What matters most to candidates? Pay, culture, purpose?

What matters most to candidates? Pay, culture, purpose?

Research by LinkedIn has found that the most crucial part of a job advert is the salary range. This may not seem all that surprising. However, research by Glassdoor also shows that candidates are looking for more than just money from their new role.

What do candidates want?

The answer to this question isn’t simple. As the research into this topic has been relatively extensive, it rightly covers different salary bandings. The answers to these questions will largely depend on the role being applied for and the person applying for it. So, it is right to break down the results as much as possible to avoid generalisations.

How should we break down results?

For example, a Millennial executive will likely have different considerations and expectations than a Gen Xer looking to head up a department. For the Millennial, who is looking to get their foot in the door, salary is possibly more important than culture.

Not only do they want to get ahead ASAP, but they may have a hefty student loan on their shoulders and financial goals ahead of them. For example, a millennial looking to get onto the property ladder will likely be more concerned about salary than culture. A small increase to their pay packet could make all the difference.  

As well as this, they may not consider the roles they are applying for to be long term career roles. Rather, they may consider them to be stepping stone roles with the view to gaining the experience they need to attain those higher salaried roles.

According to research, 37% of job seekers say that a company with a track record for promoting from within shows long-term potential. So, to attract and retain millennial talent, clear structures for progression, with training and development opportunities, are inevitably vital.

What about higher earners?  

A Princeton University study shows that “having a higher income increases happiness, but only up to about $75,000 per year.” So, as salaries get higher, the focus on monetary rewards decreases and is replaced with other factors. These factors include culture, leadership opportunities and the desire for “their employers to share their values”.

This sense of shared values comes down to the need for a greater purpose. “When employees have a sense of purpose at work, they feel passionate, innovative, and committed.” As such, research shows that “short-term goals are not enough to motivate employees.”

However, the desire for purpose could also be attributed to the fact that candidates going after higher-paid roles are aware, in this candidate-driven market, that they are in a position to negotiate. So, if the salary presented doesn’t meet their expectations, but the culture does, they may apply with a view to negotiating.

However, this need for purpose does not exclude millennials. So, while there may be more significant driving factors for candidates in the multi-generational workplace, a purpose-driven organisation will always be a top-choice employer.

How do you identify purpose?

Purpose is not the same as business goals or expectations. A recent study from LinkedIn shows that “49% of employees would trade a portion of their salary to continue in their current role with an added sense of purpose.”

So, there’s a difference between what initially drives candidates to apply, and what employees want once they are embedded in an organisation.

This sense of purpose is a possibility for any organisation. It can be seen as the need to have “a positive impact on the lives of others.”

One way it can be achieved is by implementing initiatives that ensure that your business minimises any negative impact of their processes. For example, by reducing any negative impact on the climate. 

However, purpose-driven organisations need to go further than merely reducing harm. To attract and retain the talent they need to thrive, purpose-driven organisations need to actively contribute to making their local community a better place to live. For example, by creating initiatives which provide opportunities and support the local community.

So, which one matters more?

Ultimately, pay, culture and purpose all matter when you culminate all the variables. However, research shows that pay and benefits are the most important aspects of a job advert specifically. So, when it comes to talent attraction, it’s vital to make it clear how much compensation you’re offering straight away.

This goes against many employers’ preference to keep the salary banding hidden. However, research also shows that making the salary banding clear can save recruiters time by filtering out applications from candidates whose expectations are outside of the specified range. This can result in a more refined talent pool and less wasted time.

However, if your culture and organisational purpose are not refined, you may lose out on talent and find that retention rates do not increase. To summarise, the salary banding is most likely the first aspect of a job advert a candidate will pay attention to. However, they may pay more attention to the culture and purpose of an organisation at a later stage in the application process.

So, for initial attraction purposes, salary matters. To guarantee your offers are accepted, refine your culture and organisational purpose to ensure your workplace is somewhere candidate want to invest their time.

How to make a new hire feel welcomed?

We’ve all been there. It’s your first day in a new job at a brand new company.

It can be an extremely stressful experience, no matter how excited you are to be there or to have got the job. So why, when we’ve all experienced this, do we so often forget what it’s like? All too frequently, companies fail to welcome their new hires properly.

Those first few days in a job can shape an employees’ first impressions of your company and their expectations for the future. Changing jobs is a huge switch and can cause a lot of mental turbulence. Research shows that it can take 3-9 months for a new hire to feel settled and behave “authentically”. Of course, if a new hire isn’t appropriately welcomed, it can likely take longer than this. 

