Thursday, October 11, 2018

Work Hard, Wear Jeans, Have Fun

Could it be we are overthinking employer brand?

I mean, my husband's an IT architect.  He helped design the technical foundation for the world's most successful SaaS-based HCM solution.  He's the guy who can talk to busy executives, inflexible power users, nerdy propeller heads and uptight clipboard carriers.  IT companies want to hire more people like him.

None of which is my point.  My point is, how does someone like that decide where to work?

While companies compete with one another to have the most complicated answer to that question, for him it's always been really simple.  Back when he had just graduated from college and was avoiding 9-5 jobs like the plague while helping a friend build software in a garage, this job advertisement caught his eye:

Work Hard.  Wear Jeans.  Have Fun.

That's it.  He applied, got the job, and the rest is history.  

What does this tell us?  It tells us that people who know what they want are really good at self-selecting the work culture that will work for them.  

The other thing worth noting is that this advertisement wouldn't work on him today, because he's at a different phase in his career.  Today he wants to work in service to ideas that create positive social and economic impact so, 'Help us save the world,' might be a better lure.

To continue on this, 'It's really simple,' theme: The best way to attract great talent is to be the kind of place to work great talent wants to work for.  The catch is this means different things to different people, with creative freedom, interesting projects, work life balance, money, increased responsibility and finding your purpose of more or less importance depending on where you are in your career.  

That noisy foozball table in the break room may be a big hit with twenty-somethings who hang out in the office late, but highly annoying to your Sr Digital Marketing Manager who has a campaign to get out the door, and of no interest whatsoever to the working mom who has to leave on time to pick up her kids.

So here's a crazy idea: Identify the kinds of employees you'd like to attract more of and talk to them about what they like - or don't like - about working for your company.  Then do more - or less - of that.  

Don't guess or copy what other companies do.  Ask.  Try.  Iterate.  (It's called #designthinking.)

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Here's a handy #designthinkingforhr infographic:

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