How StrategicHuman Resource Communications   Influence Hiring Practice  Cynthia Trivella
Copyright © 2012 ExecSense, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced ordistributed in any f...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   3Executive SummaryHuman Resource Communications is...
Cynthia Trivella   4From a Reactive Function to a Proactive StrategyTwenty plus years ago, HR Communications was exclusive...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   5Resources department is involved with the busines...
Cynthia Trivella     6         b)         Who will administrate the survey? The recommended                    procedure i...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   7Messaging/What Do You Say?At this point in the pr...
Cynthia Trivella     8         h)         How will we incorporate the information into a                    format from wh...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice    9Measuring/MonitoringThis step is at the heart of...
Cynthia Trivella     10Points to consider:         a)         If needed, how often should we tweak the initiative?        ...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   11budget dollars stretch further by accomplishing ...
Cynthia Trivella   12We want to increase our application rate. How do we attract theright talent for our organization?To s...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   13Employment branding is the underlying or foundat...
Cynthia Trivella   14When clients tell me that their competition is using social media andthey want to as well, I always a...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   15When considering a healthcare client I worked wi...
process, identifying who will be responsible for feedback and or approval fo           each step, and even understanding t...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   17The most wonderful aspect of this project was th...
Cynthia Trivella   18For the most part, this organization relied on using very traditionalmethods for recruiting which is ...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   19With responses in hand, the information was pres...
Cynthia Trivella   20issues have led organizations to re-examine practices and worksystems once thought to be effective in...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   21Additionally as described in this article, the r...
Cynthia Trivella   22information culled from the survey summary revealed what we hadbeen expecting: low employee morale du...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   23a) create process for two-way communication betw...
Cynthia Trivella   245) Develop and incorporate an on-boarding program for newemployeesa) started with engagement during a...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice   25Referrals for jobs were growing and with that em...
Cynthia Trivella   26provider to problems. This said, I do believe that the word “human”is a function of this department. ...
How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice     27About Cynthia TrivellaCyndy began her career i...
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This eBook chapter focuses on the best practices of HR Marketing Communications and provides case studies and references to help Human Resource professionals understand the importance and differences with various HR marketing communication tactics.

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How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice

  1. 1. How StrategicHuman Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice Cynthia Trivella
  2. 2. Copyright © 2012 ExecSense, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced ordistributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, except as permittedunder Sections 107 or 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act, without prior written permission of the publisher.This book is printed on acid free paper.Material in this eBook is for educational purposes only. This product is sold with the understanding thatneither any of the authors or the publisher are engaged in rendering legal, accounting, investment, or anyother professional service specifically suited to one particular individual’s needs who may be reading thiseBook. Neither the publisher nor the authors assume any liability for any errors or omissions or for howthis eBook or its contents are used or interpreted or for any consequences resulting directly or indirectlyfrom the use of this eBook.The views expressed by the individuals in this conference do not necessarily reflect the views shared by thecompanies they are employed by (or the companies mentioned in this eBook). The employment status andaffiliations of authors with the companies referenced are subject to change.
  3. 3. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 3Executive SummaryHuman Resource Communications is a relatively new title given to thearea of Human Resources that focuses on the marketing and publicrelations behind three main areas: 1) Recruitment; 2) Retention, and;3) Employer Branding. For the sake of clarity, HR Communications isalso known by the titles, HR Marketing Communications, EmployeeCommunications, Recruitment Advertising, and sometimes but lessso, by the title Internal Communications.Human Resource Communications, once known exclusively asrecruitment advertising, has changed tremendously within the past15 years. Though not a new agency or corporate function, overthe past few decades, it has revolutionized how companies acquire,train and retain their employees. Once believed to be a hiring vehicleexclusively, HR Communications is now believed to be the changeagent behind why highly talented people and great companies aremore closely aligned with similar beliefs, goals, and values. Thisalignment is more commonly known as engagement, which will befurther discussed in this chapter.One of the most contemporary goals of Human ResourceCommunications is understanding the importance of data and metrics(or analytics.) Having sufficient and telling data requires trackingand then ultimately analyzing the metrics found in the results. Theanalyzed data can be used for determining successes, failures, trends,demographics and geographics. From this information, HumanResource Communications can be better directed with messages thatare more pertinent to the target audience(s) and ultimately reachingthose individuals more suited for the culture of an organization.Analytics can be produced in many forms depending on the objectiveor goal of what is trying to be understood and achieved, and itsimpact will be discussed in various scenarios throughout this chapter.
