HOW DO RAPIDLY EXPANDING COMPANIES ATTRACT THE RIGHT TALENT?

Bryan Adams – Founder & CEO at Ph.Creative

Talent attraction is no easy task at the best of times, but when companies are undergoing rapid expansion it becomes even more crucial to ensure the right candidates are brought on board.

To ground this challenge in real life think of companies like Transferwise and Atom Bank, who have already begun to unearth the roots that bind the traditional financial services industry together. Yet, for these eager challengers, rapid growth can lead to the need for rapid talent. With fin-tech start-ups accelerating rapidly, many of the brightest graduates and available industry talent are scrambling to jump on board. Traditional banks are at risk of losing the race for the future leaders of tomorrow – today.

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The sands of the industry are shifting; as money pours in and a new breed of financial services companies are born, cooler heads must reign. HR departments must ensure that a spate of new hirings will maximise their company’s position in the marketplace and drive growth without jeopardizing existing brand culture.

Google, for example, continually hire thousands of worldwide recruits each year and still manage to uphold their core purpose: to champion ideas of universality and accessibility.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Many are left scratching their heads, wondering, “How do rapidly expanding companies attract the ‘right’ talent?” Let’s find out.

Culture

Purpose and culture are the two cornerstones of every successful company. Research from Harvard Business School suggests that corporate culture is inextricably linked to profitability. Use them to your advantage by explicitly communicating your culture, values and vision to prospective employees. The benefits to this approach are twofold. Not only does it make your recruiters’ lives easier (by facilitating a greater awareness of who you are and what you stand for), but it helps attract the right cultural fits to an organisation, saving you time and energy. After all, the ‘right’ candidate might not always be the one with the highest test scores or the most experience; often, finding candidates whose personality and professional aspirations align with your corporate culture and vision proves more desirable.

In times of rapid expansion, it’s even more important to highlight your unique culture. Companies can suffer when hundreds, even thousands, of new employees are brought in that don’t fit with your existing brand ethos. Don’t let a drastic flood of hirings jeopardize the timeless tenets of your company culture. Seek individuals that will rally behind your cause and integrate themselves seamlessly into your company. Establish a process for recruitment that embeds the input of your team into prospective hires by testing for cultural fits. Standardizing processes and arriving at a collective consensus as a team can help negate managers’ inevitable human bias towards recruitment of one particular type of person.

Is Time Ticking? 

Compromising on candidate quality out of fear that the “clock is ticking” is one of the most common (and understandable) mistakes that recruiters make during times of rapid expansion. Talent pooling and engaged referrals are extremely important if you wish to stay on top of your recruitment and achieve a steady, reliable flow of candidates. When companies are undergoing periods of rapid recruitment, there’s less margin for error, so getting every piece right is essential or the results could be disastrous. Invest more time in the actual hiring process and ensure you hire only the most appropriate talent. This will result in less time training new hires and decrease employee turnover. The time saved on training alone can more than make up for a patient and discerning approach when hiring in the first place.

Tell Your Story

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make or break a candidate’s decision to work for you. Tell people-oriented stories: what is it like to work here? What can a starting position lead to? What does my specific role mean to the business as a whole? Engaging new hires from the start is crucial for speedily developing companies; the last thing you want is for a spate of new hires to be disengaged and confused as to how they fit into the puzzle. If you’re using recruitment agencies, hiring managers or any other stakeholders in the process, make sure they are all armed with the same stories to tell at the same point in the process. Consistency is essential to successful recruitment strategies.

Employer Brand Proposition – ‘your compass’

Thus enters the power of an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – an indispensable and necessary tool for all companies that wish to challenge the status quo in a dynamic 21st Century. Be very clear with your EVP. When strong corporate culture is combined with a consistent, effective and attractive EVP, you’ll find that employee satisfaction will increase and your ideal prospective candidates will actually start to seek you out.

Current policies on working routine and conditions must be reviewed constantly, especially during times of expansion. What worked when you had 200 employees might not work when you have 20,000. The inability to change and adapt your staff benefits could be the dagger to the heart that endangers successful phases of recruitment. Ask yourself this: if we change our position on flexi-time or remote working, would it suddenly make our offering more appealing, and therefore significantly easier to attract and hire top talent? We can look to Sir Richard Branson, one of the best recruiters and motivators of talent in the modern business world, for affirmation of this idea: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t have to.”

Clarity

Above all, clarity is key. What do I mean by this? Well, you need to be explicitly clear about who your ideal star candidate is for each position you intend to fill. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’ll be hard to recognise it – even if it’s staring you straight in the face. Consider people who are goal oriented and solutions focused. Be clear and concise about what you expect from candidates and what their new role will consist of.

Conversely, if you’re making widespread hires then initial wells of talent can dry up. In this case, try to understand and identify the core behaviours that you’re looking for, because diversity could play a big role. Finding talent in unlikely places simply has to be an option. If you’re too entrenched in overly specific requirements or characteristics, then ideal, targeted personas can actually prohibit rapid growth. Candidate persona mapping is always important, but be careful what you map!

Attract, Retain and Grow

If I can leave you with one last piece of advice, who better to quote than one of the most influential thinkers in the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation: Peter Drucker. His advice, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” should serve as a poignant reminder that employing and retaining the best talent can only get you so far. The real magic happens when you combine talent with a strong corporate culture that pulls together towards a shared goal.

If rapidly expanding companies can fuse the above elements into their recruitment practices, then hiring decisions will become easier, culture will not be jeopardized, and the right talent will fall into place.

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