Inside this Feature

Improving Employee Recruitment and Retention

The value of communications across the employee lifecycle

Human Resources

The competition for talent is intense – especially in thriving industries such as life sciences and biopharma – yet there are many smart and skilled people available for those who know how to attract them. Once these awesome people are onboard, you need to retain them to maintain morale and performance – as well as to avoid turnover costs. The good news is that communication is a critical lever for finding and keeping employees.

CEO Chart

73% of CEOs

are concerned about finding and keeping the best talent.1

Calendar Graphic

It costs 6 – 9 months’ salary

on average to replace a single employee.2

Skilled employees who fit a company’s culture are the foundation for strong organizational performance. Employees who support and reflect your core values, attitudes and behaviors have greater job satisfaction and better job performance – and are more likely to remain with you.3 The first step for supporting cultural fit is an employment brand that clearly communicates who your company is and what it’s like to work there.

Success doesn’t just rest on finding great employees – it’s about taking steps to keep them. The impact of employee turnover is significant and includes both hard and soft costs such as:4

  • Recruiting
  • Search firm fees
  • Onboarding and training
  • Lost knowledge
  • Overworking remaining staff
  • Lowered morale and productivity

In this feature, we’ll walk you through what we’ve found out about smart communications and savvy employment branding strategies to attract, hire and retain the best employees for your organization.

Some companies take cultural fit very seriously. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has baked core beliefs into every step of the recruiting process to find people who are “naturally living the brand” on and off the clock. Zappos pays those that turn out not to be a fit $2,000 to leave after their first week of training!5

Finding Great Employees

Your employment brand

Today’s job candidates expect a high level of transparency into potential employers. They want you to tell them what it’s like to work with your company. And they’ll follow up on social media to confirm, gathering feedback from past and current employees. Your employment brand is hugely important to conveying the value of working for your company. Great employment brands often have these characteristics:6

  • Creates excitement about working for your company
  • Emotionally engages candidates
  • Outlines what your company does – and why
  • Provides a clear, compelling reason to work for your company

3 steps to an employment brand

  1. Gather insights. First, understand how your organization is currently perceived and what its unique employment brand attributes are. Research may include surveys, interviews with key stakeholders in the organization, or even a review of existing employee survey data.
  2. Define how you’d like to be seen. Based on what you learn, assess your strengths and differentiators and translate them into an employee value proposition (or EVP) and core talent messaging framework.
  3. Bring your brand to life. Step off your key messages into communications across multiple channels – both internally and externally.

What’s your employment value proposition?

Let’s spend a little more time on the employment value proposition, or your statement about the “give and get” of your employment deal – what employees will contribute and what your company offers in return.

An awesome EVP can be articulate and detailed:Or incredibly hip and concise:
Bristol-Myers Squibb EVP
At Bristol-Myers Squibb, we’re committed to helping physicians and patients fight serious diseases. The success of our endeavor depends on people who are bold, focused, innovative and passionate – people who can work as a team, yet bring unique and individual talents to bear in a variety of areas. We want people who want to change lives.7
Google EVP
Do cool things that matter.8


…But it must showcase your organization’s distinct selling points and personality.

What about a tagline?

Once you’ve developed your employment value proposition, use it as inspiration to create a succinct statement about your employment brand essence.

Executing on the employment brand

After creating your employment brand, EVP and messaging platform, you’ll want to develop communications to share and build your employment brand, including:

  • Executive presentations
  • Job posting templates
  • Career portals
  • Manager talking points
  • Company fact sheets
  • Interview guides
  • Banner ads
  • Social assets
  • Videos

Your strategy should be geared externally towards target candidate pools and internally, towards existing employees. Why the internal focus? Consistently communicating the EVP to current employees helps retain and engage them. It affirms the brand to foster advocacy – and when that happens, employees become authentic champions for your company both at work and on social media (helping you attract great external candidates!).

Signal Tip:

Ensure that all those who interface with candidates – including recruiters, marketers and hiring managers – use the core message framework to represent your company consistently. When everyone sings from the same sheet of music, candidates get a consistent impression about the value of working for your company.

