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Making hiring personal

Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Business in Hospitality

One of the most commonly voiced complaints from senior leaders in relation to recruitment today is just how impersonal the whole process can be.  Interestingly, this is often driven by current experiences related to their own children who are starting their journey within the working world – which some may find surprising. There is in fact a growing frustration, even at the earliest stage of the process, such as getting a response to an application or even an acknowledgement of receipt, which can be extremely dispiriting for young, emerging talent.  

Yet the truth is, many recruitment processes today, even though it may be non-intentional, seem to lack due care and are often void of any kind of personal touch. But here is the definitive question: how many directors or CEOs actually have a complete, transparent view of their company’s recruitment processes and can say with conviction that they know exactly what that encompasses and what that looks like?  

We talk about issues such as young talent being disengaged and that people seem to jump from job to job more quickly today and without any thought given to how they were engaged initially, but does that simply suggest that the connection between the employer and their employee is weak and was perhaps fragile from the start?  

Respect must be visible to avoid a ripple effect

It stands to reason that if the original engagement and appointment process was poor, the relationship between the employer and the new recruit is likely to lack any real substance or foundation upon which to develop a strong connection. Recruitment is about people; it’s also about relationships and mutual respect. As such, if businesses want to recruit and retain great talent, they have to be personal, authentic and genuine from the outset in terms of their behaviours. 

The counter to this is that developing more robust and fit for purpose recruitment process will inevitably increase costs – and quite dramatically if taken seriously. Yet the investment a business puts behind its recruitment says a lot about what that business wants and what it stands for. If respect isn’t visible from the very beginning of the process, it will result in a ripple effect.

Many argue today that young talent and emerging generations are less driven by the ‘pride’ of working for a company or brand and are more self-focused and individualistic. Others would respond to this with the suggestion that perhaps this characteristic is a result of how young people are being communicated to by the corporate world today.

Pride and culture – the bedrock of days gone by

It is a fair argument because having pride in the company you work for and the culture you work within used to be the bedrocks that businesses of yesteryear were built upon. The changing dynamics of the corporate world means that much of this has been eroded for a whole variety of reasons over the years but there is still a strong case for recruitment to become the flagship for early engagement. 

How we recruit and engage with individuals at the very earliest point of their career will set the tone for the future and indeed for their own behaviours.  Being genuine, kind, personal in approach and authentic in what you stand for as an organisation, will leave a lasting impression on emerging talent.

Feeling valued is something every employee craves, no matter how new or old they are to the business. Yet despite this, so many businesses don’t invest in this relationship from the outset. We know that young talent values culture, opportunity and also ethically-driven businesses yet those companies run on seemingly unethical grounds, has as much to do with how they engage with their own talent, as it does with how many proverbial trees they are planting.

Lack of due care limits the lifespan of the workforce

Disengagement starts very early on in the recruitment process and once it sets in, it is very hard to recover from. The average lifespan of an employee has fallen by 40% and that is significant for businesses in terms of the hidden costs of lost productivity, the impact that a disengaged and disconnected workforce has, not to mention loss of new talent at speed. It is easy to see how an impersonal recruitment process, that lacks the due care and attention needed to bring new talent into the workplace and provide the right environment upon which to grow, really does limit the lifespan of the workforce.

If businesses are serious about engaging the best talent, a review of those out of touch recruitment processes that are damaging the longevity of company loyalty, is a good place to start. Nurturing and retaining talent begins way before a physical job offer is made; it starts from the minute an application form lands on your desk. What happens next will have a detrimental effect not only on how the business is perceived but also on the strength of the connection and the engagement that follows.

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