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Rethink Customer Service to Create Exceptional Employee Experiences

Customer service is commonly understood as how an organization interacts with–or serves– its customers (those individuals who buy its product or service). A key tenet of customer service is that an organization should have the goal of providing an exceptional experience by anticipating and meeting customer needs before the customer even asks. Imagine if the employees of an organization did the same for each other. Well, businesses with a strong employer brand do.

If we go back to the definition of brand, we are reminded that brand is not smoke and mirrors, it is the core of what you are as a business. To extend that concept to employer brand, an organization cannot expect an “employee appreciation day”, company swag, and an annual “employee satisfaction survey” to be the drivers of its employment brand. Those are nice expressions, but to truly possess a strong employment brand, an organization must offer an exceptional experience on the other days of the year too.

Every week, and indeed, every day will bring its own ups and downs–this is true inside and outside the workplace. When we talk about providing an exceptional experience for employees, our goal is not to create a workplace utopia. Rather, a business should seek to foster a culture that respects the dignity of the individual and affirms their contribution to the business on a daily basis. By doing this, employees feel supported and confident in their work, and thus, are more likely to collaborate with each other in an open and honest way.

5 Ways to Foster an Exceptional Employer Brand Experience

  1. Set realistic expectations of your work culture during the application process
  2. Provide new hires with a “culture book” that summarizes your work culture
  3. Announce milestone achievements, while also affirming the work and small wins that helped the organization get there
  4. Provide monthly or quarterly group incentives for valuable, collaborative objectives
  5. Develop a continual improvement plan that engages employees

ExactHire provides hiring technology for small to medium-sized organizations. Our SaaS solutions include HireCentric ATS and OnboardCentric which can streamline your hiring and onboarding processes, while providing an exceptional experience for new employees. To learn more about how you can enhance your hiring process through the use of our software, contact us today!

Image credit: People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile – Lee Mildon by rohit gowaikar (contact)

Grow Employer Brand Loyalty, Engage Employees in Continual Improvement

Taking concepts of brand management and applying them to employee management is an effective strategy for attracting, hiring, and retaining talent. Previously, we’ve covered the concept of “employer brand” and how it relates to “consumer brand”. Today, we’ll look at the concept of “employer brand loyalty” and how an organization can strengthen it by implementing a continual improvement plan that engages employees.

Consumer Brand Loyalty Vs. Employer Brand Loyalty

Simply put, “consumer brand loyalty” is the phenomena wherein consumers choose to exclusively purchase a product or service from one business, or brand , over a long period of time. Sometimes this is because the quality of the product or service is perceived to be better, sometimes it’s because the brand provides an intangible benefit, such as prestige, fashion, righteousness, or a sense of belonging. The bottom line is that the consumer’s purchasing decision is based on factors that are not limited to price ($$$).

Similarly, “employer brand loyalty” describes an employee’s choice to exclusively contract with an employer over a long period of time for reasons beyond salary ($$$). Employee perceptions of the employer also play a significant role in the development of employer brand loyalty. In fact, many of the intangible benefits that convince a consumer to remain loyal to a brand, can be the same reasons why an employee remains loyal to an employer brand–prestige, fashion, righteousness, a sense of belonging.

…the big difference between consumer and employer brand loyalty??

Consumer brand loyalty is based on how the brand treats the consumer. Employees are, themselves, the employer brand, so their loyalty is based on how they treat one another. This means that in addition to gathering feedback from consumers on products or services, businesses must provide opportunities for employees to provide feedback on their experience. The continual improvement process is a perfect chance to do both.

Continual Improvement

Continual improvement is a concept that is understood by most of today’s successful businesses. These businesses know that operating at optimal levels on Day 1 is nearly impossible, and so smart owners plan for continual improvements that will ensure sustained growth and profitability. In improving a consumer brand, this can be illustrated by adding features to a product in order to address customer complaints. For an employer brand, an example could be investing in new technologies to automate tedious tasks and increase process efficiency.

