May 19, 2020Read More
Understanding the nuances of a client’s employment culture, both positive and negative, is critical to determining its employment brand and how we match the right candidates to the right contracts. That effort involves more than perusing a client’s career site or marketing materials. Let’s explore some creative discovery techniques that contingent workforce professionals can use to uncover hidden gems – and avoid potential pitfalls.
In this digitally socialized and transparent era, nothing escapes the watchful gaze of phone cameras, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. That’s why it seems absolutely ironic that companies such as United Airlines, Pepsi and others have issued tone-deaf, almost indifferent, responses to highly visible public relations blunders. More than a perceived disregard for customer service, this messaging speaks to the employment brands and business cultures of those organizations.
Now imagine trying to recruit candidates for a company that beats the competition along with its own customers, or an enterprise that thinks a privileged supermodel represents the struggles of diversity in America. Contingent workforce leaders must have their hands full – probably with all the hair they’ve pulled out trying to sell the “employment experience” to candidates who’ve watched these fiascos unfold with dropped jaws.
Saying that social media has a profound impact on business is a bit of an understatement these days. Social networks have become indispensable recruitment tools, sales channels, bastions of professional connectivity and, for better or worse, some of the most influential shapers of reputation. Back in the day, a particularly scathing review by a critic could present obstacles for a business. Conversely, lavishing praise on that same business could pique consumer interest. The reality, though, is that critics were easy to dismiss as individuals with their own confirmation biases.
Peer reviews filling up sites like Yelp and Glassdoor, on the other hand, tend to have a more significant effect -- because we’re reading the opinions of people like us. The patrons of a neighborhood café are not academically trained culinary experts or food scientists; they’re the folks who live in that neighborhood and eat at its restaurants. They’re us. We can relate to their joys and despairs.
Here’s something else to consider. A restaurant knows in advance when a critic is coming to review it. The staff have time to clean, prepare and coordinate an exceptional experience. Does that establishment maintain the same standards on a daily basis? Well, that’s what peer reviews often reveal in a more unvarnished depiction. The same holds true for workers and the companies they’ve supported, as demonstrated in findings by Randstad Sourceright:
Last March, after reviewing data from LinkedIn, we discussed how an employment brand is two-times more likely to drive a candidate’s job consideration than company brand. A well-defined and compelling brand speaks to reputation and effectively communicates an organization’s values, personality and culture. It infuses every point-of-contact a company will have with its talent, from the job posting to recruitment outreach, training and career development.
If we fail to place candidates in the best suited environments, we risk our reputations, future opportunities and performance. We must grasp a keen sense of the benefits and drawbacks of the client culture so we know how to promote the optimal traits, and overcome challenges, before the assignment begins.
We in the staffing industry have spent a fair amount of time analyzing the best approaches to determining a fit between our talent and clients. Matching candidates to employment cultures is an essential technique in modern hiring models. And it requires thoughtful introspection, examination and formulating questions that will enlighten candidates, hiring managers and recruiters in the process.
The best recruitment methods seek to gain an understanding of the candidate’s personality with an open mind, determine his or her integrity, and figure out if the person is disruptive or conducive. We offered some creative examples of culture-based interview questions in an April 2015 article on the subject:
A year later, we suggested even bolder strategies, such as exploring the nature of a candidate’s hobbies, which sparked a healthy and fascinating debate on LinkedIn. Yet, for all the pearls of wisdom and best practices, how deeply do we delve into the client’s culture? Do we conduct the same interviews with client staff, with the same intensity? Or do we merely assume that the burden of successful placements falls on the talent? I believe that the integration between contingent workers and client organizations should be a two-way street. Otherwise, how can we ensure that the assignment will be a mutually rewarding experience – or even completed?
In a recent article for Glassdoor, Emily Moore offered a list of questions that applicants should ask hiring managers to uncover all the attributes of their employment brands and company values. It’s a thoughtful and insightful piece. So why shouldn’t contingent workforce professionals perform the same due diligence to uncover their clients’ cultures before recruiting?
Odds are, if we ask client executives about their corporate culture outright, we’re likely to hear a canned answer, excerpts from a mission statement or a recitation of what they think we want to hear. Moore hits the nail on the head when she recommends asking specific questions instead. “There are a number of questions you can ask during an interview that, while seeming fairly straightforward on the surface, can help uncover deeper intel about the inner workings of a company,” she writes. With a little modification, contingent workforce program managers have the same opportunity to “interview” hiring managers and learn much more in the process.
Culture is becoming a much bigger concern for talent, contingent workforce program managers and their staffing partners. They must integrate with their clients’ cultures, assimilate others into the shared culture, and promote values that engage the right candidates. The more we know about our workers and our clients, the greater our chances of repeatable, consistent and measurable success.