Sunday, April 20, 2014

NET Candidate Experience Score Part I: Measuring Employer Brand From Candidates’ Perspective



Apparently, asking your customers a direct question: “How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to your friends and colleagues?” is a pretty solid indicator of your firm’s [Brand] relationship with its customers and, in fact, has real value in differentiating one company’s performance from another.

Fred Reichheld introduced the customer-focused Net Promoter Score (NPS) in his 2003 Harvard Business Review Article, “The One Number You Need to Grow”.

NPS can range from -100 (everyone would not refer others) to 100 (everyone absolutely would refer others). Anything above 0 is considered ‘good’ and above 50 is ‘excellent’. In the intervening 11 years since its introduction, research has generally supported the hypothesis that firms who raise their game with their customers find NPS a valuable tool in measuring their success in doing it and, that companies with a higher NPS, perform better.

Could the NPS approach, adapted to Candidate Experience, offer a comparable way to look at an employer’s Brand relationship with its candidates?  Several bloggers have speculated on this recently and several [un-named] companies are attempting their version of NPS with candidates.

There is little question in my mind that an easily obtained and reliable ‘indicator’ that represents the relative value of recruiting – one that is generated by candidates who have touched your hiring process…and, more importantly, that predicts company and/or recruiting performance would be enormously helpful.

To even think about getting there however, a few questions need to be asked.
Here are three sets of questions:

-        What are the [1-3] questions that link an employers’ candidates’ experience to a positive or negative “score” that is easily interpreted and compared to other employers (assuming they measure it the exact same way). What is the reliability of the measure? Does it meet academic standards?

-        What are the common and perhaps not so common recruiting practices that impact candidates for good or ill from the moment they begin researching the company through the on-boarding of a new employee? And, can that number we just generated above point to which practices are merely annoying (or pleasing) and which practices, either alone or in combination, represent a continuum of positive and negative attitudes?

-        Does it matter? We are intent on hiring the best quality candidate in the shortest time at the lowest cost. The systems, technologies, and organizational variables involved are challenge enough without additional time and money to assure all these still-unhired candidates (half of whom are not qualified), are treated well…unless these attitudes are somehow related to recruiting costs, time or quality- either now or later.

The good news is that the employers participating in TalentBoard’s Candidate Experience Awards in 2013 are generating considerable data and beginning to analyze their results in order to answer these questions. Like Reichhold’s NPS, we think it will take several years to connect all the dots but the work is clearly underway.

FIRST STEPS- Building the foundation: Calculating a Net Candidate Experience Score (Net CES)

In its third year, TalentBoard, a non-profit 501c, collected detailed recruiting practices from ~122 firms. 95 of these employers also invited their candidates to share their observations and reactions in a comprehensive survey that took up to 40 minutes to complete (depending on how far the candidates went in the process). 80% of the candidates who responded were not hired. More than 46,000 candidates responded. 64 firms were ‘net positive’- in other words these firms, to a greater and lesser degree, delivered a positive candidate experience.

(Note: Employers did not pay to participate and the results are free. Employers whose data suggested a negative candidate experience remain anonymous but participate in the results and have a clear opportunity to pinpoint the practices they need to change.)

Figure 1. 2013 CandE Award Winners

Among the 60+ questions asked of candidates who applied for a job at any one of the 95 employers completing the CandEs were these three direct questions:

-        “Based on your experience as a candidate how likely are you to change your customer status?”
-        “Based on your experience as a candidate how likely are you apply again to [Company Name]?”
-        “Based on your experience as a candidate how likely are you refer others to [Company Name]?”

For each question there were four optional [anchored] answers that ranged from (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Not on your life” to “Absolutely” with a couple “Maybes” in between.*

*We calculated a Net Candidate Experience Score (CES) for the ‘pool’ and for each company by dismissing the % of those who responded to the middle 4 answers (#2 & #3) and, simply subtracted % who responded to the most extreme negative response (1) from the % responding to most extreme positive response (4) for each question. (Note: This is similar in approach but operationally quite different from the calculation of Reichheld’s NPS which is based on an unanchored 10-point Likert scale where the % responding to #1-#6 is subtracted from the % responding to #10.) The resulting ranges for both approaches however are -100 (Very Bad) to +100 (Very Good).

Candidates also responded to a comprehensive set of questions about each stage in the recruiting process from their ability to research the employer to onboarding depending on how far they went.

