HR marketing: a formidable weapon in the fight against the labor shortage

Loyalty should start long before the employee steps into the office for the first time. (Photo: 123RF)

When the Jean Coutu Group asked the 420 pharmacist-owners in its network what it could do to help them fight the labor shortage, its senior director of human resources noted “a crying need to attract talents”, recalls Annie Brisson in an interview with “Les Affaires”.

The owner pharmacists, however, did not sit idly by. “What was missing was this consistency, this employer positioning,” says the certified human resources advisor (CRHA). In other words, the group had to establish its HR marketing strategy.

“We know good human resources practices. Now, we have to make sure that they are aligned with the employer’s promise, and that everyone is working in the same direction,” explains consultant and speaker, Emilie Pelletier.

For 16 years, the firm HRM Groupe, which Ms. Pelletier founded in 2006 with Didier Dubois, has been raising awareness first in HR departments and then, more and more, in marketing on the importance of combining these two disciplines to attract and retain the workforce.

The rise in popularity of this practice, however, causes the appearance of shortcuts.

“Very often, what some people call HR marketing is really just recruitment campaigns. But it goes much deeper. We have to start by determining what our ’employer promise’ is,” she adds.

A cornerstone of HR marketing, this employer promise dictates the kind of experience the worker will have on a daily basis. Without this “serious” reflection done beforehand, the chances are high that a recruit will leave the organization shortly after being hired. Disappointed at not having taken advantage of what was promised to her, she will spread her disillusion on the job market, warns the CRHA.

“We will not hide it, we shoe the horse at a gallop. There are things that we must apply quickly to meet our needs, but at least it allows us to be coherent and aligned. »

Long-term approach

Done well, this process takes several months. During the first three to four months, the company must start with “an internal survey, a comparison with what is done elsewhere, focus groups”, in order to determine what its employer brand is, according to the expert.

Then, the company must work on its attraction and retention plan — what we call external HR marketing and internal HR marketing, respectively — over the following two months at most.

Finally, “the attraction plan will be carried out in one year, while the loyalty plan will be carried out over three to five years. [Certes]we will readjust it as we go, but at least it gives an idea of ​​what we are getting into”, specifies Emilie Pelletier.

For its part, the Jean Coutu Group began its process in September 2021 by conducting a first survey of its employees. At the time these lines were written, the company was about to know the results of its first offensive to seduce potential candidates, through an advertising campaign. “Now it will be to see what the conversion rate of these clicks is,” says Annie Brisson, who called on the services of HRM Groupe.

This colossal and costly work — an SME with fifty employees should expect to spend between $20,000 and $30,000 — will be a good mobilization tool for the team, assures Emilie Pelletier, since all the members of organization are called upon to contribute directly or indirectly to this common vision of the employer. “It’s much more than an advertising campaign,” she says.

The importance of manager training

For this promise to be kept, a company will have to train its managers. “They are the ones who bring the employee experience that we sell to candidates to life on a daily basis. »

This is why she recommends creating a guide, to ensure that there is “uniformity of practices and behaviors adopted” and that they meet the expectations of the organization.

This is what the Jean Coutu Group did when it deployed its first employer positioning in its branches in May 2022. “We informed them, educated them, we sent them a toolbox, but the big work is ahead, to bring these initiatives to life” over the next two years in order to retain their employees, she warns.

Retention must now begin long before the employee sets foot in the office for the first time. “As soon as the contract is signed […], we begin to create an affiliate link with him. We wouldn’t want another company to make him a more attractive offer in the meantime and he wouldn’t show up on day 1,” the consultant points out.

Emilie Pelletier also suggests producing “surprise reports” three to four weeks after the recruit’s entry into the position, in order to carry out quality control of the integration process and to make corrections if necessary. The very close monitoring of his satisfaction must now last a year.

After the candidate experience and the employee experience, the speaker now notes the appearance of the “post-employment” experience. By leaving his boss on good terms and keeping a certain link with the organization, the former colleague could recommend to other workers to join the team, or even to set foot in the company himself.

