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John Dawson of Xref & Rob Catalano of WorkTango recently did a joint-webinar on both company’s specialties, talking about how to create the ultimate experience throughout the employee lifecycle, from hire to retire!

How this Webinar Came to Be:

Rob and John met a year ago, and ever since they’ve been debating about their passions, how to find excellent individuals, and how to retain and inspire them. They decided there was nothing better than to come up with a complete, comprehensive webinar about employee experience best practices, from the front end to the back end of employee relations, and connecting full circle at the end.


John shares about Onboarding and Recruiting:

Job-hopping is the norm, most millennials will have had 4 jobs by the time they turn 32. John is a prime example. He’s had 5 corporate jobs in 10 years, however, he’s since found his home at Xref. But there are many opportunities out there. Candidates are driving the market, not hiring managers.

People often have transient perspectives about work. They want to work for 6 months and then travel for 6 months. How do we work with this? Here are some best practices for pre-employment.

Begin with self-reflection.

Go through the job hunting process yourself so you know what it’s like for candidates. How easy or difficult is the application process? How many hoops do you have to jump through, and how long does it take? It’s about transparency, speed, accuracy. It shouldn’t take 1.5 hours.

Realign your perspectives.

Ensure that candidates want to work for you, even if it doesn’t work out right now. Think about the first time you walk into a store. Even if you don’t buy something, the store still wants you to come back. In the same way, even if a company doesn’t hire you, they still want to keep things on good terms.

Use tech to be more human.

Too often we don’t use technology to make our jobs easier. Recruiters should focus on candidates and building strong relationships, not scheduling things and wasting time doing menial tasks. Think about Tinder and dating. Recruitment and dating have a lot of parallels. They’re both difficult. Finding a match is a hard thing, and you have to weed through a lot to find the perfect fit.  

Bots can’t tell stories.

Understand your employer brand, and make sure this understanding is accurately expressed to your candidates. Understand what people in the marketplace think about your brand. Whatever your brand is, your recruitment team needs to understand it. Think about dating again. You go on a few dates, start getting serious, then you find out the person is in a significant amount of debt. That makes a  difference. People should be transparent. What are the recruiters portraying, and what’s the reality?



Rob shares on employee engagement:

You’ve got some excellent new employees. Congratulations! Rob goes into detail about how to engage them, keep them, and inspire them for the entirety of their employment, starting with the question: why should you care about engaging your employees? Because it matters.

In Jake Morgan’s book The Employee Experience Advantage, he gives some stats about the difference in organizations that are involved and care about their employees. These organizations are:

  • Included 11.5x as often in Glassdoor’s best place to work.
  • Listed 4.4x more on LinkedIn north America’s most in-demand employers.
  • 28x more often listed among fast company’s most innovative companies.
  • More than 4x the average profit and more than 2x the average revenue.

The problem:

Typically we haven’t been doing a great job of creating great experiences for employees. We’re doing the same things we’ve been doing for decades, whereas a lot of evolution is happening in talent acquisition.

A history of Same-Ness

There are service awards. 25 years of service award, which started in 1907 because Henry Ford didn’t want people to leave. So he offered them a reward after a number of years to make sure they stayed. Companies still do this today, the annual 5 years of service, basically for breathing, no rewarding any great performance, etc. We just continue to do things just because it’s the way we’ve done it.

No one likes annual surveys. 90 questions, the poor experience, dating back to 1920 when the US government used it to get information from soldiers about their experiences. We need to adjust our approach if we want to build a better experience for our employees. Surveys are a nightmare. So how do we fix the problem and modernize our approaches?

  1. Use of Consumer Principles

  • We need to start utilizing consumer principles for our employees.
  • Consumer Relations Systems are applicable to our employees.
  • Sentiment, loyalty, service and support–they all come into play.
  • Consider this: 
How much do we spend on technologies and processes on customers, and compare that to time spent on recruitment and engagement. You’ll see a huge gap.
  1. Be more agile.

  • Rather than doing things in years, let’s do them more frequently because employees don’t work in years and months. They work in days and weeks. 
  • This is about defining, building, and releasing, and doing it faster and with more agility.
  • More frequent and agile measures equal to more feedback and insight.
  • Deal with smoke before fire.
  • Use those concepts in terms of how you build your HR strategy.
  • Success: It’s not a straight line.
  1. Leverage and accept new technology.

It’s not about a war among rock, paper, and scissors, but a fist bump with new technologies. We need to leverage new technology to drive success. We have the right formula about being more agile, we can use consumer principles, and technology enables all of this. Use tech to drive things forward.




John & Rob Talk about Tying Both Concepts Together:

What’s the formula to attain a seamless transition from candidate to employee, from hire to retire?

Offer honesty and transparency from the start.

Just like with dating, if you have skeletons in the closet (like everyone does), be honest. They’re going to come out, they always do. If there’s a gaping hole in the organization and no one talks about it, people are going to leave. Because talent can go anywhere.

Just because you get great employees in the door, it doesn’t mean they’re going to stay. How can we be clear with employees and successfully communicate what our organization is?

  1. Be both specific and repetitious.

Build pre-job transparency of what it’s going to be like, rather than an illusion of what it is. There can be alignment on both sides, there has to be a specific message that goes out. Have an open conversation.

  1. Don’t get ‘too comfortable–Ensure expectations meet reality.

Just like in both fresh and long relationships, it’s important to keep things exciting and engage with candidates. Have realistic expectations. Try and find the balance between giving people opportunities and making sure they don’t get too comfortable.

  1. Build your employee brand from the inside out.

Make sure what you’re saying on the outside and what’s happening on the inside are aligned. For example, employees may know that while they have amazing perks at work, salary is minimal. Remember, your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what other people say it is, so, hear what they’re saying.  

  1. This is NOT a functional strategy.

Recruitment or engagement strategies are not things that should sit in isolation. Don’t think of it that way. Think of them as two intersecting circles, business strategies and people strategies. Together, recruitment and engagement come together in a full circle, to nurture the pre-hire to new hire, to retire.

  1. Don’t be selective about WHICH experience.

If you’re going to build your HR strategy, it’s difficult to change everything in one year. Make sure you’re not just focusing on one part of your employee experience, e.g. salary, rather think about it holistically. Think about the entire experience.




Xref and WorkTango are passionate about creating incredible employee experiences, from pre-hire and throughout the entire employment. A video of the webinar can be found here