At each stage Candidates were asked about their awareness of specific recruiting practices related to their experience (i.e. “how many interviews took place?” or, “how long did it take you to complete the application?”) and offered a rating of their experience of that segment (as well as an overall rating) that ranged from “very” or “slightly” negative to “very” or “slightly” positive on a 5 point Likert scale

(For ~20,000 candidates, the overall experience was positive and for ~10,000 it was negative. Logically, the firms who chose to participate in the CandEs were also more likely to believe that they delivered a more positive candidate experience so it wasn’t surprising that the results included proportionately more positive candidates than we might expect from a general population.)

Of the three core questions related to NPS, we found uneven results comparing the question “How likely are you to change your status as a CUSTOMER?” to the other questions or to the candidates’ ratings of their experience. The main variable was whether the participating employer had an established retail/product brand. In general however, the answers to this question may eventually be critical to calculating the actual cost of a bad candidate experience for retail firms that have large numbers of their customers applying for jobs.

38.8% of the Candidates who rated their experience as positive said they would “increase their purchase of the [Company’s] products or services while 30.8% of those candidates who rated their experience as negative said they would “take their buying power elsewhere”.

Figure 2. Relationship between Candidate Experience and Intent to Purchase


For firms whose products and services were not easily identified, the answers given by the candidates about their purchasing intentions had less connection to the ratings of the candidates’ experience.
Candidates’ intentions to apply again or refer others was clearly affected by their experience.
For Candidates who rated their experience positive:
62.0% were “extremely likely” to re-apply (only .6% said “definitely not”)
61.5% would “actively” refer others (only .5% would not refer and “actively discourage” others from applying)
For Candidates whose experience was rated negative (4, 5)
24.7% were “Definitely Not” likely to re-Apply (only 5.6% said “extremely likely to re-apply”)
27.0% would “Actively discourage others” (while 5.8% would “actively encourage” others)

Looking at each employer’s results for both the “Would you Apply Again” and Would You Refer Others” questions we calculated the NetCES using the method described earlier.
The results shown below suggests that either question could serve as the Net Candidate Experience Score.
Figure 3. Net CES Scatterplot

(Note: the 5 firms circled did not win the CandEs but participated in the effort to benchmark their experience. Every other firm represented by the data point above was acknowledge as having a net positive rating for candidate experience.)

NEXT STEPS- Test, Replicate, Expand

-        We want to prove our hypotheses that Net CES can meet academic standards for reliably measuring deeper attitudes and predicting behavior. We also want to validate which specific recruiting practices (if present and if candidates are aware of them) are merely annoying but do not by themselves change attitudes and behavior. And then there are those that do, immediately, change attitudes

Several of the 2014 volunteers involved with the TalentBoard, our CandE Council as it were, have I/O connections or access to PhDs willing to help. One dissertation committee for a PhD candidate in a major firm has already requested access to the data we’ve collected. We expect more. Meanwhile we are interviewing several firms willing to share openly their Net CES and Part II will offer their current insights and efforts to learn from the data they acquired this year. A Case-Study Summit on the Candidate Experience is being planned on September 19 in Chicago. More on that in the future.

-        At the very least, any employer who routinely and automatically asks candidates (within a short time of closing out a requisition) whether they would apply again or refer others would have their own internal indicator of the strength of their candidate experience.

 (There are firms like Mystery Applicant that have emerged and offer services such as this.)
Like the canary in the mine, this approach, reported by geography, class of worker, etc. can provide an initial warning about insufficient or deteriorating recruiting practices- although it isn’t a test of what, where, when and why.

-        The true test that we are on the right track is being able to replicate the significance of the candidate’s experience year over year. We hope to encourage even more firms (200 is our goal) to REGISTER this year. As of this writing we are at 120+. If you’ve read this far, join us and participate or encourage your friends, colleagues and clients to do so. (A parallel effort by the UK is also open for registration)

-        We want to encourage each employer participating in last year’s CandEs to analyze the results they’ve received. The data isn’t as important as what you do with it. TalentBoard is not a consulting firm. We do supply some analysis of the data in our CandE whitepaper but not to the depth that each firm has the potential to mine. Employers need to partner with internal data analysts, hire quants as interns or consultants to assist.

