If you read the lists of best places to work, you might notice the same companies appear year after year. Google, Bain & Company, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Facebook, and Twitter, for example, are perennial favorites on Glassdoor’s annual list.
Renowned perks like company chefs, nap rooms, and massages might seem like obvious reasons for their ranking, but Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, says it’s deeper than that; the best employers know how to use workforce data.
“Smart companies rely on data to inform all of their recruitment decisions–everything from job seeker perceptions to industry trends and talent supply,” she says. “They analyze this data to gain meaningful insight that helps them understand where to focus their recruitment efforts to get the best return on their investment.”
It’s been suggested that Google reinvented HR. “All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics,” said Kathryn Dekas, Google’s people analytics manager, during a speech at an O’Reilly Strata Jumpstart conference.
And other companies can do the same thing. Haefner offers six steps for using data to create a working environment that engages and retains employees and boosts your bottom line:
Just as data are a good driver for your marketing efforts, today’s best employers apply the same efforts to their recruitment process. Haefner suggests starting with a problem you want to solve.
“We talk about the data and analytics, but first you have to have a question you want to answer,” she says. “You might ask, ‘Why aren’t the employees I want to recruit applying at my company?’ or, ‘What can I offer to attract the right talent to launch a new division?’”
Then look at what you have to offer. If you just put together a rich package of perks, it may not fit your employees’ needs and what job seekers want. It sounds simple, but start by asking exiting employees what they want.
“I’ve seen employers who let employees bring their pets to work, but if that perk isn’t something they want, it won’t move the needle in terms of making your company a more attractive place to work,” says Haefner.
It’s wise to collect data from industry trends, but understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to using them. Haefner says it can help to tap into data experts who specialize in helping employers understand which types of data will help them meet their own unique goals. They’ll take into account the various factors that affect your organization and its recruitment efforts–which is the only data you need to focus on.
“You’ll find companies that have fabulous, creative perks, but copying them won’t improve your chances of being showcased on best-employers lists,” she says.
No matter how good data are, if a company doesn’t apply them to their recruitment efforts, they’re useless. Haefner suggests using the data to create benefits packages that will recruit the right candidates to your company and meet your objectives.
“It helps to have a dedicated person who can create a strategy around using the data to solve a problem,” she says. “Give them a targeted result, such as attracting a certain type of talent or retaining your most dedicated employees. There should be a core business strategy in putting the data into place.”
Designing a benefits package isn’t a one-time process; there has to be a commitment to tracking its effectiveness. The best employers constantly review what they’re offering, and assess their return on investment by comparing the costs of the benefits to an increase in revenue.
“Check in every in six months to see if the benefits package has helped you meet the objective you named,” she says. “The way you adjusted your recruitment strategy should have positioned your company in a new way. Make sure you’ve used data in ways that were tied to your bottom line.”
While Haefner says most companies have a starting point that is genuine–they want to create a cool culture or environment, for example–at the end of the day, perks can be expensive. “They have to prove value, and companies have to make sure they get a return on that investment,” she says.
No matter how efficient your current process is, there is always room for improvement or enhancement.
“When it comes to designing a recruiting strategy that makes you a best employer, you’re never really done,” says Haefner. “Smart employers take every piece of information as an opportunity to enhance their strategy and make them even stronger as an organization.”