It’s a well-established stereotype that large-scale companies are about as approachable as a concrete wall. The clichés say it all: Those who “sell out” to work for the “man” become corporate cogs, dedicating their working lives to the daily grind.
The language we’ve assigned to corporate work brings to mind gray cubicles, professional drudgery and drab cultures. Larger enterprises have a reputation for offering excellent salaries and poor experiences — and for some, the tradeoff might not be worth it. For all their perks and benefits, corporations’ lack of approachability may prevent company recruiters from accessing the top-tier talent that should, by all rights, be within their reach.
Companies of any size that believe salary to be their main selling point are missing the full picture. A 2016 survey conducted by HR consulting firm Korn Ferry polled more than 1,000 professionals about their job searches. It found that the top reason candidates chose one role over another was company culture. Career progression was second in importance, while salary rested firmly in third place.
So what can companies do to compete beyond dollars and cents?
It’s not all about the Benjamins
Money isn’t the be-all, end-all motivator we think it is. In fact, the 2018 Betterup Report found that candidates would take a pay cut of up to 23% — or $21,000 a year — if it meant they could be in a role with “meaningful work.” Researchers also noted that employees who found their work “highly meaningful” tended to take fewer days of paid leave, put in more time per week and stay at their jobs longer than those who didn’t.
In short, talented candidates might see the cold inaccessibility of corporate stereotypes and take a significant pay cut to work for a company they feel, correctly or not, has a more welcoming and rewarding environment.
Given all this, it’s clearly a company’s prerogative to break free of stereotypes and present a welcoming, warm and meaningful exterior to potential hires. Some leaders might hesitate; after all, the process could require a complete overhaul of their recruiting and onboarding processes. However, the sheer potential for productive hiring speaks for itself — humanizing hiring protocols is a necessity, not a luxury.
1. Bring real employees into the recruitment conversation.
In the age of social media, authenticity is everything. Candidates can recognize HR reps’ canned answers and sort actors’ smooth lines from the less polished testimonials of real employees. Sleek corporate hiring videos have lost their allure for job seekers, who prefer insights that feel unedited. A study conducted by LinkedIn found that candidates tend to trust a company’s employees three times as much as they do the company itself when it comes to providing an accurate depiction of the working environment.
That said, companies might be understandably hesitant to encourage candidates to talk to employees without supervision or guidance from HR. However, companies can integrate existing frameworks to warm the early stages of the hiring process without placing an undue burden on employees or opening the company up to unnecessary risk.
One example comes from Altru Labs, a startup that aims to humanize the hiring process by helping companies highlight real staffers’ voices via employee-created and company-approved videos. The topics of the videos vary based on a given company’s needs, but they seek to answer common questions, offer personal testimonials and provide explanations of roles.