The social media and digital world is shifting. We are moving from a world where everyone shares everything via digital channels like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to a siloed world that is driven by private communities. Our current political climate and privacy concerns are driving the shift, as we’re overloaded with status updates and social media news feeds, we’re also more skeptical of the media that we consume on these channels.
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust has changed profoundly in the past year—people have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers. The political climate in the United States and uncertainty about the economy and its stability align with a divergence in trust between the informed public and the mass population.
In conjunction with pessimism and worry, there is a growing move toward engagement and action. In 2019, engagement with the news surged by 22 points; 40% not only consume news once a week or more, but they also routinely amplify it. But people are encountering roadblocks in their quest for facts, with 73% worried about fake news being used as a weapon. Additionally, trust in government is at an all-time low. However, despite a high lack of faith in the system, there is one relationship that remains strong: “my employer.”
Why Employees Are a Valuable Recruitment Marketing Asset
According to this year’s Trust Barometer report, 58% of general population employees say they look to their employer to be a trustworthy source of information about contentious societal issues. Employees are ready and willing to trust their employers, but the trust must be earned through more than “business as usual.” Employees’ expectation that prospective employers will join them in taking action on societal issues (67%) is nearly as high as their expectations of personal empowerment (74%) and job opportunities (80%).
Employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely to engage in beneficial actions on their behalf—they will advocate for the organization (a 39-point trust advantage), are more engaged (33 points), and remain far more loyal (38 points) and committed (31 points) than their more skeptical counterparts. In addition, 71% of employees believe it’s critically important for “my CEO” to respond to challenging times. More than three-quarters (76%) of the general population concur—they say they want CEOs to take the lead on change instead of waiting for the government to impose it.
How Candidate Communities Build on Trust
Considering that trust in employers is on the upswing, and trust of general media, specifically social media, is trending down rapidly, the opportunity for employers and recruiters to build on communities for talent is limitless. Private groups, networks and communities are becoming the new norm, and this fundamentally changes recruitment marketing. Trust in the workplace begins with transparency, which means empowering employees with information and opportunities for shared action.
The importance of building your own network and tribe is critical as we begin to experience this shift. This is where alumni networks, private Facebook groups and targeted messaging can really make a difference, but at the heart of these networks are your employees. They’re not only influential, but their faith and reliance on your company’s support and transparency make them the brand ambassadors for your company and a top channel for referral source of hire.
If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to create a company alumni network (employees who left your company in good standing and would be considered for rehire), that moment is now. Your alumni employees have insights into your organization that other candidates and contacts don’t. They know the culture, work environment, and are some of the most trusted and reputable sources of qualified employees.
Karma (and Trust) As Digital Currency
Online alumni associations can be established and maintained through Google, LinkedIn and Facebook. Once your channel is set up, invite key alumni based on hiring manager recommendations and your own experience. Moving forward, establish what your ideal alumni employee looks like and create an offboarding process that includes determining which employees are “regrettable turnover,” which means that they would be welcomed should they choose to return. The next step lets the departing employee know that their return would be welcomed. And finally, it gets their permission to keep in touch after they leave.
Consider expanding your employee referral bonus policy to your approved alumni. Financial incentives show that you still consider them “part of the family” and trust their referrals as much as you did when they were employed. You might also consider inviting preferred alumni to company events. Engaging with former coworkers could be key to persuading your preferred alumni to return to the fold.
Your community building efforts don’t just pay off in referrals. Tapping into your organization’s alumni network can also open doors to new business opportunities. Former employees find new jobs or form their own enterprises, and when they are looking for business partners, they often turn to previous employers. An organization’s alumni can serve as a resource for industry trends and keeping up with what the competitors are doing. In addition, well-informed alumni can be powerful ambassadors for the company in the business community.
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