Recruiting is often compared to sales, marketing, and customer service ó in that recruiting departments market and sell your company’s “employment product.” Even the best recruiters often feel helpless to contribute to the continuous improvement of the employment product, which reduces their effectiveness as recruiters and their ability to sell individual job openings. Taking lessons from the consumer marketing world, recruiters can not only affect the employment product, but also have the potential to become real catalysts for organizational change and improvement. What Is the Employment Product? Outside of desiring “a job that pays the bill,” employment consumers (candidates) have expectations of a potential employer. While some of these consumers will be less discriminating than others, your most talented employees will likely have more demands on you due to the increased competition for their services. These demands most often include the company’s compensation, culture, value system, vision, products, training and development, benefits, and upward mobility. As a recruiter, you have probably sold your best candidates on many of these benefits as part of your employment product ó in advertising, on your employment website and in interviews. Once candidates have taken your offer, the clock begins ticking on when and if you will deliver on the promise. How and if you deliver on these promises is, in effect, your employment product. By consistently delivering on these promises, you are more likely to have productive, happy employees on your hands, employees who may bring other qualified people on board via your referral program. But if you fail to deliver, negative effects will be felt throughout recruiting, development, and retention, Your employees may choose to leave at the first better opportunity, may be less productive in their work, and will probably not refer their friends and acquaintances. The Product Improvement Model To improve a product, product marketers often rely on frontline employees in sales, customer service, and technical support to act as the voice of the customer. Product managers typically combine this feedback with customer data gathered from primary research tools such as focus groups, usability studies and on- or offline surveys. The idea is to identify where consumers’ needs are currently being met, where there are gaps, and how the organization ó through existing or new products ó can fill these gaps to increase customer satisfaction. But customer satisfaction is also extended to the sales process itself. Many organizations measure and report upon almost every touch point at which the consumer has contact with the product or the organization, including their experience with sales and technical support. The results of focusing on the customer experience and the customer’s overall satisfaction are seen in increased sales, greater customer acceptance of and desire for products, and increased customer loyalty. And with the products, services, and support that customers want most, the sales process becomes easier and faster. Building a Better Employment Product It may seem as if nothing is wrong with your employment product. Turnover is probably much lower than it was during the talent wars, productivity is up, and recruiting costs are down. Every time you post a position, you get a mountain of responses. Yet the best candidates for many positions are still difficult to find, harder still to convince to make the leap to your company. Employment offers are still rejected. Turnover is still a reality. Improving the employment experience is therefore still a vital piece of the recruitment, retention, and development picture. What role can HR departments play in this product improvement process? A few simple metrics can play an enormous role in not only improving the employment product, but the company as a whole:
- Employee satisfaction. Periodically survey your employees, and demonstrate to them how you are acting on the results.
- The employment experience. Ask if the messages and promises that you communicated in the recruiting process are being fulfilled. What came true and what didn’t?
- Exit interviews. Anecdotal, and particularly statistical, exit interview data identifies workplace issues across divisions and business units.
- Ongoing suggestions. Providing an easily accessed outlet for suggestions ó like an online suggestion box ó will help head off issues before reaching the exit interview stage.
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Looking at the above data together, you can start to identify and act on trends and workplace issues before they have negative impacts on recruiting, retention and development. And by focusing on continuous improvement, your recruiting and employee communications staff will be selling an employment product that practically sells itself.