This is the first of three blogs about the foundation of employee advocacy (Part 1), how technology can enhance advocacy programmes (Part 2) and how it all works out in practice (Part 3).
Are you paying recruitment agencies a premium and still not finding the talent you need? Are your traditional recruiting challenges losing impact? Are you attempting to create a more proactive strategy for talent attraction? Have you invested tons of time, money and effort in developing a super-cool Employer Value Proposition (EVP) only to be largely ignored?
You’re not alone. In tight recruitment markets—and today’s have never been tighter—most employers struggle to fill vacancies. Most, but not all. Growing numbers of organisations recognize that in the intensifying global battle for talent, they already have a secret weapon: their existing workforce.
Just as we seek the views and preferences of people we trust when shopping, the advocacy of employees who are passionate about their employer can have a huge influence on our career moves.
Content shared by employees receives 8 x more engagement. (Social Media Today)
Employee advocacy—the authentic voice of employees—plays a critical part in capturing the attention and trust of both passive and active job seekers. It should form a central pillar of any modern resourcing strategy.
Demand for talent outstrips supply
Unemployment rates are at their lowest in more than 40 years, yet the number of vacancies is at its highest level since records began (UK Office for National Statistics (ONS))
Even sectors where skill shortages used to be rare are feeling the pinch. From factory floor to head office, employers are finding it tougher to recruit. Small wonder that LinkedIn reports recruitment agencies receiving premiums of up to 90%.
Relying on active job seekers to provide the talent you need is simply insufficient, hence the focus for many organisations on passive job seekers: people not actively looking for a new role, but who might be lured by a proposition that better suits their needs and ambitions.
Yet reaching out to these sources can be extremely labour intensive—and not especially successful. In-house sourcing teams often spend weeks scouring social media profiles to find appropriately skilled prospects, build dialogue with them and create pipelines of talent—only to find that their emails generate very little interest. And it’s a similar story with “one-size-fits all” EVPs. Generic employer brand messages, even when articulated via new career sites and social media, are increasingly viewed as corporate platitudes.
Individual Value Propositions, which match their key selling points to the needs and desires of individual target audiences and are becoming increasingly popular require more research, creative development and strategic planning, but can ultimately yield much stronger results.
Even so, it takes something really special to capture the attention of today’s talent—and consumer marketing holds the clue.
Recruit like a marketer
Fact is, when we don’t have an established relationship with someone, we don’t have sufficient trust to engage. But the emotional reassurance we receive from hearing the views and opinions of genuine product users can be a critical factor in our buying decisions. What’s more, the closer the relationship with users, the more likely we are to trust the recommendation.
Marketers of consumer brands understand these fundamentals of human psychology and they leverage that understanding to cut through the noise to an audience where there is no brand awareness and no established need for their product. Most, in fact, now focus much of their energy on building networks of advocates who will endorse their products to people who trust them.
Review sites such as Trip Advisor and Trustpilot have become mainstays of our decision-making processes when we shop, eat or travel–and the job market is following suit. Sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed provide honest appraisals of workplace cultures through employee reviews. And such third-party validation can be particularly effective with passive job seekers, who unlike their active peers, are less focused on career messages and will only engage if they hear or see messages that strike an emotional chord.
Lower costs, higher retention rates
Leading employers are fast waking up to the value of employee advocacy. They know that it can both substantially reduce recruitment costs and generate dramatic improvements in employee retention.
In an age where we increasingly seek the validation of people we know and trust, the value of employee advocacy is clear. Any forward-thinking organisation should incorporate it into their future resourcing strategy. Start by identifying your target audiences and crafting your EVP messages to meet their specific needs and desires. Leverage sophisticated technologies as an enabler of success—search engine marketing and programmatic advertising can be especially effective, especially with passive job seekers. And instead of relying purely on your sourcing teams to do all the heavy lifting, turn to your own employees: a powerful internal network of people, each one of whom has extensive networks of their own and whose views and opinions are trusted and valued.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series.