  4. 4. Cynthia Trivella 4From a Reactive Function to a Proactive StrategyTwenty plus years ago, HR Communications was exclusively a reactivefunction and in relation to the times, was referred to as recruitmentadvertising. When recruitment advertising was called into play,it was generally under the guise of a more reactive and immediateneeds pretense. It required the recruitment advertising professionalto quickly look up media options, assess cost for the advertising andinsure that the job advertisement was placed with the media beforethe publication’s, often times, strict deadlines. Though being reactiveto the need for publicizing job openings is still a thriving and oftensought-after option, it has evolved into a secondary function underthe umbrella of a proactive and strategic approach for reachingqualified talent to fill positions within an organization.A deeper understanding of an organization’s business objectivesneeds to be considered when determining how that organizationshould recruit, retain and more importantly, how the employmentvalue proposition (EVP) around why highly talented people wouldwant to work for that organization should be positioned. What oncewas an “order taker” function is now a strategic partnership withhuman resources, marketing, communications, and critical otherdepartments which are stakeholders in the acquisition and retentionof an organization’s workforce.For the sake of this explanation, I will comment on the HRCommunications role from the perspective of an agency consultant.My 15+ years of consulting experience has provided me opportunitiesto work with small start-ups, as well as International Fortune 500corporations. This perspective has given me an inside view of howvarious companies function, how each has valued their EVP, whatweight they place on employee retention, how much interactionthey have with their employee base and if they respect and covetthe opinions of their employees, to what extent the Human
  5. 5. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 5Resources department is involved with the business objectivesof the organization and included in the group of leaders who setpolicy and set organization business goals, and what I have foundto be critical for a strategic HR Communications approach to beimplemented: how business savvy are the heads of Human Resourcesin understanding their organization’s business objectives and how therole of the HR department will impact the success of the organizationbased on the individuals hired, trained and retained.Critical StepsListed below are six steps toward achieving a high-qualitycomprehensive HR communications strategy.DiscoveryAs the first step in the process to a better developed HR Communicationsstrategy, DISCOVERY is simply the conversations and inquiriesthat go into a deeper understanding of the organization’s business,culture, workforce practices, mission-vision-values-spirit, level ofemployee engagement and satisfaction, community stewardship,and most importantly, the desire to recognize that opportunities forchange are needed to sustain the company and move it forward toface the demands of an ever-changing workforce in the present andfor the future.Discovery can be different things to different organizations. It’sgenerally the moment when the reality of knowing change is neededbut exactly what change can be the unknown entity.Some suggested considerations will be: a) Deciding on the type of survey to use (i.e., employee engagement, employee satisfaction, employer improvement, employee development)
  6. 6. Cynthia Trivella 6 b) Who will administrate the survey? The recommended procedure is to have an outside (disinterested 3rd party) vendor administrate. c) Deciding on the appropriate and most probing questions to gain the intelligence. Will the survey be closed-ended questions, short answer or a combination of both? The choice can potentially impact the speed at which the data can be prepared. d) Who will receive the survey? All employees, particular departments or locations? e) How do we pre-announce the launch of the survey?Understanding Survey DataWithout the proper tool(s) in place to collect, aggregate and analyzethe data, the survey will be a waste of time.Some considerations will be: a) How do you want the data presented? Graphs, charts, paragraph format? b) Now you have the data, what will you ultimately do with it? c) When do you plan to share the findings with the survey takers and what information will be made public to them? d) Are you prepared to take action on the results? e) Will the call-to-action require executive buy-in to execute a plan? Hiring manager buy-in? f) Will the data help to connect the dots so we can form a picture?
  7. 7. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 7Messaging/What Do You Say?At this point in the process, you should already understand what theplan-of-action is going to be and now you need to start composing theverbiage to make your plan fly. This requires you to have a summary ofdata findings that paints a picture and will point you in the direction ofwhat needs to be addressed. For example, if employee empowermenthas been determined to be a point of contention, based off of thesurvey data that was collected, then a potential solution to addressthis issue may be to provide employees with additional training to givethem the confidence to understand what is well within their control toimplement and what is not. Another option may be to create internaltaskforce committees that can bring people together from differentdepartments where they can create and propose suggested solutionsthat can help employees to feel more empowered.Some considerations will be: a) What type of campaign or initiative should we create, as this will impact how the messages are crafted? b) Will it be appropriate for everyone within the organization? c) Do we have affinity groups that will need a different communication? d) How do we create excitement around the messaging? e) How many message styles will be needed? f) Will the messages for internal audiences be different from the external audiences? g) Will external audiences be included?
