew about the medical exemption policy, it would not have cost them $277,000 in employer penalties. An educated employee can not only perform their job better and be satisfied, but more importantly can talk intelligently about your company to his/her friends and help recruit them.
2. Two-Way Communication and Participation:
In addition to HR and Internal Communications and Brand Marketing groups pushing out their information, it is important to provide a channel for employees to participate as well. You can do this using surveys, quizzes and story-telling.
Typically most companies hear from their employees only through annual surveys and by then, it is often too late. Employees resort to the same social media to vent their feelings. A quick search of Dollar General Employee on YouTube shows how unhappy their employees are. If the management was able to hear these employees out, these videos could have been positive posts about the company instead. So it is important that companies conduct bi-weekly or at least monthly surveys and analyze them quickly to know what is happening and act on it right away.
It is also important for companies to know how much their employees know about their policies, programs and products. This can be done by letting employees take interesting quizzes on various topics. Quizzes not only reinforce the knowledge avoiding situations like the Dollar General lawsuit above that can lead to a disgruntled employee.
Lastly, it is important for companies to provide a channel for employees to share their stories. Employees tend to trust their colleagues more than their top management. Also seeing success stories from their own inspires employees and makes them feel that they can also achieve the same. When employees submit their stories HR and Internal Marketing can review and curate them before publishing it to rest of the company. These stories can then be shared by other employees on social channels which drives your brand and recruitment. See how Wynn Resorts used story-telling to enhance their brand.
3. Incentivizing and Recognizing Employees
Finally, companies need to incentivize and recognize their brand advocates. First, it makes them feel that they are important and second, they feel that they are getting something back for their contribution. You can create leader-boards or give away points or badges when employees share their stories, participate and share information on their external networks. This becomes a rewarding experience circle - the more they participate, the more they get.
The bottom-line is that there is no shortcut to a successful brand advocacy and talent acquisition program. HR leaders and Marketing departments have to devise a strategy, drive the program by creating brand advocates and be able to measure the results. To make the process less burdensome, it is important to use the right technology platform that can help you achieve your goals instead of cobbling together multiple tools that just help you with some aspects.
Learn more about how hubEngage can help you implement a brand advocacy program and reduce your talent acquisition costs through your own employee communications and engagement app.