Making informed changes to existing processes in order to increase efficiency in operations is at the heart of continual improvement. But, often times, decision-makers are blind to process inefficiencies that plague daily operations because they are not close enough to the processes. And although process inefficiency may seem of little importance in regard to consumers, it will take a toll on employees. From there, it’s only a matter of time before the low morale of employees begins to impact customers and the consumer brand.

Therefore, it is vital to understand that the strength of employer brand loyalty and consumer brand loyalty are connected; in order to achieve high levels of both, a business must engage customers, as well as employees, in the improvement process. Again, no one expects all operations to hum in the early days of a business. Mistakes are made, unexpected challenges occur, and resources are often limited; however, if lessons are not learned and shared, then those mistakes and setbacks can begin to define an organization and its employer brand–“The people are nice, the product is good, but the place is dysfunctional.”

Gaining The Employee Perspective and Buy-in

It is important to have a plan in place that provides employees with a formal channel through which they can suggest improvements. This can be as simple as a drop box (real or virtual), or it can be a standing topic at department meetings. Regardless of the chosen channel, it must be easy to submit and receive suggestions, and each suggestion should receive a genuine response.

Engaging employees in the improvement of processes is just one way to strengthen employer brand loyalty. Employees can also contribute ideas for improvements to other areas of your business such as workspace, marketing collateral, customer support, communications, and even janitorial service. This is not to say that every decision for improvement must go through the entire organization, but empowered employees who are given a voice, and whose voice is listened to, will be your brand’s most loyal advocates.

5 Steps to Improve Employment Brand Loyalty

  1. Develop a continual improvement plan that engages your employees
  2. Provide a quick and easy way for employees to suggest improvements at anytime and to provide feedback on specific issues
  3. Respond to all suggestions and feedback for improvement with next-steps and a time frame for completion
  4. Upon implementing improvements, recognize the source of the idea and its benefit
  5. Maintain a running log of improvements that can be celebrated at year-end

ExactHire provides hiring technology for small to medium-sized organizations. Our SaaS solutions include HireCentric ATS and OnboardCentric which can streamline your hiring and onboarding processes, while providing an exceptional experience for new employees. To learn more about how you can enhance your hiring process through the use of our software, contact us today!

5 Steps To Assess Employer Brand For Small Biz Owners

As a leader of a small business, you are likely familiar with the importance of brand as it relates to your business’s profitability and growth. Your consumer brand represents who you are as a business to your customers and prospective customers; this includes how you stand apart from similar businesses, and what your goals are in delivering your product or service. A bad brand is a bad business; where one goes, the other will quickly follow–most business owners understand this.

But what about your employer brand? What is this, and how does it affect the health of your business?

Your employer brand is essentially the same as your consumer brand; however, an employer brand represents who you are as a business to your employees and prospective employees. In other words, your consumer brand makes and fulfills (hopefully) a promise to individuals with the goal of gaining their continued business, and an employer brand makes and fulfills (hopefully) a promise to individuals with the goal of gaining and keeping their talent through employment.

Your Employer Brand Right Now

Though the word “brand” is sometimes cast in a negative light, building a brand is a universal practice for businesses–even if it’s not realized by the business itself. Negative connotations associated with brand likely come to mind when we confuse it with the marketing strategies and tactics used to promote the brand. So putting aside marketing strategies and tactics–logos, slogans, messaging, materials, advertisements, et al.– consider these three questions as a quick and dirty way to assess your employer brand:

(Note: These can be used to assess your consumer brand, too, with a few tweaks.)
  • What is the purpose of our business?
  • How is working at our business different than other businesses with similar purposes?
  • How do people feel about our business before, during, and after working here?

By answering these questions and, more importantly, asking your employees to answer these questions, you will have the building blocks of your employer brand. It is vital that you complete this before creating a strategy to strengthen and grow your brand. If your brand (what you are) is not in alignment with your brand marketing (what you are promising to be), then you will be misleading your job applicants and laying the groundwork for a bad brand image–that means low sales for your business, and low morale/high turnover for your employees.