If a new hire fails to settle and consider themselves to be part of the team, it seems inevitable that they will eventually look to settle somewhere else. According to the Work Institute Retention Report, “more than 3 in 4 employees who quit could have been retained by employers.”

So, when quality candidates are difficult to source, and the hiring process can be so costly, it makes sense to make sure you help your new employees to settle in.

So, here are some tips for welcoming a new hire.

1. Prepare for them arriving.

Nothing makes someone feel less welcome than feeling as though they’d been forgotten about. Make sure a desk is prepared for them. Maybe add a welcoming gift or a card. Add some personal touches that show you’ve prepared for their arrival.

2. For their first day, give them a later start time.

Chances are, you still have last minute things to organise. Maybe you need to set up their laptop or get some work out of the way, so you can spend the time with them that you need to. It’s much better that when they arrive, everything’s ready to go, rather than waiting around for tasks to be completed. Also, nobody sleeps well the night before a new job. Giving them an extra hour provides an added touch of thoughtfulness.

3. Introduce them to everyone.

Of course, this is more difficult in very large companies, so it’s not always entirely attainable. However, a newly hired employee should be introduced to all the members of their own team, at the very least. If you want to go one step further, you could try team bonding exercises to really break the ice.

4. Take them out for lunch.

Keep this a relatively small affair, depending on who they’ll be working most closely with. Then, use this time to get to know them a little better. The interview process can be gruelling, and it can result in you only getting to know a particular side of each other. So, take away the pressure and just spend some time with them.

5. Introduce them to their new role slowly.

Don’t throw them in at the deep end to see if they sink or swim. Not everyone deals with tests all that well. When you’ve been with a company for a long time, it can be easy to forget that ingrained processes and systems are only familiar to you because you’ve been doing them over and over. For a new hire, those processes will take time to learn. So, spend the first few days giving them that time, while completing small tasks so that they slip seamlessly into their new role over the next couple of weeks. 

6. Get the paperwork done. However, maybe don’t do it first thing.

Many companies recommend getting the paperwork out of the way, which is entirely understandable. However, consider leaving it until the second day, especially if there’s a lot of paperwork. This approach means that the employees first day can be dedicated solely to familiarising themselves with the place and the people. Spending your first day locked in an office filling out several different types of form can be an underwhelming start to a new job.

7. Give them a chance to speak.

At the end of the day, this is a massive step for them. They’re now dedicating their time to pursuing a career with your company. They might need to talk to be able to process the change. So, instead of always telling them new things that they need to take on board and learn, ask them questions. Give them a chance to feedback on the hiring process. Make them feel safe to acknowledge if they’re not quite sure about something. 

Ultimately, the most important part of welcoming a new hire is making them feel comfortable. Everyone’s different, and some hires will require more attention than others.

However, it is crucial for a longstanding relationship that the first impression is positive. Otherwise, you will spend twice the time trying to make up for a negative first impression, wasting both your time and theirs.

So, remember your own experiences as a new hire. There’s no rulebook, and these are just some ideas. Rather, treat people the way you would like to be treated, and you’ll be on the right track.

Interviews: Which questions should you be asking?

What information do you need to hear?

So, you’ve invested heavily in your employer brand. Your marketing and social media strategies are attracting the candidates you want. Now, it’s interview time. However, they are also interviewing you. This is a two-way street.

While you need to find out if they are the right candidate for you, they want to know if this is the right role for them. Due to high employment levels, the jobs market is currently candidate driven. This means that candidates are more in demand than jobs are. Therefore, candidates can be highly selective when choosing their next role. The interview is probably the most important part of their selection process.

What sort of questions are good questions?

Many job interview questions are now so common that candidates can google “interview questions” and find a list that they can prepare themselves for. While some of these might be valid, if your interview technique utilises only these frequently asked questions, you will struggle to make an impression on your candidate.

Some questions might have the right intention behind them, but the response they illicit won’t tell you anything unique or specifically interesting about the candidate.

For example, questions that ask about a candidate’s “strengths” and “weaknesses”. While these are common, they tend to produce very similar answers as candidates try to find the best way to answer while painting themselves in the best light. Instead, try asking questions that engage the candidate, provoke conversation and encourage them to be honest.

What sort of questions should be avoided?

Steer away from closed questions. For example, questions that only illicit either a yes or no response. Rephrase to engage with the candidate’s thought processes.

On this note, avoid questions that ask far too much. “When are you planning to have a family?” is asked more often than you’d think and is both entirely inappropriate and illegal. These days, with social media, disgruntled candidates can share information and experiences extremely quickly. Any question which probes too far into a candidate’s personal life will land your company in hot water and ensure you turn the candidate, and other potential candidates, right off.

