After a six-month honeymoon, engagement among new hires drops off in most organisations, so in-house recruiters must be “internal advocates” for keeping employer brand promises, says Aon Hewitt’s Simon Rudd. Rudd, client relationship manager in Aon Hewitt’s New Zealand talent and reward practice, told last week’s RHUB NZ conference that global data from the company’s Best Employers program shows that 83% of companies that meet the Best Employer criteria have a formalised employer brand, compared to 39% of other organisations.
“No one would disagree that a compelling employment brand is essentially the promise that an organisation makes to employees about what they can expect from the organisation. “Dissatisfaction, disillusion and disengagement is what kicks in naturally when that promise is broken.” Aon Hewitt has analysed the engagement levels of employees at different stages of tenure, Rudd says, and has found the employer brand promises made during recruitment and onboarding clearly cause an early engagement boost. “Hats off to internal recruiters and agency recruiters because we’re all here creating this hype around the employment brand, but come that six-month point, you can see that engagement falls in [non-Best Employer] organisations by 20%.
“The honeymoon is over because employment branding is simply used to get people in the door.” By contrast, at Best Employers the engagement level typically stays high throughout the employee’s tenure, he says. “And that’s because they live their employment brand.” Corporate recruiters, Rudd says, should be playing a bigger part in making the employer brand stick well beyond the employee’s first six months, by championing the importance of keeping recruitment promises. “The recruiter has to be an internal advocate for the EVP or the positioning statement that is sold to the candidate at onboarding time.
“Don’t exaggerate [the EVP] in the first place, of course, but a better approach would be to really act as advocates with your HR team, to ensure that employment promise continues [into] that crucial six-month-to-two-year period.” How the best employers keep their promises, and why it matters Making engagement a priority is not just about meeting corporate social responsibility requirements or being “nice”, Rudd notes; engaged workforces produce better commercial results. (In 2012 Aon Hewitt studied 94 global employers with nine million staff, and found that for each percentage point increase in the proportion of engaged employees, the organisation would derive an extra 0.6% in revenue.) Rudd says the company has identified a number of consistent practices by Best Employers that help uphold the employer brand and maintain high engagement levels after the honeymoon period is over:
- They consistently deliver on the promises they make to their people.
- They “shamelessly” pay high performers significantly more than low performers.
- Highly-engaged employers give top performers a 13.2% annual pay rise, on average, compared to a 1.2% raise for low performers. The pay differential between high and low performers at low-engagement companies is much smaller.
- They are more likely to present employees with an exciting vision for the future of the organisation.
- Their executive teams and senior leaders are visible, accessible and authentic.
“We’re out of [the GFC] but there’s still a lot of corporate change around, so that visibility is absolutely crucial.”