Make it real with videos

Cisco projects that by 2018, video will account for 84% of all online traffic!9 Keep up and create a short video to showcase what’s special about working for your company and create a positive reputation among candidates and employees.

Cisco projects that by 2018, video will account for 84% of all online traffic!9 Keep up and create a short video to showcase what’s special about working for your company and create a positive reputation among candidates and employees.


Keeping Great Employees

Engaging employees in who you are and where you’re going

Companies employ many familiar HR programs for retaining employees – including compensation, training and development, or flexible work. These are outside the scope of this paper.

However, Entrepreneur magazine says that to keep your employees, you need a communication strategy “that’s structured to inform, emphasize and reaffirm to employees that their workplace contributions are having an impact.10 At Signal, we’d have to agree because we’ve learned that communication is essential to retention.

5 steps to keeping employees looped in

  1. Gather input from executive stakeholders on possible communication topics.
  2. Review employee engagement survey and other data for clues to what employees value hearing about (and from whom).
  3. Create core messages / message framework.
  4. Develop a phased communications calendar.
  5. Distribute messages from executives, with follow-up messages from line managers.

It may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many companies don’t give communications the time it needs – especially given the ROI. The more employees feel they’re in the know, the more likely they are to stay with an organization. Especially if leaders are the ones doing the communicating. People want to feel valued, be recognized for good work and they want to know where the organization is going.

Cater to your audiences

Internal communications are just marketing for employees. Just like in traditional marketing, the more you shape your message to a niche audience (site, department, geography…), the more effective it will be.11

Examples of communication topics that increase employee engagement:
Career pathingEmployees are hungry to know how they can move ahead. Do a communications campaign to teach them what they can do to get promoted and develop themselves (training and development options, career path tools, etc.)
The excitement of new strategiesTrying to integrate an acquisition? Build out a new geography? Reorganize operations? Send employees a drip-feed of communications – across many internal channels – about this new direction and how they can play a part.
Showcasing new productsLaunching a new product is a great way to communicate with employees. You can leverage content already developed by marketing and spin it for the company intranet.


Distinct challenges in life sciences and biopharma

The landscape for these sectors continues to evolve at a breathtaking pace. Companies in every geography are retooling and increasing development pipelines in response to major drugs coming off patent and to meet robust demand for new therapies. At the same time, global healthcare is becoming more complex – both from a regulatory standpoint and trying to meet the demands of diverse stakeholders such as patients, physicians and healthcare systems. There is a high demand for those with the capabilities to succeed in the new environment, so it’s tough to find and keep talented people.

Global healthcare is becoming more complex – both from a regulatory standpoint and trying to meet the demands of diverse stakeholders such as patients, physicians and healthcare systems. There is a high demand for those with the capabilities to succeed in the new environment, so it’s tough to find and keep talented people.



Tying it all Together

It’s time to up your talent game!

If you’re targeting this audience……consider these channels first
Early talentSocial plan: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram; outreach to university career centers
Experienced hiresJob sites, LinkedIn
AlumniIndustry conferences, magazines and other publications

Food for thought: there will always be some turnover

  • There are a certain number of people who have a “nomadic” personality. We’re not talking about someone who works remotely, but someone who job hops – for mental stimulation or to gain new skills and experiences.
  • This is more pronounced in Millennials, who tend to leave if they feel they’re no longer growing, being paid attention to or when feel that your strategy no longer aligns with their values and ideals.
  • Some strategies for addressing the nomads / job hoppers are to have active mentoring programs for knowledge transfer; engaging nomads as freelancers or consultants to keep the talent working for you; and negotiating with them to see what it would take to have them stay.


We’ll leave you with the thought that communication is an invaluable component of your attraction and retention programs – design these programs well and they will make a difference in your bottom line. Then stay agile, rolling with the changes in your company and industry to keep your communication fresh and stay ahead of the curve in finding and keeping great people.

Let us know if we can help you improve recruitment and retention with smart communications and savvy employment branding. Get in touch.



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