Posted 9:15 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021
Communication expert shares how America’s best companies recruit and retain top quality talent
By Scott Dickmeyer, UWL associate professor of Communication Studies
Help wanted signs are everywhere and debate rages about why companies struggle to attract employees. Effective communication practices among Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in America can offer some clues. While these companies are well known for generous and varied benefits such as free food, laundry services, and resort-worthy amenities, their communication practices likely have an even greater impact.
These companies experience low turnover by building deep and meaningful relationships within their teams. During the pandemic, which drastically changed how and where we work, 71% of the companies on the 2021 list saw increases in trustworthiness and employee experience scores.
After 23 years of studying best companies, I’ve seen how they attract, hire and retain high- quality employees by building trust-based relationships. Employers should think of traditional job interviews as akin to a blind date. As such, they are stressful, often frustrating and ineffective. University students tell me that, generally, they have no idea who will be interviewing them, what they will be asked, and what the company wants in their hire. It’s not surprising that preparing for an interview is a struggle.
Best companies combat the “blind date dilemma” by providing a variety of resources, that when accessed, prepare potential team members for their job interview. Here are a few of the practices the make interviews more comfortable and increase the likelihood of an effective hiring process.
Interviewing best practices
- Focus on the person, rather than their skills. The best companies recognize that hiring and training exceptional people is more important than past experience.
- Provide fun-fact biographies of the interviewers. Knowing something about the interviewer may facilitate report building during the interview.
- Create websites and literature that persuasively tell the unique story of the organization. For instance, a recreation company pays employees to experience nature or a grocery chain is committed to sustainability. This way potential employees know what matters to the company.
- Prepare “study guides” or potential questions/topics. This allows interviewees to prepare for a conversation and keep the interview from feeling like a pop quiz.
- Use an “interview process” explanation. This information describes the number, types and formats involved in the hiring process to make interviewees aware of all steps involved.
- Produce “a day on the job” testimonials. These written or recorded statements would be available for particular departments and roles, providing direct information about task needs and expectations.
- Include testimonials from current employees. These testimonials describe how employees bring the organization’s mission, vision and values to life in the ways they do their job and interact with customers.
Most successful relationships are built on a foundation of trust. That is true in our career lives as well. By committing to develop deep, rich and meaningful relationships with their team, the best companies attract quality people committed to their mission, vision and values. Maintaining trust leads to satisfied employees who are proud of their work, peers and company. Perhaps these examples provide new insights into why and how we engage in job interviews and may influence that first “company date.”
Scott Dickmeyer is an associate professor of Communication Studies at the UW-La Crosse. He is recognized nationally for his work on effective leadership, improving managerial communication, training public speakers and integrating diverse individuals into effective work teams.