After all, his honeymoon with his new duties will also last three months: “It’s not bad to give them a call to see if they still like it. »

When the Jean Coutu Group asked the 420 pharmacist-owners in its network what it could do to help them fight the labor shortage, its senior director of human resources noted “a crying need to attract talents,” recalls Annie Brisson in an interview with Deals.

The owner pharmacists, however, did not sit idly by. “What was missing was this consistency, this employer positioning,” says the certified human resources advisor (CRHA). In other words, the group had to establish its HR marketing strategy.

“We know good human resources practices. Now, we have to make sure that they are aligned with the employer’s promise, and that everyone is working in the same direction,” explains consultant and speaker, Emilie Pelletier.

For 16 years, the firm HRM Groupe, which Émilie Pelletier founded in 2006 with Didier Dubois, has been raising awareness first in HR departments and then, more and more, in marketing on the importance of combining these two disciplines to attract and retain the workforce.

The rise in popularity of this practice, however, causes the appearance of shortcuts.

“Very often, what some people call HR marketing is really just recruitment campaigns. But it goes much deeper. We have to start by determining what our ’employer promise’ is,” she adds.

A cornerstone of HR marketing, this employer promise dictates the kind of experience the worker will have on a daily basis. Without this “serious” reflection done beforehand, the chances are high that a recruit will leave the organization shortly after being hired. Disappointed at not having taken advantage of what was promised to her, she will spread her disillusion on the job market, warns the CRHA.

“We will not hide it, we shoe the horse at a gallop. There are things that we must apply quickly to meet our needs, but at least it allows us to be coherent and aligned. »

Long-term approach

Done well, this process takes several months. During the first three to four months, the company must start with “an internal survey, a comparison with what is done elsewhere, focus groups”, in order to determine what its employer brand is, according to the expert.

Then, the company must work on its attraction and retention plan — what we call external HR marketing and internal HR marketing, respectively — over the following two months at most.

Finally, “the attraction plan will be carried out in one year, while the loyalty plan will be carried out over three to five years. [Certes]we will readjust it as we go, but at least it gives an idea of ​​what we are getting into”, specifies Emilie Pelletier.

For its part, the Jean Coutu Group began its process in September 2021 by conducting a first survey of its employees. At the time these lines were written, the company was about to know the results of its first offensive to seduce potential candidates, through an advertising campaign. “Now it will be to see what the conversion rate of these clicks is,” says Annie Brisson, who called on the services of HRM Groupe.

This colossal and costly work — an SME with fifty employees should expect to spend between $20,000 and $30,000 — will be a good mobilization tool for the team, assures Emilie Pelletier, since all the members of organization are called upon to contribute directly or indirectly to this common vision of the employer. “It’s much more than an advertising campaign,” she says.

The importance of manager training

For this promise to be kept, a company will have to train its managers. “They are the ones who bring the employee experience that we sell to candidates to life on a daily basis. »

This is why she recommends creating a guide, to ensure that there is “uniformity of practices and behaviors adopted” and that they meet the expectations of the organization.

This is what the Jean Coutu Group did when it deployed its first employer positioning in its branches in May 2022. “We informed them, educated them, we sent them a toolbox, but the big work is ahead, to bring these initiatives to life” over the next two years in order to retain their employees, she warns.

Retention must now begin long before the employee sets foot in the office for the first time. “As soon as the contract is signed […], we begin to create an affiliate link with him. We wouldn’t want another company to make him a more attractive offer in the meantime and he wouldn’t show up on day 1,” the consultant points out.

Emilie Pelletier also suggests producing “surprise reports” three to four weeks after the recruit’s entry into the position, in order to carry out quality control of the integration process and to make corrections if necessary. The very close monitoring of his satisfaction must now last a year.

After the candidate experience and the employee experience, the speaker now notes the appearance of the “post-employment” experience. By leaving his boss on good terms and keeping a certain link with the organization, the former colleague could recommend to other workers to join the team, or even to set foot in the company himself.

After all, his honeymoon with his new duties will also last three months: “It’s not bad to give them a call to see if they still like it. »

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