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External Employee Experience Framework

In This Episode

  • How to consider and view your external employee experience, and they a customer lens is critical.
  • Your future employees are external candidates first, so planning out their Know, Feel, Act, and Touch points along the external process is their first impression with your company that carries into their tenure.
  • Using the framework, you can influence your company’s reputation and connection, once your candidate becomes an employee—and how the world views your company as a whole.


(00:00): But when we talk about touch points, what I really want you to think about externally is understand the different ways that your candidates and your external constituents are going to touch and consume all of your content. I'm Melissa Anzman, HR practitioner turned CEO of a thriving employee experience company, but it wasn't all that long ago that I worked as an HR business partner responsible for increasing employee engagement at companies nationwide and I struggled to move the needle even after trying everything under the sun. Fast forward past many fail tactics and lessons learned and you'll see how I've been able to crack the code and replicated at companies of all sizes for creating true engagement and doing HR work that matters, work that changes the lives of leaders, HR professionals and employees. By focusing on the employee experience, I created the rethink HR podcast to give you actionable step by step strategies to help you make an impact.

(01:02): If you're an HR leader or one on the rise who's looking to stop spinning your wheels doing the same tired activities that aren't driving results or you want to have a career you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started. One of the biggest ways that employee engagement lets us down is that we think about it only when once the employee joins our organization. And similarly when it comes to the employee experience, it's not about just when the employee becomes an employee, but it's also really critical to understand that the employee experience actually starts with how our company is perceived externally, what our reputation is, how we share the story about who we are as an employer, what are candidates and potential new future employees say about us, think about us, know about us. That's all an critical component of the employee experience. And so companies tend to buy their way or focus, I should say, on becoming an employer of choice or a best of landing on one of those lists, which by the way, for most of them insider's tip, you actually have to pay money to apply to become that.

(02:28): So that's why you see a lot more larger companies on that list. And also do they really mean anything? Who knows? I remember working at a company where they wanted to get on one of the best of places to work, I think, and they sent an email out to all employees, Hey, we'd love to be on this list. Please go there and tell them how much you'd like to work here and how much of a good workplace we are. Which in reality it wasn't, but you only need however many people to submit their review in order for it to be something that makes sense. So I digress a little, but the external lists, the external factors, the external culture, perceptions and reputation is critical when it comes to creating and ideal employee experience. Now, interestingly, a lot of companies already focus on external reputation factors, but it's not usually intentional.

(03:35): It's not usually tied to the actual employee experience, conversation, strategy, or culture. So instead what they do is they have this external brand and that's all about what the company does and why they're great and how they do things differently and better than everyone else. And then they had to the career section and HR comes in and marketing may partner with them to slap on a little bit of that external branding. But other than that, there isn't much that's focused on the employee experience. Yes. It became cool to do interviews of what it's like to work here with current employees and show videos and do long blog posts, showcase pictures. It always makes me laugh though when I know that that employee has left and they still have all this content with that employee and Ugh, it is such a mess sometimes. But that being said, just saying what it's like to work here from like one or two people and then have people go to a careers page to apply without a lot of information, without a specific focused on the employee experience, you're losing a huge opportunity.

(04:56): So don't waste your career space. Don't waste the opportunity that you have with creating your external experience. Which creates a better internal employee experience and don't miss out on the opportunity to influence something that makes your job in HR a lot easier when it comes to things like retention. And one of the undercover reasons why employees leave is because the external experience, what they thought they were getting into, what they thought the culture was like, what they thought the employer was like doesn't match the actuality of once they join the organization. And with that mismatch, people get annoyed, angry, fed up and they leave. The other thing that you should look at when trying to figure out if your external experience is truly matching and influencing your internal employee experience are things like how many people ghost the recruiters during the interview stage. Now granted that's going to vary based on economy and timeline.

(06:12): We are about, uh, I don't know, nine, 10 weeks into the pandemic with the economy really having a problem at the time of this recording. So you may not be ghosted as much as you were say, two months ago when all of the post had changed from our candidates are leaving us. Why aren't they starting? Why aren't we doing this, et cetera. So that being said, your external experience also influences the number of qualified candidates that your recruiter will get for the roles because you are clearly stating what your company experiences and what it clearly isn't. And we're truthful about this. If we don't share the real culture, the real experience, you're going to have that mismatch I just talked about. So the first thing that we need to do when trying to craft and create and hone the employee experience is all about the customer lens.

(07:17): Now we do this as a company very well. When we think about how we want to market to our clients or our buyers or our customers externally. However, when we think about our future employees, we tend to forget that they are a segment of our customer population. And so I want you to think back to your own job search. The last one that you did. How did you approach it? Like what were your steps you would probably apply to companies that you knew of that you heard of, maybe would then go to your network and make connections to build rapport. And see if you can get in in at one of those companies. Perhaps you also went to job boards and found roles that seemed interesting and apply to them. You had a wide net likely if the smaller net wasn't working in particular. But the thing is is that when you have a smaller net, you probably are more direct and clear as to which companies or roles you want to take.