  8. 8. Cynthia Trivella 8 h) How will we incorporate the information into a format from which we can extract the details that explain our employment value proposition? i) Will it address the areas of opportunity found in the survey results?Marketing/VehiclesProper selection of the marketing vehicles will be critical in drivingthe messages to the appropriate audiences within the organization,as well as any external audiences. Considerations to consider are:budgets, timelines, audience reach, venue selections, and peopleresources to manage the marketing goals.Some options to consider will be: a) Will the selected platforms be able to support the messages? b) Which platform should be considered first? c) Are there platforms that should be avoided? d) Which platforms currently in use get the most views or have shown the best traffic analytics? e) Which venues should be considered for externalizing the messages vs. internal (company) use? f) Do we understand who our external audience is and more importantly how they want to receive information from us? g) Should the marketing be rolled out in phases? h) What is the lifespan of the marketing campaign/ program/initiative?
  9. 9. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 9Measuring/MonitoringThis step is at the heart of understanding what is happening withyour initiative/campaign. Without putting goals in place to determinewhat will be considered success or failure, your actions will not havea meaningful impact on your objective(s).What you need to understand: a) Have the desired results been defined so success or failure can be identified? b) Is the monitoring method flexible and open to change? c) What metrics will be reviewed and evaluated? d) How will we track our results? Manually? Automated system? e) Who will be responsible for tracking the metrics and reporting the results? f) How much time will be needed to monitor and track the metrics? g) Are you prepared to defend the metrics to executive leadership?RevampingThis step is important as it will allow you to revisit the initiative (program)and alter your approach to better serve the desired results. This can bedone successfully, but the caveat is that the program itself is flexible towithstand minor tweaks without completely adulterating the measuringstandards. For example, you may have defined a particular metric asimportant, but once you observed the initiative in process, discovered thatit didn’t hold the relevancy you originally thought it would, so you havereplaced it with a more important metric.
  10. 10. Cynthia Trivella 10Points to consider: a) If needed, how often should we tweak the initiative? b) Have any outliers been identified that will aid or prevent us from revamping? c) Does the program/initiative lend itself to being changed without altering the goal? d) Will there be additional/unforeseen expenses associated with revamping the program/initiative/ metric data collection? e) Do we have a Plan B and C in place as a backup to the original program / initiative?Five Frequently Asked Questions about HR CommunicationsHow do you know that being strategic will work?By using supportive documentation such as: case studies, relativeindustry information, competitive intelligence and analytics, HR canbetter understand what has and has not been done successfully. Beingstrategic does not mean implementing a plan and leaving it to its owndevices. It means having a deeper engagement with your understandingof the organization’s business objectives and knowing what areasof responsibility will ultimately belong to the HR department in theoverall goals. Being strategic gives you more control of the outcomebecause you are steering the direction of the HR Communications insuch a way that the needs assessment will be answered.Will being strategic be more cost effective?Absolutely! Being strategic can accomplish a few things. For one,it allows you to plan based on documentation that will supportthe goals of the HR Communications plan. Secondly, it can make
  11. 11. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 11budget dollars stretch further by accomplishing more with less, aswell as economize a large budget that can accommodate additionalfeatures that were once thought of as unobtainable. By monitoringand measuring the communications strategy at various intervals,changes can be made to correct any under-performing initiatives, aswell as augment the strategy with additional plans to supplement theexisting plan. The goal is to provide opportunities to improve andincrease the likelihood of an excellent ROI or better yet ROE: Returnon Experience. The size of the budget is not as important as muchas what is being done with the budget. Being able to optimize everydollar should be the focus.If we take a strategic posture, can we still have room to include anyimmediate needs on a reactive basis?Definitely. Through years of experience and interaction with myclients, I neither ask them, nor do I want them to resist or eliminatereactive needs. As I explain to them, being nimble is all part of beingreactive-ready and trying to ignore this will not be a possibility forone very good reason: inevitably, circumstances will arise that cannotbe ignored or were not expected to happen. One very good exampleof this is when a pharmaceutical client, from many years ago, hadnot integrated the possibility of a new drug getting FDA approval fordistribution. When it did, HR was totally unprepared to pivot quickly.However, being able to capitalize on the experiences of being facedwith a similar situation with another client from years previous, Iwas able to prepare a reactive plan to implement a recruiting strategyfor pharmaceutical reps that could be turned around in the necessarytimeframe and satisfied the acquisition needs to get the proper talenton-boarded and trained to begin marketing the new drug.