5 Steps to Assess Your Employer Brand

  1. Develop a brief survey to determine the essence of your current brand using the three questions above
  2. Distribute the survey to all employees and business stakeholders in a way that allows for anonymous responses
  3. Collect and compile the responses to identify common brand perceptions
  4. Identify perceptions that are negative or threatening to your business
  5. Incorporate the assessment insights into a prioritized continual improvement plan

ExactHire provides hiring technology for small to medium-sized organizations. Our SaaS solutions include HireCentric ATS and OnboardCentric which can streamline your hiring and onboarding processes, while providing an exceptional experience for new employees. To learn more about how you can enhance your hiring process through the use of our software, contact us today!

Cut Out Negativity, Find Talent That Fits

We (the royal we) spend tons of time making sure people know when we’ve encountered a terrible experience or product. But how often do we make sure people know about our great, wonderful experiences? We often use our words to share our sorrows. But I challenge you, for just this week, to use your words as swords to cut through negativity and blaze a positive path. I’ll start.

I have been on the hunt for a pair of jeans for months. All women know how dreadful this experience can be. Here’s what factors into my normal experience:

  • I’m short.
  • I have earned thighs that can hold a wall-squat longer than anyone should ever need to hold a wall-squat.
  • I’m thankful for the Kardashians (gasp!) because only they could make my booty look like a joke.

Those are all facts. I own them–just like the lady at GAP who owned her body and those pair of GAP jeans that she was wearing. So guess who ended up buying GAP jeans in one of her best shopping experiences in a long time? Me. And it was a fantastic experience!

What made my experience at GAP great?

  • The clothes? They were cute and seemed to fit well in the dressing room, but that didn’t make the experience great.
  • The prices? I did have a few coupons, but I didn’t feel like I was spending birthday money someone else had given me.

“THE” thing that made my experience great was the customer service lady. Period.

Finding Talent That Fits

We encounter many customer service people throughout the week. Why is it that when we find someone who is exceptional talent in this type of position, we feel like we have found a chunk of gold after panning in a creek for days? A great customer service person should NOT be a rarity.

People are what set your company apart. Spend time finding people who are the right fit. Find the all-stars–the ones who will proudly and positively carry your company’s banner. Your bottom line will thank you.


Need assistance finding out if the people on your team are great? Or if your potential new hires will be great? Check out ExactHire’s Employee Assessment Offerings.

Image credit: 46 by Clara T (contact)

Tapping Your Untapped Audience – Social Media

Have you checked your Facebook page today? Tweeted? Updated your LinkedIn profile? Chances are you have completed one, two, or all three of those items today. Social media can have a huge influence on both our personal and professional lives, and it can be a great resource to effectively promote our organization as well.

Building a Social Media Presence

Social media offers individuals a way to instantly acquire information and “be in the know” about an organization–its events, news, and culture. If your organization does not have a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page, or if those pages are not updated often, it is time to change that.  Here are a few eye opening statistics about social media users.

Facebook:  Facebook currently has approximately 1.35 billion users monthly and is the most most active social media platform in the world. Over 23% of Internet traffic is from Facebook.

Twitter:  There is approximately 284 million monthly active users, and 500 million tweets are sent daily.  Interesting note:  Eighty percent of Twitter’s active users are mobile users.

LinkedIn:  LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 332 million members in over 200 countries and territories. More than four million companies have LinkedIn company pages.

Looking at that data, clearly there are a lot of people in this world using social media. So it makes perfect sense for your organization to be there. But to have a meaningful presence, you must look beyond your immediate network. Do this by exploring who your followers follow, and then connect with them where it makes sense. However, know that once your organization is “liked”, “followed” or “connected”, you are not finished–this is where the road gets exciting!

Maintaining a Social Media Presence

Display your organization’s culture via social media so that viewers can get a solid feel for your work environment, along with learning your organization’s goals. Content updates should radiate excitement and invite curiosity. Regular, relevant updates will keep the Likers liking, the Followers following, and the Connected connected. Occasional or irrelevant updates, will result in an audience that stops listening or disconnects all together. Remember: there is always another organization ready to steal your audience’s attention, and your future talent may be among that audience.

