The employee experience starts with recruitment – and it needs a revamp.

‘The war for talent’ has become a common phrase when discussing today’s employment trends. We hear how difficult it is to attract and retain the right people for the job. There’s also lots of anecdotal chat about Gen Z entering the workplace with too high expectations and not enough loyalty to their employers. But rather than place the blame on potential talent, perhaps organisations should look at the current state of their recruitment processes. If those processes include anonymous online applications, no chance to meet the team, rigorous testing for entry level jobs, lengthy irrelevant tasks, and – worse of all – no feedback for unsuccessful candidates at the end of it all, perhaps the problem is not them, it’s you.   

The Employee Experience: First impressions are everything

The overlooked truth is that the employee experience doesn’t start when the employee joins the company, it starts before – in the recruitment phase. Those early interactions, from the job listing to the job offer (or rejection), set the tone for the entire employee journey. How candidates are treated during this time gives them that all-important glimpse into the company culture and their future as part of it. Get it right and people feel good about the company even if they don’t get the job. Get it wrong and your potential advocate could turn into an antagonist. Effective recruitment ensures that both the employer and the candidate have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations regarding roles, responsibilities, career development and opportunities. This alignment reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding later on.

Riding the wave of goodwill

During the recruitment phase, both sides of the employee/employer relationship are at their peak of wanting it to work. Candidates who feel respected and involved during recruitment are more likely to be motivated and committed to their roles once they join the organisation. It’s at this point that employee engagement levels are often at their highest. Providing companies then follow through on the expectations set and recruits continue to feel valued and engaged, that goodwill can grow to become loyalty, resulting in better retention rates. What’s key here however is that employees feel excited for what lies ahead, not that they’ve just been ‘retained’.

The Employee Experience: Making it memorable

The need to make recruitment processes more two-sided doesn’t mean they can’t still be discerning and distinctive. A well-executed recruitment process can be a truly memorable moment for the employee and presents an opportunity for the employer’s brand to shine. Zappos is an example of a brand where its commitment to delivering exceptional customer service extends to its recruitment approach. Zappos emphasises transparency and authenticity in its communication with candidates, so much so that it famously pioneered the ‘The Offer’, a programme that offered new employees a $2,000 bonus to quit following the end of their first week of training as a way of testing their passion to work for the brand.

Slack, highly regarded for its inclusive recruitment practices, opts for technical exercises over background interviews and invites applicants to complete any assessments either on-site or at home according to their preference. Recruits get to meet several team members during the process and interviewers are specifically trained using role-play techniques to ensure all candidates are treated with consideration. According to Comparably, Slack is in the top 5% of similar-sized companies in its ability to retain quality employees. 55% of employees would not leave Slack if they were offered a job for more money, while 93% are excited to go to work each day.

Bad news travels fast

For organisations providing a sub-par recruitment experience, not only are they starting on the wrong foot with new recruits, but they also run the risk of suffering real reputational damage. This is particularly true of the graduate recruitment experience today. As graduates have no comparative experience of job hunting, their only frame of reference is their peer group. Negative or positive word of mouth spreads quickly and is amplified online. Blue-chip companies that have historically had a wealth of young talent to draw from are increasingly at risk here where hiring practices that individual recruits may have once accepted as part of the process are now subject to wider speculation. Earlier this year, Brittany Pietsch, an account executive at US IT company Cloudflare went viral and gained millions of views for filming herself getting let go from her job in a video call. This started a trend with many other employees and TikTok creators following suit. It won’t be long before previously private recruitment practices become public.

Rewarding recruitment

A positive recruitment experience can enhance the company’s reputation as an employer of choice and lead to higher levels of engagement throughout the employee journey. Companies that fail to recognise the importance of this pre-job part of the experience will ultimately lose out on the significant opportunity to showcase their employer brand and attract and retain top talent.

To learn more about improving your organisation’s employee experience efforts to create a workplace where employees thrive and organisations excel, get in touch for a chat.

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