Sorry HR recruiters but retaining top talent is, in fact, also the role of marketers. The fact is, without the input of marketers as vanguards of your brand, your organization will struggle with finding an employee that fits. Consider the question of how your organization is helping candidates to know if they are a good fit for your brand. To know, your brand must do the hard work of being clear and consistent about its promise and communicate the “why” in regards to an employee latching on to your company. When done well, an employer’s brand helps attract the right talent, allows prospects to self-select for fit with your organization, and increases the likelihood that they will develop into long-term, valuable, high-producing members of your team.
When I suggested this topic to my team, the response was one of apathy. My team of creatives and strategists’ response was likely similar to yours if you’re an outdoor marketer: “we can’t be bothered”. Admittedly, HR is quite dull. Historically, it’s acted as a siloed department whose role is to simply attract and retain top talent. That’s it.
But, I’d like to argue that attracting and retaining top talent is actually the role of marketers. Without the input of marketers as vanguards of your brand, your organization will really struggle with employee fit. In fact, recent research points to the fact that most outdoor businesses find it’s getting harder to recruit and keep the people who are both skilled high-performers and ‘fit’ within their organization’s culture.
How is your organization helping candidates to know if they are a good fit for your brand? To effectively do so, your brand must do the heavy lifting of being clear and consistent about its promise, and communicating the “why” an employee might want to latch on. When done well, an employer brand helps attract the right talent, allows prospects to self-select for fit with your organization, and increases the likelihood that they will develop into long-term, valuable, high-producing members of your team.
Recently, we’ve worked with a few clients who struggled with either recruitment or employee engagement. Throughout our discussions with them, they all came to individual agreements that successfully building an employer brand can’t be done in isolation. Collaboration between the HR and marketing departments from the very beginning is crucial.
For Jay Peak, we created a toolkit that would allow both the HR department and the marketing department to work together to get a higher quantity and quality of applicants for seasonal and management positions. We felt that the tone of the recruitment materials needed to match the tone of the brand - not become some watered down version because that’s what we’re used to seeing from HR. We also felt that because the brand is known and loved for its irreverence and its refreshingly honest voice, it was important to infuse that within our recruitment materials. Here’s just a sample of that toolkit.
The results were astonishing. The visits to the employment section of the website went up by 200%, the number of attendants to their job fair tripled and the traditionally unfilled positions (like housekeeping and Ski school) were full at season start date.
For Breckenridge, the initial objective was increasing employees’ awareness of the brand and empowering them to live that brand in their day-to-day. Through a discovery session with key management stakeholders, we realized that there was also work that needed to be done to ensure that management had the tools to educate their employees on the brand and provide them with tangible actions they can take. And, the end deliverables were a new employee brand book and managers toolkit created with their specific needs in mind.
So, if you’re with me on this, here are some things to avoid, and some ways to let your brand shine when it comes to finding and keeping the right people for your brand.
Get the CEO on board
Having the leader of the organization behind the brand is the best way to get alignment from the teams and, frankly, to get a budget secured. It’s also a signal to everyone in the organization that people are truly a priority. In our examples above, the CEO was always the leader of the project, even if only in spirit.
Don’t make up a brand for employees
Your brand is the foundation for everything so use the relevant and compelling assets of your brand when it comes to your recruitment or retention campaigns. Your character, voice, and essence are essential as much to your customers as to your staff.
Don’t fire your HR people
Obviously, they’re the experts here and having them collaborating with marketing and brand teams is essential to success. Marketers know how to drive and measure audience engagement, create engaging experiences, nurture audiences, and tell a story that keeps people interested and engaged over a long period of time. HR teams know what potential employees care about and which channels to reach them in.
Get back to your “why”
As in any good brand foundation, your purpose should shine. Go back to your “why” and your bigger picture purpose and start applying those same principles to your people. You’ll see those who fit come right to you.