As the war for talent heats up, there’s a significant power shift occurring in today’s workplace. Jason Finkelstein, CRO at Traitify, talks about how power is shifting from the employer to employee and why companies must acknowledge this shift if they want to succeed
For marketers, it’s widely accepted that “Customers have different behaviors and preferences [and companies must] move past a ‘one-size-fits-all’ marketing approach.” (thanks Custora for this concise description of Customer-Centric Marketing.) There are now numerous strategies and tools to help marketing teams manage a customer journey from end to end. Everything from analytics to content marketing to SEO to A/B testing to social media management to messaging campaigns to ad re-targeting. There’s an interesting parallel to draw here between customers and marketers, and employees and “People Ops” professionals (HR, talent acquisition, recruiting, etc).
Marketers think about the customer journey: how to engage them early before they’re ready to become customers, how to nurture them over time to be top of mind when they have intent to purchase, how to keep them happy and ultimately convert them from lurkers to likers to lovers. The end goal, of course, is to build a large and recurring source of low acquisition cost customers who keep coming back and ultimately become advocates. People Ops teams must start thinking about the employee journey in the same way—how to engage active and passive job seekers early, how to make their application, interviewing, onboarding experiences memorable, how to keep them happy, etc. Looking at employees with the “lifecycle” framework can help inform decisions about how to optimize the journey. There are big changes happening around us. It’s time for People Ops teams to think like marketers.
Why now? We’re living in a new era where power in the employment marketplace is shifting radically from employers to workers.
The shift is being driven by three main factors:
Unemployment is near an all-time low. In fact, it’s at the second lowest point in the last 40 years, since Gen X began entering the workforce. A low unemployment rate means a lower supply of workers which means it’s harder for companies to hire workers. But, this is not unprecedented in history. So, what’s different?
Workplace transparency is at an all-time high. Thanks to LinkedIn, Facebook, Glassdoor, and Indeed, job seekers are well-informed. If you’re a great place to work, it may attract applicants. But, if your work environment is poor, the world will know immediately. This puts exceedingly more pressure on companies. actually being a great place to work and treating people well is now table stakes. This change has been emerging for the past 15 years and has become prevalent in the last 5.
Personal computing power is at an all-time high and accelerating. It used to be that if I wanted to find a new job, I folded open a newspaper, circled classified ads, and applied via non-digital means. If I was an unhappy worker, I was more or less stuck, beholden to my employer. Today, workers can find and apply for a new job more quickly than ever—now in a matter of minutes, which has also triggered the rise of the #gigeconomy. Altogether, job seekers and current employees have more option value than ever before. If I’m unhappy, I have so many alternatives to earn a living and put food on the table for my family.
Taken together, these 3 drivers have created an unprecedented force in the employment marketplace. Power is shifting rapidly away from employers and to workers at all stages of their #employeejourney (from job seeker to applicant to candidate to employee).
To respond to these changes, companies must start by thinking about the #candidateexperience, i.e. the entire journey of your employees before they become employees. This includes everything from the first encounter with your employment brand across multiple channels to the experience on your career site to ongoing nurturing to the application process to interviewing to onboarding.
While there are tactical approaches that are becoming popular for modern companies – like using data and analytics to evaluate what your candidate funnel looks like, where drop-off happens, etc. — there are also a handful of more strategic approaches for companies to be proactive about treating job seekers like customers. An easy way to think about attacking this is by looking at new categories of emerging companies in HR tech: (1) recruitment marketing, (2) candidate experience, (3) fit & personalization. Each of these encompasses multiple stages of the applicant journey and there are a few leaders emerging in each area which overlaps somewhat in their offerings.
Recruitment Marketing – Smashfly dubs themselves “marketing automation software for recruiters”. Works across most stages of the candidate journey including employment branding and nurturing to help with engaging candidates, increasing leads, reducing cost per hire, etc.
Candidate Experience – Jibe is trying to own the category by calling themselves a Candidate Experience Platform. They also work across stages of the candidate journey and offer the distinction of integrating with Google Cloud Job Discovery which leads to more relevant jobs for candidates and more qualified candidates for recruiters.
Fit & Personalization – Traitify has invented a 90-second test to collect personality data with images, then uses the data to give job seekers guidance on best roles to apply for and recruiters guidance on prioritizing best-fit applicants. This, too, works across multiple stages of the applicant journey and enables companies to accurately predict fit, reduce turnover (even in hourly roles!), and create reciprocity with applicants.
The power shift in the employment marketplace is happening. For companies who don’t acknowledge this shift—and aren’t thinking about job seekers, applicants, employees like they think about customers—they expose their companies to an existential threat. Companies who ignore this shift will struggle at best and fail at worst. It’s only a matter of time.