Instead of focusing on the question itself, think about what you want the question to reveal. Then, craft the question based on what you’re trying to understand. Essentially, a bad question is shallow. It is easy to answer and doesn’t require the candidate to think.

For example, “what makes good customer service?” This is an overused question which is likely to produce a similar answer from each candidate.

What can be asked instead?

Surprise the candidate and provoke a much more honest response by saying, “tell me about a time when you were disappointed by the service you gave.”

This defies expectations because typically, interviews are supposed to be used by the candidate to portray themselves as well as they possibly can. However, by asking them directly about a time they’ve failed, you can gain an idea of how comfortable they are being honest. As well as this, questions they are not expecting actively test their initiative, tenacity and ability to think quickly.

The fact of the matter is, nobody is perfect.

When candidates try to portray themselves as such, it is a façade, and everyone knows it. So, instead of looking for how well a candidate can present themselves, seek to understand how they might address their own shortcomings. Ultimately, a culture of honesty promotes growth. A culture of denial stunts progression for everyone.

The questions you ask should aim to provoke authenticity to get the most accurate picture of the person. A question recommended in The EQ Interview by Adele B. Lynn asks the candidate to describe a time when they were “lost in their work in a good way.” If the candidate describes key elements of the role being interviewed for you know they could be a great fit.

Similarly, questions such as “how do you find meaning in your career?” will shine a light on what motivates them. Knowing what motivates an employee can enable a business to tailor their rewards and benefits schemes.

The answer might be as simple as “it enables me to provide a wonderful life for my family.” Or, it might be more role-specific if the candidate is particularly passionate about the work itself. Either way, a motivated employee is an excellent addition to a team.

So, what makes a good interview then?

Essentially, a good interview avoids the pitfalls hiring managers have been falling into for years. To make the best quality hire, an interview should be used as a tool to get to know the real person, rather than testing who can present themselves best.

Ultimately, if they’ve made it to the interview stage, they should have the relevant skills and experience. So, the questions you ask should go deeper than their work history and ability to perform the role if you want good answers. If the candidate shies away from questions that probe at their authenticity, that’s a red flag for hiring managers.

After all, plenty of candidates can say the right things in an interview to make them seem perfect. What makes a truly great candidate and employee is the ability to self-assess and continuously improve.

So, move away from common interview questions and answers and engage the candidate in conversation that gives you an accurate picture of who they are and how they work. Utilise a semi-structured interview to make sure that you get the information you need with questions that dig beneath the surface. However, a relatively informal set-up leaves time and space for the candidate to articulate their intention in a comfortable environment.

This is the third blog in our interview series. You can check out the previous two instalments on our blog page to get more interview tips and techniques.

Interviews: Structured, unstructured or semi-structured?

No matter your method, the candidate should always come first

In our previous blog in this interview series, we discussed the difference between competency-based and emotional intelligence interviews. In this blog, we’ll be discussing the difference between structured and unstructured job interviews, and how you can utilise both.

Interviews are not just a process during which a company gains an understanding of the relevant candidates. Rather, interviews are also an opportunity for candidates to gain insight into your company. Too often companies take their position for granted. They fail to understand that a candidate can reject your company just as easily as you can decline them. So, treat candidates the way you want to be treated.

An interview should strike a balance for both the company and the candidate. While an interview needs to assess the candidates’ capacity to fulfil the role, it should also give them a good depiction of your corporate culture. The candidate wants to be reassured that they will be accepted as part of the team and be supported.

Why does your interview style matter?

These days, businesses cannot afford to lose out on talent. The jobs market is currently 90% candidate driven. So, candidates can have their pick of employers. Therefore, the interview process is an opportunity for your company to promote itself.

This means that an entirely structured interview could come across as unwelcoming and may not be the best approach for the current climate. However, the value of a structured interview doesn’t have to be lost. Similarly, while an unstructured interview is commonly known to be free-flowing, it doesn’t have to be entirely void of purpose.

The value of a structured interview is in its capacity to provide quantitative data. This makes scoring and comparing your candidates relatively easy. The value of an unstructured interview is in its ability to provide you with an accurate assessment of the candidates’ personality and cultural fit.

While both these assessments are equally valid, a combination of the two is perhaps the safest bet.

