4 Minute Read

Explain your why.

That is one of the most important steps any company can take when seeking quality employees in the post-COVID era.

Said another way, why would someone want to join your team?

“There's hundreds of different job board applications, services that rely on maximizing the message that you're putting out on these platforms,” said Ian Schotanus, the managing member and lead consultant for The Big Picture Consulting (TBPC), in a recent Aspire webinar. “But one thing that is very common in them is that it relies on you just putting out your bullet list of information and hoping that it attracts people from the sea of everybody, with all your other competitors and every other company doing very similar type things.

“You have all those resources, yet everybody in almost every industry right now is struggling to find quality employees.”

Why it doesn’t work in the present environment was the focus of the presentation. Yes, the webinar was geared toward landscaping, and Schotanus’ advice addressed the specific needs of that industry (seasonal hiring, the specific type of landscaping needed, etc.). But his ideas apply to other industries, including the trades, janitorial, and other service work.

The touchstone: Companies that use the traditional methods from 10 years ago are finding it more difficult to attract good people. The workforce has become more selective, and the days of sharing information about a company and expecting the best and brightest to knock down the doors are fading.

“(The pandemic) has really reshaped the job market and how people are looking for jobs and what type of jobs they’re looking for,” Schotanus said, offering a PowerPoint presentation to go along with his explanations.

The ever-growing impact of social media also plays a role.

“It doesn’t really matter how many resources you have if they’re not being leveraged properly,” Schotanus said. “Society has changed. How people are communicating with each other has changed.”

How can a company leverage itself to attract the best of the best? Schotanus—a Navy veteran who has worked in the retail and service fields and has more than 10 years of experience as a national level HR and safety compliance consultant—offered several tips:

Craft a ‘why’ story

Don’t just do the what. Explain the why.

Explain why your business is unique and special. Present yourself in a way that will make applicants want to join your company for reasons other than a paycheck. Among those reasons: the culture, recognition, advancement, development, and understanding of the work-life balance.

“How will working for you help improve their lives?” Schotanus said.

Apply common sense. Reading about and seeing a company whose team enjoys being together and that shares experiences and grows together is a lot more appealing than simply seeing a well-worn laundry list. One approach is alive and engaging; the other is neither.

Do not rely on finding job seekers

Schotanus calls this “the biggest pain point” in the job market. The labor numbers show that almost everyone who wants a job right now has one. The challenge is to craft the company’s story in a way that the message gets to people who are not necessarily in the job market.

“That can be tricky,” he said. “Luckily, there are tools available to make that easier.”

Take maximum advantage of social media

The next generation uses social media in so many ways that it’s vitally important for companies to leverage it to its best use as well.

“Everything is personal these days,” Schotanus said.

Recruiting from social media means going back to the “why story,” which means showing a potentially strong hire who may be working elsewhere why he or she may want to switch jobs.

“Show your team having fun, not necessarily just the bullet points of great pay, vacation time, holiday pay,” Schotanus said. “Use social media the way that it was designed.

“Make it personal, build an emotional connection and trust that potential employees will respect you before they even talk to you, before they even click to see what jobs you have available.”

Leveraging the why can show that the grass really is greener (landscape humor) on your side of the fence, and draw good people from other companies. Planting the seed (more landscape humor) that your business has a positive and nurturing culture tells potential hires your workplace is a good place to sprout (ouch … last one).

“They come to you rather than you having to hunt them,” he said.

A Facebook tagline that generates an emotional response can help. Schotanus suggested things like ‘come join our family’ or ‘our family is growing.’

“That resonates with a wide range of people,” he said. “Then providing supporting imagery for what makes it a family that they're joining – rather than just getting another job. That's the type of emotion-driven marketing that you want. It’s getting them to make connections.”

Brand representation

Professionalism matters. Is your company a positive place? Is the culture healthy and nurturing? Do you care about your team as individuals who have a life away from work? It all matters.

“Employees need to be engaged and believe in the purpose of the company so that they respect the brand as they're delivering the services to the customer,” he said. “You can't get away with the ‘Chuck and a truck’ attitude anymore. There's just too many people in the space working to get the same customers and working for the same or looking for the same pack of employees.

“One big thing that can differentiate you both to the customer and to potential employees is your level of professionalism. If an employee knows that their work is going to be respected, that they are going to be respected as professionals in their field, that is a huge psychological draw.”

Positivity

Keep the social media posts current and positive. Having a video from a company picnic from 2018 does little to explain the why. In fact, it undercuts any upbeat message you are trying to share.

“You want to be positive, you want to live your why, and if you're no longer able to live that way, pivot and adjust it again,” Schotanus said.

This approach should help draw quality people and workers. But the work does not end once the hirings are completed. 

“Once they’re in the door, you need to be able to keep them,” Schotanus said.

How does he recommend doing that?

  • Make people feel welcome and wanted from day one. Having their email, equipment, phones, etc. ready for their first day tells them they matter.
  • Keep the culture fun, consistent, and equitable. Do that by engaging with people, personally and in ways that offer personal growth.
  • Accountability. Make this environment productive and efficient, but don’t let people slide, either. “You set the rules for a reason,” Schotanus said, adding few things will hurt culture and motivation more than not holding individuals accountable.

Schotanus answered numerous questions after the presentation. A recording of the entire webinar can be accessed here. To view the PowerPoint, go here. Schotanus can be reached at Ian@thebigpictureconsulting.com