One “official” definition of consumer behaviour according to Wikipedia is “The study of individuals, groups, or organisations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.” That sounds pretty similar to an employee journey to me, don’t you think? Whilst the majority of the employee lifecycle is owned by the various COE’s of a business, most of it is dealt with by talent teams, depending on how you are set up of course.
Let’s break this definition down then – there is an element of selecting, securing, using and disposing of a product or service to satisfy needs, which is exactly what happens within the employee journey. Selecting comes in the form of choosing which company it is you’d like to work for based on their reputation or the “brand” and what bang you’ll be getting for your buck. Securing comes in many forms, from the contact you sign to the development you are promised, think psychological contract too. Using the company in the same way you’d use the product is where employees demonstrate their skills and competence by using the business as a landscape to do so, in turn, learning from the business and other employees, and equally solidifying themselves in either a career or a business. Lastly, dispose of, this is where we see people leaving the business for a number of different reasons, in most cases with talent, we hope it’s to broaden their horizons and maybe even return one day.
How can this help HR? Is it possible that if we understand our consumer (aka potential employees), needs, wants and drivers more, our business would look more attractive and therefore could be “purchased” by top talent?
Within consumer psychology we talk about “buyer” behaviour and “buying” behaviour, both talk about the decision making processes and the acts of people involved in buying/using products. Ultimately, they need to understand: why consumers make the purchases that they make and what factors influence consumer purchases? Similarly, in HR (specifically in recruitment), we should aim to understand what job seekers are looking for from employers, what would increase their engagement and decrease early turnover. Understanding what factors influence job seeker’s choice of employer are fundamental to businesses who want to put themselves out there as a brand to buy.
One of the scary factors about consumer psychology is that people make most of their decisions unconsciously, relying on social validation e.g. what are other people buying. Across 2017 will we see an increase in this trend where more millennials will want to work where most graduates are working? Examples of this trend can be seen in Silicon Valley where tycoons like google, SAS, Apple and even organisations like Amazon etc. that have got more brand reputation than they know what to do with, and invariably, this is because of all that they have on offer in the “employee journey shop window”.
To drive the consumerism of HR point, here are a few consumer psychology stats from a blog 60secondmarketer.com which I have compared to HR/Talent trends where the same cause and effect relationship exists.
So what can we take away?
Invest in employee retention and have a strategy. The biggest priority, and concern, for business leaders in 2017 will be retaining employees in a competitive talent marketplace. Offer better compensation packages, step up on career mobility and talent development, promote the ability to work flexibility and provide learning opportunities and safe environments to fail.
Invest in a robust selection process. Effective talent acquisition strategies reduce risk and ensure you have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Using effective assessment methods give you a more holistic view on the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate, which enables you to set them up for success. Have governance around this process, ensure you have systems and senior stakeholders to support it, reduce the admin, be more candidates centric, and COMMUNICATE with candidates consistently!
Invest in your development process. Don’t be scared to invest in your assets, when your employees leave the building, that’s the most expensive asset you have that’s left, it’s imperative to bring them back. Make sure you are able to give as much to your employees as they do to the business. Think EVP, the gets and the gives. Be it the psychological contract or the level of organisational commitment; make sure they know you are an avid investor in, not only their technical development, but their personal development too.
Lastly, ensure your alumni and unsuccessful interviewee either speak well of you or ultimately ends up coming back. Provide that level of service, meaningfulness and engagement that make even job rejection seem palatable. Be so attractive in the market, based on employee and candidate experience, that people inevitably come back and even more so, share the experience with other talented individuals.
View the article on LinkedIn