What is the best way of communicating employee experiences?
When looking to attract new candidates many companies include testimonials from their current employees to describe their working environment and encourage others to job them.
But is this really a good strategy? How do you go about making testimonials convincing, and most importantly, attractive?
The employer brand
Marketing your business through using employees testimonials is usually an activity mostly confined to recruitment advertising.
Rather than describing your working environment, let your current employees describe it for you to demonstrate to potential candidates what a great place your company is to work for.
In the case of larger companies it also helps to promote and reinforce and maintain your organisation’s brand. Many businesses see themselves as fighting a war for talent and need to promote a clear and positive image to the recruitment industry, to graduates and to mid-career changers.
A strategy of testimonials falls loosely between advertising and PR. You are actively setting out to promote your business but you also want to use the voice of real people and give it the independence of public relations.
You may use real employees and real quotes but you still have to engage and hold your audiences’ attention, just like a traditional advert. The key then in this strategy is the validity and honesty of your testimonials – anything less than complete sincerity will ring hollow and anything flat will be ignored.
There are a few key things that are easily spotted so should be avoided:
- Utilising real employees with fake quotes
- Utilising past employees or quotes (without saying so)
- Using real quotes which have been re-written and glossed over in an obviously tacky way
- Using professional models to represent your staff
- Creating dull testimonials which do not say anything about your company and what it stands for
When it comes to employees endorsing the culture, work ethic, prospects, etc of the company the rules of sincerity, honesty and engagement apply. In the case of attracting new recruits, if your employees are ready to tell the world how good your company is to work for you need to substantiate their claims
The odd piece of text on an advert doesn't really mean anything, whereas an ongoing blog from your employees discussing the great things that are happening at your business will carry a lot more weight. Written text is easy to manipulate whereas a video testimonial is harder to fake. Think about the best way to make your testimonials sound believable.
Any campaign, and especially an employer testimonial campaign, has the potential to backfire and create negative publicity. If your testimonials are of a more active nature (via a blog for example) then you need to put in place mechanisms to screen and reject content if necessary. There’s a fine line between allowing your employees to say what they like so their comments are believable, and limiting what they say so it doesn't make your company look bad.
Ways to use employee testimonials
Very often with recruitment drives, a keen word or testimonial can work wonders if the person giving it rises or has risen to the top. Track high performing employees and ask them every six months why it is they like working for the company. It’s a long-term strategy, but over time you will build up a series of comments from an individual who has risen from the shop floor to the board room.
One powerful way of building interest and attracting candidates is for your testimonials to touch on current misconceptions or objections and positively overcome them. If ex-employees are writing articles online about how awful it was to work for your business, encourage your current employees to write comments debunking their claims. Actively seek out negative publicity and ask (don’t force) existing employees for their thoughts.
Whether you’re using social networking sites, a micro-site, online job adverts or traditional print media to attract candidates, incorporating testimonials from your employees allows the reader to focus on reasons why they might like to be the person giving the testimonial. .
Make sure your testimonials are saying the right thing to the candidates you are seeking to attract, whether it is about prospects, promotions, rewards, security etc, you have to reach out to your prospective candidates with the messages they need (or want) to hear.