Welcome to the first blog in our series about the employee experience economy. The employee experience economy is shaping how companies engage with their employees. Today’s employees—of which 61 million will be Generation Z employees—are expecting companies to be more than a place where they collect a paycheck. Today’s employees want meaning and purpose; they want companies that stand up for what is right, and they want to be a part of a company where they can make a difference. This shift in mindset creates a need for companies to evolve their approach.

One of the most important tasks in a company is selection. Yet, so many managers are missing the mark on this because they claim to be too busy, lack a clear understanding of who to hire, or they simply choose the most convenient candidate (e.g., the one with the most experience) so that they can quickly fill the spot and move on. When managers neglect to have a solid selection strategy, the results can be troubling—unnecessary conflict, decreased morale, poor customer service, lost revenue, high turnover, etc. So, let’s consider what companies and managers can do to select the right people:

1) Know Who You Are Looking For: It always surprises me that companies and managers neglect to realize that not everyone is meant to work in their company. You need to be selective (hence the term, “selection”) and focus on finding the right cultural fit, which means that the applicant’s attitude, heart, and mind need to be aligned with the company’s values. Yes, certain jobs require specific skills, but overall, the right fit should be determined by whether the person is aligned with the company’s values. Many of the skills necessary for certain jobs can be taught, but you can’t change someone’s disposition and character. You need to have clearly defined, meaningful, and relevant values that are applied throughout the selection process, including in any pre-employment screening or testing, interview questions and activities, and during the final decision-making process. Values guide decisions, and who you bring into the organization is one the most critical decisions you will make. When you focus on selecting employees based on values, you bring on individuals who are aligned with what the company is all about. This selection process helps move the company in the right direction.

2) Communicate Who You Are: Generation Z employees are looking for a good, day-to-day work experience and are actively interviewing companies to determine if it is the right fit for them. As such, companies need to step up their marketing efforts to highlight why employees should work for them, so promote what sets your company apart from the rest. Create your unique recruitment message and a comprehensive recruitment plan to reach the top talent that you are seeking. You also need to communicate who you are during the interview process. Explain the company’s values during the interview and set clear expectations about how things are done in the company. Clearly communicating your values and expectations gives the applicant an opportunity to understand whether the company is the right fit for them. Generation Z employees are looking for companies where they can grow. These employees are seeking learning and development opportunities as well as regular feedback. So, make sure to highlight all of the career development opportunities and high-quality management and mentorship available within your company. Lastly, remember that this new generation of employees is all about diversity and inclusion. Thus, you need to explain how your company gives everyone a voice and share with them that they will be welcomed and appreciated in the company.

3) Stop Relying Solely on Experience: I find that many managers select employees with their own interests in mind, not the company’s interests, by hiring the most convenient applicant. Managers tend to focus too much on experience and not enough on values when selecting the right candidate for the job. As a result, managers benefit by not having to train the new employee on the essential functions of the job; however, the new employee may not be the right fit, which leads to the various challenges mentioned earlier. Additionally, focusing too much on experience means that you easily overlook high-potential individuals who could be your next star employee. So, stop relying solely on experience and create a selection strategy that is focused on finding the right cultural fit.

4) Revamp Your Interview Process: Generation Z employees are looking for companies where they can make a difference. You are not going to attract these candidates if you follow the traditional and dull selection process where interviewers ask canned questions, and applicants give rehearsed answers. First, you need to analyze your current selection process and understand whether this process is yielding the right results (e.g., the right fit, strong performance, etc.). Next, look at what needs to change to truly assess the applicant’s personality, character, and ability to perform well in the job and company. Are you asking the right behavioral-based interview questions? Are you including an activity-based portion of the interview where applicants are challenged to think outside of the box? We recently developed an interactive interviewing process that includes 1) a coffee hour for managers to interact with candidates as a way to check their social skills, 2) having applicants review a new app with the hiring manager to test a candidate’s technology acumen, and 3) a scenario-based exercise to check their ability to be creative and troubleshoot problems. By pushing candidates away from a traditional interview, we get them out of their comfort zone, which provides an opportunity to see more of who the candidate really is and helps us determine if they are the right fit for the organization. Finally, get your staff involved in the hiring process. Have them ask questions and get to know the candidate. Involving your staff benefits both the applicant who gets to hear directly from their future colleagues, and the current employees who feel involved in the decision-making process. Have a current employee show the applicant around the work environment so the applicant can get an idea of what it’s like to work at the company. The new hire is going to be working closely with your current employees, so scheduling a time for both to connect is a great way to ensure the right fit.

I hope these insights help you evolve your selection process. Remember that selection is a critical piece of having a strong culture and high engagement. As a thought leader, Bob Kelleher said, “Many companies don’t have an engagement issue, they have a hiring issue.” Don’t let poor selection practices drag down your company. Prioritize proper selection, and you will reap the benefits of an engaged staff.

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on how to be successful in today’s employee experience economy.