Three Unexpected Brands That Are Turning To Storytelling To Drive Recruiting

This post originally appeared on Forbes.

Once solely the domain of marketing, storytelling is increasingly being adopted by corporate recruiting teams to help them hire more efficiently. Rather than telling candidates what it’s like to work there, companies are showing them by finding new ways to share the employee experience.

These narratives are revealing a more human side of the business. They often go beyond "this is what I do here," instead illuminating “this is why I do what I do - here.”

That subtle shift provides a different lens through which job seekers can envision themselves (or not) working for your company. Some of these stories go beyond work, sharing insights into personal drivers and life experiences that shape employees.

Storytelling Meets Recruiting

As storytelling is still an emerging competency in recruiting, companies like Sodexo, Amtrak, Hyatt and Motley Fool turn to organizations like Stories Incorporated to help them develop and convey employee-focused narratives.

“The current trend that says that ‘talent acquisition folks need to become marketers’ is probably intimidating to a lot of people, but it doesn't need to be. Recruiting could get itself most of the way there by embracing the power of stories. Uncover authentic stories and share them. Clearly, that's oversimplifying the process, but the point is that you don't need to be a highly-trained marketer to create a connection between a candidate and the organization. Authentic stories create that connection.” - Scott Thompson - Partner, Stories Incorporated

These stories provide a window into an organization’s culture by highlighting individual employee stories, allowing candidates to get a feel for future colleagues. Job seekers are then able to make more informed decisions around whether those organizations and future co-workers align with their interests and aspirations.

Here’s a look at three companies that are embracing employee storytelling.

KPMG

KPMG may not immediately inspire aspirations of changing the world to job seekers, but that’s how they sought to reframe their employee experience in a recent campaign. Citing research by Calling Brands and Net Impact linking the impact of a company’s higher purpose on attracting and retaining talent, KPMG launched a new purpose statement: "Inspire confidence. Empower change."

The campaign included a video (below) and marketing collateral sharing “KPMG’s rich history of doing great work and making a difference, not only for our clients and our people, but for society at large.” KPMG Strategy partner and former vice chair of human resources and communications shared the impact of this campaign in a post on Harvard Business Review.

To connect their employees to the campaign, KPMG developed an application that enabled their team to create and share digital posters modeled after their "Inspire confidence. Empower change." campaign. They received 42,000 employee contributed stories and found that 90% of surveyed employees reported their higher purpose initiatives increased employee pride in working for KPMG.

Deloitte

“A unique perspective that can change everything.” Those are the words that greet you when you visit Deloitte’s career site. While a recruiting brand statement may not be unique, scroll down, and you’ll find a “Life at Deloitte” section full of employees sharing insights from their jobs at Deloitte, careers and lives. Their stories are categorized by function to make it easy for candidates to learn more about what it’s like to do that job at Deloitte - advisory, audit, consulting, tax.

While not tied to a broader theme like KPMG, these individual stories allow job seekers to gain firsthand insight into specific opportunities and enable them to make more informed decisions about whether that role aligns with their interests. Each employee story includes quotes, interactive career “journey” map, and a 140 character description.

Nurse Next Door

Nurse Next Door is a senior home care company with headquarters in Canada. They turned to storytelling to support their Employer and Consumer brands, even hiring a videographer in the Spring to help them bring more stories to life on their Facebook and YouTube channel. Their stories go deeper than testimonials, humanizing their caretakers, employees and culture. 

One initiative they highlight is their “Dreams Program.” The Dreams Program involves employees submitting a wish at the beginning of each year. Over the course of the year, several are granted and documented into stories to share their experience. Past examples includeflying an employee’s family in from Hong Kong and a wish to take time away to travel.

“Storytelling has created a humanistic connection that allows Nurse Next Door to educate people about what we do by showing them, instead of telling them. This shift has elevated Nurse Next Door’s recruiting efforts and brand to the next level. The ability to transform customer and employee experiences to video and social media content has given the company an authentic voice which has resonated with people beyond expectations.” - Lauren Nipp - Social Community Specialist, Nurse Next Door

Since shifting their focus towards storytelling, they’ve seen their time to hire decrease from six to eight months to two to three months. The result isn't from a spike in applicants, but the quality is much higher as applicants who connect with their mission better understand that alignment because of their storytelling.

The trends towards storytelling will likely continue as more companies focus their recruiting efforts on building their talent brands. Whether by text, established visual channels like photo and video, or newer platforms like Snapchat or Virtual Reality; we can expect to see more examples of storytelling in recruiting.

Lars SchmidtComment