It goes without saying that every organisation needs a good employment brand. This boils down to recognition and clarity. When your company name is mentioned to a prospective employee, what do they say? A good employment brand usually means they will say: “It would be a good place for me to work because…”
Every time a company shows itself to the employment market, it must ensure this information is being supplied consistently. For most employers, and in particular small ones, the key to this is their website. I often look at websites and when I click the ‘come and work for us’ button I see a confusing array of material. You need to keep this simple; the average person browses a website for only about two minutes.
Another vital aspect is avoiding a negative employment brand, particularly for employers who operate in small towns or regional centres. It takes only a small number of employees who have had a bad experience to damage your employment brand.
Also understanding just who is your competition for talent is important. I did some detailed research a few years ago looking at key regional business operations that were struggling to attract labour. The study got down to a very granular level and leaving aside the people who stream into the CBD each morning, most employees, especially blue-collar employees, travel only between 40 to 60 minutes to work each morning (a little longer in country areas).
This means many businesses operate in a localised employment market. Draw a circle around your business operation and most of your employees will live within that travelling radius. What the research found was that the business concerned needed to understand who they were competing against for labour within this localised employment market and why employees chose them or their competitors. This knowledge provides a competitive edge.
Again reflecting on research undertaken at the height of the last mining boom (2007), I found that the majority of employees resigning in the first five years of employment did so in the first 18 months; that is they joined, had a look and left. My immediate reaction was that this was the Gen Y factor but the demographics of the employees did not support this.
This research was followed up with some intense focus group work. The findings were:
- Most jobs were over-sold to applicants — especially by third-party recruiters.
- New employees felt lost and an imposition on busy staff.
- New employees were too embarrassed to ask what they wanted and needed to know when they started.
If you want to capture employees early, you need to think about:
- Your recruitment process.
- First impressions.
- Proper introductions.
- A buddy program.
- Welcoming them to the business.
Not only will this get you through those sticky first 18 months, it will get your employees up and running and being effective contributors much faster.