At the Employee Comms Council, we try to convey useful insights. You may have heard what we convey before, but I hope you find our perspectives useful. When talking about recruitment and retention, you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase ‘finding the right fit’ about a billion times. That’s because it’s the simplest, most distilled way of stating your goal for hiring new workers.
For years, hiring managers have stressed themselves out trying to find the ‘right fit’ for their organizations. The reason why this process is so stressful is that hiring managers can’t know if they’ve been successful until after the individual has been hired and has worked at the organization for a while. A candidate could have a perfect resume, exactly the right experience your organization is looking for, be articulate, excited, and engaged in the interview, then cause problems after he or she is hired. When other employees start to look for someone to blame, they see the hiring manager who brought in this workplace cancer.
That’s a nightmare scenario, but it plays out in hiring managers’ heads constantly as they perform their recruitment and retention duties. Retention can be stressful too, of course, and it becomes worse when the people you’re retaining aren’t popular amongst the workforce. Why aren’t they popular? Because they don’t fit in well with your office’s employee communication style or structure.
Employee Communication: Substance Over Flash
Envision, if you will, an employee communications spectrum: on one end are organizations with productive company cultures—teams that work well together with responsive, responsible leaders, but they haven’t invested a single dime in employee communication software. So while they work well together, they have a positive, open work culture, and all those good things, they have trouble communicating with their remote worker in London, or employees are confused about things like their benefits or how they’re supposed to catch all the communications filling up their inboxes every day. On the other end of the spectrum are organizations that have invested in communications software in intelligent ways that integrate cutting-edge technology like video communications into their organizations, but they have an organization of mis-matched workers who respond to these communication technologies in different ways, some use them well, others don’t.
The ideal organization is right in the middle of these extremes. Organizations need to invest in communication initiatives and technology that match their mission, maximize their profits, and are a ‘good fit’ for their employees. Looking at it from the other end of the spectrum, organizations need to recruit and retain employees that fit in well with their established communication strategies for employee engagement.
Plugging Recruitment and Retention into the Equation
The road to effective employee communication and better engagement goes through recruiting and retaining not only top talent, but individuals who make your communication strategies for employee engagement work.
Of course, recruiters and hiring managers know this and have been working at their organizations trying to find employees who will ‘fit in’ for decades. But hiring managers and HR leaders tend to look at candidates as fits or non-fits with their entire organization as a whole. They think about all aspects of their organization when deciding to offer a job to a candidate. There’s nothing wrong with this, but when hiring managers break down each aspect of their organization and how work is done, they start to see candidates who will likely utilize employee engagement strategies the way your organization intended.
How can you identify candidates who fit in with your organization’s employee communication initiatives? You can’t know for sure until they’ve had a chance to use your communications technology, interact with their co-workers, report problems to supervisors, and participated in other day-to-day work communications. There are a few things you can do in the recruitment and retention process, as well as the hiring process, to test your candidates on your communications strategies:
- Expose interviewees to your communication technology and policy
- Test new candidates
- Emphasize ‘best fit’ language in all communications
Don’t be afraid to give prospective candidates a taste of what it will be like to communicate with others at your organization. If you see grimaces and frowns, or if your candidate appears to struggle with the concept, that’s a strike against them.
A word of caution about testing: Not all employees for all positions appreciate taking tests as a prerequisite for job consideration. Many external management candidates especially expect to be interviewed and eventually hired on the strength of the impression they have on their would-be superiors, and their experience. That said, seeing how well prospective new employees use your communications systems, by conducting an interview via video conference, for example, can be telling as to how well they’ll fit in with your communication strategies for employee engagement.
Starting from your first job post looking for new candidates, emphasize that you’re looking for a candidate who ‘fits best’ with your organization. Many job postings emphasize (intentionally or not) experience, skills, ability to closely follow instructions, etc. You don’t have to be specific about how your workplace communication systems work from the start, but you do want to specify that you need employees who are willing to adjust to how you need things done and communicated. You’ll notice that job postings that emphasize ‘best fit’ language will draw different candidates than those that simply describe the job and emphasize experience. Be ready to take these candidates as they are and try to predict how they would fit in with your employee communication and engagement strategies.
Adding to the Structure
In a perfect world, every employee you hire adds something to your organizational communication structure. By learning how to use video communications technology the right way at your organization, employees can find new ways to utilize your communication investments to drive even more growth and continuous improvement.
As we say at the Employee Comms Council, that’s a win.