Why plugging the values vacuum can help small businesses hire better

It’s not just free lunches and indoor ping pong that attracts the best talent: young jobseekers are looking for employers with the right values, according to new research from LinkedIn

Why plugging the values vacuum can help small businesses hire better

September is characterised by a distinctive back-to-work feel and as many people put the suntan lotion away and return to the office, they can’t help but re-evaluate their current situation and career ambitions. We see this every year on LinkedIn. In 2015, there was an 11% increase in the number of UK professionals updating their profiles during the first two weeks of September and a 24% rise in the average number of jobs posted between August and mid-September.

This makes September the ideal time for businesses to attract great new recruits. So to help companies get a better sense of what candidates care about, we commissioned a report that revealed just how important it is that businesses effectively communicate their values both internally and externally if they want to attract the best.  When we polled over 3,000 UK professionals about work satisfaction, we found that 52% of respondents believe that aligning with an organisation’s purpose is a deal-breaker when considering a new job opportunity. The proportion is even higher (56%) among the youngest employees aged between 16-24, meaning this will continue to be a key factor for years to come.

But despite the importance of values to jobseekers, a significant number of businesses seem to be missing the mark. Of the HR managers we spoke to, 12% admitted they struggle to articulate their company’s values, while less than a quarter rate the alignment between their employees’ values and those of the company as excellent. Almost one in five said their recruiting and marketing functions don’t work together well – or at all – to promote the company to prospective hires.

But thanks to the proliferation of social media and smartphones bringing brands closer to their audiences, there’s no reason why even small businesses with small budgets can’t convey what they stand for. Here are four ways SMEs can avoid having a values vacuum and ensure they’re attracting the best talent.

 1.Know your story
The first step is having a firm sense of what your company stands for and developing its personality. Is your workplace fun, fast-paced, high-tech or entrepreneurial? And do you place particular importance on flexibility, being family-oriented or giving back to the community?

If in doubt, ask your employees for their views. This approach will not only help you build your story as an employer but it will also give you useful feedback about what your team values most about your organisation.

2. Immerse everyone in your culture
It’s now almost inevitable that a candidate’s first encounter with your company will take place online. So it’s important that you let your culture shine through on your website and online profiles. That said, don’t feel that you need to go it alone. Your employees are your best ambassadors and many of them will already be active online, so don’t be afraid of encouraging them to help you promote your business on their personal channels.

3. Show, don’t tell
It’s one thing to say, “we have fun here”. It’s far more powerful to use images and videos to bring prospective employees into your world. SAP, the software company, is a great example of a big brand that uses video extremely effectively as part of their recruitment strategy to showcase its company culture through its people. You don’t need fancy equipment or big budgets to recreate this success though. It’s never been easier or more affordable to capture your culture on camera using smartphones and simple editing applications or even Instagram and Vine.

4. Seize the social opportunity
As a small company, you can afford be a little more nimble on social media because you’re less likely to have lengthy approvals processes or intricate corporate brand rules to adhere to. Don’t waste this opportunity by merely broadcasting your company news and job openings. Instead open up a dialogue by answering questions and responding to comments. Even if the person you’re engaging with isn’t looking to move right now, they will go away with a positive impression that will make them more likely to think about you again in the future. Social media is a golden opportunity to communicate your values authentically in real time.

Dan Dackombe
Dan Dackombe

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