We’re in a time of uncertainty, where change is the only constant. We’re going through a lot right now around the world; from COVID-19 and political and social unrest, to the up and down of the economy. However, in times of uncertainty, there are opportunities.
As the market and the world changes, it makes it even more important that we access and interpret information that changes, such as the ever-changing needs of new ubiquitous talent pools around the world. Candidate behaviors have changed, the workforce has changed, and work/life balance has taken on new levels of flexibility. As a result, there’s more reliance on the symbiotic relationship between technology and creativity that enables brands to connect to these talent pools around the world. Each stage of the candidate journey produces valuable data that we must capture and utilize creatively.
The candidate and employee you knew yesterday is not the same one you have now.
As we all have been feeling, the pandemic has reframed the employer brand connection with employees and candidates. This has created the need for organizations to rethink not just the employer brand experience but the new motivational needs and expectations of candidates and current employees.
As an example, we hear the buzz phrase of the “great resignation” a lot, and there are varied reasons for this. Candidates have reached a threshold when it comes to work/life balance. Research shows that they’d quit a job that prevented them from enjoying their lives and they wouldn’t even accept a job if it was perceived to negatively affect their work life.
Employees are asking for increased flexibility in when and where they work, which speaks to hybrid work models. Hybrid workforce models look beyond roles, and you can spot opportunities for flexibility even when location isn’t flexible. For instance, Salesforce revealed more than 90% of its staff want to decide for themselves when and where they work. So they have started to list vacancies by time zones. The pandemic has taught them that it doesn’t matter in which city you live. Only the time zone is important in order to communicate and work together. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, remote flexibility has broadened their talent pool.
Companies are finding new definitions of flexibility. And these definitions are working themselves right into the attributes of the employment brand experience. And speaking about the employment experience, the new generational workforce coming out today may not even know what the in-office experience of a company is, or was, at all. They may not have pre-pandemic in-office cultural experiences to benchmark against.
Candidate needs have shifted, and it’s crucial for companies to align to them. We took a snapshot from our data and looked at candidate behaviors in three industries: Retail, Healthcare and Tech.
For Retail, the top motivational needs of candidates are:
- Convenience in hours and location
- Comp and benefits
- Good people to work with
It makes sense that convenience and benefits rose due to the needs of flexibility in their lives. What they found influential and attractive about companies are the products and services themselves. So, working in retail, the data signals tell us that candidates are highly influenced by what the company sells because it has a dominant association to what they do in their work.
In Healthcare, the top motivational needs of candidates are:
- Work that has a greater purpose
- Comp and benefits
- Getting ahead in their careers
In many cases, comp and benefits rose higher than work with purpose. This could be a signal of the current times of pressure on healthcare workers. They know their work has meaningful purpose, but they are paying a severe price in their work lives to achieve it. Therefore, comp and benefits have become central to the stories of care, respect and well-being of employees that underscore the aspirational themes of purpose.
What was most influential in attracting them to companies they were interested in was how they aligned to the mission and purpose of the company followed by the potential for professional growth.
And lastly, Tech. The top motivational priorities in Tech are:
- Interesting and challenging work
- Work that has greater purpose
Engineers across the board are tinkerers and problem solvers. They want challenges every day. They can get bored quickly, especially if they are just sustaining products rather than growing and exploring new ones. Hybrid work models are very popular to engineers, so much so that it has become a standard expectation with engineers.
What was most influential in attracting them to companies they were interested in were:
- Products and services of the company
- Potential for professional development
Their work plays a critical part in the products and/or services of the company. It helps in defining their purpose. So, putting emphasis on the impact of what the company produces that is enabled through their technology, software or innovation is quite effective. And speaking of purpose, when candidates talk about purpose, they are looking for meaning in what they do. In fact, research from McKinsey revealed a trend of purpose over paycheck. One-third of those surveyed comprised of mainly Gen Z said they would take a pay reduction if they felt their job contributed toward society. The sense of shared purpose gives meaning to work and makes people feel like they belong. And it has worked itself into a competitive advantage that defines certain companies.
The new emotional impact of “well-being”
Regardless of whether employees are working remote, hybrid or back to office, what we heard from leaders about well-being is that they’re having to engage on “emotional issues” in ways with their people that they’ve never had to before.
Companies are having to demonstrate well-being rather than just serving it up as table stakes in advertisement. So, brand activation content would naturally focus on support for home working as part of the employee perks, like senior care, childcare, mindfulness, home broadband, or even home office furniture.
Candidate behaviors on career sites
When we looked at career site candidate behavior data from our platform, we found that across all industries worldwide, the top reasons people were visiting the career sites were:
- 36% were looking for a specific job they had in mind
- 33% (and climbing) were looking for any job that they found interesting
What jumped out was the increase of people looking for anything that they found interesting, rather than a specific job role. What this may signal is a search pattern of people that feel they are more than their job titles and are looking for opportunities to apply their whole self and competencies to interesting work rather than to a typical job title. This places emphasis on how your brand connects interesting purpose of the work to people’s competencies, and how job descriptions need to evolve. It also speaks to the need of internal training and career mobility. The value points of internal mobility contribute to retention. This may be even more important knowing the possibilities of where the economy is going.