Finding Time to Be Social

If you are concerned about the time it takes to post updates, work closely with your marketing team to see how tasks can be coordinated. Solicit content ideas from the organization as a whole, and of course, identify the types of content that your audience finds meaningful. If your organization is small and your team members wear many hats, look at identifying a team member to coordinate updates, but with the understanding that everyone is responsible for providing ideas, interesting facts and data, and overall enriching content that emphasizes your organization’s mission.

Promoting Social Media Offline

Effective promotion of your social media sites is essential for reaching new audiences. Actively promote your pages on your corporate site, but also share your social media sites within your professional and personal networks at conferences, events, meetings, or even volunteer activities–wherever you can reach people in-person and wherever it makes sense.

Promoting Social Media Through ExactHire’s HireCentric ATS

Users of Exacthire’s HireCentric ATS can promote their organization’s social media pages from within our system. When job applicants view the company’s job listings, they can also access social media sites to learn more about the organization and its latest news. If you are a HireCentric user and not currently using this feature, please contact the Support Team to discuss ways promote your social media pages.

Do not let your organization miss out on expanding your audience through the use of social media. Actively update your social media and share your news with the world. People want to hear what is going on within your organization!

And of course, we like to share what is going on at ExactHire, so let’s connect!

Like Us On Facebook

Follow Us On Twitter

Connect With Us On LinkedIn

Follow Our Page On Google+

 
Image credit: Tapped by Mike (contact)

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send An HR Challenge Right Over!

HR professionals face new and unique challenges everyday. As an HR technology company, ExactHire seeks to assist organizations in meeting these HR challenges. We do this through providing hiring technology that supports a paperless HR environment, but also by providing exceptional client support and advocacy that goes beyond troubleshooting. Recently, I had the opportunity to describe how our organization accomplishes this.

We had been on the hunt to select an additional team member for our organization. During the interview process, one of the candidates asked the following question:

“Being a smaller organization, I assume everyone must wear many, different hats; can you help me understand how that works within your organization?”

What a wonderful question regarding organizational structure and cultural fit!

A Culture of Collaboration– Meeting HR Challenges

In answering her question, I likened our culture of collaboration to a game of Red Rover. If you’re not sure what Red Rover is, you can check out the rules here. The game can basically be boiled down to one objective: do not allow your line to break.

As a child playing Red Rover, I saw that the teams whose members locked hands and stood firmly in position could not keep the line from breaking when challenged. The teams who knew to bend and absorb the impact did much better at resisting a break in the line.  In other words, the teams that worked together and were willing to be flexible in their positions usually had more success.

At ExactHire, we all have our specific positions and roles to play. But when a challenge comes speeding our way, we know that we must bend and shift to hold the line. We’ve worked together across positions, at times outside of roles, to complete special projects like helping clients become BanTheBox compliant or developing a system to help clients access previously submitted Help Tickets.

Everyone faces a challenge that may push them backwards at some point. But if teammates can be flexible and help one another bounce back, the team will successfully meet the challenge and hold the line. This is how ExactHire works. Everyone is cross-trained in more than one position. We are flexible. And most importantly, we are all dedicated to being a team and holding the line for our clients–the real winners of this “Red Rover” mindset.

Image credit: Police Kids Ministry by Michael Sarver (contact)

How Can My Jobs Page Better Engage Job Seekers? – Whiteboard [VIDEO]

If your company is looking for tips on how to increase the number of applications received for job openings, then check out this Whiteboard Chat. In this video, Jeff Hallam offers suggestions on how to streamline your Jobs page to make it easily navigable, and able to engage job seekers to share your career opportunities with others, sign up for future job alerts and easily complete an employment application.

