Paul Naha-Biswas, CEO and founder at Sixley
Blue Monday – the name given to the most depressing day of the year – fell on 18th January and, it’s fair to say, there was plenty more to be down about in 2021 than previous years.
The UK is in another lockdown, COVID-19 cases and deaths are spiking across the country, and the economy is facing a potential ‘double-dip’ recession. With the vaccination effort picking up speed, normality feels both tantalisingly close and yet painfully far away.
In such dark, abnormal times, employers will look to set up initiatives to boost team morale on Blue Monday and beyond – with many getting involved in the national effort, Brew Monday, where employees are encouraged to call each other, friends or family, over a cup of tea.
However, many employers are unintentionally overlooking a key way to improve team wellbeing and morale: recruitment.
The importance of involving employees in the recruitment process
Often the recruitment process is solely dealt with by the hiring manager or recruiters, with employees rarely involved until they meet the new team member on their first day.
However, this limited process can make employees feel disconnected and despondent as they have little say in hiring the person they’ll end up spending a considerable amount of time working with.
If you are committed to creating a business that has transparent communication – where employees know what is going on and feel like they have an impact on the decisions that affect their job – then you must involve employees in the recruitment process.
Not only will it show that you trust and respect their opinion, but it also helps your existing employees judge how any candidate could fit into the company’s culture.
After all, existing staff are the people who’ll be working most closely with the new employee and are often the most involved in the company culture. Therefore, they are best placed to judge how easy it will be for any candidate to integrate within the existing team.
How involving employees in recruitment can boost diversity
Furthermore, embedding employees within the recruitment process can boost diversity and, in turn, morale and wellbeing.
It may sound counter-intuitive given concerns about creating an ‘old boys club’ but encouraging employees to refer candidates is actually one of the most powerful ways to boost workplace diversity.
By proactively asking for recommendations, you give your team the opportunity to invite in people and share roles with more diverse professional and personal backgrounds. You can also specifically target the very communities that you – and your employees – are wanting to hire from such as candidates from underrepresented backgrounds.
No matter how easy you make the process, when an employee recommends an individual or shares a role with their networks, they are going beyond their day job to do so. To demonstrate how much your respect their efforts, you need to give them the tools to easily share your role and also reward fairly their behaviour – by a bounty to them or to a charity they choose.
Importantly, by actively asking for their help, it shows your employees that you respect their judgement, and that diversity is not just lip-service but is integral to the future of your firm.
The power of referrals in boosting diversity and employee wellbeing lies in the human element. When you ask your team for a referral, you are asking someone who knows your business well to matchmake a roll with someone who they think has the skills, potential, and interest to do your job. It’s very different to automated keyword-filtering followed by a 5-second human screen that tends to favour traditional candidates and excludes employees from the process.
Why rewarding employees for their contribution to recruitment is key
We strongly believe that recommendations should be respected without creating the wrong motivations – so give rewards for recommendations that lead to a hire but also acknowledge recommendations that don’t. This will not only encourage more employees to put forward candidates for future roles but, will also show that you recognise their contribution.
However, employers should not see these rewards as a tick-box exercise. The reward should instead be positioned as a proxy for gratitude and respect. Respect not just for the time it took to recommend someone for the role, but for their work in the company which helped them know who to recommend.
In such uncertain times, it can be easy for heads to drop. Businesses must ensure that they are checking on employees and integrating them within the wider business to show them they are valued. By using your employee’s expertise and understanding of your company, you can select from a pool of superb candidates that align with your values and will boost your company’s culture.
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