Jason reports from our latest Corporate Website Forum at the Hospital Club which discussed the role of the corporate website for potential employees.
The needs of potential employees is an unusual conversation to be having with a room full of FTSE corporate website owners - far too unusual. So it was illuminating that this was the chosen topic for our fourth Corporate Website Forum by its members - which include the likes of Aviva, Lloyds Banking Group, Centrica, Standard Chartered and Tate & Lyle.
From what we know from time spent mining through Google Analytics and 15 years' experience in digital talent communications we've come to refer to potential employees as the 'forgotten majority' for corporate websites. Given that CEO's are putting the acquisition of talent at the top of their agenda (see the PWC Global CEO Survey or this month's issue of Harvard Business Review for proof); and that employees are the largest corporate website audience by volume in the vast majority of cases - their needs should be discussed far more often.
The lively lunchtime discussion emphatically supported our view that most corporate websites don't address the high expectations of this audience well enough, at a potentially significant cost to the business. Credible third party research and our own conducted in partnership with KPMG, shows that the corporate website is a key reference point and tool throughout the job seeking process, for experienced hire as well as graduate level candidates - regardless of what channel they come through. The validation and insight roles of the website are important for all but the most informed candidates.
Jason Frank, a director at SAS, with 15 years' experience of combined corporate and talent communication for the likes of Sainsbury's and Ernst & Young shared audience research with the group and highlighted best practice, demonstrating how the more sophisticated recruiters with significant graduate intakes such as the 'Big 4' and the investment banks are leaving many others in their wake. As candidates increasingly demand more engaging, interactive information, it's those organisations that are creating a consistent experience across all channels - from LinkedIn to Facebook - that are surging ahead. And critically, those 'best in class' employers know that their careers site has to be as content rich and compelling as any of their external attraction communications. Extensive video-based insights into employers, their culture and roles are the rule rather than the exception, as are 'self-selection' tools that help candidates to understand if and where they might fit in, and ultimately support more informed applications.
Part of the reason for the widespread failure amongst the majority of major organisations to really address this audience well enough is the website ownership structure and that old chestnut - siloed thinking and behaviour. Of course most of our Forum members are all too happy to admit that their backgrounds lay either in corporate communications, PR or investor relations - so the priority audiences are the obvious ones. The Forum members around the table were open in admitting that their co-operation with HR and resourcing was more limited than it should be, for all the usual reasons on both sides of the fence, and that therefore the thinking and investment strategies were simply not as joined up as they could or should be. This pattern is one of the reasons why a significant number of major organisations have separate careers and corporate websites - which for various reasons can be far from ideal for both the business and the candidate.
On a more positive note the very fact that we were discussing the topic demonstrates how our members recognise what needs to be done. However the consensus was that there's a long way to go it seems before they get the full cooperation and support they need both from above and from their colleagues in HR. Only then will this key audience receive the investment and attention it deserves from the corporate website.
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