Video Transcript:

Hi, today we are going to talk about how to make your Jobs page more attractive and more engaging for candidates. The reason this is such a big deal is there’s been quite a seismic shift in what’s happening out there in the job landscape over the last couple of years. It wasn’t that long ago that employers could do about anything that they wanted and require about anything that they wanted and people were so desperate for work that they would jump through about any hoop that was put out there in front of them. And that has changed dramatically with the improvement of the economy and with things getting better out there. And candidates, are starting to become a little more demanding and a little more discerning in terms of what they are and aren’t willing to do. So having a page that can actually catch peoples’ eye and get them engaged right out of the gate is often times kind of your ticket to entry to be able to play in that talent game. And so a lot of these are going to be things that you may have thought of before or may have heard of before, but maybe haven’t actually implemented from your end.

So one of the first of those is consistent branding with the rest of your corporate website. So instead of simply putting up a logo and a white page, make sure that the skin of the site, the images that are used, the frames, etc…everything matches up with the rest of what people would see on your corporate website. It makes it appear more natural, it makes it seem like it’s a little bit more a part of your organic site, and again it’s one of those things that can help people feel more confident about what group they’re actually applying for a job with.

And I mentioned images, and skin…no question that every opportunity that you have to inject images, and especially video, into your careers site is always going to be a plus. It catches peoples’ eye, people remember pictures, they remember videos, much more than anything we are going to write out there in terms of words and phrases.

It should go without saying, but maybe and I think this is important, I’m stunned at how often I can go to a page that’s set out there for somebody’s jobs and it’s not clear to me where I can actually find a job opening. So as you design this part of the site, make certain that it’s very clear to someone where they can find your openings so that they don’t have to look around for that. Again, while it may not seem like a big deal, you could lose people very quickly in that process.

This is also a great opportunity to tout any achievements of the organization…you know we were named to the top 10 employers in the region…we grew at a certain exponential percent, etc. Those are all opportunities, along with being able to get some perspective from current employees as to why do they enjoy working here. Those are things that are people, other than you as an HR professional, or as the owner of a company, talking about why this might be a great place to work.

Once someone has navigated to the site and they’ve found a job and they are interested in it, typically they are going to land at and should land at a page that will tell them more about that opportunity so they can determine if they really are a good fit there. This is fairly typical where you would find this…some issues that we sometimes will see that are fairly common. First off, only giving people the option of reading that job description and apply. If they don’t apply, one of the first things you can do now is use mechanisms, whether it’s social media, email or a combination of the two, to give them avenues to stay connected with your organization. Things change. They may like their job and are okay today, and they may hate it two months from now. You may not, this may not be the ideal job for them, but you may have a new job that opens up six months from now that may be perfect for them. So giving them a very simple and easy way to stay connected to you allows them to stay in an environment where once that change occurs there’s a much better likelihood that you will connect with them.

Likewise when you look at the description itself, try very hard even though we’ve been schooled from days gone by that we have to put every single thing about a job in the description, understand that very few candidates are actually going to read that full description. They’re going to look for bullet points, look for keywords and phrases and that’s when you drive whether they think they are qualified and whether they apply or not. So try to crunch that down as much as you can, make it as clear and concise as you can, but make sure you still keep all the relevant information in there about what will this job look like day to day, what are some key skills that somebody needs to have or qualifications to be considered for that opening.

Now when somebody gets to the point where they are actually ready to apply, again we talked about kind of the shift in the landscape. It’s not any more evident than here where that shift has occurred. So whereas, as recently as two or three years ago, I could require of my candidates a full online application and I would get plenty of applicant flow, that probably is not going to cut it in today’s environment. So, more and more you are seeing organizations make that process a little easier for people. Letting them auto-fill a lot of their application information from their LinkedIn profile. Letting them fill a lot of that information from job sites like Indeed where they can create profiles in advance. Doing those types of things once you’ve gotten to this point in the process now kind of continues to reinforce that perspective you’ve tried to set up up front with those candidates of being a welcoming, cool, neat place to work.