Research on internal career training shows a massive focus on capability academies, learning in the flow of work, and ever-more agile career and mobility programs.
Research from Bersin explains that 81% of talent professionals agree that internal hiring helps improve retention while 74% feel a lack of development opportunities is stopping them from reaching their full potential.
So, retention strategies embrace learning and development. But what is happening when they leave? There are some eye-opening data signals coming in around those that chose to leave companies.
Integrating employer branding into boomerang strategies
Changing jobs brings with it mixed emotions. Data shows that while employees are generally satisfied in their new roles, there’s an underlying feeling that they were actually better off in their prior job, and their decision to leave may have been rash. In research from UKG, employees who were surveyed that were not fully satisfied in their new company, 62% admit, “The job I had quit was better than the new job I have now.” What does this signal? An opportunity to focus on boomerang strategies that integrate your brand.
When we looked at more data regarding what was happening when people had buyer’s remorse on a new job, we found that what people miss most about the job they left was:
- 38% My peers/coworkers
- 31% Familiarity/comfort in the role
- 22% The customers served
- 16% Work/life balance
This data insight signals opportunities for alumni community strategies that keep your employer brand connected to those that have left, and getting your employees involved in alumni connections with those former employees that chose to leave. Giving them updates on the great culture that they left can prove to be quite effective, plus, getting the former employees to still feel welcomed and feel like family keeps the door open.
Speaking of leaving for other companies, candidates who do not know or have any connections with anyone in companies of consideration is significantly up. This could point to a couple of things; the remote workforce enables people to work from anywhere in the world, so they may not have those reliable connections with companies as before. As a result, this might be contributing to the buyer’s remorse mentioned above. But what this data also signals is how much employer brands must carry more influential responsibilities, establish trust, set real expectations and create more brand ambassadors whether it be out of your employees or externalizing your referral program by leveraging your alumni network.
The new brand experiences of the hybrid workforce
We’ve just gone through new candidate motivations and behaviors and how employer branding can address them, but when we talk about employer branding, the employment experience is at the core.
Employer brands are infused with evolving experiences, behaviors and connections to companies.
It is an intangible yet visceral personal connection to an employee’s working experiences with an organization. Experiences that now include their kitchens, bedrooms, patios and masked up office spaces.
And now, hybrid work is becoming mainstream, and companies are adjusting old models accordingly, from their job descriptions to their referral programs. Along with the new hybrid models come some new rules of engagement that have a direct impact on employer brands.
Let’s take culture. A strong culture is the key driver of business success, but everything we know about building it is based on people being physically together. Now we have new and pressing challenges around how best to create, maintain and evolve a culture when workforces are physically apart.
Companies who are adapting to the fact that “workplace” has less to do with a physical space and more a mindset, supported by technology, have an advantage to attract more talent. And it starts with thinking about the cultural norms and values you want to promote and the behaviors that reinforce them into a hybrid model. So given all of these intangible connections to working experiences, how do we know they are effective? How do we measure this?
Measuring employer brands
As companies are demanding more real-time data and requiring much quicker decisions and actions, the market is shifting from employee engagement measures to those which track and analyze comprehensive employee experiences. Overall Employer Brands can be measured under two areas: awareness and effectiveness.
Awareness metrics measure how well the brand gained mind share and mind shift, instilling differentiation and connecting relevance and value.
Effectiveness metrics measure the performance of the brand and how strong it is in connecting with the audience. What did the brand make the audience do or what level of consideration for the company did it inspire?
The bottom line is simple: Smart technology platforms help us collect these data points in many ways, but we need to interpret the data appropriately and then act on the issues identified from sources like pulse surveys and intelligent dashboards to develop continuous response systems.
You don’t have to boil the ocean. There are steps that you can take to embark on employer brand talent ecosystems with technology at its core. It starts with acknowledging where you are and where you need to be, which speaks to your talent brand maturity model.
In summary, the changing needs and motivations of candidates points to the need for an effective holistic platform with programmatic technologies that distribute brand content and connect with candidates throughout their journey. This creates a full-funnel holistic approach to employer brand strategies.
As you look at your employer brand, here are some questions and considerations to take away:
- Do you have a data-driven employer brand strategy that creates the greatest impact on candidates, new hires and employees?
- What are you doing today to promote internal mobility, brand ambassadors and employee referrals?
- How are you leveraging boomerangs/alumni strategies?
- And how are you measuring your Employer Brand today?
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- Data-driven Employer Branding in the Current and Future Landscape - August 4, 2022
- The Impact on Brand and the Candidate Journey - April 23, 2020
- Creating Branded Candidate Journeys in a Customer-Centric World - December 5, 2017