This week I sat down with Mike Beeley to discuss how having an effective EVP and employer brand can make it easier to assess candidates. EVP brand pillars must be embedded internally, managers need to embody your employer brand or you’ll risk a breakdown in the talent acquisition and onboarding process. Mike Beeley is the CEO of Lightbox Communications and has spent the last 30 years helping global and local organisations understand their EVP and how to market their employment proposition to their target audiences through traditional and emerging media. Here are our insights.
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How Can an EVP Make it Easier to Assess Candidates?
So far, we’ve discovered and converted the values of our organisation to a set of usable brand pillars, and we’ve understood how people engage with those brand pillars. Now we can establish the sort of behaviours to look for that support those brand pillars. That makes every interview – it writes the interview process. ‘These are the things that I’m looking for in that candidate‘. We can now start writing questions that tease out their opinion of safety, for example.
‘What do you think of safety policies?‘
‘Uhhh they’re boring, why do I have to do that? Why do I have to use two hands and three points on the stairs?‘
UH OH! That interview’s over.
Let’s Break That Down a Little More…
So you took the example of safety, I’m trying to make that simple for someone like me (Anwar). We used the example of safety in heavy machinery or a mining site environment. If we use that as an example, it’s going to make sure that when I’m advertising or communicating with those candidates, I need to explain that one of our essential values or brand pillars is safety. Safety is paramount in our environment, so when they come to the interview I’ll also say, ‘what do you think of safety and how much do you value safety?’
Don’t ask leading questions like that; instead, you extract that information. You don’t ‘lead the witness.’ Alternatively, ask them to give you their opinion on the merits of Health and Safety policies. When we’ve analysed, established and agreed on our brand pillars then we can then start writing down behaviours that we think support or erode those brand pillars. If our brand pillar is, let’s say, a sense of social responsibility or justice – a big one for Facebook recently. So many people have a different opinion of Facebook because of that one simple thing, this unravelling of their transparency around social responsibility. A lot of people are now reconsidering working for Facebook, and a lot of other organisations.
An Example of Social Responsibility as a Brand Pillar
One is the collection and usage of personal data. You can write a whole set of interview questions around people’s engagement with social responsibility, what does it mean to them? How far do they go to ensure that does or doesn’t happen?
If you don’t get the right answers, the interview’s over quickly. The EVP can inform a lot of different points. It can populate your performance management system or your rewards and recognition programs beyond just recruitment and onboarding. Once employees have been working there for six to twelve months, you can start rewarding or adjusting them depending on how they’ve performed against your brand pillars.
We’ve got a bunch of behaviours that reinforce this, not only within the organisation but externally too. There may be a whole range of factors that are eroding our brand pillar of social responsibility. If you’re proven to have undermined social trust, we can pull you up on that and measure people’s behaviour very quickly.
A brand pillar has three applications – writing the recruitment ads, interviewing and finding the right people and then rewarding and keeping the right ones, or losing the wrong ones.
A Brand Pillar Must Be Embedded Internally FIRST
You have to embed any brand pillar internally first before you take it externally. Employees have to get on board with it. Let’s say you’ve got a thousand people in your company and the reason you need an EVP is that you’re growing by 20% and you’ve got a 10% turnover. You’d, therefore, be looking for 300 new people this year – reasonable assumption. So 900 are staying, 100 are leaving, and 300 are joining. So of those 900, we have to have a mutual agreement that they are going to support and act out the promises we’re making to the 300 that are joining us.
On Day One, you hand over a new employee to the hiring manager or to the person that they’ll be reporting to. This process can become a major faultline in the company’s engagement piece. You’ve curated this person, you’ve found and interviewed them, you’ve convinced them to join your business, and maybe you’ve persuaded them to commit infidelity to their previous employer. They’ve committed four or five interviews, and then they finally sign an employment contract. On the day they arrive, it’s not you looking after them anymore; you’re just the recruitment team. You hand them over to the person they’ll be working for, who they’ve possibly never met. That becomes a significant faultline. It’s like when you’ve persuaded someone to buy a product via marketing, saying a product’s going to last 1000 years. Well if it breaks in 10 minutes… you’ve suddenly got a problem!
The Hiring Manager Needs to Support and Live the Brand Pillar
If that hiring manager doesn’t support or act out the dream we’re selling to the candidate, then it WILL cause problems. A talent acquisition manager recently said to me that when they’re handing over a well-curated candidate to the hiring manager, they do it with extreme trepidation. They said it’s about like putting your 6-year-old daughter in an Uber at midnight – you don’t quite know if she’s going to get where she’s going. That’s a significant problem for most organisations. They’re rushing into an employer branding piece without actually embedding the truth in the organisation.
A Manager is Key to the Process
A senior talent acquisition manager also said to me (Anwar) that the manager is everything. Every time he’s asked about recruitment or retention problems, he comes back to the manager with everything. The culture, the flexibility, the manager can affect all these things. He has to fight with the company to bring the right environment, the right tools, the right money etc. No matter what he talks about, it always comes back to the manager. That’s how important the manager is.
There’s an old phrase,
‘People join great organisations and leave bad managers‘
It’s crucial that when you agree to an EVP, you also agree on what you stand for and your sense of purpose. If you’ve got a detractor within the group who accepts it but violently disagrees with it in some way, then they will never accurately represent it. There’ll be a faultline in your talent acquisition experience. Your new people will be dying to get there, loving the assessment process as well as the engagement process, but on Day One, after induction, all of a sudden, it all collapses.
Missed the other parts with Mike Beeley? Check them out here:
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