-        We have asked multiple winners of the CandEs to volunteer as a ‘Voice of the Employer” Members of this group meet monthly as our CandE-Bar and they will be featured in a 1-day Candidate Experience Case Study conference in Chicago on September 19. Employers participating in the 2014 CandEs will not be charged to attend. Out of this effort, we hope to see how Net CES might relates to time to fill, cost per hire and quality and other performance and efficiency measures such as conversion rate, retention and employee or company performance.

-        We want to expand globally. We know that different cultures, even different regions, may deliver very diverse candidate experiences. The North American CandE Council has added Canadian volunteers who have launched a French Canadian version of the employer survey this spring. An active CandE council has been operational in the UK for two years and recently (February, 2014) conducted its second annual CandE awards event. Plans are to expand the council in the UK to one that is focused on Europe as a whole by the end of 2014. Discussions in April with more than  a dozen professionals in Australia and New Zealand offer a positive view to Councils in that region of the world by 2015.


Full Disclosure: Gerry Crispin is a co-founder of TalentBoard. He receives no compensation from this involvement. This is true for the other founders, Elaine Orler and Ed Newman and, for all the volunteers – practitioners, consultants or, vendors.
  



Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Good Jobs Strategy: An Essential Read for 2014, Rethinking Retail

Peter Cappelli, Wharton’s pre-eminent professor of management dissected Zeynep Ton’s, The Good Jobs Strategy, in his monthly column for HR Executive Magazine.
What makes this work important beyond the obvious value of the content is that Peter will be sharing his insights in various Board rooms sooner rather than later and, it would be cool if staffing leaders were raising questions upward at the same time some of the challenges are flowing downward through HR.
The book's central theme, as Cappelli notes it, revolves around asking “an employee in one department where something is in another department, just to see if he or she knows.”

The data suggests that in an era where mastering the logistics of having the right product at hand just-in-time we’ve managed to keep our eye firmly on the Technology Tools (read as bright shiny objects) but failed to invest in properly hiring and rewarding front line employees with the skills, knowledge and experience to leverage them to the customer. (And we may even have gone beyond the number of choices customers are comfortable with and employees able to work with.)
Setting aside the case studies of firms doing it right, if most retail firms' strategy has been on hiring employees at minimal pay and benefits, something may have to change. 
Could be a great time to develop a new strategy for store level sourcing, branding screening and selection. #getaheadofthecurve. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

College Students Building e-Portfolios: For Self-Awareness Apparently

In another sign that job seekers and employers are disconnected from one another, the Wall Street Journal noted in an article earlier this month, Giant Resumes Fail to Impress, that "more universities are pushing their graduates to complete e-portfolios- web based dossiers that showcase writing samples, class presentations and other evidence of skills…"

According to the Educause, a non-profit, that we guess does the due diligence on subjects like this, over half of US college students, many of them MBAs, are using the expanded resume approach up from 7% in 2010…and it is only expected to increase this year.

Eventually the article quoted a few employers like Marie Artim, TA VP from Enterprise Holdings who simply told the truth about the subject [paraphrasing] we don’t see it much and if we did we wouldn’t use it. It was clear that on the employer side e-portfolios are unlikely to fit the embedded ATS capabilities for an application or even an uploaded resume nor were the teams of recruiters assigned to hiring college candidates about to wade knee deep through individual digital drawers of candidate skills, knowledge and experience on a project by project basis to assess their qualifications. At most, it would be a useful confirming read for a hiring manager having already made his/her final decision from resume and interview.

So what is the value of an e-portfolio?We don’t draw a distinction between the portfolio as a learning process and the portfolio as an employment tool", said one college career services professional toward the end of the article. She concluded by saying it’s the ‘self-awareness’ of the process that eventually helps their students gain employment.


Well, perhaps more self-aware students are better interviewees but, it seems to us that part of a career coach’s job in helping students become ‘self-aware’ would be to make a distinction about what works and what doesn’t work when it gets to the details of competing for a job.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When We Connect the 'Global Integration' Dots, Recruiters Risk Being Defined Here By Their Practices There


The hiring process has no minimum acceptable (or unacceptable) standard of practice. Anything goes and many recruiters prefer it that way. Perhaps intuitively we know that people who think of themselves as recruiters (or enjoy being  seen as successful recruiters by others), are highly individualistic and, if occasionally a line is crossed, well, it’s easy enough to distance the professionals on the right side from those who fall outside that broad norm.

That ‘norm’ however is typically a US centric perspective at a time when we are moving increasingly toward a global community. Internationally, the 'practice' of recruiting isn't nearly as individualistic and its many forms are often deeply embedded in the culture of the country.