  12. 12. Cynthia Trivella 12We want to increase our application rate. How do we attract theright talent for our organization?To start, the first question is: Do you like your career site? If not, youare missing an opportunity here. Without a doubt, we live in a digitalage. A career site (sometimes referred to as a portal) is the epicenterof the candidate experience and where an organization can boldlyplace effective messages as part of the strategic communicationsplan. When considering an organization’s career site and what itoffers to a job seeker, certain aspects of this must be evaluated. Isyour site reflective of the organization’s culture? Is the story of theorganization well told and accurate in keeping with the mission,vision and values? Is navigation intuitive? Are you providing enoughinformation to engage job seekers and are they the right individualsfor your organization? Do you understand who the right talent is foryour company? Are job seekers able to easily find your career site?Do you give them a compelling reason to want to know more aboutyou as an employer and why they want to work here?In regards to understanding who is the right talent, companies needto turn to the best source of this information: their employees. Theseare the individuals who occupy the environment and help shapethe culture. Human Resources and the leadership team within anorganization need to understand how the organization is viewedand regarded by the employee population. So I would ask, do youconduct engagement surveys and if so, how do you analyze and usethe data? When data is ignored and results not reported back toemployees it actually creates a counter-productive effect that harborsnegativity and resentment amongst employees. So the key here issimply understanding the viewpoint of the employee population byengaging them with surveys that value their opinions and suggestionsand when possible, using this information in a constructive mannerfor improving the work environment and for attracting individualswho would be desirable candidates and cultural fits.
  13. 13. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 13Employment branding is the underlying or foundational strategiccommunication upon which all other HR communications are built.A well-developed employment brand will reveal the employmentvalue proposition (EVP) and has the power to set one employerapart from others within an industry as an employer-of-choice. Anemployment brand is a unique story to each organization and no twoemployment brands are ever alike because the EVP is germane andspecific to each organization’s mission, vision, values, spirit, culture,habits, consumer and employer reputation, employee base, product/service, consumers, leadership and stakeholders. Organizations thatrecognize the importance of a well-defined employment brand aregenerally the companies which have a thriving HR Communicationsstrategy in place and understand the positive it can have forrecruitment and retention, along with improving their organization’sfinancial performance.How do we leverage social media as part of our HR Communicationsstrategy?Social media is a hot topic for employers and just about anyonewho’s online today. In the business environment, social media takeson a different meaning from how we use social media in our personallives. One of the first areas to consider is the company’s industry.If the organization is a governmental organization or one wherehigh-security is required, there will be some technological issuesto be considered. Another area for consideration is determiningwhat goals need to be achieved by incorporating social media intothe HR Communications strategy. HR Communications, or anycommunications for that matter, that doesn’t have a defined purposeand achievable goals, will most likely fail. So as with any HRCommunications strategy, conducting due diligence and research onthe backend to determine if the organization and culture can supportthe use of social media should be one of the first considerations.
  14. 14. Cynthia Trivella 14When clients tell me that their competition is using social media andthey want to as well, I always ask, for what reason and to what end.Upfront, I gain understanding by asking a series of questions andestablishing their level of commitment to wanting to do this. If theydon’t have a social media usage policy in place, they need to get one.They need to better understand which social media vehicle/s is/are thebest for their purposes and will help them to reach their goals fasterand with more effectiveness. They need to decide who will spearheadthe HR Communications distributed via social media and of coursecrafting the appropriate messages, terms of frequency, managementof negative public commentary, ability and familiarity of use withsocial media for the individual(s) responsible for being “the socialface” of the organization, to name a but a few of the considerations.From a higher level perspective, being able to set attainable goals andknowing how and when to adjust the HR Communications along withbeing able to identify what will be considered a success or a dismalfailure will certainly help drive the program and most likely determineif the motivation and goals were in alignment with the organization’sbusiness objectives. (SaS, Five Best Practices for Social MediaMeasurement: How to link social media metrics to business results)Case Studies: Strategic HR CommunicationsCareer site development as part of the HR Communications strategyHow you use the strategy in this case: As mentioned previously inthis chapter, the career site is one of the most important startingpoints for any company to attract A-level talent. A well-developedcareer site is monumental for reaching qualified candidates and forrepresenting an organization as an employer-of-choice.
