Can It Be All So Simple: If You Want the Right Tech Talent, Buy The Right Tech.
We all know that salary is the single most important factor in determining whether or not a candidate will pursue a role and accept an offer. So if you’re paying under market, or your total comp package just isn’t competitive, than isn’t a damn thing in the world that a recruiter or candidate can do, culture fit or employer brand be damned.
It sucks, but if you can’t pay the costs to be the boss, then you’re probably going to be paying the costs to get yo ass on COBRA if you’re a recruiter.
Many organizations use accepted offer ratio as one of their primary outcome metrics, which means even if you’re the world’s best sourcer and recruitment marketer, if you’re trying to get a dollar out of fifty cents, it’s ultimately going to be your fault (and ass) when top of the line talent turns down bottom of the range offers.
So, having established the fact that recruiters have little control over the #1 candidate driver, what about the (distant) runners up?
Studies suggest that compensation (and benefits) are the #1 driver for recruiting (duh); stability is #2, but I’m going to throw that one out because if there’s one thing recruiters have absolutely no control over after the point of hire, it’s company or job stability.
We’re the last in, first out of cost centers, and if the company goes through a hiring freeze – as many do, regardless of how robust their business or revenue growth might in fact be – then recruiters become an expendable commodity.
So let’s assume in the absence of any modicum of job security, stability, like compensation, is something we have no control over, either (see a recurring theme here?) – nor does anyone in HR, the hiring manager, or commonly anyone involved in the hiring process.
Layoffs and RIFs suck, zap morale, kill productivity, increase absenteeism and sick days, and create a culture of fear and paranoia at the office, which sucks even worse than work normally does. #3 – and actually only 2% short of stability (and about 10 points down from comp, cash money, son, according to a recent Glassdoor poll), however, is something that a recruiter often actually can influence (often in tandem with an HRBP or hiring manager) outside of traditional compensation structures.
It can be the most powerful and obvious sign of a company’s commitment to staying on the cutting edge or the most obvious manifestation of a company culture, particularly given the inevitable “innovation” their employer brand inevitably champions.
I’m talking, of course, about technology. We talk about technology’s role in evolving both the world of work and the mechanisms of finding it from a job seeker and employer perspective – but we don’t often really look at our technology usage as a potential competitive advantage in the recruiting process.
This is a big miss, particularly because the appeal of getting to work with the coolest tools or hottest software transcends all job families, functions and levels. While obviously not every business can afford Google-like perks, like on-site concierge services, dry cleaning or free food (which is kind of too bad), the fact is that when it comes to using technology as a recruiting tool, one of the most efficient and cost effective applications may be consumer hardware (served, of course, with a side of SaaS).
A recent Jobvite study suggested that by letting employees have the flexibility to choose the tech that works best for them at work, coupled with a work-life balance that replaces old fashioned commuting with real time connectivity, workers reported marked increases in job satisfaction, productivity and “sense of ownership” (whatever that means) while reducing absenteeism and turnover. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
What’s even sweeter is that any employer can actually save money by buying the latest and greatest tech for their employees, breaking in what’s new and what’s next without breaking the bank.
Protect Your Neck: Employer Branding, Company Culture and Recruiting Technology.
In the era of what my friend Bill Boorman calls “employer blanding,” pretty much every office photo on pretty much every career site looks more or less the same. Think: earth tones, soft lighting, multi-racial teams who are way too into meetings, the gratuitous ping pong or pool table. Each has the same underlying sentiment – that somehow, going to this magical office will make “work” fun.
This, of course, is horse shit. Those of us who aren’t douchebros, wage slaves South of Market or someone whose only social interactions happen with the captive audience that are their coworkers (also known as your HRBP) pretty much want to do our jobs and get the hell out of Dodge, so physical location isn’t necessarily the best way to brand your business outside of the Silicon Bubble.
In addition to these photos, the cut and paste career site copy almost always has some gratuitous statement in there about how “forward looking,” “future thinking,” “innovative” (or whatever the buzzword du jour might happen to be) – words that are so commoditized they’ve lost their meaning and digressed to “our greatest assets” and “empowerment” in terms of hackneyed, nauseating cliches.
But for all the emphasis placed on physical space and aspirational aphorisms about how cutting edge careers there are, the one thing that companies almost never emphasize are the actual tools and technologies which their workers actually have to work with.
Screw beanbag chairs, standing desks or themed conference rooms, those aren’t the kinds of things that are going to help when your company issued Lenovo ThinkPad freezes right before a deadline or that refurbished Acer poops out during a presentation.
I once interviewed with a company whose entire EVP was about how they were “inventing the future” (or something like that). They were building the next big thing, and were so future looking that, during my in person interview, while I waited for the dude’s crappy HP laptop to finish sending some printout to what appeared to be the finest of the existing dot matrix machines, I thought – “there is no way in hell I’m ever working here.”
I mean, the Staples showroom from the Bill Clinton years that was their enterprise technology stack not only completely undermined everything I’d been led to believe about the company, and there was no way I was leaving my MacBook (unsupported and IT won’t let Macs on the network, I was told) at home so I could time travel back to the days when Compaq was king and Clippy was cool.
Recruiting and Technology: Bring The Ruckus.
