In the third article in our series on the psychology of recruiting, we discuss the way in which the recruitment process meets the needs of the candidate. (See the first two articles Types of Unconscious Bias in Hiring and Onboarding New Employees with Social Learning to learn more about how to recruit.)
The ultimate goal of the recruitment process is to extend an offer to the best candidate – and to have that offer accepted. But does your offer meet the candidate’s needs? Have you shown a holistic understanding of the candidate’s life goals throughout the recruitment process? Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which he wrote about in his seminal 1943 paper, outlines a theory behind motivation. Why do people say ‘yes’ to one offer, but ‘no’ to others? In one study, 26% of recruiters reported that over 1 in 10 job offers were rejected. What can you do to ensure your top candidate says yes?
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a pyramid with five layers. Need fulfillment starts at the bottom of the pyramid. As the needs for one layer are met, the candidate will seek to meet the needs of the upper layers. The recruitment process and final offer is a chance to demonstrate to the candidate that you understand his or her life and career goals. These days, employees are looking for more than just a high salary or plenty of time off. Glassdoor found that two-thirds of job candidates want diversity in the workplace. A larger study discovered that employees most want flexibility, a commitment to employee health, and a deeper sense of purpose. A quick look at the hierarchy of needs shows why.
Before a person can think about things like friendship or contributing to the community at large, some basic needs must be met. This includes things like clothing, food, water, and shelter. When you’re extending a job offer, this level directly corresponds to pay rate. Are you offering enough money for the candidate to make a living? You need to consider the cost of living in your company’s location as well. An employee working in your Silicon Valley office should be paid more than an employee doing the exact same thing in Biloxi.
Perhaps surprisingly, a massive increase in pay isn’t always the incentive hiring managers think it should be. Remember, this is the lowest level in the hierarchy of needs. Once the basics are met, your candidates are looking for more than money.
What’s the turnover like at your company? Employees don’t want to be cogs in a machine. During your recruitment process, stress the investment you will be making in your new employee. If the new hire feels as though you are committing for the long haul, that will fulfill a sense of job security. After all, you wouldn’t spend time and money educating and training an employee if you didn’t plan to keep that person around.
Health is another aspect of safety needs. Do you care about the health of your employees? Benefits like gym memberships (or an on-site gym!), standing desks, mental health days, and onsite health screenings show that your company emphasizes the physical and mental well-being of its employees. During the recruitment process, offer examples of wellness challenges, lunch and learns, or other opportunities for employees to step back and take a break. Wellness promotion programs are always worth the investment.
Research shows that having friends at work makes employees happier and more productive (although employees may want to refrain from complaining about job woes to their new best friends.) There’s more to the need to belong than friendship, though. Your workplace should have a clear corporate culture – common values and beliefs that bind diverse people together. During the recruitment process, emphasize the opportunities your employees have to socialize. Work friends are crucial to success, and your company should facilitate that as much as possible. Mandatory social activities may become a burden, so instead offer several options both in and out of the workplace for colleagues to get to know your new hire. One good option? Invite a prospective candidate to a social function at the workplace. He or she will be able to mix, mingle, and get a sense as to whether or not the culture would be a good fit.
Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Once a candidate feels confident that his or her basic needs will be met, that safety is a priority, and that there will be a sense of camaraderie, that person begins to look for additional validation. How does your company recognize the contributions of its employees? Throughout the recruitment process, point out ways employees are honored for their achievements. This could include anything from a special bell that’s rung whenever a sale is made to a ‘wall of fame’ to a monthly bonus awarded to the hardest worker on the team. Some companies have programs so colleagues can recognize a special effort made by a coworker. Your new hire doesn’t want to feel like he or she is slaving away at the same tasks without making a difference. Make the candidate feel special during the recruitment process, even before the job offer.
This is the top layer of the hierarchy of need, considered when all other needs are met. It represents your employee reaching his or her full potential. Autonomy, creativity, and a deeper sense of purpose are part of self-actualization. Emphasize the ways in which your company – and your potential new hire specifically – can make a difference internally and externally. You want your new hires (and your veterans) to feel good about coming in to work every day. The exact manifestation of self-actualization depends on the person. As you engage with your prospective candidates, learn about what is important to them. Here are some possibilities:
- Making the world a better place
- Making a difference in people’s lives
- Flexing one’s own creative muscles
- The ability to create organizational change
- Opportunities for education and growth potential
As you discover more about your candidate, you’ll be able to tailor your recruitment process to focus on what he or she finds most important.
Remember, the key to the hierarchy of needs is that it starts at the bottom. You must fulfill the basic needs before you can move onto the psychological needs and the need for self-fulfillment. If your employee isn’t offered a living wage, it won’t matter if he or she is able to affect change in the world or exercise creativity. Work your way up the hierarchy of needs, and you’ll be more likely to hear an enthusiastic affirmative when you extend an offer.