How company purpose can help you land top talent

Published 24 October 2023 | 3 min read

What makes recruitment a daunting odyssey?

In the realm of recruitment, the quest for exceptional candidates often feels like an odyssey. In New Zealand, where small-to-medium businesses are at the heart of our economy, the search for the right fit is especially crucial. However, the process can sometimes leave employers grappling with a puzzle: how do you entice the most promising talent to choose your company over others? The answer lies in the age-old adage: "It's not just what you do, but why you do it."

As we traverse the labyrinth of recruitment, it's easy to get lost in the maze of resumes, interviews, and skills assessments. The first step in successfully navigating this challenging terrain is capturing the attention of potential recruits. Imagine the scene: a janitor at a NASA facility, circa 1961, when President John F. Kennedy strolls by. The president, curious, asks the janitor about his task. The janitor replies with an unwavering determination, "Mr. President, I'm putting a man on the moon."

Strength of a singular purpose

This anecdote, whether fact or fiction, has transcended time and become the gold standard for purpose in the workplace. It is singular, unifying, and tangible—a beacon that attracts people to an organisation like moths to a flame. It's this very notion of purpose that we at Prospect emphasize when we listen to people's stories about why they choose to work for a particular company.

Are everyday benefits as crucial as a grand mission?

Recruitment has many threads, beyond the grand vision, there are day-to-day motivations that propel individuals forward. It's not just about putting a man on the moon; it's about recognising that the janitor came to work each day for multiple reasons. Perhaps the pay was more appealing than at the local McDonald's, job security was a comforting thought, or the health insurance offered security for him and his family.

Therefore, along with the grand "taonga," it's crucial to fill your employees' "kete" with things that genuinely matter to them. A diverse range of incentives, whether financial, professional, or personal, should be considered to meet their unique needs

The importance of this concept was strikingly evident in a recent research group we conducted. We engaged eight individuals, aged 25 to 45, with diverse backgrounds, to share their insights on what makes a great employer. What they revealed was unexpected. None of them mentioned a grand purpose like putting a man on the moon, saving the planet, or addressing global inequality.

Instead, their responses gravitated towards the more everyday aspects of their work experience. They praised flat management structures, training opportunities, flexible working arrangements, and the convenience of a short commute. Astonishingly, two participants independently highlighted the importance of good lighting in the workplace. Good lighting!

How can you blend purpose and practicality in recruitment?

This revelation serves as a valuable reminder for all of us in the realm of employment branding. While the taonga or grand purpose remains important, it's not the sole determining factor in attracting and retaining top talent. The kete of daily experiences and practical benefits is equally vital. It's not just about filling this metaphorical basket; it's about ensuring that employees are fully aware of what's inside, why it matters, and how they can benefit from it.

So, by all means, strive to put a man on the moon, metaphorically speaking. But don't forget to enrich your employees' kete with the everyday elements that make their work life fulfilling and rewarding. Purpose is the lighthouse that guides your recruits towards your shores, but it's the combined allure of a greater mission and the promise of meaningful, everyday experiences that will ultimately determine who chooses to journey with you. In the ever-evolving world of recruitment, a holistic approach to purpose and practicality is the map to success.

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