“There’s an evolution going on,” says Jennifer Prosek, author of the new book Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth, in reference to today’s workforce. “If you look at what new entrants into the workforce are looking for in terms of jobs, lives, careers and what we’re taught about the world of work have changed.”
As the CEO of public relations and financial communications consultancy CJP Communications, Prosek has noticed that today’s workers want more responsibility, and today’s employers should be receptive to that desire.
Her philosophy is that deciding who to hire is less about finding a great employee and more about finding a great business partner – or, rather, a fellow entrepreneur. “The new generation of workers expects more responsibility early on,” Prosek told me. “They’re fearless and aren’t as willing to stick things out and do things just because their bosses say they should.”
While Prosek drew on her own experiences to write Army of Entrepreneurs, her observations are not limited to what she sees going on at her organization: a recently released Career Advisory Board study indicates that there’s an overall discrepancy between what hiring managers think Millennials value most as they enter the workforce (higher pay) and what Millennials actually say they value most (meaningful work).
It is crucial that hiring managers today understand the shift that has taken place in workers’ attitudes, especially if they expect to build their army of entrepreneurs.
Recruit now. Hire later.
While “any employee can be entrepreneurial,” Prosek says hiring managers should keep an eye out for “people who exhibit excitement about bringing their own ideas to life” when trying to identify potential entrepreneurs – which, by the way, is all the time.
Hiring managers need to take a proactive approach to recruitment and constantly be on the lookout for the next entrepreneur; otherwise, waiting until a hiring need opens up couldresult in a panicked hire. “Panicked hires typically aren’t successful, particularly if you’re building a typical DNA [for your employment brand]. Everyone you hire is a reflection of that brand.”
Not only can a panicked hire be a costly mistake for employers, Prosek says that panicked hiring doesn’t reflect well with employees, either. Employees can sense when they’ve been hired out of desperation, which significantly lowers their excitement about the company; whereas employees who are courted over a period of time by prospective employers go into their new jobs feeling special “because they are.”
Prosek says recruiting candidates early on and staying in contact with them is key to building that talent pipeline – and ensuring they will feel special when the time comes to actually hire. Some of the ways employers can keep candidates engaged include sending them quarterly company updates via email, going to career fairs and networking events, and, not least of all, utilizing social networking. “If you have social media presence and blog, these things make it incredibly easy to stay in touch with your talent pipeline.”
Build an army of brand ambassadors.
But perhaps the most important factor in this strategy is an employer’s current employee base. “My whole book is about giving responsibility to your employees, asking employees to be brand ambassadors. The right employees love this activity and can be more successful at it than managers.”
And while offering rewards like cash bonuses can effectively generate participation in employee referral programs, monetary incentives are not the only option here. Giving employees ownership over the responsibility of bringing in new employees – and, essentially, helping to grow the business – can go a long way in motivating them.
Recognition is key here, too. Employers tend to forget how much value employees place on getting recognized for their efforts and contributions to the business, Prosek says, but it is absolutely essential. “People do not necessarily understand how the business works all the time. Once they understand that, and how they fit into it, they’re engaged on a whole other level,” she says. “When you teach people the business, magic happens.”
Jennifer Prosek is the founder and CEO of the award-winning international public relations and financial communications consultancy CJP Communications (CJP). Her new business book, Army of Entrepreneurs: Create and Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth, is available now. Visit http://www.armyofentrepreneurs.com/ to learn more.Related