Enter: the semi-structured interview

The semi-structured interview places both the candidate and the company at the heart of the process. To prepare, the hiring manager creates a list of interview questions they wish to ask. However, unlike structured interviews, there is no scale on which a candidate’s answer needs to fall. While this means the data gathered will be qualitative rather than quantitative, it also means there is no right or wrong answer.

This takes the pressure off the candidate and allows the hiring manager to respond spontaneously. When a structured interview relies on the candidate ticking boxes with their answer, it can sometimes result in a wrong hire. This is because the hiring manager is swayed by the data. So, they hire the candidate who said the right things, rather than following their instinctive, initial feelings.

When there is no right answer, it is not possible for a candidate to fail. This provides a safe space for the candidate to be truly honest. It also makes room for conversation to occur in the moment.

So, to semi-structure, or not?

Well, the biggest flaw with both unstructured and semi-structured interviews is that they are less objective. This is a problem if your company would like to keep strict records of interview processes. However, if this is not the case, the semi-structured interview may be the best way forward.

While some companies do utilise the entirely unstructured interview, you can’t assume that a lack of structure will enable your candidate to be comfortable. Some candidates are much more comfortable with a sense of boundaries in place.

Of course, your final decision of which interview style you land on depends on your objectives. However, Amanda, our Lead Resourcing Partner, recommends the semi-structured interview for companies who can see the benefit of both interview styles. She says the format allows for the most efficient, yet friendliest candidate experience while gaining the company the information they need.

Effectively, the moral of the story is not to stick all your eggs in one basket. Spread them out, take a little of what works from one approach, and a little of what works from another. Pay your candidate as much attention as your objectives, and you should find the happy medium you need.

This is the second blog in our interview series. Keep an eye out for the next blog in the series. We’ll be going into more detail about the type of questions you should be asking.

Interviews: Techniques to get the best from a candidate

How the right approach to interviews can help your business attract and retain talent

There is no single best way to interview a candidate. Ultimately, all the factors that come together depend on who is conducting the interview, who is being interviewed, and what the job role is. Preferences are entirely subjective. However, there are techniques which can be applied to the process to make it more effective for everyone involved.

So, which are the most effective interview techniques?

Recruiters conduct interviews with prospective candidates every day and, therefore, have invaluable experience in getting the best from candidates. So, we spoke to Talent Works’ own Lead Resourcing Partner, Amanda Harrison. She told us about the interview techniques she uses and how best to implement them into the process.

There are two main interview techniques Amanda discussed. These are competency-based interviews and emotional intelligence (EQ) interviews.

Competency-based Interviews

Competency-based questions are designed to test the candidates’ skills and, of course, their competency. These questions should give hiring managers an idea of the candidates’ ability to complete the role in the future and predict how they might react in certain situations. Competency-based questions ask candidates to reflect on how they’ve approached previous situations they’ve encountered in the workplace. They aim to assess their ability to work in a team, communicate and organise, amongst other things.

As a result, competency-based questions do tend to be generalised towards skills that are required for all jobs. However, they can be honed and made more specific depending on the job role.

Emotional intelligence interviews

Emotional intelligence (EQ) interview questions are designed to assess a candidates’ ability to understand themselves and the people around them. This gives the interviewer insight into whether the candidate is a cultural fit.

People with high emotional intelligence are more likely to be better team players, thus enhancing work relationships and performance. To assess this, an interviewer might ask who the candidate is inspired by. Or, what they have achieved that they are proud of and how they deal with stressful situations. For questions such as these, there is no right answer, but answers should give an insight into who the candidate really is. The candidates’ ability to self-assess should be a reliable indicator of emotional intelligence.

So, which method is best?

Both methods of interviewing have their downfalls. For example, competency-based questions can sometimes put the candidate on the spot or result in pre-thought out responses. Questions designed to assess emotional intelligence don’t gain the interviewer insight into the candidates’ skills and abilities. So, Amanda recommends a mixture of both techniques to obtain the best understanding of the candidate.

Alongside both types of interview technique, Amanda recommends an informal interview set up. Too much formality tends to put the candidate on edge. Uncomfortable candidates never perform their best or show their real personality. Unless, of course, the role is highly pressured and requires the successful candidate to be able to perform in stressful situations.

Should you be asking candidates to complete a task?

Alongside the interview process, many businesses ask the candidate to complete a task. However, Amanda recommends that tasks are only required when vital for a role. Even then, she suggests that what you ask the candidate to do is kept to a minimum.

When asking candidates to complete skilled work on behalf of your company, you are, effectively, asking them to complete work for free. It is entirely possible to ask candidates to complete a skill-based task which does not take up a significant amount of their time. By not respecting their time and capabilities, you risk putting them off the role and losing out on qualified talent.