Well, you get what I mean – that’s the sort of thing that’s a deal breaker not only to me, but probably every tech candidate or millennial (gag) you’re trying to hire. And there seems to be a lot of column inches dedicated to those particular parts of the employee population.
What is an inducement, however, are the technologies companies actually give to their workers. While the BYOD movement has become more or less an accepted part of the mainstream, the emphasis on cost savings hides the fact that the entire issue of employees using personal devices for work related purposes would be rendered more or less moot if companies were able to do something pretty simple: provide their employees with technology that’s at least competitive with the options they have as a consumer.
This means there should be no such thing as a Mac shop or a PC shop – every company should be able to run any internet enabled computer through their network, even if they’re on different operating systems. This is 2016, and if you think that your lame ass firewall or enterprise network can’t handle, say, a Chromebook or a MacBook, it’s likely time to update your infrastructure, because the cloud, as we know, is actually a thing (even outside the cloistered industry we live in).
Similarly, if your ERP, HCM or ATS can’t support, say, Firefox or Safari and can only render in Internet Explorer (having to use IE is, in fact, the worst kind of culture I can think of), it’s time to start shopping for an actual SaaS solution that talks about the Cloud as an assumed capability, not some sort of sexy selling point.
It’s not – hell, Microsoft Azure is about the least enticing product on the market that’s not part of ADP’s portfolio, and that’s technically a cloud solution. If you can’t let Macs and PCs coexist under one roof due to either policy issues or network capability issues, then you’ve got far bigger business problems than employer brand to consider, my friend.
Rather than give employees the “privilege” of working on their crappy Androids or outdated iPhones – or else take the option of the pay-as-you-go candy bar POS (sometimes) powered on the cheapest contract T-Mobile can offer – let them choose the new phone of their choice as part of the recruiting or offer process.
Instituting a policy that every employee will be issued a company phone of the make and model of their choice is going to cost under a thousand bucks, but the message it sends to candidates is well worth it.
Nothing To F With: The Business Case for Buying Better Tech.
You’re not only explicitly telling them that they get to use the latest and greatest technology, but also, that you’re willing to invest in employees and that you’re flexible enough to align your processes and policies with their personal preference. This is the sort of messaging that’s far more powerful than any career site copy could ever be during the offer process – and a compelling policy for those who are still in process, too.
Ostensibly, workers will choose a model they’re familiar with, leading to less time-to-productivity and smaller learning curves than either a VPN BYOD device or a different model mobile than their personal one). A studyfound that employees were willing to accept, on average, around 10% less in salary if their “total rewards” package also included a new iPad.2
The phenomenon that adults will do anything for an iPad should be painfully obvious to anyone who’s ever watched an HR conference related hashtag (stop by our booth to enter to win today!) – and the fact is, if you could lower your payroll by an average of 10% by giving out a device that’s not all that pricey (say, $500 bucks) and is a one off, non-recurring expense like salary, you’re going to be your CFO’s hero.
You might also be your CIOs, since new devices generally tend to require much less helpdesk support or ongoing maintenance issues like updating older devices locally instead of on a cloud instance, and can be much more secure than a BYOD VPN instance, since the company can have full control over the device and its permissioning – and standardize their security approach instead of rely on admins to run triage on devices that should have long ago been recycled for scrap, but companies keep for “cost” purposes (and, like legacy ATS, because doing nothing is way easier than modernizing).
Despite the pervasive myth things like smartphones or tablets aren’t “enterprise ready,” either in terms of workflow capabilities, available software or just the misperception they’re “expensive toys” that hinder productivity, in fact, these devices actually increase both data collection and knowledge sharing – particularly given the fact that adopting technologies like tablets as standard issue equipment for employees mean fully digitizing even those aspects of your business, like departmental meetings or conference calls – which even today remain largely in the purview of pen, paper and legal pads.
By using an app like GoodNotes or ElephantNote or even the native Notes function on Windows or iOS, ideally in conjunction with a low cost stylus, even the most Luddite employees will be able to move beyond pen and paper and synch those invaluable, but often informal, documents meeting notes, to-do lists and takeaways immediately into the cloud, so that they’re fully searchable and shareable in perpetuity – which is kind of the holy grail of enterprise knowledge management and corporate transparency, in all honesty.
Obviously if you issue tablets or devices, you can restrict permissioning to download apps and other potential “productivity” killers and get maximum business value out of the manifold cloud enabled SaaS solutions, B2B oriented apps and other technology solutions on tablet or mobile (which, in many cases, auto-synch between the two if they’re running the same OS), you’re actually not only giving your employees the tools and technologies they need to be more productive, but you’re also leveraging what employees really want when looking for a job.
That is, for most, the ability to stay up with the tech times, not fall behind because that old PC at work won’t support the latest Adobe Creative Suite or are too slow to run SaaS subscriptions that require a lot of data and local storage (pretty much anything with video or rich media streaming, in fact).
Yes, bigger companies might run into issues with licensing agreements (simple solution: just pay for more seats if more employees need access to do their jobs or settle with Oracle out of court), but even the biggest employers or most complex enterprises spend enough time and money dealing with issues around technology recruiting (and recruiting technology, for that matter), employee engagement and employer branding to make even the most “excessive” software upgrades, expensive devices or state-of-the-art hardware well worth the investment. The impact is not only going to be improved recruiting and retention – but improved business results, too.
And that’s the bottom line.