Had a conversation yesterday with a colleague of mine, Lesley DeCanio, of the Miami DeCanios. After we got through laughing about whether or not neutrinos could have both mass and an electric charge (that Lesley is such a joker), the discussion turned to how staffing professionals could strengthen their organizations in a non-recruitment environment.
While the context seems oxymoronic (unlike a certain cousin of mine who is definitely oxymoronic), it’s anything but. Her assertion is that in the same way the country is looking to strengthen its infrastructure to both mitigate the effects of the current downturn while preparing for economic growth, companies should be doing the same thing with their own employment marketing infrastructure. I had to agree, especially since we’re talking about the use of a four-syllable word (go ahead and check – it’s okay).
Here’s my take on the idea, which you can also think of as Foundation Planning: What To Do When Recruitment Is Not An Immediate Initiative (I’ve introduced capital letters so you know to Pay Attention Because This Is Important).
There are two Foundations that organizations need to strengthen. The First Foundation concentrates on the employment experience and assumes that the workforce you have now is the one you are going to have for a while. No one is leaving voluntarily and no one is being recruited. So now what?
Start by examining the state of the workforce and then tuning the employment experience. Identify the strengths and weaknesses in immediate context with engagement, but with a long-term view towards retention and attraction. Identify change management initiatives. While this will actually lead to the identification of your employment value proposition, it should not be viewed as a communications exercise at this point. What should take place is a review of the underpinnings of your talent management strategy with the value proposition in mind. Take a look at the alignment of the rewards program, performance management system, culture development initiatives, and career pathing tools. Are they mutually reinforcing and promoting engagement – the engagement you’ll need to get back on track with company growth? Where change is needed, what is the communication strategy? And finally, take the time to put the necessary benchmarks in place to measure progress in the future.
With the First Foundation in place, we can move on to the Second Foundation, which is about sharpening the tools you have to work with and assumes that the workforce not only has to be inspired, but also prepared to evangelize. In this stage, you’re working on parallel paths. The first speaks to the tool set: reviewing and enhancing measurement capabilities in context with your applicant tracking system, search engine optimization, and career site analysis and alignment. The second path focuses on the employee population: employer brand positioning with emphasis on market segmentation approaches, employee communications to reinforce the invigorated experience that grew out of the First Foundation exercise, relationship marketing with those who have expressed interest in your organization but you’re not prepared to bring on board yet, and the development of employee-accessible social networking tools that will maximize evangelism.
That should keep everyone busy.