  15. 15. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 15When considering a healthcare client I worked with years ago, I knowhow important their career site was for them. The organization I amreferencing is a prominent healthcare provider on the East Coast. Atthe time I worked with them, one of the biggest initiatives underwayfor them was achieving Magnet status. For those who aren’t familiarwith Magnet status, this designation is bestowed upon healthcareproviders which excel at nursing excellence in various areas suchas employee retention and satisfaction, professional development,inter-departmental collaboration and patient care. This designationis the gold standard for defining the employee culture, specifically fornursing, and is neither an easy nor quick undertaking.To help them to reach their goal of achieving magnet status, I wasasked to consult with them on their HR Communications strategy.The first place I touched upon was their career site. It was what Ireferred to as “basic” which translated into uninteresting andineffective at rendering their EVP.Career site development is not an overnight process. It generallyinvolves many conversations with the appropriate stakeholders, adiscovery process to gain understanding of the organizations culture(in this case it included focus groups, interviews and engagementsurveys), a timeline to illustrate the steps in the process, identifyingwho will be responsible for feedback and or approval for each step,and even understanding the marketing standards established by theorganization so as to insure the business/consumer side of the websitecomplement and coordinate with the employment portal pages andcapture the sweet spot where common attributes are shared.After six months of preparation, multiple conversations, re-writes onthe messaging, graphic design development, implementation of anapplicant tracking system (ATS), technical input, and testing, theircareer site was launched. Based on the analytics (see following graph)we garnered from the traffic, “stickiness” or engagement of the
  16. 16. process, identifying who will be responsible for feedback and or approval fo each step, and even understanding the marketing standards established by th organization so as to insure the business/consumer side of the websi Cynthia Trivella 16 complement and coordinate with the employment portal pages and capture th sweet spot where common attributes are shared.career pages, increased applications and hires from the desired target on th After six months of preparation, multiple conversations, re-writes messaging, graphic design development, implementation of an applicanaudience,tracking system from the client input, and they were hearing site wa and feedback (ATS), technical on what testing, their careerfrom their employee and the analyticspopulation, they credited the from th launched. Based on applicant (see following graph) we garnered traffic, “stickiness” or engagement of the career pages, increased applicationcareer site as hires driving force behindaudience, and feedback from the client on wh and the from the desired target the improvement in candidatequality and efficiency in their nursing recruitment initiative. they were hearing from their employee and applicant population, they credite the career site as the driving force behind the improvement in candidate quali and efficiency in their nursing recruitment initiative. Total Visitors Unique Visitors Average Time Spent Career Site & Mobile Site The most wonderful aspect of this project was that we helped a client to reach a over-arching business objective that impacted the entire healthcare system. Th was most certainly an instance where the HR Communications strategy took on
  17. 17. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 17The most wonderful aspect of this project was that we helped a clientto reach an over-arching business objective that impacted the entirehealthcare system. This was most certainly an instance where the HRCommunications strategy took on a much bigger role and positionedthe client as an employer-of-choice within their industry and community.Incorporating employee referrals into an HR Communicationsstrategy in a high-turnover industryThis is one of the hottest topics I have seen impact the use of HRCommunications. Employee referrals are cited by thousands ofcompanies as the number one way to recruit and to retain A-level talent.One company I want to discuss, here, had a very weak employeereferral program in place which had not been revamped or refreshedfor over 3 years. Given the propensity for turnover in their industryI was a bit surprised. The organization is a national retailer withrevenue well into the billions annually. Overall, the company has agreat reputation and brand recognition is not a problem from theconsumer side of business. As is common within certain industries,turnover can be statistically higher in some industries versus others.Unfortunately retail is one of industries where turnover is historicallyhigh. (BLS Employee Turnover Rates For Year Ending August, 2006- Released October 11, 2006)
  18. 18. Cynthia Trivella 18For the most part, this organization relied on using very traditionalmethods for recruiting which is often times referred to as the “post andpray” method of recruiting found when using job boards to advertisejob openings. I refer to it as the gathering method (attracting jobapplicants to find posted positions and apply) vs. the hunter methodwhich uses talent sourcing and passive candidate techniques. Uponfurther discovery with this company, it was determined they were nothappy with their current recruiting method, but were not sure how togo about finding a more effective way.To start, a complete evaluation of their job board performancewas necessary to discover the areas that may be falling short onperformance. Based on the analysis, the job boards were actuallyperforming quite well and the basic performance indicators (views,clicks and applies) were high. During the discussion around theseobservations, it quickly became apparent that the candidate flow wasgood but the candidate quality was not. This organization conductedregular engagement surveys and had identified the qualities from thehigh-performing individuals within the company, so the profiles ofthe people they wanted to hire for their stores was already in place.What was of high interest to me was how these rock star employeescame to find this employer and what is it that keeps them engaged towant to stay.After many phone interviews about how and why these high-performing employees came to find this employer, three responseswere consistently cited: They were referred to the organization bya current employee, someone they knew who had a good customerexperience and thought the retailer would be a good fit for themas an employer, or through their own customer experience with astore representative who engaged them in conversation aroundemployment opportunities.
