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Recruitment and Diversity in the Workplace

Author: Katie Hart

Date: 19 Feb 2021

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Recruitment and Diversity in the Workplace

Attracting new talent and retaining existing staff can be a real challenge, particularly given that candidates are now pitching potential employers against each other based on the benefits on offer.

So, how do you stand out from the crowd as an employer and attract the best staff?

Build your employer brand

You might have heard about branding before, but do you really know what it means and why it’s so important? Quite simply, it’s to do with a person’s perception of a product, person or service. If a potential employee doesn’t like what they see when they research your company, they’re unlikely to accept a job offer or even an interview from you.

According to LinkedIn, an astounding 75% of potential employees won’t apply for a job if they don’t like the company’s brand.

So how do you build your brand? The best way to do this is through employee referrals and testimonials. Most people will be happy to work for a company if they can hear and see good things about working there. Ensure you have a joined-up strategy, a clear approach and an understanding of what your existing staff like about working for you.

Tell a compelling story

Once you understand your USPs as an employer, you need to be able to demonstrate these to potential candidates. Showcasing your culture and giving people a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into your business on your social media platforms, for example, will give people an idea of what it’s like to work for you. I would also recommend creating a page on your website to promote the benefits of working for you as well as testimonials from current staff.

If there is a lack of qualified talent in your immediate network, widen your search. Post updates about your business, recent success stories and the employee benefits on offer across channels that more ‘passive’ job searchers will be looking at such as Instagram and Twitter. Not everyone looks at these channels with the intention of securing a new job, but it’s a good way of developing an initial relationship with people who may be looking for a job in the future.

Embrace diversity

More and more companies are starting to broaden their talent search to include people who might previously have struggled to find work because they didn’t fit the profiles typically sought by employers. This includes those suffering with conditions such as autism, ADHD or even dyslexia. These ‘neurodiverse’ individuals may have higher-than-average abilities but also specific needs that must be accommodated for them to thrive.

Sadly, there are plenty of myths around neurodiversity that persist today and the reality is that there are high-performing individuals in senior positions who start at a company and leave because the environment doesn’t cater to their needs. It can be a revolving door and it is not the fault of the individual as they can deliver their work to the highest standards and still feel deeply unsettled in the environment they work in.

Something as simple as being able to wear headphones at work could prevent auditory overstimulation, for example.

With one in seven people in the workplace estimated as being ‘neurodivergent’, what should you do as an employer to ensure you’re opening your opportunities to all?

The reality is that culture is formed not through instruction, but by the actions and behaviour of all the people in an organisation. This means that the first port of call is internal training for everyone.

Training everyone in the team about the needs of people who are neurodiverse will help them to be more considerate of others, rather than believing myths or viewing those people as outsiders who don’t fit in.

There is much to say about the risk of obsessing over culture fit, which inevitably leads recruiters and employers to find ‘like-for-like’ individuals and force out those from other backgrounds, including those who are neurodiverse.

In a recent interview with the BBC, David Joseph CBE, Chairman and CEO at Universal Music UK, said: “It’s not individuals that need to change; it’s company culture.” And he’s right; simple changes should be made to improve the working environment and make it much easier for neurodivergent employees.

Areas for improvement

  • Job descriptions: Consider how these are written and ensure they are clear and easy to understand. For example, advertising for an ‘excellent proof-reader or copywriter’ might put off some neurodiverse creative applicants. Their skills may lie elsewhere and be better utilised in the creation of ideas, concepts and creatives. Don’t label something as essential if it really isn’t and you already have that capability in house.
  • Interviews: Consider how these are undertaken. Lots of companies now offer flexibility around timing and location. If you’re asking for a presentation, be flexible as to how this is delivered. Consider other options rather than the traditional PowerPoint. Allow people to be creative and deliver within their comfort zones or areas of expertise.
  • The workspace: Simple changes to where someone sits can be hugely helpful to their performance and delivery within the workplace. Sitting someone who struggles with open spaces, loud noise or busy departments in a smaller or quieter area of the office can transform that person’s performance.
  • Flexible working: It’s 2020 and flexible working is now the norm. Allowing people to be flexible with their start times and finish times is another example of accepting the differences in people and ensuring, as a business, that you’re open to inclusion of diverse employees. Allowing someone the flexibility to start at 9.30 and work until 6.00 so that they can avoid rush hour on the tube could make the world of difference to that individual and their performance.

These are just a few examples of small adjustments that you can make as a business to ensure you’re creating a more diverse workforce.

There are some great insights into the ways businesses, employers and HR professionals can become more diverse in their employment in the handbook produced by Universal Music last year – Creative Differences.

This is just a small insight into what is a hugely topical and important subject. We’d love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences of how your organisation is becoming more diverse or improving its recruitment process.

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