It is here, at the edge, that some forms of recruiting include practices so egregious (when considering the desperation of those seeking work)- practices we could never imagine being associated with what we love doing. In the past, it’s been easy to ignore them. Out of sight, out of mind. In the future, as our business leaders ask us to participate in ‘globally integrating’ our recruiting platforms, maybe it's not so easy to dismiss.

A recent investigative article published by Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek in November is a prime example of challenges that may be in store for HR and Recruiting Leaders and suggests why we need a global recruiting standard for what should and what should not be minimally acceptable practices.

The article is an important read on many levels and, not at all specific to Apple who figures in it centrally.

Here are the bare facts of this story that keep me thinking about how far we've come...and how far we need to go as a profession that claims both a body of knowledge (content) and its relationship with the values and mission businesses aspire to (standards).

-        -   In 2012 Apple successfully launched the iPhone5 and demand suggested a speedy ramp-up was needed for assemblers and testers.

-         -  Apple subcontracted with Flextronics, another multinational and one of their top 10 suppliers, to add 1500 workers quickly to a factory near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

-          - Flextronics contacted independent ‘recruiter’ organizations (brokers) including 4 in Nepal (there is a reason that workers were sought outside Malaysia as this country’s employment laws, such as minimum wage, only cover its own citizens, not temporary workers of neighboring countries).

-          - The 4 recruiting subcontractors of Flextronics subcontracted to dozens of independent ‘recruiters’ who fanned out to villages throughout Nepal.

-         -  They found and engaged hundreds of prospects like Bibek Dhong

-          - Bibek, like all the other candidates, was charged a fee…by EACH subcontractor in the chain- totaling nearly $1000 (plus interest since most candidates must take out a loan to pay). Bibek agreed to go into debt and the job was his. (This, by the way, violates Apple’s ban on the practice- but, in some mysterious way, Apple insists that these fees should not exceed 1 month’s net pay! We would like to meet the person who determined this amount…and wonder if he has his gphr certification).

-         -Apparently all involved (Flextronics and other global outsource vendors) know the practice of selling jobs exists but cannot seem to alter the local ‘custom’. The article speculates that more than 150,000 workers involved in manufacturing and service of multinational firms obtain their jobs through this practice in Malaysia alone.
-          
      - Bibek and his newly ‘hired’ peers are flown to Kuala Lumpur on a 30 day visa. He is driven to a block of apartments (arranged by Flextronics). His passport is surrendered to the factory manager.

-         -  Bibek is paid $5.80 per day. (Approximately what Mr. Ford paid his workers to assemble cars…in 1914.) Calculating how much Bibek will be able to keep after paying his debt is worth the exercise. Alternatively, calculate how long it will take him to pay off $1000 plus interest if he gives the recruiters ½ his pay.

-         -  Epilogue: within 2 months (visas were never renewed by Flextronics) the 1500 are let go (given 2 month’s severance) and stranded (illegally) in Malaysia for many more months until they paid their debts to the recruiters. (Some of which was handled when these practices came to light.)

One small concern (but a keen source of embarrassment) is that these modern day slavers are called ‘recruiters’…over and over again. That has to stop. Let’s call them what they are.

A larger concern is that Recruiting and HR leaders in large multinational firms are conveniently 1, 2 even 3 degrees of separation removed from the actual hiring. They may hold the title of global head of HR or Staffing but are insulated by layers of subcontractors who are, up until now, seldom audited. Try as hard as you want, but employers will never fully shift their responsibility when the conditions of people engaged in making their products or providing their services are brought to light…no matter what logo is over the door. 

Fortunately, as more and more quality HR and Staffing leaders get involved and  learn what is happening at the trench level, they are pushing their firms to resolve the problems and not hide them away. We should all support their extraordinary efforts to change these practices and encourage them to share their stories as a model for others.

A related concern is that multinationals, in the absence of any acceptable international standards, are left to determine on their own what ‘fair’ and ‘acceptable’ minimum recruiting practices are- and how far they should go in changing the customary sale of jobs. There should be an independent take on these issues. There is, for the first time, an initiative under the umbrella of the International Standards Organization (ISO) begun in 2013 with US participation (ANSI/SHRM) to establish a minimum global standard for recruiting. While compliance with such standards is voluntary, it’s also public knowledge whether companies comply. If the right questions are asked, we can all be responsible in how we spend our money with those who choose not to comply.