  19. 19. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 19With responses in hand, the information was presented and whatwas further revealed is that a viable system for gauging the success orfailure of the employee referral program was outdated and no longerbeing maintained due to the departure of the person originally chargedwith overseeing it. As stated by Dr. John Sullivan, a noted authorityon all that is Human Resources, “Newly launched ERPs become staleand outdated within months of launching, their performance rising,leveling, and dropping off until someone steps up and once againopts to retool the program.” (ERE.net, June 21, 2010)What I gleaned from this was 1) employees do refer people totheir organization regardless of remuneration being offered ornot, as evidenced by the employees who were continuing to referpeople; 2) the rock star employees I interviewed had all beenemployee or customer referrals; 3) tracking and monitoring any HRCommunications program, regardless of it being internal or externalis critical to understanding the efficacy of the program.Needless to say, this retailer heeded the data and immediately tooksteps to revamp their ERP and place a viable system in place to trackthe numbers. Today they are enjoying a healthy and better ROI ontheir investment in this program with a 33% referral-to-hire rate.The financial effects of employee satisfaction and retentionHow you use the strategy in this case: It is no secret that a happy workforceis going to be more engaged and subsequently more productive. But whatare the ways in which employee happiness has a direct impact on anorganization’s bottom line? This is a question HR professionals have beenaddressing for many years and a question that has risen to the surface ascompanies have been called upon to do more and better with less.Fewer upgrades to technology, fewer individuals to complete thenecessary work and less money to spend to conduct business: these
  20. 20. Cynthia Trivella 20issues have led organizations to re-examine practices and worksystems once thought to be effective in the past.When considering cost-per-hire vs. cost to retain, companies need toconsider some mitigating factors. What does it cost to hire, on-board,train and sustain our new employees versus what is our cost to retain,train and sustain our current workforce? So looking at factors likeengagement, saturation into the culture, interesting and challengingwork duties, continuing education, leadership communication, brandambassadorship which all have a correlation to time-to-productivityand customer satisfaction, should help drive the aforementionedquestion on employee happiness and the bottom line to a decisionof financial understanding. Understanding this makes hiring andretention a much more impactful business decision as opposed to a“feeling” or knee-jerk reaction to managing an organization’s hiringand retention practices.As illustrated in the diagram below, researchers describe, in what theycall the “Service-Profit Chain,” effects of how employee retentionand satisfaction develop through the workforce pipeline which leadsto customer loyalty and ultimately hits an organization’s bottom linewith profitability. (Harvard Business Review, July 2008)
  21. 21. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 21Additionally as described in this article, the researchers clearlystate that this workforce model is only successful when driven byleadership acceptance and support.This leads me to a scenario where one such company experienced thisvery model, but not until consequences were felt and a decision toupend a sinking ship was made.A few years ago, a very large North American organization sitting inthe call center industry contacted me to assist them with institutingan employee referral program (ERP). Given what is known about theextreme turnover in this industry, their decision to incorporate anERP made total sense.Upon meeting with the HR professionals at this organization andconducting the preliminary discovery into their business, recruitinggoals, objectives for hiring, target audience, timelines for meetingthe goals and expectations of my role, it became apparently clearthat they were not only suffering from extreme turnover(52%) bytheir call center representatives (call center industry average is 26%for full-time employees and 33% for part-time as cited in the U.S.BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011), they were alsoexperiencing low productivity and receiving poor customer servicereviews. In addition, the hiring (middle management) managers werebeing pummeled by senior leadership to increase low productivityand to up the scores on their customer service reviews. My contactsin Human Resources explained that they had meetings with thehiring managers to discuss the low productivity problem and eachdirect report of these managers was discussed at length to identifywho were the low, average and high performers. This was certainlya good start, but not the solution to the problem they were facing.The decision to conduct an employee engagement survey wasmade, the questions designed and the distribution swift. The
