Employee mobility, telework, and flexible workspaces have been on the rise for the past decade (at least), and for good reason. These arrangements offer many benefits – enhanced collaboration opportunities, easier interaction among co-workers and managers, reduced space and facility costs, and increased employee satisfaction and work-life balance. But another benefit of flexible work offices is one that may not be immediately obvious. The ability to accommodate a range of work options and styles is a powerful recruiting tool, especially with professionals who may value flexibility and innovative office spaces over traditional work benefits.
If your organization offers telework options or if you’ve taken the larger step of updating your workplace to reflect a more open or flexible office environment, you are already familiar with introducing your existing employees to the changes you’ve made. But you may not have thought about leveraging these benefits – and yes, they are benefits! – as a tool to recruit new employees. Here are four ways to improve your recruiting process and attract prospective candidates
- Promote your work environment. If you allow your employees to telework or have a non-traditional workspace, your employees already know about these opportunities and benefits. The next step is to make sure prospective employees are aware of what you offer. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to make your unique work environment a part of your culture that you advertise on various social media platforms to anyone looking for information about your organization.
My company has allowed teleworking for nearly 30 years (we originally referred to ourselves as a “virtual company”). For a good part of this time, we have had a page on our website dedicated solely to this aspect of our company. We describe what it means to be comprised of employees who work from home offices and we address questions and concerns in a FAQ section. Anyone looking for information on our company, including many potential job-seekers over the years, can easily learn about our corporate culture.
With the many forms of social media available, there are many ways to get the word out on what you offer. Consider tweeting about how attractive telework is during the winter months when the weather conditions make commuting less than desirable. Post a Facebook message that your company is open for business even when there is a foot of snow on the ground. Publish a photo on Instagram of a team of employees working together in one of your collaborative spaces. The point is to make it easy for prospective candidates to see what you consider an important part of your culture.
- Embrace your culture! Once you’ve publicized your work environment and telework opportunities on your website and other social media platforms, make sure you tout what you have to offer to new employees. Teleworking, mobility, and innovative work settings are benefits, after all! Consider having an employee provide his or her perspective to potential candidates during an interview or as part of the first interview. Another option is to have employee success stories available to discuss with prospective employees. Hearing firsthand how the company’s telework policies or mobile work settings have positively impacted an individual’s work-life balance can be a powerful selling tactic.
- Establish clear policies for new employees. As noted, you have no doubt established policies for your current workforce about your company’s telework or mobility options. But have you considered what you are going to allow for new employees? For example, you may want to consider requiring employees to work in the office full-time during a probationary period to ensure that they are fully acclimated to the company before they begin to telework. Or if you allow new employees to telework, you may want to implement a policy for managers to be in more frequent contact with new team members to provide the direction and oversight that is needed during an orientation period.
Regardless of the policies you choose to establish, identifying these requirements and communicating them to prospective employees or new recruits is essential to make sure that everyone has the same expectations about what is required. That brings me to the fourth point.
- Have clear conversations with job candidates. Job interviews are essential for employers to determine whether an applicant has the skills and abilities that you are looking for, but it’s also a great opportunity for the individual to decide whether the organization is right for them. As the employer, of course you will be talking about your company, your clients or stakeholders, and the work you do. You should also be prepared to talk about your culture, work environment, and the flexible opportunities you offer, and to answer any questions or concerns the interviewee may have. This includes discussing your policies and expectations for new employees. If you don’t allow teleworking within the first six months, and a new employee begins work expecting to be working from home part of the time, learning the first day that this isn’t allowed could be disappointing and upsetting.
When I interviewed for my job, the man who I met with (my current boss) took the time to explain what it would mean to work almost entirely from a home office and how the company handled communications. I also learned what would be expected of me in the first three to six months, which goes back to point #2 above. My boss had established clear policies for employees, including new recruits, and communicated that information very clearly during the interview. It gave me a chance to ask the questions I had and to get a good picture of what a typical work day would be like. This has continued to be a critical part of our job interviews and although we have had candidates decide that the working environment wasn’t the right fit for them, we have never had a new employee complain that they didn’t realize what it would be like.
Flexible work policies, like teleworking and open office concepts, are great benefits for your current employees. But don’t forget about the advantages they offer to prospective job seekers. Emphasizing these benefits during the recruiting process can be a powerful tool that could help you attract qualified and talented candidates. After all, if you’ve invested in strategies that focus on the work-life balance for your employees, don’t forget about how that effort can pay off for you even before an employee starts working for your organization.