The start of a new year, and in this case a new decade, is always a time of reflection and contemplation for me. I try to slow my pace and process all that has happened in the past year and consider what the future may hold. I recently finished reading Chasing the Bright Side by Jess Ekstrom and was struck by the chapter about alignment. I've spent some time reflecting on what alignment truly means, especially in my role at exaqueo as an employer brand strategist.
Essentially, alignment is our “inner applause.” It’s the moment we know that the work we do is pointed to something bigger and greater than ourselves. We achieve alignment when our work fits within our core personal values.(<—Click to tweet!)
When we aren’t in alignment, we can be chasing or pursuing things that won’t be fulfilling. We may never quite feel content or satisfied, always looking around the corner for what’s next. We can also experience frustration—that feeling of not being valued or validated.
Knowing whether you have alignment with your values takes reflection—and time. Start with your values. Work through a discovery process to identify your personal core values. They are the drivers of your life decisions. Begin by creating a list of your personal values. Try answering the following questions:
You’ll have to hone your list a bit, but this will allow you to identify your top personal core values. Now think about:
WHY THIS MATTERS IN EMPLOYER BRANDING
Not only is this a powerful exercise for us as individuals, but it can also be an exercise in alignment between candidates and potential employers. When a company is identifying its core values, the process can’t be limited to the beliefs of leadership. To be honest, there are too many times when leadership is disconnected from the employee base and doesn’t understand what matters to them. Although core values can drive company strategy, ultimately they describe the company culture and essentially, how the employees behave.
Gaining insight into the beliefs and thoughts of employees at all levels can be a valuable exercise in understanding the workforce. Company-wide surveys, executive interviews, focus groups, conversations over coffee—all of those experiences can help to identify what truly matters to the employees and drives their work. When a company does the work to define its core values, the next step is to bring them to life. Values cannot simply exist as words on the wall, they need to be demonstrated daily. (<—Click to tweet!)
Candidates and employees should be educated on the company’s core values, why they matter, and the expectations that come along with them. By communicating core values in a transparent and authentic way, a candidate can determine if this is a place they will thrive before they even apply. In the North American Candidate Experience Research Report, the Talent Board shares that “candidates want a clear understanding of company culture, insight into the employee experience and a sense of connection with the overall brand before beginning the application process.” For example, if a candidate identifies a core value as:
This is only an example and may not be accurate for every candidate. Only research can provide the meaningful insights needed to build an employer brand that’s authentic. Building an authentic employer brand is a transparent way for a company to show its core values in action, explain how work gets done, and acknowledge behaviors that are accepted and celebrated. A great place to start is your careers site.
Use videos, employee testimonials and stories, or maybe offer a culture quiz to help candidates decide if they might be successful in your organization’s unique culture. During the interview process, you could include a values-based assessment for the candidate or include interview questions that help to identify values alignment.
When communicating the employer brand through candidate and employee touchpoints, it’s critical for a company to demonstrate the values that are spoken and the behaviors that are unspoken. Show how employees get work done and talk about the why behind everything. Doing so benefits both the company and the candidate. Talented people want to work in environments where they can professionally and personally develop and be successful. You want people who feel like they belong at your organization, so help them understand your organization and find alignment.