Imagine this scenario: you’re a regional hiring manager for a luxury hotel chain. You employ “Meredith” as a valet parking attendant. Meredith arrives on time and does her job well. One month, you let your support staff know that you’re hiring for several positions. Meredith refers her high school classmate, Sydney, who submits an application for a reservation clerk position.
Sydney has a streamlined and engaging experience as a candidate. Even if she’s not a good fit and isn’t hired, her otherwise positive experience won’t draw Meredith away. But if Sydney navigates a laborious process, or is treated in an impersonal or brusque manner, her experience may have a negative impact on Meredith. You could find yourself losing a good employee — not because of her experience on the job but as the result of flaws that plague your recruitment practices.
Let’s keep it simple: the people who want to be in your workforce have influence from outside your organization. Developing a positive candidate experience not only helps turn good applicants into hires, it also helps you retain your existing workforce.
Here are three reasons why treating all candidates well, whether hired or not, can have the important side effect of lowering your turnover rate.
Job candidates are connected to current employees. Referrals from existing employees are a robust, cost-effective source of applicants. Research from SilkRoad, gathered from 1,000 companies last year, found that over half of hires came from employee referrals. The employee-candidate connection isn’t just a single transaction at the point of referral. What happens to your employees’ friends, family and associates will be known and critiqued by those employees. Your organization can use a favorable candidate experience to build a sense of pride versus the alternative of alienating the employees who provide valuable referrals.
First impressions matter. Early employee engagement reduces turnover. For example, new hires provided with a structured onboarding experience are 69% more likely to stay with a company at least three years. Gillespie Associates characterized the onboarding phase as “the process of socializing new hires into an organization.” Why would that socializing influence wait until the employee is on the payroll? How workers experience a company when they are applicants can lay the groundwork for their effective onboarding, which in turn facilitates a positive long-term experience.
Hell hath no fury like an applicant scorned. Glassdoor cautions: “A company’s employment brand is no longer owned by its HR or marketing team — it’s now owned by the employees, job seekers, and former employees.” All should be thought of as types of customers, and each group can communicate with and influence the others. A recent Jobvite survey of 850 recruiters, for example, found that 33% reported receiving negative reviews based on what happened during the recruiting process. The employment brand is about building and maintaining bridges, old and new. Neglecting or mistreating any of these constituencies leaves your brand vulnerable, which can then make employees more likely to jump ship.
Reduce turnover by considering the big picture
Smart business leaders understand the value of taking a holistic view: their past and future workforce is connected to their current payroll. While we’ve long appreciated that employee engagement helps recruit top talent, it’s time to recognize that the opposite is also true: cultivating a positive candidate experience from beginning to end helps to ensure employee engagement.
Hiring personnel may believe they lack resources to create a strategic candidate experience. When the easy default is to give applicants no response or canned selections like “Others More Qualified,” the advantage of providing customized, interesting feedback to the entire applicant pool is significant.
Candidate Relationship Management facilitates insights about applicants that allow them to receive customized, timely responses from first contact onward, eliminating the feeling of “just throwing your resume into a black hole,” as one job-seeker posted on Indeed’s Career Advice forum. Candidate-driven platforms that include alternative interviewing methods, such as video or on-demand texting, not only empower job seekers, they also streamline the evaluation process. Organizations can also add value for job candidates by giving them the results of short, mobile-friendly assessments with insights about their workplace strengths and challenges. Related solutions can help these job-seekers understand what positions are the best matches, now or in the future.
In an increasingly competitive landscape, the employment brand is a valuable commodity. Next-generation approaches will recognize that this value extends well beyond recruitment and hiring and impacts the existing workforce in continuous and measurable ways.