Ultimately, the purpose of an interview is to get to know your candidate better and establish that they can undertake the job role effectively. So, utilising interview techniques that allow them to be themselves, while also gaining insight on their skill set, is the most effective way to find the best talent for your business. An interview which combines these techniques to produce the desired result is the best outcome for both your business and the applicant.

Candidates want to feel supported throughout the process. These days, businesses need to implement talent attraction techniques to secure the best people for their roles. A good or bad interview can be the deciding factor for a candidate when choosing whether to work with your company.

So, ensure your approach is both welcoming and comfortable, while also getting to the heart of who the candidate is. After all, you’re not just interviewing them. They are interviewing you.

This is the first blog in our interview series. Keep an eye out for the next blog in the series. We’ll be going into more detail about the benefits of structured, unstructured, formal and informal interviews.

Entry-level positions: how to ensure longevity

Retention strategies for early-career employees

Expectations that entry-level employees are only looking to join a company for the short-term can ultimately cause a self-fulfilling prophecy. If employers see no need to invest in people because they expect them to leave, those employees will inevitably leave. Often, this expectation is false, making the outcome avoidable. When workers are happy in their workplace, with plenty of scope for career development, they are more likely to stay with a company longer.

Adversely, some employers may not incentivise early-career employees because they underestimate their options when moving on in their career. However, employers need to consider the current candidate driven market. As it stands, candidates are choosing employers and not the other way around. So, employers don’t just need to attract the best talent to their workforce. They need to have a plan in place as to how to best work with and retain each employee.

Evidence shows that “the most difficult employees to retain are those in entry-level positions.” However, recruitment is costly. According to research, the US retail industry lost “approximately 9 billion dollars to entry-level turnover.”

As such, employers should be implementing retention strategies targeted towards their entry-level employees. After all, a happier, more committed workforce provide a better service to clients, are “more productive and stay longer.”

Making the most of your early-career employees is clearly a win-win situation. So, we’ve put together some ideas of strategies you can implement to incentivise and, ultimately, retain your entry-level employees.

Set out a development plan

Implementing a development plan sets clear goals for employee growth. This gives the employee a set time frame to work within and gives their manager a method for supporting them in this development. It might be that the employee needs to upskill in certain areas to meet these goals. In this case, the company may be able to provide training.

Supporting employees in this way gives them the capacity to step up to greater responsibility when the time comes. It will also mean that you haven’t left it too late to train and upskill them to the correct standard. In turn, investing in your employees gives them a sense of being valued. It also increases productivity as “people are generally motivated by self-development“.

Implement a mentorship scheme

Mentorship provides a safe space for employees to go to for advice, development and encouragement. Knowing who they can go to when they have questions means they don’t have to risk feeling awkward and remaining silent instead of speaking up. Research shows that “employees who experience mentoring are retained.”

These 1-2-1’s, in turn, create a culture of honesty and openness. As a result, individual employees feel able to thrive and have their voices heard. Mentorship also provides a positive framework for giving constructive feedback, enabling workers to improve in their job roles.

Create a positive work environment

A negative work environment permeates the entire workplace. Cultivating a company culture defined by openness can help to create a positive environment. However, there are other benefits you can implement to make sure that your work environment is somewhere employees want to return to every day.

Many companies are now implementing flexible working schemes. For example, flexible start and finish times, time off in lieu and the capacity to work from home. These benefits encourage job autonomy, trust and better work-life balance. When employees aren’t micromanaged, and their personal life is respected, they feel they have the freedom to take ownership of and do well at their job.

Provide opportunities for career growth

If the entry-level jobs in your company are stagnant, employees will be forced to move on so that they can grow and expand in their career. Providing them with opportunities to take on more responsibilities gives them the space to grow within your company.

Creating a plan for the growth of a role can occur before a vacancy even goes live. This approach allows the hiring manager to encourage candidates during the interview stage that this is a long-term position. When candidates know from the start that you plan to develop them you are likely to have a much better pick of candidates. As well as this, the successful candidate will know on starting the position that the company has a long-term strategy in place.

Compensate employees effectively

Compensating employees who are doing particularly well will let them know that they are valued. If you do not compensate them, they will gain their experience in your company. Then, they will take what they’ve learned somewhere else.

Small companies may not have the budgets of larger ones, but there are still benefits that can be implemented. For example, competitive rates for overtime ensures that employees feel their contribution is valued, especially when they work late.

Not all benefits have to be financial and providing your employees with a generous healthcare package can give them a sense of security. Or, a sponsored holiday can help build camaraderie and teamwork.