(08:26): So I could go down the rabbit hole of talking about wide net versus narrow net. For this. For the record, I like a wide net with a narrow net approach. Um, meaning you don't get a job, you don't apply for, so apply, apply, apply. But when we talk about the employee experience, that customer lens really is influenced by what people know about our company and how they want to show up, how they want to be a part of it. So that is reputational. And if you're not, you know, a big fortune 500 company or maybe even a big five fortune, fortune five and above company, we may not have that reputational factor. We may not have the big block or audience attention in order to create that buzz about us and not sort of the employee experience comes into play. And yet NHR we just rely on our job being exciting enough on a job board or posting about it enough times on LinkedIn to attract and influence the right candidates.

(09:41): So if you look at your potential employees the way you would if you are marketing an external product through the customer lens, we speak to them, we share stories, we talk about them through this storytelling for H R framework, your current clients and customers also become then your future employees. So instead of hoping that a job postings going to get your ideal candidates in the door, if you are intentional with your employee experience, even if you don't have a huge budget to do so, even if you're just tweaking what you're putting out there on your careers page through the lens of your customer, of your candidate, your efforts are going to pay off and creating the actual employee experience that your future employees as candidates and through alumni are going to experience. And so at a macro level, when we look at the framework, we want to apply those same four components, the know, feel, act, and touch from an external perspective as we craft what that experience is, what it looks like, what we need it to be, and what we want our candidates and future employees to experience.

(11:09): And so we start at the macro level with know what do our external constituents need to know and what do they need? And so what do they need to know about us as a company? What is true, what is important? What are our core values? Only if we live them. And what do they need to know about standards working, um, expectation factors and so on. These are critical things. And remember, we are not creating, sharing, using the things that our marketing group would like us to have. What we think our culture is of what we hope it to be, of what we desire it to be. Because if we do that, if we create an entire story, an entire experience around something that is a lie or not presently true, so more of an aspiration than we are going to attract employees who are not going to stay thereby completely ruining our entire experience as a whole, but also wasting a lot of budget dollars.

(12:23): So when we think about our future candidate, what do they really want to know from us and what do they need to know isn't just what the environment's like, but what is it like to work there? What are our benefits? What's the expectations? How does that one overarching goal that we want to focus on? You know, our essential ism goal, so to speak. How does that align with their everyday experience? Should they join us? And if you don't have candidates right now, that's not something you still have the external experience when it comes to vendors or partners or contractors. So I really want you to research what does your website, your external facing website or your career page say about what and who you are? Does a candidate know deeply, quickly, urgently, when they land on those pages, what type of company you are. Do they get the information they do, they need, do they understand your benefits package stop hiding important information like your benefits package, like your total rewards offerings behind a gated scene.

(13:43): That is terrible when your candidates are coming to see if you match what they want, give them the information. You don't have to give all the information, you don't have to talk about how much it costs, but give them the information of the types of benefits you offer, what that looks like. The more information you give them upfront, and in this example I'm using total rewards and benefits because we all have it and it's really, really important. But the more information you give them, your future candidates can opt in or out, like they may be a 401k is really important to them or maybe having a certain health care benefit is important to them. If you don't offer those things or if your program isn't super fantastical and that's what they're looking for, they're going to opt out of applying. So that is the no, now obviously you want to go deep here.

(14:41): You can find more in the employee employee experience solution book about how to apply the know section, how to research it, how to come up with your own at a macro and micro level. But we are going to go through this fast. So that is the no, when you look at the external experience, the next thing you want to evaluate is the feel. So for our external employees, we want them to feel that this is the place for them or it is not the place for them. We want them to understand what it is about who we are that we want to connect them with and what is exciting about us and what is an exciting. So we always try to think about things that are super exciting. We compare our companies to Google. We're not Google, we shouldn't compare ourselves to them, but we don't want to talk about things that maybe are just not super exciting.

(15:42): And your candidates are sometimes looking for something that isn't exciting. If you've been around a hundred years, that's good to know. Maybe not super exciting, but it's important if you have a hierarchical structure and it's very much a suit and tie environment. Super, not exciting, but really helpful and interesting to a lot of candidates. So we want to know, we want to create the emotion. We want our candidates to know exactly how we want them to feel about it and what's important to us, what our emotional connection is with our employees and with the company. So I like to use an example, Tom shoes, because most of us have heard of them, but Tom's shoes is super clear about who they are and how they want you to feel about their company externally. And it's the same internally and externally. They have clearly defined that a feeling, an emotion for them that's critically important is community involvement and giving back.

(16:50): That's their whole premise. That is what made them super popular and brought them top talent. And a lot of customers externally, they talk about that on their careers page. They tell you up front, this is what we want you to feel. This is an emotion. If you don't connect to it, that's cool, but you're not a right candidate for our company. So I want you to think more purposefully in your external feel so that you can evoke the desired emotional connection between your company and your constituents, which includes your candidate, stakeholders, vendors, and so on. Because doing that, you'll be able to reinforce the important parts of your external marketing on your careers page and throughout your website externally to make sure that you help attract the right people as you move along. So that's know and feel. So the next component is act. And when it comes to act and the external employee experience, basically you want to look at it from the macro level.

