Companies are increasingly realising that looking at only one part of the employee lifecycle – for example, recruitment – is simply not enough. An employee’s needs and motivators change over time during the course of their tenure. These changes may be influenced by lifestyle factors such as age, gender, experience, qualifications, marital status, stage of life, career aspirations, etc.
Your employer brand strategy must consider the complete picture, and leaders need to carefully consider and plan how the employee experience impacts people at each touchpoint across the lifecycle. Smart executives realise that a ‘one-size-fits’ all lifecycle strategy fails to optimise productivity. Companies that segment and align the employee lifecycle as part of their employer brand strategy will benefit from maintaining higher levels of engagement, productivity, customer satisfaction and profit!
Where to begin
A lifecycle mapping audit will identify any gaps in employee experience from pre-hire to re-hire and your future strategy will need to address these gaps to ensure your people policies, processes and systems are working to provide a signature employee experience. In theory it makes good sense; in practice, much work needs to be done as there are many moving parts to join up. Segmenting and effectively managing the employee lifecycle will require a culture change for many companies.
The 15 moments of truth
Whilst there will be variances depending on company size, scope and scale, the key ‘moments of truths’ across the employee lifecycle that will require your focus include:
Build market reach and reinforce your distinctive employer brand assets with your target audience through communications that refresh memory structures (ie how you want them to perceive the employment experience at your company). Leading companies are using a range of communication initiatives including social media communities and database relationship marketing to communicate and engage with their target audience.
For many future employees this may be the first time they experience your brand so make sure it is a positive experience. If you are using employment agencies ensure they are well briefed on your employer value propositions – they are a strong reflection of your employer brand.
Speed and communication is critical at this stage. Don’t leave candidates sitting and wondering what’s happening with their application. Many applicant tracking systems (ATS) now allow for the candidate to log in and view their progress and next step in the pre-hire phase.
Has the recruiting staff been briefed on your EVP strategy and messaging? Provide resources that assist hiring staff in staying ‘on brand’ during the interview phase. This is when your future employee will be assessing ‘what you say’ with ‘what you do”. Be clear on communicating where your company is headed (vision) and what is distinctive about your company (your EVPs).
As there will be more rejected than successful candidates it is important you do not do damage to your brand by poorly handling the rejection process. Irrespective of the number of applicants you receive, each candidate must feel they are treated as an individual rather than be a ‘victim’ of a ‘one-size-fits all’ rejection letter from your ATS.
For all new hires connect them to your employer brand at the earliest possible time. Companies are now using micro-sites or other IT products to manage the hiring and onboarding stage. This is likely to contribute to higher levels of engagement in earlier stages of their employment and faster times to productivity. A welcome pack aligned with your brand should be developed and provided to all new employees before day one. New Zealand based agency Geyser Creative articulates this well for clients by ensuring the content, format and design of all touchpoints reflect and reinforce the employer brand and the employment experience it promises to deliver.
This is possibly the most important stage of the employee lifecycle, when new hires consider whether they made the right choice to join. It’s when they discover the ‘real employment’ experience and decide how far off it is from what was promised in the recruitment stage. Too big a gap and it is likely dissonance will set in and begin to move the engagement curve in the wrong direction!
Don’t overload new hires with too much information. Building relationships with key employees and stakeholders is critical during this stage. Focus on initiatives that build employee engagement – it will have a long-run payoff well into the employee’s tenure!
Assess employees for cultural fit with managers. If the employee-manager relationship is strained or unproductive everyone loses, so focus on the bigger picture and pair up employees with managers where the relationship is likely to be most productive.
Ensure clarity and commitment around career development. A focus on personal and professional development should begin on day one. The plethora of widely available information on the internet provides an unlimited career development resource and when paired with a mobile device such as an iPad or tablet self-driven career development takes on a whole new meaning. Ongoing training is critical here.
Manage employee and company expectations around performance management. Focus on the task, not the personality. Performance appraisals are still the most unenjoyable part of the employee lifecycle so change the focus and you’ll change the outcome.
Reward brand based behaviours. Leading companies are using self regulatory processes such as where employees can comment on behaviours they witness amongst employees at all levels. This feedback is captured in an online system or mobile app. The data collected over time will tell a story as to how well the company is living up to its defined brand values. Your values, behaviours and actions should align with your EVPs – it’s a key measure of your authenticity and commitment to the delivery of your employment promise.
It’s too late to find out if people are leaving because of your managers or working environment. The focus here should be on making the exit an enjoyable one. Manage poor performers out of the company with dignity and maintain their self respect. Remember it’s a two-way street and you hired them in the first place. Ensure they leave as advocates!
Stay in touch with ex-employees. They may become ‘boomerang’ hires one day or a source of new client business.
Assess ex-employees for cultural fit. Determine what’s changed and how the ex-employee now fits in. A strong benefit is that they already have experienced your company culture and this may work in your favour.
And some final thoughts...
A joined up approach between those responsible for your consumer brand and employer brand strategy will be required to ensure each stage of the lifecycle aligns and works towards focusing managers on delivering a signature employee experience that leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction and profit.
About the author
Brett Minchington, Chairman/CEO of Employer Brand International, is a global authority, strategist and corporate advisor on employer branding (brettminchington.com). His new book ‘Employer Brand Leadership - A Global Perspective’ is available at (collectivelearningaustralia.com)