So, when you look at all of this, again, the idea of this is really nothing more than to try to bring to light some core things that you can do that can help make you stand out a little bit more in the eyes and in the minds of people who are out there looking at your career site. And again, doing it this way, making some of these changes and keeping some of these things in mind ultimately can help you as you go through and compete with other organizations in the war for talent.

Work Social – Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be Social

How does being social affect your work environment?

Social interactions with friends and family have long been considered important to individual emotional health. It’s been found that people are happier when they are part of a group and have others to rely on for comfort and support. Additionally, recent studies suggest that social connections help prevent physical ailments and disease. But what about at work?

Are the social-butterflies of your office treated as if they can do no wrong? Are there co-workers on the outside of your team’s inside jokes? Does your team spend almost as much time together outside the office as they do during the workweek?

Making a Social Agenda

Whatever the case, and regardless of your personal preference, having a social agenda for the office is important. Teams need to build strong relationships. And since not all employees can meet after work, it is important that social interaction is supported during work hours.

After-work gatherings among co-workers should be encouraged, but that should not be the only opportunity for team-building. Community service projects, company meetings, and sponsored activities should be done on the clock and open to all employees. Many companies coordinate service days where employees are paid to volunteer for community enrichment projects such as building a house, cleaning up a park, or serving food to the homeless.

Hosting retirement parties for employees is another great way for teams to strengthen relationships, while providing team members the opportunity to send off valued co-workers. But, again, companies should host these parties during the workday. This way, all employees have the opportunity to attend, and those with after-work commitments will not be left out.

Company meetings can also have a social aspect to them. Providing time before and after the meetings to mingle, enjoy food, and further discuss meeting topics can be very beneficial for employees. This is especially true for employees from different departments–who otherwise might not have the opportunity to build relationships through informal conversations.

Drawing Lines and Workplace Favoritism

Of course, some lines must be drawn for social interaction. One instance is during company travel. Teams that are going to conventions or seminars should not be forced to room together. Employees need privacy and downtime, and so it is important to avoid grouping members into the same hotel room just to save a few dollars.

One final consideration in discussing social interactions at work is the potential for favoritism. All companies–large and small–should avoid giving preferential treatment to employees simply because they are the most sociable. For example: Just because everyone likes “Joe”, doesn’t mean that he should always be asked to join special teams or attend sporting events in the company suite. Joe may be likable and extremely social, but it is important that employees are rewarded based on merit, and that favoritism does not become a part of office culture.

 

Organizations can hire for sociability using behavioral assessments as part of their hiring process. This provides another indicator for how a job candidate will likely fit and contribute to your company culture. To learn more about pre-employment assessments and other hiring solutions, contact ExactHire today!

 

Image credit: Eric Receives Award by Moresheth (contact)

Jazz Up Your Job Postings Today

Are your job postings boring? Would you like to make your open positions stand out from the crowd? Here are a few simple tricks for your next job posting that can be made using an Applicant Tracking System:

Embed Videos Into Job Posting

No matter what your company environment and culture are like, you can use an embedded video in your job posting to let applicants know what it would be like to work there. While pictures speak a thousand words–figuratively–videos bring spoken word, motion, and a realness to a your posting that excites job seekers.


Here’s the markup for the above video, which you can get from clicking on the share icon right below your YouTube video (or other hosting site). : <iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/tcbsbm5hHdk” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Embed Images

Include fun graphics and images that highlight your work environment and increase interest in your open position. Introducing your company culture to applicants at the outset also supports your efforts in finding the “right-fit” candidates for your organization.

Final Peanuts Picture

Use Flashy Fonts

Don’t go crazy here, but bold fonts can really bring attention to your job posting. Just be sure to keep it classy and AVOID ALL CAPS!

Using Bright Colors

Who says you have to stick to the company color theme? Try something a little different and see if your responses increase. But…don’t use light colors on white backgrounds…duh!

Include Links to Additional Information Not Found In Your Job Posting

Does your company offer a great set of benefits? Why not include a PDF of this information to entice the right candidates to apply?

 

Image credit: More Of That Jazz by Fabio Venni (contact)