To encourage longevity from your early-career employees, you must provide them with a workplace which enables them to envision the rest of their career. If they are assured that their next steps will be taken care of within your company, they will have no need to look elsewhere.

As the saying goes, you only get out what you put in. Employees you invest in will invest back into your company. So, avoid the presumption that entry-level workers are looking to gain experience and move on. Value their contribution and make them want to stay.

Ethical attraction for top choice employers

These days, ethics are powerful. The market is candidate rich, so, employers have tough competition. Therefore, a company which stands for something can cut through the noise.

Think about how negative press attention can damage a company’s reputation. Well, the opposite is true as well. Implementing an ethical philosophy and strategy within your business will keep your reputation exactly where you want it to be and promote sustainable development.

With unemployment “estimated at 3.9%”, a strong employer brand is hugely important. Managing your employer brand is all about communication. How you communicate with your workforce, your clients, and your prospective candidates about what your company has to offer.

Sometimes, companies make the mistake of thinking that what they have to offer only benefits their employees. However, businesses are increasingly being held accountable for their principles, and their responsibility to give back.

Who’s demanding this change?

This is partly due to the influx of millennial talent shaking up the workplace with a culture built on emotional intelligence. We are in a time of increasing engagement with, and awareness of the world around us. Research shows that millennials are more likely to choose employment with “workplaces with social purpose.

As well as this, in society, there is an increasing cry for action on topics with environmental impacts, such as climate change. This is especially true for large organisations. Such businesses are more likely to be asked to take responsibility for being part of global change.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the ethical principles that ought to govern the relationship between the corporation and society. Of course, it is valid to question whether corporations really do have a responsibility to their communities. However, CSR benefits, not just the local community in which an organisation is based, but the corporation itself.

So, what are the benefits of incorporating a CSR programme for your employer brand?

Attract high-quality candidates

According to Talent Economy, millennials have high expectations for the actions of business when it comes to social purpose and accountability. They want to work for companies that uphold these values. Therefore, CSR strategies are an integral part of any company’s employer branding and talent attraction campaigns. This is especially true if they want to appeal to new, up and coming talent entering the workplace.

Millennials may be leading the way on social action. However, across the board there is an upward trend toward enterprises that place ethics and ethical business practices at their core. Candidates want to gain a sense of purpose from their work. This may even be the reason they are looking to leave their current position.

As such, you can beat the competition for high-quality candidates. Your employer branding should communicate, before they even interview, that your company is a frontrunner when it comes to giving back.

Establishes your voice

Maybe you want to fund extra-curricular classes for young people in the community, or you want to sponsor a local event. You could donate the time of your employees to local charities. Or, you could focus your CSR efforts on environmental sustainability and focus on reducing waste.

Whatever your company chooses to do establishes your company’s voice. Establishing your voice can be a fantastic way of engaging prospective candidates and giving a sneak peek into your company culture.

Providing job seekers with this look inside your corporate culture allows them to assess whether they share the values of the company. Therefore, they can analyse whether they are a good fit. This can lead to much more quality hires and better retention rates.

Engages employees

Research has shown that millennials would take a pay cut and be more loyal to a company which provides them with the opportunity to contribute to social and environmental issues. By being a responsible business, which actively engages its employees in CSR initiatives, employers can engage employees and increase morale.

The benefits of a happy workforce are well known, promoting productivity, creativity, retention and boosting profits.

Generate positive publicity

Patagonia has had a remarkable employer brand for many years. In a candidate-driven market, Patagonia has their pick of the talent pool. They are leading the way with paid environmental internships and incentives for travelling to work in a way other than driving. Having such a strong employer brand with an emphasis on environmental consciousness results in just a 6% voluntary turnover rate among full-time employees.

CSR and ethical initiatives are not new concepts in the workplace. However, they are increasingly gaining relevance. More and more employees want their employer to take responsibility, to play their part in sustaining the environment and creating social change.

Your company doesn’t have to be an expert in a topic to play a part in advancing the cause. As well as the employment and economic benefits, being an ethical, forward-thinking employer feels good all round and creates a great atmosphere.

The best candidates have their pick of the top companies. So, let your reputation in ethical issues precede you. As a result, when it comes to the crunch, your company should already be at the top of the list.

The benefits of mindfulness in the workplace

Research shows that employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours.

In a culture of overwork, pushing yourself too hard becomes a self-defeating cycle. No one can continue to push themselves beyond their limits before burnout becomes inevitable. Burnout then leads to a significant reduction in motivation and productivity, and an inability to successfully function.

