Hiring Practices Part of Brand Management

Skip the Dishes, the highly successful Winnipeg-based restaurant delivery service, has been on a fast and high growth trajectory since its launch in 2013. It has enjoyed great fanfare and was recognized as one of North America’s fastest-growing companies. "Going live" has been the company’s corporate mantra, as city after city throughout North America has been added to the delivery roster. Brand awareness and success quickly led to the company being purchased by a United Kingdom corporation called Just Eat PLC, for a reported $110 million.

With respect to staffing, the SkipTheDishes website says it looks for high performers who want to learn and grow as expansion takes place. They seek employees who are passionate and seek rapid advancement. It is also noted that management has made efforts to build a unique culture by offering a spacious work place with an in-house gymnasium for staff. At first glance, SkipTheDishes appears to be an attractive and engaged place to work.

However, as you’ve probably heard through all the news media, SkipTheDishes recently stumbled when a candidate posted her negative recruitment experience on the Internet. The problem? The candidate simply asked an upfront question regarding potential compensation and benefits. It was reported that she was then denied a second interview because the recruiter felt the money question signaled a poor fit with the workplace culture.

Not only did this issue become the news of the day, but the story provides a good example of how a single incident can destroy years of hard work building up a pristine corporate marketing brand. It also shows that in this instance, there appears to be a big disconnect between managing the corporate brand and managing recruitment as a key function for attracting new candidates. In other words, the candidate experience didn’t appear to be aligned to the corporate brand.

Actually, the power of brand management is something that most businesses — and even not-for-profit organizations, for that matter — have become increasingly concerned about as a way to not only recruit but also to retain their employees. So, what lessons can be learned from this recent unfortunate situation? The following will give you some basic ideas:

Adopt a hospitality philosophy

It is important for management and human resource personnel alike to take a hospitality focus when recruiting and managing employees. By this, I mean that you need to look at your employees as internal customers who must be treated with respect and engaged in being part of creating the best "customer" experience. On the other hand, job applicants should be treated like external customers. That’s because, after all, your job vacancy is essentially a product you want individuals to consider purchasing.

Develop an HR brand

Recruiters must know, understand and "live" their corporate brand. If you aren’t sure just what this is, then take time to survey your current employees to find out just what they like about working for you. Confirm key workplace elements such as corporate social responsibility, good salary and benefits, solid teamwork and support for professional development that make your organization the best place to work. Next, develop internal and external communication strategies to market your brand internally with consistency, so that all employees live the brand.

Share your brand

A job ad is nothing more than a marketing tool and it must be structured so that it is sending the right message. In fact, your ad is essentially a way of marketing your competitive advantage. What is your promise and why should someone come to work for you? It needs to be written so that the reader will not only want to learn more but wants to work for you. Share what it is like to work with your company. Keep in mind what drives people to want to work with you. Money is not a key driver; rather, it is the ability to use one’s skill, belong to a group, lead a team, engage in a project or overcome technical challenges. Help potential candidates to feel the challenges that can invlove them. Also, be open, honest and transparent. Do not exaggerate and/or misrepresent your organization, and please avoid all those buzzwords. Be creative, enhance your Internet presence with employee testimonials

Manage first impressions

The human resource department and the recruitment process is the first experience someone will have with your company. It is this exact process that will create that all-important first impression. That’s why the recruitment process must be well-managed. This includes initial and ongoing contact, the location of the interviews, the recruitment steps, the nature of the interview questions as well as feedback and response. It is also very true that part of the recruitment process is to assess the alignment of a candidate’s values with the corporate values — but judgment requires a solid review of credentials, experience and values. Avoid a rush to judgment.

Interview strategy

Your interview strategy also will create an impression, so be sure your questions are aligned with the job duties and the image you present is consistent with your marketing brand. Provide an overview of the organization culture, reporting relationships, where the person would work, specific job tasks and expectations. Apply behavioural interviewing strategies, as this style is more effective in assessing the alignment of experience with what you are looking for. Closed, yes/no questions just aren’t helpful in assessing a candidate.

Engage the employee life cycle

Sustaining your corporate brand means engaging your employees throughout their career so that you build loyalty to your organization. This is a key retention strategy. Once an employee is hired, quickly orient that person to the workplace culture, the mission and the values, in addition to helping them to understand their new work tasks. Set up a buddy system to help make friends in the organization. Pay attention to each stage of the employee life cycle by planning for professional development, ongoing employee engagement activities and feedback so that you can monitor your brand. Develop your employees into being "brand ambassadors."

A human-resource manager has many roles in their organization including internal advisor, team leader, strategic partner,and HR expert. However, an HR manager also needs to always act as the employer’s ambassador and ensure all actions are congruent and aligned with the corporate brand. HR needs to be a key part of the overall branding efforts, continuously co-ordinating the messages and ensuring alignment so that the culture, reputation and value proposed to new and current employees are consistent.

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