Think Global, Act Local is a cliché with valuable but limited ability to guide our actions. In this case, there is no reason why multinationals should ever accept local customs that so obviously violate their stated values.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Advice to SHRM: Drop Barriers between members and non-members

Publicly offering anyone unsolicited advice is a bit presumptuous (although it can easily be ignored). Still, it is a bit awkward and I prefer to call an individual directly when suggesting how they might improve some aspect of their work that might have caught my eye.

But, I didn’t hesitate when the idea of crowdsourcing advice to SHRM was broached. Love the idea. Curious to see how many respond today and, what they have to say. Hard to ignore.

So what advice can I offer? Below the leadership level at SHRM are many extraordinary professionals whose current work is absolutely world-class. Whether it’s developing or managing a conference, orchestrating a member/delegate trip to a far flung part of the world, or pioneering standards. I’m a fan. Nothing to say.

As someone with more than 20 years as a volunteer at the chapter, state, region and national levels of SHRM, I could probably make a long list of small improvements but I would rather keep this short, so I’ll address only one issue: the barriers between members and non-members. 

They need to be dropped because, in fact, they no longer exist. It’s just that no one has bothered to leverage  access and design an open association…yet.

-        - Practitioners who are not members have an incredibly rich array of HR related information to draw on. The quality and quantity keeps improving. Keeping information [content] that can improve an HR practitioner’s performance behind a member only door is self-defeating. Membership should include access to content but non-members should be able to search and acquire what they want piecemeal.

-       -  Analysis of SHRM  information by experts should be open to non-members. Webinars, expert blogs, etc. could all be designed with membership versus non-member pricing.

-        - Conferences need to be video-streamed. Some of the sessions should be free to all – especially if they are proactive initiatives supported by the Society. Packages of sessions organized by Mastery, Entry, Strategy, Functional focus, etc. could all be sold in real time w pricing for members and non-members.

-       -  Peer-to-peer conversations/crowdsourcing allowing real time benchmarking, metrics and more need to become core offerings and, to do so, the society needs to broaden the conversations between industry leaders, specialists, best practices, etc. whether or not they are members…and the content of these discussions then needs to be dispersed as openly as possible.

-        - Internal staff and SHRM leadership need to not only attend competitive learning events but answer CFPs and speak at them.


I’m going to stop here because I’m not sure any of this advice will resonate. The overriding strategy- to break down barriers preventing non-members from participating in and benefiting from SHRM content and initiatives does seem counter intuitive. However, not taking the advice transform the society from a closed to an open association will encourage alternative models. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Maybe 'Millennials' do want to stay. We just don’t give them reasons to do so.


China Gorman offered some insights, Gen Y’s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy from data collected and published recently by Accenture,  2013 College Graduate Employment Survey Findings.

China’s point that new grads are in need of some training before they can get up to speed in a 21st century business enterprise probably isn’t all that new. Unfortunately, too many firms still expect their new hires to ‘rock and roll’ on day one and seldom supply what’s needed.

The real surprise is that the data surrounding the myth that the age cohort entering the workforce is reluctant to commit to work and prefers to change jobs every year or so is just that- myth. 2/3 expect at least 3 year run with their first company.


As China put it, “We expect these youngsters to be gone in the career equivalent of sixty seconds. And sometimes they are.  But it’s important to know that that isn’t what they want! This isn’t what they expect!”

Candidate Experience Awards: 2013 Campaign is Open Until June 30

A reminder that less than a month is left to register and apply for the 2013 CandidateExperience Awards.

The is an industry-wide, 'big data' effort to better define, measure and bench US and UK (hopefully more countries will be on board soon) candidate experience practices.

The opportunity to do so is free and is now available at the CandEs Website until the end of June. 

Whether you compete to be among the 2013 award winners honored in October at the HRTechnology conference or, remain anonymous and simply benchmark with those who do compete and win, you are contributing to the evolution of recruiting as a function that considers the business value of all of its stakeholders’ needs.

This is the third year of the 'CandEs' and the quality of the [survey] instrument we're using to collect the information from participating employers and their candidates continues to get better. The whole initiative is being managed under a 501C non-profit called TalentBoard that has added 25 volunteers and a number of sponsors in 2013 to keep the work and the data in the public domain...and offered at no cost to employers.