(18:01): What is the one next action that you want your candidate or your vendor, or your client or customer, what have you to make? So let's talk about that candidate. The one act, we want them to make the one action. The next thing is, am I right for this job? Am I not, or I'm right for this job? It's time to hit apply versus totally not for me. I'm out. So what's the one next step? And as we set up our careers page, those are the types of conversations and questions we want to make sure that we are guiding our layout on. Do we need them to take action here? What is the one next action? How can I reinforce the culture? How can I reinforce the know and drive the next activity? So remember when someone comes to our careers page, they are evaluating whether or not we are the right company for them and if the role is a good match, but we give them so many things to do that they get distracted and don't take the action of applying or saying peace out.

(19:18): And so when we give too many actions to somebody, we have to make them decide and they're either going to decide wrong, take a while to get there, be annoyed, hit a friction point, or just be overwhelmed and leave. None of those are great. And so we want to create very clear next step actions. Even if it's more website clicks, even if it's more pages, we want to make it easy. So what we don't want to do is on our careers page have 18 different things of, Hey click here to do this. Hey, click here to do that. Oh did you know this? Click here to learn. Terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. I was looking at one the other day where they had to learn about us. Here's our benefits, here's our jobs, here's the different types of jobs he learned about our board of directors and our leadership team like stop it.

(20:12): That's not helping us take drive the one action we want candidates to do, which is either apply for a job or learn about us to see if they're right for the job. So depending on how you have set up your hiring culture, you would choose one of those two paths and they would be two separate things. So if you've decided that you care more deeply about your candidate resonating, connecting with your culture, with your, no with your feel, than what you would do is that landing page would be something like this is what it's like to work with us. Read more. And once they get to that page and they read more and they decide they're in, then you have a click here to search for jobs. Or if you say that they're, you know, the other way, if you want them to apply for a job and then learn about your company, that landing page would just say that first touch would be search for a job here.

(21:13): And then the job search would happen and the learn about us would happen separately. But make these two actions, create your actual process floor flow for your external constituents, your candidates to actually process through in a way that makes you get very clear about who you're attracting, what their process is and leading them step by step by step, by step through the next one action. And finally, the last component is touch and touches really the touch points that your candidate is going to go through. Now the weird thing here is a lot of us use external, uh, career sites like brass rings. I probably just stayed in myself with that reference or a Workday or PeopleSoft or, um, gosh, I'm blanking on the other. There's a ton out there. Maybe it's LinkedIn jobs, sports that you use, but we really disconnect with the actual career search because you know apply to Layo is the other one I was thinking because applying for jobs and having all of that is is a super special software function, so we outsource it, most of us and we go from our candidates go from a super slick marketing driven external website to a crazy wonky, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad careers page and job search.

(22:42): Even if you got Workday, all you do was slap on your logo. It still looks awful. We're still having a terrible process flow with touch. I will talk about that at another time of how to actually fix your candidate experience, which is going to be on the next episode of rethink HR. But when we talk about touch points, what I really want you to think about externally is understand the different ways that your candidates and your external constituents are going to touch and consume all of your content. So you don't want your careers page to just be a lot of words or conversely, a lot of graphics. We want a certain type of mix. We want it to reinforce your brand. We want it to be easy to use. Obviously mobile responsive and friendly. If you don't know what that is by now, let's have some conversations.

(23:39): Everything you create online should be mobile responsive and friendly and we to be sure that all of the touch points that we create are multifaceted. So when someone lands on our career page, they feel included. So that means that we're saying the same information in different communication channels. PDFs aren't just PDFs. Maybe we're doing an audio recording or a video or an infographic or a graphic. We want to make sure that the way that we convey information on our external experience websites, in this case we're talking about the careers page, that we are able to provide that information to all of the different types of people who are going to come there and who we want to attract to join our organization. And that only happens by us thinking differently through a different lens, through that customer lens and providing communications and solutions that match that broader audience to help reinforce that culture that we want to present to the world.

(24:48): So in order to improve your internal employee experience, it really starts in a lot of ways before HR gets involved. It starts with how I externally we are experienced in the marketplace by candidates, by vendors, by partners, by well known people or referring partners or websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, reputational, so on and so forth. And that really dictates the culture that is then carried into an over to the internal employee experience. And if we focus just a little bit of time on the external experience and making sure that we're using the framework, the know, feel, act and touch framework in order to create an intentional experience, our retention will go up, which means turnover will also go down because we are creating a consistent expectation between what our company is like and what our new employees should eat.

(25:59): In fact when they join us. This podcast is brought to you by better micro-sites with your HR budgets being cut and you being on the hunt for ways to do more with a lot less money. Why not consider a total rewards or benefits microsite that not only increases your employee experience, but also delivers increased value at half the cost? Better? Microsites are a hundred percent designed based on what your employees need to know, your branding and your information, improving the speed in which your employees can find important benefit information and HR information while seamlessly connecting with your enrollment vendor. Learn more about better microsites at better.com/microsites that's TT hr.com/microsites thank you so much for tuning in for this episode of the rethink HR podcast. For more information, including the show notes and resources, please go to rethink HR, our

(27:04): podcast.com/ten.

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