Why Your Talent Strategy Must Align With Internal Communication

It may seem an odd connection to make when we discuss hiring practices and talent scouts in the same breath as internal communication. Especially, when we consider that the recruiter’s role is to get the best people to your organization and then they are done, right?
Wrong. As boundary spanners, the talent scouts are vital to how new hires and future employees perceive the brand and demonstrate active, communicative behaviors that improve your organization’s abilities to engage, from within. Like the recruiters, employees who are the first point of contact, be it a customer representative executive or a clerk in an organization have critical roles to play in promoting the right messages for the organization. Internal communicators can facilitate the engagement and infuse credibility and clarity to a brand’s perception. Hiring is a team sport and not about individual glory or a number game. Even if one social media profile or post is off-brand it has a ripple effect on all other recruiters who may be having consistent profiles on social media.
Consider these insights from research studies and reports on employee advocacy, employer branding, and organizational practices –

  1. Brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employees vs. branded channels (Social Media Employee Advocacy, Altimeter, 2016)
  2. 66% of organizations have taken steps to leverage mobile recruiting – such as optimized career site, job posting etc on smartphones (SHRM, 2017 Recruiting Trends)
  3. 67% of job seekers using social media to gain insights into company culture (Robert Half Insight series)
  4. 78% of Indian professionals say that the company reputation as a great place to work or having great people or being prestigious is important while considering a job. (Linkedin Talent Trends report, 2015)
  5. Employees can reach an audience 10X times larger than what your brand is reaching through its own earned social media efforts (MSL Group, 2014)
  6. 39% organizations will increase their ‘branding and marketing’ wallet share aligned with the recruitment priority to communicate the brand effectively. (Aon Hewitt Study Decoding Hiring Trends in India, 2016)
  7. Referrals continue to be the most important source for hiring talent in organizations followed by social networks (Jobvite Recruiter Nation Survey, 2015)

From these studies what we can decode is that opportunities exist for organizations to get stronger with their employee communication and employer branding initiatives. If the internal experience doesn’t match with the external one there will be confusion and mistrust.
There are challenges which recruiters and internal communicators currently face. Lack of awareness about the employer brand is hurting organizations. Recruiters in organizations aren’t clear about what their own talent brand stands for and what will attract the right people. In the 2015 Linkedin India Recruiting Trends the mismatch between what talent leaders believe candidates want is stark. When for example, talent leaders believe that candidates prefer career paths, development and flexibility what candidates prefer more are strong relationships with peers, connection with supervisors and recognition. Likewise, knowing what motivates employees to promote content can help recruiters and communicators align their messages. Employees prefer sharing content on work-life, jobs and company news.
The culture of the organization, how leaders behave, whom prospective hires get to work with, the company’s reputation and employee advocacy all contribute to how the best talent join and continue to feel connected with the purpose of the firm. Take, for example, a recruiter reaches out to a prospective candidate for a role. The individual is probably a passive job seeker and due to this contact, the person makes an attempt to gauge what the organization is about, understand the culture and read about the people employed. The experience and the pitch the talent scout do have implications on the perception and external prestige the individual holds about the company. When the individual joins, after being convinced about the role and company, and discovers that there is a gap between what was communicated and the realities within – it can cause distress and angst. That can hurt the brand internally and externally, candidate after candidate unless the messages and intent are aligned.
After or while engaging with the recruiter, prospective hires refer to the corporate website and among the opportunities for internal communicators is to be in sync with the team managing the face of the organization – be it the marketing or the corporate communications team. As the internal communicator, it is expected to call out the key messages you want to convey and why the organization is a preferred employer of choice. While most organizations ‘want’ to be viewed in a certain light it can be tricky if the projected image doesn’t link with what happens within the firm.
How can organizations be more joined up with their internal and external messaging to make a positive impact on current and future staff?
1. Get your hiring team on the same page: Often, in the interest to attract the best talent, recruiters can ‘oversell’ the brand and the work, leading to dissatisfaction when new hires join. Align expectations and help the team know what can be conveyed in a realistic manner.
2. Reassert your brand promise: Who you are and what you stand for as an organization must be consistently articulated for it to register in the minds of prospective candidates. Articulate the top three reasons why people must join you and begin with socializing it with your own employees.
3. Hiring is a team sport: Everyone in the organization and sometimes beyond has a role to play – employees, leaders, consultants, and the marketing team among others.Help your recruiters’ see how having a consistent approach can add value for everyone. If one profile or experience fails everyone loses. From simple actions such as refreshing social media profiles to sharing relevant content which attracts talent, all hirers need to pull their weight behind the effort.
4. Synchronized experiences: With the speed at which messages travel via social media or get circulated on Whatsapp it can be difficult to manage perceptions without collaborating across teams. Help review the communication messages that the hiring team shares with your prospective hires and build in the right tone of voice. Empower the team with visual assets that will enhance the brand’s image.
5. Enlist employees as advocates: Employees command more clout than brands and it helps to get them on your side. Involve employees, especially those with ‘influencer’ profiles to promote your content. Know what motivated employees to participate in brand building. For example, employees want to increase understanding among friends, receive recognition, help recruit, and support customers. They are keen to build their own personal brand and yet in the process, it will have a ripple effect on the organization’s interests.
Getting the right talent onboard is as essential as getting everyone consistent with what and how you communicate. Hiring is a team game and internal communicators like other stakeholders have a clear role to play.

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