  22. 22. Cynthia Trivella 22information culled from the survey summary revealed what we hadbeen expecting: low employee morale due to high turnover, lack ofadvancement opportunities, high-pressure work coupled with dailyquotas, conversations with disgruntled customers, lack of processesto promote two-way communication between the call centerrepresentatives and leadership, non-existent recognition to the highperformers, and lack of training were some of the major problemsthat were discovered from the survey results, but the problems thisorganization were facing were even bigger. They had lost a very largeclient and were on the verge of losing another. Their revenue modelcould not sustain two substantial client loses in the same year. Therewere different problems to solve here but it all came down to thisrealization: until they fixed the fractured relationship with their callcenter representatives, their business was going to continue to sufferfinancially. Now that we knew for certain what we were up against,we began developing the improvement plan. The plan was createdwith these steps steering the strategy:1) Leadership buy-ina) funding and support to begin corrective measures needed approvalfrom Sr. Leadershipb) supporting materials such as cost-to-hire (ANSI/SHRM06001.2012), case studies, white papers, and the survey summarywere used to defend taking the position that to retain employees andreduce turnover was going to positively impact morale, which in turnwould increase productivity and ultimately revenue and profitability2) Middle management buy-ina) essential to support and promote the programs and initiatives, asthey will be key in driving them3) Needed discoveries and development of internal programs tocorrect productivity deficiencies in the call center
  23. 23. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 23a) create process for two-way communication between the call centerand management – a taskforce was developed with managers andidentified call center representatives to discuss areas for improvementb) developed online training programs to extend the call centerknowledge base and increase confidence when handling customerservice calls (the online training was mandatory, but upon completion,the representatives were granted the empowerment needed to bettermanage customer inquiries and complaints.)c) re-evaluate the daily quota of customer calls to assess theeffectiveness of time-per call [one recurring comment from the surveywas that the daily quota forced the representatives to rush customersoff the phone, leaving the customer unsatisfied with the level ofengagement (comments taken from customer feedback)]d) develop re-engagement program that provided continual feedbackand (informal) evaluation of performance (note: the annual (formal)appraisal process remained in place)e) develop a two-way recognition program that allowed peers andmanagement to acknowledge performancef) develop modified on-boarding program for call center that engagedand encouraged (autonomous) feedbackg) begin to promote creation of employee referral program throughvarious communications vehicles (i.e., intranet, flyers, emails) toinitiate excitement4) Develop the external programs to attract the desired individualsfor the call center representative positionsa) employee referralb) appropriate media vehiclesc) enhanced career site to increase interest and engagement
  24. 24. Cynthia Trivella 245) Develop and incorporate an on-boarding program for newemployeesa) started with engagement during application process and initialinterviewsb) followed employees for first three years of employment6) Sr. leadership to hold town hall meeting(s) with call centerrepresentatives to announce changes, programs and initiatives toforge deeper engagement with call center employees7) Begin to launch programs as developed and provide amplecommunications to all call center representatives8) Monitor effectiveness of all programs every 90 days and retool theplan as neededThe amount of communications work that was developed andimplemented was, indeed, a lot of work. The results, however, werewell worth the amount of work put into the plan.Within six months of beginning the new programs, turnover haddropped from the staggering 52% down to 41% and though stillhigh, the needle was moving in the right direction. At the 12-monthmark, another employee engagement survey was distributed whichproduced significantly different results as compared to the surveyconducted during the initial discovery process. Call center employeesreported feeling more competent to handle customer complaints andcalls. Along with this, the amount of time required for each call hadalso dropped, so being able to sufficiently hit daily call goals wasa more manageable duty. (Note: reassessing daily call goals werere-evaluated and based on feedback obtained during the taskforcemeetings, an agreed upon number was approved by both managementand call center representatives.)
