Nobody likes to work a job they dread on a daily basis, and today's job seekers are doing their best to find roles they enjoy. They don't want stepping stones or simple paychecks to get by. They want jobs that feel meaningful.
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According to a 2014 survey from Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, "meaningful work" is tied with salary as the most important benefit job seekers of all generations look for in an employer.
Of course, "meaningful work" means something completely different to each person. For some, meaningful work look like seeking leads and improving quarterly sales; for others, it entails helping children with disabilities improve their motor skills.
Regardless of how a given job seeker defines "meaningful work," the question every company faces is, "How can we find the best candidate to fit our roles?"
The answer is to develop a strong employer branding strategy.
Here's how every organization can attract and hire the best talent by using their employer brands to highlight what makes its work meaningful:
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1. Develop Strong Recruiting Practices
To begin, you must know whom you want to target and how you plan to reach them.
Who fits in with your culture? What kind of person will succeed in the open position? You need a clear vision of your ideal candidate. Only then can you strategize about how to reach them.
In the case of attracting people who want meaningful work, your job is to demonstrate how the work opportunities you offer are indeed meaningful. That means focusing on the big picture and illustrating how one person can make a big impact on the company and its clients.
Create a careers page that includes testimonials from employees who find meaning in their work. Your careers page should provide plenty of information about your company and link to the company's social media profiles as a way to encourage candidates to do more research.
When job seekers dig deeper, they should find the information they want – that is, information that resonates with their values. For example, if your company sells natural dog food products, job seekers should be able to easily find out how these products benefit animals and owners, how your company is changing the dog food industry, and why the company donates 10 percent of its proceeds to local animal shelters (or whatever charitable acts your company may engage in).
Share these highlights on the appropriate social media platforms and link to these posts on your careers page. Urge job seekers who want to make a difference in whatever field your organization operates in to inquire about career opportunities.
In general, social media is a great tool for connecting with prospective candidates. According to LinkedIn's Global Recruiting Trends 2016 report, it is also a very popular strategy: 47 percent of the 3,894 hiring managers surveyed said social media is the most effective employer branding tool
You can leverage social media even further by turning your staff members into brand ambassadors. Train them on how to promote your employer brand and share their positive experiences at your company. Ask them to post relevant content online. Your employees can use their own personal social media profiles to spread a positive image of your brand, thereby dramatically increasing your reach.
2. Address Candidates' Needs With a Great Job Description
Your job descriptions need to be both accurate and compelling. They need to explain what kind of work comes with the role and how the candidate can succeed, but also how the company can provide what the candidate needs from their job.
A March 2015 study published in the Journal of Business Psychology found that job descriptions that focused on candidates' needs received three times as many highly rated applicants than those that focused on the skills and attributes the employer was looking for.
When writing a job description, be sure to explain how your company addresses job seekers' needs. Step into their shoes and think about what they want out of their jobs. When you speak to their needs, talented candidates will flock to your company.
It should also be noted that a large number of job seekers today are looking for growth opportunities. For many people, work feels more meaningful when there is room for growth. A life of learning is valuable to these candidates, and they enjoy always having a new and exciting goal to pursue.
When they don't have those goals, these candidates may feel that their work is losing its luster. A 2015 LinkedIn survey found that 45 percent of those who had changed companies between late 2014 and early 2015 said they left because they were concerned about a lack of advancement opportunities. Additionally, 59 percent of those who switch employers said they started their new jobs for the sake of stronger career paths and more opportunity.
Incorporate career development into your employer branding strategy. If you offer resources for growth like tuition reimbursement, certification courses, or personalized leadership coaching, add these benefits to your job descriptions.
Stagnant, dead-end jobs kill motivation and tend to suffer from high turnover. People naturally want to continue educating themselves, which is why marketing professional development opportunities is vital to capturing candidate interest. When employees have something new to look forward to, like a coaching session or leadership seminar, they find more meaning in their day-to-day tasks.
3. Create a Compelling Mission
Mission statements are more than just words to place on office signage or mindlessly recite to your staff members. A company's mission needs to be genuinely moving and inspirational.
Unfortunately, many employers fail in this regard. A September 2015 study from Achievers found that 57 percent of employees are not motivated by their companies' missions.
Incorporating the big picture into your company's mission statement will show employees how their daily operations are instrumental to realizing the organization's wider vision. This will give employees a greater sense of purpose and motivate them to focus on improving their performance.
Essentially, your mission statement should answer what the company does, how it does it, form whom it does it, and what value it contributes to the world.
For example, Whole Foods has a "higher purpose statement" that reads, "With great courage, integrity and love – we embrace our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities and our planet can flourish. All the while, celebrating the sheer love and joy of food [sic]."
This mission statement speaks to Whole Foods' bigger picture – i.e., a world where people can eat well and live in sustainable environments. Your mission statement should similarly highlight the role your employees play in contributing to a higher purpose, reminding them about how meaningful their work is.