So, it seems that working too hard does not necessarily equal productivity. However, research has shown that where fewer than 10% of employees used to check their email outside of working hours, today it is 50%. Clearly, our modern-day work-life balance is declining, despite the rise in the use of technology.

The question remains then, how can we enable employees to manage their workload better? To ensure they don’t just avoid burnout but are happy in their workplace. After all, happy employees are up to 20% more productive.

What is mindfulness?

According to Mindful, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation practices, although practical everyday techniques don’t require any study or dedication to a specific ideology. Essentially, the practice of being mindful should both centre and focus you, enabling you to remain unaffected by external distractions.

Why is it useful in the workplace?

A lack of distraction should inevitably boost productivity. As well as this, the ability to be aware of and remain connected to your own personal centre is an extraordinarily helpful tool for taking care of your mental health.

In today’s world, far too little attention is paid to mental health in general, let alone the mental health of workers. The World Health Organisation has estimated that stress costs American businesses 300 billion a year. So, investing in the mental health of employees could, in the long run, save companies an enormous amount of money.

As well as this, the neurological benefits of mindfulness have been linked to an increase in emotional intelligence, specifically empathy and self-regulation. This enables employees to communicate more effectively, making the workplace less stressed and ultimately happier. Mindfulness then creates a positive cycle, as employee retention rates tend to go up when people are happy at work.

Who else is doing it?

In response to such research, more and more companies are implementing mindfulness programs to promote positive mental wellbeing in the workplace. For example, Goldman Sachs, Google, Apple and Nike all prioritise mindfulness meditation as part of their employee development programs.

In 2007, Google developed a programme called Search Inside Yourself. The programme is now so successful that it is not only utilised within the company by employees but is being offered to the public beyond Google. The programme begins with 2 days of live training before the participant undertakes 4 weeks of virtual practice, ending with a 1-hour webinar. According to Google, the programme has been proven to: “reduce stress, improve focus, raise peak performance, and improve interpersonal relationships.” Search Inside Yourself has proven so popular it normally has a “wait list stretching six months.”

American healthcare company Aetna reported that after implementing a mindfulness programme, healthcare costs fell “a total of 7 per cent”. Productivity gains alone were about $3,000 per employee. Results like these prove that mindfulness is a worthwhile pursuit for employers.

As not all companies are large enough to establish their own programme, here are some “mindfulness hacks which can be implemented in the workplace.

Breathing

Breathing mindfully can help to centre your attention by focusing your thoughts on your breathing alone. Get into a comfortable position in a quiet place, with no distractions, and focus on your breath. You could even try counting to centre your thoughts even more. One example of how to do this is by breathing in for 3 seconds, holding your breath for 2, and exhaling out for 4 seconds. So, in total, a 9-second breath. This is a great hack not just for your everyday mindfulness, but also in stressful situations. Practicing breathing exercises can “help employees stay on task and reduce stress.

Take a mindful break

Staring at a screen for too long can cause insomnia, brain fog, short-term memory loss, vision strain and headaches in droves. So, take a break. Go for a walk. Instead of taking your laptop into a meeting, take a notepad. Walk away and observe the world around you, the way your colleagues are behaving, the sounds and smells in your work location. Take a moment to engage with your surroundings. When you rest from your work you are, in fact, giving your prefrontal cortex (PFC) chance to take a break. The PFC is responsible for logical thinking, executive functioning, and using willpower to override impulses. When one area of the brain is used for so much, it’s hardly surprising it needs some downtime. Allowing it chance to function properly will aid your productivity in the long run.

Mindfulness podcasts & apps

If there’s anything we have an abundance of now, it’s podcasts. There’s a podcast out there for everything, including mindfulness and meditation. There are also several apps available which are programmed to deliver short guided meditations. Just a 15-minute journey with your headphones in can give you the space you need and boost your motivation levels. Sometimes, when a lot is going on, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Taking yourself away from the noise with a podcast or meditative episode can enable you to find your centre and focus in on the most essential task.  Some TWI favourites include Calm, which provides meditations of various lengths, and Binaural, which generates beats to help you meditate, sleep and concentrate.

Focus on being, instead of doing

While you’re away from your desk, take a few minutes to pay attention to how you feel away from the distractions of tasks and deadlines. It doesn’t matter if that feeling is negative, simply noticing your natural state can keep you in touch with your centre. It might be that noticing how you really feel gives you the opportunity to pay attention to your needs. If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you treat yourself kindly. Do something that makes you feel happy or calm, like walking, or yoga. As Positive Psychology says, being mindful of your thoughts and emotions promotes wellbeing.

