The Business Impact of Candidate Experience

Here’s what crystal clear in business today: poor customer service impacts customer retention, referrals and potential new business. Social media has given consumers an open forum to share both good and bad product and service experiences to all who will listen.

How many of you have used social media to get some customer service action instead of growing old waiting on the customer service phone trees or trying to navigate the labyrinth of online FAQ databases?

The same has been true for job seekers, and for too long employers were resistant to treating candidate as the primary customer of recruiting. Per the Talent Board Candidate Experience (CandE) Awards and Benchmark Research, that’s finally changing for the better.

In fact, many of this year’s 50 CandE award-winning employers – all of which provide their job candidates with an exemplary experience as defined by the candidates themselves – have gone through this transformative shift. Meaning, to treat all their job candidates, both externally and internally, as the primary customers of talent acquisition. Not the hiring manager, executive manager or other recruiting peers and colleagues – the candidates.

And not a moment too soon, since now six years of Talent Board’s CandE Awards benchmark research conclusively demonstrates that on average 41 percent of global candidates who believe they have had a “negative” overall 1-star job seeker experience (based on a 1-5 Likert Scale rating) say they will take their alliance, product purchases and relationship somewhere else. That means a potential loss of revenue for consumer-based businesses and referral networks for all companies. On the other hand, 64 percent say they’ll definitely increase their employer relationships based on the very positive job seeker experiences they’ve had. These aren’t just the job finalists either, but the majority are individuals who research and apply for jobs and who aren’t hired.

Also, quite clear from the 2016 CandE data (to be released early 2017) is how many employers continue to raise the bar on candidate communication and feedback loops – those candidates who said they had an overall 5-star candidate experience were only waiting for a response from the company after applying 32 percent of the time versus over 45 percent of candidates who said they only had an overall 1-star candidate experience. Unfortunately, 47 percent of all North American candidates overall were still waiting two to three or more months for a response from the company post-application, a continuous area of missed opportunity and a trend over the past few years.

When you look at candidate feedback at the interview stage, 87 percent those candidates who said they had an overall 1-star experience we’re never asked for any feedback on the interview process, while 32 percent of candidates who had an overall 5-star experience were asked for varying levels of feedback, a key differentiator in the race to hire the best people.

Lastly, candidates share their positive recruiting experiences with their inner circles (friends, family, peers, etc.) over 81 percent of the time and their negative experiences 66 percent of the time. Candidates also share their positive and negative experiences online via social media (Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc.) 51 percent and 34 percent respectively. Again, it’s the negative experiences that not only potentially impacts the employment brand and direct revenue for consumer-based businesses, but also the sought-after talent employers are competing over and those referral networks that come with them.

Additional insights will be explored in the 2016 North American CandE research, the full report will be available on a complimentary basis to all interested employers and organizations early next year.

A non-profit research organization, Talent Board launched the CandE Awards program in 2011 as a way to promote and benchmark quality candidate experiences. Since then Talent Board has expanded to offer the CandE Awards in three regions: North America, EMEA and APAC. The 2016 North American CandE Awards set a new program record with more than 240 participating companies and 183,000 job seekers sharing their thoughts and experiences as candidates – 84 percent of whom did not get the job.

More than an awards competition, the CandE Awards also serve as a benchmarking program to raise awareness of the benefits of a positive candidate experience and highlight the tools, technology and techniques that can facilitate the process, as demonstrated by winning companies. The opening of the 2017 CandE Awards program will be announced following the publication of the forthcoming research report.

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HR: You CAN Get There From Here

R.E.M sang the words and they are sometimes, jokingly, attributed to people from Maine – “you can’t get there from here.”

For those in HR, it’s not an uncommon thought – there are so many changes to workflows that seem straightforward and so logical to implement, but getting buy-in sometimes seems impossible or not worth the fight. Or just as frustrating, you may not know where to begin to make changes to help improve HR’s contribution to the business.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Furthermore, you can be the instrument of organizational change that improves the bottom line for your company.

What’s the key?

Take it slowly – one step at a time – and follow the data.

Small Steps, Big Improvements

You just might be amazed at the improvements you can realize with seemingly minor adjustments. The key is implementing change incrementally, in small chunks that can be readily embraced by the people you’re serving.

Here’s a 4-step process for implementing real, beneficial change that improves the value HR contributes to your business. Note also that it is an ongoing, iterative process that never really ends.

  1. Target One Area For Change

You might have a long list of processes that are ripe for change, either due to a company directive or an area where you feel you can make an influential change. This might be reducing the time to hire for open positions, improving employee engagement or improving succession planning. It could even be as simple as automating some procedures. These are high-level goals that might seem unattainable or unrealistic to accomplish without a major company initiative and major resource investment.

  1. Review the data

Data presents a window to the opportunities before you. By looking at data such as current time to hire, level of engagement, skill gaps, characteristics of high performers, employees at risk of leaving and more, you’ll be able to isolate bottlenecks as well as opportunities for improvement. This will allow you to modify your processes and workflows where necessary. Simple changes can often yield enormous benefits.

For example, the data might show one simple operation (or single person or team) might be the only element preventing a significant improvement in your company’s time to hire. Maybe the approval process is bogged down at a particular place in the workflow. Change that one piece of your operation and the results can be monumental.

Or, data might highlight a particular team’s lack of engagement. With this knowledge, you can readily spot the root cause, whether it’s the manager, the employees or something else. Whatever the case, the organization will be better for spotting this information sooner than later.

  1. Re-Engineer HR Processes

With automation and data analysis embedded into your processes, you’ll now be in a position to make better decisions and improve the workflow of your talent acquisition and performance management operations. You’ll be able to handle exceptions faster and quickly adapt to external forces such as regulatory compliance changes. You’ll have insight to make better organizational decisions, such as who is best suited to fill new leadership positions.

Next, you can continue to review the data, confirm improvements have been made and continue to refine. Or, you may need to look at other potential areas of improvement. Then, keep going, continuing to improve processes and workflow. By continuing to look at the data to rationalize current procedures or change your workflows in an agile manner, you’ll be in a cycle of continuous improvement as you enhance your ability to contribute to your organization’s goals.

4. Transform Your Organization

Having achieved significant wins and real change for your company, the final phase of this data-driven journey is true organizational transformation. The data might reveal what actions to take in order to ensure certain top employees stay with your company. It can shed light on which managers and teams are doing the best job – and why. It will show you which people in your organization are most (and least) engaged.

With this data in hand, you can begin to make changes within your workforce to address the underlying causes of problems while better capitalizing on efficiencies and successes. This is an ongoing, never-ending process.

Bypass Obstacles One Improvement At A time

There are typically many roadblocks, real or imagined, when implementing change within HR or related functions. Taking small, achievable steps rather than attempting seismic transformation can lead to quick, huge benefits that have the added fortune of high organizational buy-in, due to the low-impact nature of the changes. The insight gleaned from data can lead to incremental changes in how you conduct business, which can result in faster time to hire, better hires, improved retention rates, improved engagement and much more.

Small steps, big results – you can get there from here.

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