Long-haul Journeys Aren't Just for Truckers | Phenom

Jess Elmquist

May 26, 2022

When I trace the arc of an employee’s career path from “new hire” to “20-year veteran,” it reminds me of friends who are building a house not far from mine. They had to wait almost 11 months for their garage door to get off a cargo ship in Los Angeles. The ship had been anchored out at sea for months waiting to unload goods into the port in L.A., but couldn’t because of supply chain bottlenecks.
 

The episode is a reminder that long-haul hiring is similar to transporting passengers or cargo over a great distance. Career journeys can sometimes get snarled, and that’s why organizations should make the time and commit themselves to doing career pathing the right way. 
 

We’re here to show you how.
 

I recently hosted a webinar with fellow Phenom Lindsay Mareau, Vice President of Strategy, covering the best practices to help fellow HR leaders work through the logistical and people-oriented challenges that come with mapping out a long-term career commitment.
 

Long-haul hiring isn’t easy. Anything over a great distance is bound to encounter unknowns — variables that we don’t know about today that are going to hit us tomorrow.
 

“There's a beginning, and a middle, but there's really not an end” to the process, Mareau says, recounting a pair of former employees who recently boomeranged their way back to Phenom. “It’s really ongoing.”
 

For knowledge workers especially, the entire talent experience needs to be hyper-personalized, and it should start long before they even sign the job offer, Mareau adds.“People are being more thoughtful and they're researching for longer than they ever have before,” she says. Job seekers are asking questions such as “Is this company the right next step for me?” or “Do I connect with the company’s brand and its mission?”
 

Then, once they become an employee, organizations should empower their leaders to support workers and their evolving career goals.
 


Is the Experience as Good as Netflix?
 

When I was the CHRO at Life Time and we were hiring 21,000 people a year, one of the key lessons learned about the digital experience is that one size does not fit all. It has to be hyper-personalized. It has to deliver content that is highly relevant to the job seeker. We wanted candidates to come away knowing, “Whoa, this company really knows me.”
 

Every potential employee is judging the online candidate experience and application process today. They are comparing it to all of their favorite, top-rated sites. So it’s not enough for the digital experience to be better than your competitor’s. You have to ask yourself — is the experience we’re providing as good as Netflix? 
 

A hyper-personalized experience that leads the candidate to best-fit opportunities enables companies to trust that they’re hiring a great culture fit, qualified for the work. A win/win situation.
 


Related6 Ways to Personalize Your Career Site & Convert More Candidates


How Artificial Intelligence Bolsters Career Discussions
 

The largest issue for leaders today isn't the desire to have a career-pathing conversation with their employees. Rather, it's about having the appropriate data. With that in hand, the conversation can happen in two simple steps:
 

  1. Set up time for a career-focused conversation with the employee 
  2. Leverage AI-powered data to help provide a clear career path  


In two easy steps, the manager gets to talk to a direct report armed with data that that same employee has authored in an AI-powered platform. The employee is a stakeholder in his or her own process.
 


One of the reasons HR leaders can feel overwhelmed by these career discussions is because employee skills and career desire data isn’t organized and served in a way that's usable, especially for busy leaders. If they have to take those three or four extra steps, then they will likely find it difficult to commit to a  long-haul mentality. Time-starved leaders can tend to discount or lose the importance of ongoing consistent communication with their team about their personal career paths.
 

Companies can start by asking themselves these critical questions:
 

  • What platform is their talent experience sitting on?
  • Does the platform enable self-serve options for the employee?
  • Is the data readily available for the employee to share with his or her leader? That's critical.
     

Learn more: Employee Experience: The Definitive Guide


Follow the 3 Ts
 

When I think about the three categories companies and HR leaders should consider when it comes to an effective long-haul hiring discussion, it’s  time, talent, and treasure.
 

The company needs to create a culture that values and takes the time to have regular and ongoing career and developmental conversations with every employee.
 

The company must increase leaders’ ability to have crucial conversations with their teams while investing in the talent to support their employees’ development for the long haul. 
 

Companies commit to the budget — the treasure — to be able to work inside of the system and help employees grow. So it has to be a company-wide commitment, but it also has to be an individual leader who's empowered using good information.
 

I read an interesting book a few years ago called “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.” It was about sustainability and what happens to products at the end of their lives.
 

In a similar vein, when we talk about new people coming into an organization, they don’t know very much about what the company does. But – years later – they become experts because they’ve moved their way up the ranks, gaining knowledge, expertise and reinvigorating their careers in the process. 
 

And so, going back to the garage door stuck on the anchored cargo ship anecdote I shared in the introduction — once a candidate becomes an employee, the long haul means long haul, so the job of HR leaders doesn’t end there. The journey is the destination, so as leaders we must commit to building the processes, systems and structures to connect and engage with the workforce longterm.
 

As a company, a long-haul mentality is a cradle to cradle mentality — delivering new, exciting growth opportunities for our committed employees. No end, long-haul planning.
 

For more on long-haul hiring, watch the webinar on demand here
 

Jess Elmquist

Jess Elmquist is the Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Evangelist at Phenom. In a previous career as the Chief Learning Officer at Life Time, the healthy way of life company, Jess hired more than 200,000 people and spoke to hundreds of his executive peers about talent trends.