No Amount of Money Will Help if Your Workplace Sucks

It’s been awhile since I have published a blog post on my personal blog so I decided to change that. As I continue along my interesting career path (changes daily it seems) and obtain opportunities to learn about new ideas, concepts and organizations doing awesome things in HR & Recruiting things become more clear in terms of what drives organizational success.

Since I started my working career in 2000 I have stated that HR is what makes business go, not strategy. HR is about all things people, aligning people with vision, mission, values, strategy, mandate, process, ideas, goals and the list goes on. Each organization possesses a unique culture by virtue of their employees. Each employee is unique simply because each human being is unique. The collective make-up of an organizational workforce produces a unique workplace culture that only the organization can realize.

Workplace Culture

What I have realized is that there is an extremely close tie, or connection between workplace culture and talent acquisition (or recruiting). I knew this all along but I have been thinking about it more and more. There is now a plethora of high quality research that shows that the best source of hire is employee referral. Now one could argue for days on end what defines quality of hire, but I think we’re getting better and defining what this really is. It’s about things that matter to the business — productivity, retention, employee engagement, direct recruiting costs and the like. But there is something more to this story than just simply making a statement that employee referrals is the best source of hire. You have to ask yourself, “why”?

Employee ReferralTo me everything in business revolves around brand — personal brand, product brand, employer brand, corporate brand, etc… In essence the strength of a brand is dependent on how people feel about it. Nothing more, nothing less. These feelings are dictated by experiences; touch-points with the brand through whichever communications channel that are used — social media, email, in-person conversation, on the phone, traditional print advertisement, etc…

Coming back to the connection between workplace culture and recruiting, it only makes sense that the strength of an employer brand is positively correlated to the quality of employee referrals. Let’s look at an unrelated example. For those that know me, they know that I love Google/Android products. I openly vouch for them in every situation I can. I share my awesome experiences using Google products and the latest stories coming from them. I am a Google brand ambassador because I love Google and have a very strong emotional connection to them. Taking this example to an organization — if you love where you work the notion is that you would openly and willingly promote your organization to your network as a great place to work. In fact, you would likely go the extra mile to seek out talent prospects based on the recruitment needs of your organization. What if you dislike your organization, or feel disconnected, disengaged and lack luster towards them? Would you behave in the same way? Likely not.

Wanted AdWhenever I meet a new organization I always find myself asking questions about how strong their employee referral program is. I’m not talking about swanky cool technology platforms (although I do love them), I am talking about the basic activity of an employee taking the time to refer someone in their network. I also find myself asking about the make-up of their referral program. Do they rely on monetary rewards or not? How is this structured? Why? I strongly believe that an organization with an awesome workplace culture and strong employer brand do not need money to drive employee referrals. They happen, or don’t happen based on the strength of their brand.

When January 1, 2015 hit I immediately noticed a change in the market. In fact, fast-forward to today I have not seen the market this good in years. I would still say the market is cautious simply because we’ve had so much turmoil since the global economy tanked in late 2008. Money does not flow freely like water does so we always need to be intelligent with our HR investments, and the point of this post is, “stop wasting your money on giving huge monetary rewards for employee referrals when you should be spending your resources building an awesome workplace culture”. No amount of money on a referral reward will do anything if your workplace culture sucks. If I worked in a shitty environment why on earth would I want to drag someone else I know into it?

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