I can still identify with most young people's frustration, terror and confusion at the prospect of hunting for a new job. It's actually quite a horrible experience; you want to find the right place first time around and not have to go back to the dreaded 'milk round.'
On the other side of the table, attracting and retaining talent is one of the top challenges faced by all businesses. It is incredibly expensive with numerous websites listing the cost of acquiring a new graduate around £50,000, it's not a decision to be taken lightly.
The top 25 firms in each sector live off the plaudits of their brand names (think the big tech, consultancy, legal firms etc.) and usually go to all of the top universities' job fairs and set up a stand for 1 day a year. For the student, it's pretty effective because you can, briefly, get a glimpse as to what the people who work there are like and you know that should you make it through the war of attrition (the application process) you will be handsomely rewarded with a 65 hour week and a pay cheque which you don't have time to spend.
Luckily, that's changing. In short, 'young' people want to go and work somewhere where they are going to enjoy themselves, as well as earning a decent salary. There is much less of an emphasis to follow the traditional route - in fact, being different is a big plus. There are many manifestations of this - the growing allure of working for a start-up (wearing trendy shirts and trainers), the boom in flexible office working spaces like WeWork rapidly becoming world-leading firms (great podcast here from Evan Davies if you want to learn more about their extraordinary rise) because of the attractive and exciting companies which flourish in their corridors, as well as the growing importance of coveted rankings like The Sunday Times Best Companies To Work.
This growing importance is now summed up in a handy catchphrase - Employer Value Proposition - which I first heard a few weeks ago when meeting with the Global Head of Marketing at one of our recruitment clients. She described this as the whole reason why someone would come and work for you, over & above a big salary.
A bit of further research sums it up as the total experience of working for a firm and all the little things which make it a pleasant place to work, e.g. office location, quality of office, employee growth potential, management development, ongoing employee recognition, charitable initiatives, health & wellbeing initiatives, gym classes, flexible working arrangements, opportunities to travel, policies around maternity leave, sickness & mental health etc.
By way of an example look at this screenshot from the profile of the #1 company to work for in the UK, Chess - subsidised gym memberships, charitable activities during work hours, maternity leave on full pay, school-friendly contact hours offered to all staff.
It's all of the bits surrounding the work itself which create a truly positive environment.
So, whilst I've (hopefully) done an alright job at elucidating as to why this is important, another, more pragmatic step would be to consider how you can communicate your employer value proposition to any future employees.
The next step is how can you influence their decision-making and steer them in your direction. Well, the good news is that in general the bar is set so low, that you can easily stand out from the rest of the crowd: Here are several easy ways of doing this which you can implement today:
1) Write content that shows a little bit of you: Getting your younger associates, future leaders (whatever you want to call them) to write content has a twofold benefit. Firstly, they get a chance to build a bit of a name for themselves internally & externally and secondly, it is very authentic to any future employees as well to be able to see what the could be doing in the future.
2) Leverage the free resources around you: providing a snapshot of your business' day-to-day life through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. is immensely powerful and takes little or no effort at all. For example, let the world know about your company days out, team lunches, new starters, big successes, leaving parties, birthdays, events etc. They may just be little things, but they're important to the individuals involved and that sends the right message. You can even go one step further and give everyone access to the Instagram account as well.
3) Creating video interviews on life at your company: Videos say so much in a short space of time. Invest in quality video content which brings out the best in your company.
4) Have a clear vision for what people can expect: transparency is enormously important. My boss told me that I would work really hard and have a lot of craic at Passle. That couldn't be more apt - think about the values you want to embody and try to translate those digitally.
5) Experiment: The way your values manifest themselves can change daily but your core values should stay the same. Give different channels a go and see what sticks!