Mindfulness is what you make it. There are no definitive rules, but the above suggestions are great techniques to get you started. Giving your mental health the time, and space it needs could give you the clarity you need at work. For employers, it could be the difference between happy employees, and unhappy employees. Try implementing some of the above techniques into your routine and discover what a difference they make.

How to use Snapchat in your recruitment attraction campaigns

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms used by Millennials and Gen Z. In 2019, the total number of daily active Snapchat users is 188 million with 71% of Snapchat users under 34 years old. It is estimated that if you tried to view all the photos shared on the platform in the last hour, it would take you 10 years.

Still, despite the evidence showing these extraordinary levels of engagement, Snapchat isn’t widely regarded as a recruitment tool. However, if your company is keen to recruit graduates or apprentices, Snapchat is where you should be focusing your recruitment efforts.

What is Snapchat, again?

Snapchat is a social messaging app for smartphones which uses photos and videos. The app gives options to add images, text and animations. Essentially, it is a fun way of communicating with your contacts, as all photos and videos sent have a specific time limit before they disappear forever. It’s quick, impermanent, and a bit of a laugh. It’s therefore not surprising that the platform is known as the social media playground.

However, Snapchat is frequently underused because employers do not understand how to use it, or why it can be beneficial. Of course, as with anything, there are both positives and negatives. As an employer, it’s important to fully understand how you could be utilising Snapchat for recruitment.

How can it be used for recruitment?

Snapchat was first created in 2011 and started gaining traction as a recruitment tool not long after, though it took a few years for it to gain real momentum. These days, it’s predominantly being used by employers in 3 ways:

  1. To advertise vacancies in an interactive, fun way.
  2. To attract candidates, by using the platform to shape their employer branding.
  3. As a creative application alternative, rather than going down the traditional CV route.

Advertising vacancies

McDonald’s likes to call their Snapchat recruitment drive, Snaplications. They’ve combined employer branding and recruitment marketing by making 10-second videos of their employees as they discuss what it’s like working for the brand. The viewer can then swipe up on the video to be redirected to the McDonald’s careers page.

This is just one example of how to use Snapchat to advertise your vacancies more creatively. Utilising all of Snapchat’s features in your posts, such as drawings and text, can help make them more fun. However, Snapchat can be used for more than just advertising your vacancies.

Attracting candidates

Snapchat can also be used very much like Instagram, to give candidates a look inside your company culture. Where Snapchat and Instagram differ is that Instagram is designed with more of an aesthetic feel in mind, to project a more idealised version of who you are. In contrast, Snapchat is designed to give more of a fly on the wall feel to the inner workings of your life or, in this case, company.

It’s not meant to be perfect, it’s meant to feel personal. Where Instagram is the ideal platform for well-constructed, beautifully lit photos, Snapchat thrives off spur of the moment, reactive snapshots. The whole point is that because the images disappear, they don’t have to be visually perfect. What they need to do is tell a story, giving potential candidates the opportunity to really see inside the day-to-day.

Creative application alternative

Other companies have used Snapchat to turn the tables on the candidates, asking them to submit short videos to apply for a role. Of course, this only really works for roles that don’t require extensive experience. However, it’s a great way to see how engaged a candidate really is.

For example, for a role that works with social media, asking them to utilise social media as part of their application process is a great way to test their creativity and innovation. If they’re already an engaged Snapchat user, then the likelihood is they are also fairly savvy on all their social media platforms.

If you choose to utilise this, however, then make sure the reasons behind using this method are clear. A pub in Dublin, Sober Lane, asked candidates to send in a video via Snapchat telling them why they should be considered for the role. In response, there were questions raised over whether they had initiated this recruitment technique to enable selective discrimination based on candidate appearance. Overall, however, with a strategic approach, Snapchat can be a fantastic way to engage with your target audience.

Why Snapchat matters

Research shows that Millennials check their phones up to 150 times a day. Gen Zers are heavier users of Snapchat in particular, being active up to 11 times a day”. So, if you want to reach these types of candidates with your recruitment marketing, you need to meet them where they’re at. Media Post says, Gen Z wants authentic brand experiences across all channels and devices, showing that Snapchat’s personal approach to social media is a highly effective way to reach them.

As a result of these findings, the number of companies utilising Snapchat as a recruitment platform – such as AOL and Mitchells and Butlers – is gradually increasing. So, don’t wait until everyone’s doing it, make your mark while it’s still gaining traction.