Harri's Summer Series: Recruitment and Branding 

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August 2nd marked the third and penultimate session of Harri's Summer Series. Due to a high volume of attendees, we hosted two sessions:  an interactive breakfast discussion and a round-table dinner. Put shortly – it was an extremely productive day for all involved!

At the breakfast event, attendees from brands such as Cote, Mitchells & Butlers, wagamama, and ETM Group gathered together in the beautiful Marx room at Quo Vadis Soho on a sunny summer day in London. The group was comprised of more than 20 recruiters from leading restaurants/pubs and hotel groups, guest speakers from Indeed, The Prince's Trust, and several members of the Harri team. 

The Harri Summer Series is all about the Employee Value Proposition (EVP): how we, employers within the hospitality sector, can make our people feel valued during the hiring process as well as in their roles.  Our sessions break EVP down into 4 pillars: Compensation & Benefits, Recruitment & Branding, Performance & Development, and Engagement. 

This session, which focused on Recruitment & Branding, was hosted by Cleo Clarke (Global VP of HR Strategy & Development at Harri). It began with introductions and splitting the group into teams of four. After the surprisingly difficult task of ‘name your team’ was complete, the session was in full swing! (We'd like to crown ’Hospitality Hotties’ as the winners of the name game.)  

The teams were asked to spend 10 minutes discussing 4 topics - Candidate Experience, Recruitment Process, Employer Branding, and Recruitment KPIs - focusing on best practices and innovation.  

The mix of industry vertical (restaurant/pub/hotel) and company size (small scale/multi-site/global) within the groups turned discussion into debate on the differing visions and strategies a brand could have with regards to the four topics mentioned above. We decided to take the best ideas from each group (or, as we like to call them, the best 'nuggets') and summarize them for you below. Here are our golden nuggets! 

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How should you ensure your candidates have the best possible experience when applying for your brand? 

  • It’s about the candidate - not you. Interview candidates at the site they will be working at, or go to them. Don’t make them come to you for convenience! 
  • Think ahead. It’s not just about the day of the interview – understand the candidate's career progression beforehand in order to help them see and believe there is a future for them with your brand.
  • Scrap the traditional interview. By making candidates fill out endless forms, are you just going through the motions? Get creative with your interviews to make the process engaging and in alignment with your brand.
  • People understand and trust their peers. Have prospective managers meet other managers during the interview process. 
  • Create a relaxing environment for prospective team members. They may be nervous and you'll want to alleviate this as best you can. 
  • Give your general managers a voice in the hiring process to help prioritize positions and find the right people. They probably have a better understanding than you of who is needed.
  • Make sure you have the right "recruitment toolbox" in place. Having the best resources on hand will make the process seamless. 
  • Survey your candidates after the recruitment process to learn from your mistakes and build on your successes. 

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What does your current process look like? Is it in line with U.K. regulations?

  • Right to Work: do it at the first opportunity you have (i.e. at interview stage).
  • Ensure your managers are trained on and understand GDPR.
  • Ensure there is consistency throughout the interview process.
  • Think ahead to whether factors like seasonality, time of year, site location will cause any challenges in the recruitment process. Solve these problems before they occur.
  • Implement a two-stage interview for team members and a three-stage interview for managers.
  • Promoting the position internally should always be part of the initial process!

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How important is employer branding? The perpetual struggle between consumer and employer marketing needs to end. How can we end it, and why do we need to? 

  • Your employees are your consumers (and vice versa); therefore, employer branding matters.
  • Align your employer branding with the vision your company is trying to create. Are you a large brand that wants consistency, or are you trying to be independent and sustain individual identity per site? Hire people who encompass and help define your vision.
  • Don’t shout about yourself – let others shout about you through reviews, social media, referrals, and word of mouth. Let them promote you!
  • Employer brand vs. talent brand is a concept that Indeed practices. The employer brand is what the leadership team looks to create for their employees from the top-down. The talent brand is the reality - how your workforce feels, who they've become, and how they've grown by joining your brand. Focus on your talent brand and then try to connect it to your employer brand. 
  • Employ the three C's of messaging: Concise, consistent and catchy. The Prince's Trust slogan, ‘Youth can do it,' is a great example. Their message is displayed everywhere - down to the kitchen mugs - which really motivated the team and brought the message home.
Employer Brand is certainly important, but equally, it’s crucial to know what employees are experiencing every day. I call this the Talent Brand.
— Matt Price, Indeed
Employee branding Is your employees – it needs to come from within.
— Louise Gallant, Gallant Recruitment

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In the recruitment process, everyone has the standard KPI, including time-to-hire and candidate source. What else can we target? 

  • Focus on the quality of candidates, not the volume.
  • Have a family tree for your business so candidates and employees can see where they fit in and understand how they can grow. 
  • Good candidate experience should be a KPI - survey candidates to measure this. Good candidate experience is the strongest indicator of a great brand to work for!
The staff that stay with the company the longest are those who have been referred from within.
— Stephanie Latham, ETM Group

The session ended on a high note, as select attendees presented their group's takeaways to the larger audience. Everyone left with at least one action item for their business.

The top takeaway was that we all face the same day-to-day challenges within our recruitment and branding processes. Coming together to brainstorm how to overcome them and stay innovative in the competitive, fast–paced hospitality landscape was icing on the cake!

We would like to extend a special thank you to our guests Matt Price from Indeed and Bob Clewley from The Prince's Trust! Here is a recap of what they had to say: 

Matt Price, Indeed: 
Matt asked everyone in the room who had heard of Indeed or had been on the site to raise their hands – unsurprisingly, everyone did. Interestingly, the number of hands raised halved when Matt asked who could actually explain the Indeed model (how it works and how clients are charged). To learn more, connect with Matt at mprice@indeed.com.

Bob Clewley, The Prince's Trust: 
Bob started off by stating that while everyone knows the Prince's Trust as an organization that does ‘good stuff,' not many people realize that it works very closely with the hospitality sector. Get Hired is a team within the trust that helps and supports young people by coaching them through mock interviews and providing them with training and guidance. Get Hired aims to match hospitality companies with these young, talented individuals who are determined to get into a career within the sector. The team is free and events where employers can meet potential candidates are hosted once a month. If you would like further information, or if you cannot attend an event but have vacancies that need filling, please connect with Bob at Bob.Clewley@princes-trust.org.uk