  25. 25. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 25Referrals for jobs were growing and with that employees werebeing rewarded and recognized for their contributions. In addition,call center employees who excelled at providing superior customerservice, were recognized with an employee of the month, of thequarter and annual awards to support their dedication to customerservice excellence. The call center representatives were also able torecognize management for their contributions and endorse them forrecognition and rewards.Client satisfaction surveys were redesigned and distributed at thesix month mark. The client survey redesign allowed the companyto ask specific questions about the client’s interaction with the callcenter representatives and to provide as much detailed informationas they felt comfortable doing. Increased satisfaction was on the rise!In fact, one client’s satisfaction led them to refer another companyto this call center as a solid service provider and gave my client aringing endorsement. Once this new client was on-boarded, amplerecognition and small bonuses were gladly bestowed.The one very interesting thing about this client’s situation is thatalthough many challenges were presented in the initial engagementsurvey, money was never noted as a problem. In actuality, the clientpaid quite well; better than the call center across town and the onetwo towns away. This speaks fathoms about what employees reallywant from their employer and that it isn’t all about the money.Hurdles to OvercomeThere are many hurdles which hasten the expansion and developmentof the HR Communications function. For one, Human Resourcesas a department is still struggling to find a place in the businessworld. The stigma placed on this department has historically beenone where this is the department that employees go to as a solution
  26. 26. Cynthia Trivella 26provider to problems. This said, I do believe that the word “human”is a function of this department. Human Resources when runningas a business department within an organization should stand on areputation where value, business contributions and people resourcesshould be a constant function. This does not mean that HR serves asthe “psychiatrist’s couch,” but does mean that if and when neededinformation and guidance can be provided in a business manner tohelp uphold the needs of the individual and support the leadershipwithin the organization. Many HR departments still struggle withnot having a voice in the business decisions, not being included inthe leadership meetings, not having ownership of the career portalwhich serves as the all-important epicenter of the job candidateexperience. I, also, see many of them fighting for every last dollar ofbudget needed for building out a great experience for on-boardingand training, for example. As a general statement, HR needs to workharder to earn the respect they deserve and I see this as an opportunityfor HR departments to show their business worth by understandingthe objectives and goals of their company, then being able to translatethis understanding into a business case for recruiting, retention andthe need for a well-developed employment brand loaded with lots ofsupporting data to better position their contributions.To assist my HR partners, I work to provide them with data, metrics/analytics, case studies, financial justification, information on industrybest practices, and relative demographic information to help thembuild the business case for why strategic HR Communications shouldbe a gun in their arsenal.
  27. 27. How Strategic Human Resource Communications Influence Hiring Practice 27About Cynthia TrivellaCyndy began her career in advertising and Human Resource MarketingCommunications on Madison Avenue in New York City over 15 yearsago. Prior to that, she worked in corporate human resources as a recruiterand as a training and development coordinator. In addition, Cyndy hasmultiple years of media planning, employment branding and humanresource communications strategy experience at a management level fromboth the media and agency sides. She has managed the human resourcecommunications function for many clients including: The IRS, Applebee’s,Merrill Lynch, GE Capital, Corning, Colgate Palmolive, Burns & McDonnell,PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Lowe’s, LensCrafters, and Home Depot.Cyndy is a guest writer on ERE.net, Workbbble.com and HRMargo.comwhere she writes about topics of high-interest to the human resourcesindustry. In addition, she has published articles on the principles ofproper structure and integration of corporate internships, which has beenincorporated into the entrepreneurship curriculum at a local Kansas Citycollege. She has contributed articles to the Kansas City Small Business Journalon best practices in human resources with one of the articles being citedas a “2011 Best of Best.” Cyndy maintains a strong presence in the digitalspace and has been awarded the distinction of being named to the list, “Top25 Online Influencers in Recruiting” and “HR Marketer Top 25 DigitalMedia Influencers.” Cyndy, also, serves as a board director for two KansasCity-based organizations and is an HR standards taskforce member for theSociety for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, VA.She currently resides in the Greater Kansas City area as the director and branchmanager for NAS Recruitment Communications and was awarded the title ofNAS Recruitment Communications 2011 Director of the Year.Cyndy holds a BA in psychology and mass communications from WestfieldState College in Massachusetts.You can connect with Cyndy:www.twitter.com/CyndyTrivellawww.linkedin.com/in/cynthiatrivellawww.facebook.com/ctrivella

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