How a strong sense of belonging can help you hire more qualified talent

How a Strong Sense of Belonging Can Help You Hire More Qualified Talent

The labor market has been uncertain and volatile during the last few years. Whether it’s the weekly notifications of new layoffs or a person in someone’s professional or personal network that’s been directly impacted, it’s impossible to ignore and can make it challenging to stay focused during day-to-day work.

The fluctuating job landscape has changed not only the way companies recruit but also how job seekers assess and choose their next potential employer. While there may be more available talent in the market, the reality is candidates are more cautious than ever about where they want to apply. At the end of the day, having to go through the experience of a reduction force (RIF) or layoff even once in your life leaves a lasting impact. Candidates now place a higher value on job security while evaluating their options and at the same time are looking for organizations that resonate with their values, and where they can make a big impact.  Since starting at Thoropass back in November of 2022, I’ve successfully hired 10 people. Throughout this experience, I’ve learned some things about the shifting priorities of job seekers and how to best cater to them.

The shifting priorities of job seekers

A recent trend is that job seekers want to know as much as possible about the company before they even submit their resumes; salary is not always the primary concern. Applicants closely evaluate everything regarding a company’s leadership, stability, financial condition, culture, transparency, and how they communicate—and they won’t rely solely on the recruiter or interviewing team to get this information.

Candidates are very diligent and resourceful when it comes to information gathering. They take time to research, read company reviews, reach out to people they know inside the company, and even to employees they don’t know. 

Out of all the aspects candidates consider before accepting a new job, a strong sense of belonging holds a lot of weight, maybe now more than ever. 

What an applicant wants, what an applicant needs

Applicants want to be seen, valued, and respected from the very first interaction with a company. They want to join an organization where their voices are heard and they can contribute and collaborate with other team members to build, create, and innovate. 

As a recruiter, you can (and should) weave a sense of belonging into the recruitment process from Day 1. But it doesn’t stop there. To attract and retain top talent, a sense of belonging must remain consistent once they’re in the role. 

Just like Joe Bast, VP of People at Thoropass explains, “if an employee feels like they belong, they are more likely to stay, and that engagement can also lead to strong performance. So organizations benefit from having high retention and strong results when their employees feel like they belong. As a side benefit, high performers like to be surrounded by other high performers.”

Read on to learn how a strong sense of belonging can positively impact the recruiting process and lead to hiring more qualified talent. I’ll also touch on how Thoropass practices what we preach and offer some top tips on how to foster a sense of belonging at your organization! 

Belonging and talent attraction

When something’s good, it’s definitely worth sharing. That’s why referral programs tend to be more effective in companies where there’s a strong sense of belonging. Employees want former colleagues or strong professionals they might know to join a workplace where they can band together and achieve even higher objectives.

Just in 2022, referrals at Thoropass accounted for 34% of total hires, which goes to show how engaged employees feel. 

What the recruiter transmits during the interview process 

‘Fake it till you make it,’ won’t really make the cut here. If a recruiter truly lives by the values and vision of the company it will show in every interaction they will have with candidates. Just like a salesperson, a recruiter has to build their own strategy to make a candidate fall in love with an organization. But this is easier for recruiters who feel embraced and like the very best version of themselves at work—the ‘sell’ will come naturally and will have a positive outcome when hiring quality talent.

So let’s say the stars align and the ideal candidate ends up accepting the job offer! It’s important to continue to generate excitement and a sense of belonging right off the bat during onboarding. Some simple ideas would be sending a swag kit, sharing a kudos board with personalized messages from their team, or even having a 1st-day activity to integrate them with the company and team.

At Thoropass all new hires start on Mondays with other new hires so that they have a connection to others who are going through the same learning process that they are.

How we foster a sense of belonging at Thoropass

We prioritize establishing a sense of belonging during the recruitment process and are reaping the rewards. Thoropass employees tend to engage with the company’s vision and mission from the very beginning. This sense of belonging trickles down from individuals to teams and, when this happens, everyone is able to work together effectively toward a common goal. 

After conducting an internal survey, we found that our employees have formed strong internal bonds with their peers. And this has led to a more collaborative environment. 

According to Joe, “Thoropass is different from many other companies because of the people and leaders we have. From the beginning, we have ensured our Thoropass Values are embedded in the hiring process. Specifically, the value we place on being ‘inclusive collaborators’ has resulted in a highly connected workforce that loves to work together. This means that from the very beginning, we are intentionally trying to gather people who love collaborating. It shows up in how they welcome new employees, solve problems, make decisions, and execute projects.”  

Tips on how to foster a sense of belonging in the workplace:

1. Transparency and communication

Having open and honest conversations with applicants and employees about the company’s objectives, challenges, financial situation, and any other relevant information builds trust and strengthens working relationships. 

Having recurring All Hands meetings is a great way to provide direct executive communication to everyone. “We transparently share important business goals and achievements with them during All Hands as well as updates from different functions at each meeting. Also, we use All Hands to provide formal recognition and thanks to employees who have gone out of their way to get something done, help out a customer or solve a tough problem,” says Joe Bast. 

We recognize not all employees are comfortable asking questions in All Hands meetings, so we also offer a Slack channel for questions that can be anonymized.

2. Listen and take action 

Create spaces where employees can share their needs, concerns, suggestions, and ideas. Including employees as part of important decisions will increase a sense of belonging and reinforce the idea of working together toward a common goal. Empower managers to schedule regular check-ins and 1:1s with their teams. This is essential for everyone to feel seen and heard.

At Thoropass, we also have skip-level 1:1s where more junior folks can connect with leaders a couple of levels up, ensuring lines of communication are always open.  

3. Create a safe work environment

Protect and encourage individuality by building safe spaces for everyone to feel supported, respected, and represented. Consider offering employees the opportunity to take part and volunteer in special interest groups. At Thoropass we have a variety of ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) such as “Women of Thoropass”, “Thoropass Pride ERG”, “Asian EGR”, “Spices ERG”, “Tamayo ERG” and “Conexión Latina ERG”. Each one of these ERGs organizes annual activities like lunch and learns, games, and trivia, and shares different learning resources with the company to reinforce both education and respect. Most importantly, Thoropass’s leadership team is involved and supportive of these initiatives. Getting executive buy-in is the best starting point for launching initiatives like this that will make a difference when it comes to creating a safe workplace with a strong sense of belonging. 

In this new and challenging era of work, fostering a strong sense of belonging is something companies and talent teams should focus on now more than ever. 

Just like Joe Bast states, In the end, belonging is important at work because it helps employees feel like they are surrounded by people who have similar interests, goals, and motivations. When people feel like they belong, they naturally work hard to stay connected to others, and the relationships that result in job satisfaction, retention, and performance”.

If you are looking for your next working adventure, check out our open roles and reach out if you have any questions.

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