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The Forgotten Workforce Are We Neglecting the hourly candidate?

CHAPTER 3

Obstacles to Delivering an Improved Candidate Experience

We know that many job seekers are customers first - yet, when they become a candidate they are often no longer treated like a valued customer. Despite best intentions, employers often overlook aligning the candidate experience with the customer experience. In Chapter 1 of this research, we identified extremely low candidate satisfaction rates across talent acquisition - and in Chapter 2 we recognized these low rates are compounded by the fact that so many hourly candidates are our customers. Combined, the candidate experience for hourly workers starts to become either a real differentiator for companies doing it right, or a very measurable impact on business performance when it's ignored.

Let's take a closer look at what 1,000+ candidates are telling us prevents a positive experience, and what strategies successful companies are taking advantage of to remedy it.

Despite the power of a strong brand, companies in industries that recruit hourly workers are two times less likely to invest in employer branding compared to companies in other industries. To feel authentic, the brand needs to be clearly articulated and closely aligned to both the customer experience and candidate experience. We know that companies that invest in their employer brand build increased loyalty with candidates, yet research reveals that only 19% of hourly job seekers are satisfied with the brand communication.

Only 62% of candidates hear back from an employer after they have applied for a job. This reality means that many hourly job seekers invest the time to research and apply for a role, maybe even walk or drive to a location, and do not even get the courtesy of a response. Imagine how this lack of communication can negatively impact the customer experience. If a customer ordered a meal from a restaurant and never heard back from the waiter, that customer would leave. If a buyer asked a sales representative for a shoe size at a retail shop and never received the shoe, that buyer would take their business elsewhere. But the impact is even greater than 'in-the-moment', because that customer will probably also not return in the future - and take their business to a competitor. The same is true for a candidate. If a candidate applies for a job and does not hear back, how likely is that individual to return either as a candidate or a customer?

According to Aptitude Research, less than 30% of companies provide feedback to hourly workers during the recruitment experience. Candidates that are given feedback through the process have a better experience and are more likely to return to the company. According to research by The Talent Board, when companies provide feedback on what will happen in the interview process, 76% of candidates are more likely to remain loyal to the company. When candidates are asked for feedback during the onboarding process, they have a 133% increase in a positive experience with that company.

Neglect Leads to Trouble

Many of the companies that have filed for bankruptcy in 2019 include organizations in industries that hire hourly workers. According to CB Insights, there were 23 retail bankruptcies in 2019, up from 17 the year prior. By comparing these companies’ business performance and Glassdoor employee ratings, it becomes clear how closely the consumer experience and the candidate and employee experiences are intertwined. While a number of factors go into poor business performance, a large number of major retailers and restaurants with large store closings have well below-average Glassdoor ratings across both employee experience and interview experience. This struggle is reflected in some of the survey results we uncover in Chapter 5 of this report, such as:

Only 36% of retailers have a dedicated employer branding role, which not surprisingly results in only 34% of retailers communicating their employer branding message consistently - internally and externally.

Breaking Through

Glassdoor announced its top 10 places to work in 2019, and number three on the list is an hourly-focused company - In-N-Out Burger. With close to $1 Billion in revenue and a loyal customer base, they are a company that has not moved to a franchise model or gone public despite pressure to do so in the past few years. So, how does a fast food chain beat out tech giants to become one of the most desired places to work in the US - and, the only restaurant chain to break into the top 50? One reason for In-N-Out’s success is its commitment to its employees - which is evident from the very first interaction with job seekers. In fact, 79% of job seekers rank their interview experience with In-N-Out as positive - compare this to a survey average of 23% of hourly candidates being very satisfied with interviewing (Chapter 1).

"It's encouraging to see non-tech employers rank so highly on the list because it shows people that all industries have companies that are best places to work and are also progressive and forward-looking when it comes to how they approach the employee experience," Glassdoor CEO cofounder Robert Hohman

Key Strategies for Improving Candidate Experience

Combining this in-depth research with over 17 years of HCM experience, Madeline has outlined four strategic considerations for organizations looking to create more consistency between the customer experience and the candidate experience:

Companies invest in the customer experience because it strengthens organizational outcomes such as revenue growth, customer retention, and brand reputation. Why don't we think about the power of candidate experience in the same way? While candidate experience and employer brand are two of the top initiatives for recruiting, the impact of both extends far beyond HR and Talent Acquisition. Every year, the Talent Board's benchmark research shows us that job seekers with a negative experience are likely to take their business elsewhere - and, a majority of candidates that have a positive experience (even when they don't get the job) actually expand their relationship with the brand. This means investments in candidate experience not only have an impact on obvious levers like agility and speed to hire - but they begin to influence business objectives like revenue, customer experience and retention. Following this logic, the candidate experience also becomes an outward-facing indicator of the overall success of an organization.

Sometimes, the best way to get attention for the candidate experience is through an internal champion. This can be harder than it seems for hourly-focused industries, where only a small percentage have dedicated talent acquisition support and even fewer (8%) have a role dedicated to candidate experience. Still, they do have managers that feel passionately about the power of recruiting the best people to fuel their business. Finding an internal champion somewhere in the business that can articulate the value and prioritize the importance of candidate experience can be an important first step.

Have you ever tried to apply for a job at your company, as though you're an external candidate coming in through a career portal or job ad? How about, applying for a job at your competitor's? The best way to understand the current candidate experience is to become a candidate. As somebody with an influence on any stage of the talent acquisition process, apply for a job - how long does the apply process take? How long until you hear back about an interview - do you even hear back? Is there an assessment, and what is that experience like - does it lend value to you as a job seeker? Now, imagine your candidate really needs that job to pay their bills this month - that they're counting the days until they hear back, or that they're applying to a dozen different jobs at the same time. Understanding how a candidate truly experiences all of the processes across talent acquisition can be a huge catalyst for improvement - and become a differentiator.

We know that a large majority of candidates never hear back anything after applying for a job - combined with the fact that less than 30% receive feedback during the recruiting process - and it becomes clear that communication (or, lack thereof) is a major obstacle in the candidate experience. When you consider that many of these job seekers are also your customer, it becomes easy to make it a priority to improve communication. No one size fits all - companies that recruit hourly workers should embrace many forms of communication across the talent acquisition journey.  Communication is a two-way street, and you'll want to consider giving candidates options for engaging with you throughout the process, too.

Let's continue the conversation. In Chapter 4, 'Understanding Generational Differences', we will take a look at the preferences of different segments of hourly workers - closing with a few tips for ensuring your candidate experience resonates across generations. ou are registered to receive the full digital series, and we will send you a note when each chapter is Released - as well as a link to all available chapters.

Did you miss Chapter 1 or Chapter 2? Click to get caught up or to reread. Then, continue reading in Chapter 4.

Created By
Madeline Laurano
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