The Candidate Today Is Your Employee Tomorrow: Lessons from Sodexo
By Kevin W. Grossman
We’ve said it time and time again — the candidate experience is intrinsically linked with the employee experience, and even if you don’t hire a candidate, treating them with respect as a human being can go a long way toward creating a meaningful relationship. Our research shows that candidates who have a positive experience not only reapply, but also engage more with a brand as a consumer.
So what’s the secret sauce for a great candidate experience? I talked to Aimée Meher-Homji, vice president of talent acquisition at Sodexo, a global food services and facilities management company that received Talent Culture’s North American Candidate Experience Awards in 2014 and 2015. She says your relationship with the candidate will always be important, whether they’re hired or not, so it’s important to always roll out the red carpet throughout a candidate’s experience.
Keep reading for more of our conversation, or check out my interview with Meher-Homji on the CandEs Shop Talk podcast.
The Link Between Candidate and Employee Experience
To Meher-Homji, there’s no difference between the candidate and employee experiences. “It’s one seamless journey,” she says. It begins at the first touch of recruiting and continues throughout the employee life cycle. One key in that journey is making sure you’re constantly in touch with the candidate, and that expectations are maintained when that candidate becomes an employee. These standards for behavior, Meher-Homji says, are a “promise” organizations make to candidates and employees.
Another important factor is bringing talent acquisition to the table when it comes to analyzing employee experience. Meher-Homji says a negative employee experience can affect an organization’s brand, and the same applies to candidate experience. So ensure that both are positive and welcoming, and that the red carpet is extended to anyone who comes in contact with your brand.
“I always say they could be your boss tomorrow, or they could be your client in the future,” Meher-Homji says. “So you need to make sure you treat everybody with that same high touch.”
To Create a Better Candidate Experience, Look at Who’s Doing the Hiring
A large step toward a better candidate experience is ensuring that your hiring managers are trained on expected behaviors. To better inform their training, Meher-Homji says her team uses candidate surveys to target areas of improvement, and also uses a variety of training programs and methods since different people absorb information in different ways. The company provides options including online training, fliers and pamphlets.
This training helps to ensure that the recruiting process is smooth and consistent for all candidates.
How Sodexo Uses Tech to Create a Better Candidate Experience
Sodexo has embraced a variety of tech and automation solutions to create a better candidate experience. Meher-Homji says the best example of this tech is chatbots — since Sodexo began using them, the company has seen an enormous surge in completed applications. She credits this increase to the convenience factor. “The fact that it’s text and it’s mobile just makes it even more accessible, especially for our hourly and frontline population,” she says.
But ultimately, she says, tech isn’t the primary solution to streamline the transition from candidate experience to employee experience. Organizations need to consider their processes first and look for inefficiencies. That data will inform decisions on which steps in the recruiting process can benefit from more automation, and which steps still require a human touch.