A Powerful Platform.

This piece on social recruitment and employee engagement in aged care written by Rhod Ellis-Jones was published in the May 2015 edition of Technology Review, a magazine by Australian Ageing Agenda.

We used to look for jobs in the newspaper, now we look for them online. Some things, however, don’t change. According to Forbes, networking is still the best way to find a job. It’s just that we now network online, using platforms called social media. Candidates are referred jobs via posts. Posts enable companies to transmit their employee value propositions and brand; to differentiate the company among its competitors and establish with text, image and video the merits of the job and the company’s culture.

A differentiated narrative is important, not only because of the competition for talent but because candidates shop for jobs much like they shop for clothing or cars: researching, comparing and evaluating possible choices. A weak narrative will be marked as representing a company that does not value employees; it will be ignored or simply not noticed.

The candidate journey mirrors the consumer journey online. We consider an initial set of brands. We add or subtract brands and evaluate. We select an employee brand and accept a position. After purchase, experience informs the next stage in the journey: loyalty and advocacy, or detraction if the promise was not realised. Nothing says ‘a great place to work’ like the stories of current employees.

What is social recruitment?

By definition, social recruitment is recruiting candidates by using social platforms as talent databases.

Different social platforms are used in different ways but all can be effective channels to engage candidates and create an engaged network to source future employees. Some candidates are more likely to be reached by Facebook (for example, carers) and others via LinkedIn (executives).

It is multidisciplinary; the practice requires the combined expertise and resources of HR, marketing and internal communications.

The benefits include driving down recruitment advertising costs, building referrer networks and attracting competent, culturally aligned staff. It also nurtures an engaged and productive workforce, establishes employer brand (preferred employer status) and communicates employee value proposition.

Build a digital presence.

A company’s digital presence is the collective feeds, handles, apps and websites that it has online. Activity across the web presence is integrated and coordinated via software and processes, guided by a strategy and plan.

A high performing digital presence establishes active communities around shared interests relevant to the company’s business and its objectives.

Useful social platforms to engage potential employees and recruit candidates include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Facebook has the greatest reach in Australia with 13,800,000 users compared to 2,791,300 users on Twitter and 3,100,000 on LinkedIn. It is an excellent platform to communicate the employer brand via pictures of employees in action and posts that celebrate employee achievements.
  • Twitter has less reach however it is useful in notifying current followers of the organisation about an advertised role. If a person is not actively looking for a job, they may still stumble across the advertisement while engaging with the organisation online.
  • LinkedIn is a social platform designed as a network of professionals. It has a useful job post function, as well as a company page status update section, where ads can be posted among other content.

Employee Value Proposition and Employer Brand.

All posts, pictures and comments on social media must reflect the employer brand. It answers the following question for the prospective employee: why do I want to work here?

An employee value proposition is a statement of the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace. Think of it as the answer an employee gives when a friend asks where they work and what it’s like.

Where we work says a lot about who we are: the profession, the company’s reputation, the nature of our job, the competency of our colleagues, and the outcomes of what we do.

Our personal identity overlaps with that of our employer’s brand identity.

There is nothing more frustrating to a HR manager than receiving applications where the applicant has not read the job description and does not have any relevant experience.

Even more difficult is finding the candidate in the haystack who is likely to be retained – the candidate whose identity overlaps with the company identity. An advertisement alone makes recruitment a tedious and drawn out process.

On the other hand, social media is online word-of-mouth. The organisation’s current network comprises of individuals whose identity overlaps with that of the organisation. They are its referrer base and they are likely to be connected to friends, families and people who share the organisation’s identity also.

Vasey RSL Care’s successful campaign.

Vasey RSL Care (VRSLC) was created when Vasey Housing Ltd merged with RSL Care (Victoria), bringing together the rich history of the War Widows’ Guild and the RSL. Today, VRSLC has over 400 employees
across five residential aged care facilities and community care services as well as independent living accommodation.

Vasey RSL Care sought to build its digital and social media presence to ensure that it attracted and retained talented and dedicated employees.

The archetype that best describes Vasey RSL Care is ‘The Hero’. It seems obvious for a company that cares for veterans and war widows. However, what we found in focus groups with staff is that they are motivated by the heroism of the people for whom they care. They take on the archetype, doing their all for the people they respect so much. Other personality characteristics include:

  • upright and upstanding but not intimidating
  • honourable with good manner
  • respectful of privacy and personal space
  • calm and ‘at peace’; neat, tidy, orderly

With archetype in mind, Vasey RSL Care developed a social media recruitment strategy. The Vasey RSL Care project began with engagement to understand employee needs and expectations. The core team was named, “Saluting Excellence”, after the company’s tagline. A core team needed a mix of disciplines and singular focus on the purpose of telling the company employee story. Contributors included:

  • HR – cultural leadership
  • a marketing and communications strategist
  • a person with social media experience and skills

Training was provided in social media content sourcing, creation, scheduling, distribution and engagement measurement; and in technology with the use of Hootsuite.

Vasey RSL Care developed a monthly content planning cycle for its social media content. Content planning focuses on the creation, delivery, and governance of content, while appropriately managing risk. Approvals are built into the cycle; quality control is managed and maintained via the content strategy guidelines to voice, themes, and risks as well as via the final moderation of posts scheduled in Hootsuite before they are distributed.

Strategically, Vasey RSL Care chose to make its Facebook page a place for employees to share their experiences. Called “Saluting Excellence”, and clearly marked as an employee space, it reduces the risk that clients or their family members would use the space to attack the company. In fact, to date, that has not happened at all.

Importantly, getting the fundamentals right for Vasey RSL Care’s digital presence delivered immediate results in two stages, timed for stability.

At last count, the company had:

  • 241 likes to the Facebook page
  • 245 people signed up for job alerts
  • 355 job applications via the website careers page
  • a combined reach of 364, with 36 likes and 3 shares, from two roles advertised on Facebook in August

Most importantly, there has been a huge increase in placements via referrals. 20 per cent of hires were from referrals in the 2014 financial year, with 50 per cent in 2015.

Talk to us about employee recruitment and engagement.