Competition for jobs may be tougher than ever before, but it’s also equally difficult for employers to attract top candidates. After all, great candidates expect more nowadays than in the past. They better understand their value, and are unwilling to settle for positions they don’t believe in — having enough options on the table that they always have somewhere else to go, and knowing that freelancing or even self-employment is viable.
This is particularly the case in the eCommerce industry. The barriers to entry are low enough that just about anyone can start their own store so, if you’re an eCommerce brand trying to hire someone with impressive skills, you'll need to offer them a deal that they’ll find preferable to simply going it alone.
There are many factors that affect this, but workplace culture is a huge one. Joining a company is a personal and professional investment — if it isn’t a good fit, it can end up feeling like a waste of time. Here’s how an eCommerce brand can establish a culture capable of appealing to top candidates:
4 Tips for Cultivating Your Culture for ECommerce Talent
Support and encourage internal promotion
The sales industry, in general, can easily favor professional mercenaries. For example, you need a pay-per-click (PPC) expert, so you find the first person available with relevant experience and bring them in for a month or two. Once the campaign is done, you let them venture elsewhere.
This isn’t terrible, but it’s a really bad approach if you’re trying to get and keep the best people around. That’s because top freelancers can charge exorbitant fees for short-term projects, and top full-time candidates don’t want short-term projects at all. They want to find lasting places that allow advancement and adjustment to support their development.
That’s why it’s a bad practice to hire top employees from outside, as a matter of course. Sure, it grants you better access to highly-qualified candidates, but it also sends the message that joining you won’t get them very far. If you ensure that you promote from within wherever possible, rewarding loyalty and skill, you’ll have a much stronger pitch.
Allow flexible and remote working where possible
Very few people want to work the 9-to-5 office schedule, and the changing business world continues to push it towards total irrelevance. The only workers likely to accept it are those who desperately need any work, and that group isn’t going to include the top performers. It’s also a bad fit for eCommerce, in general. Remember, an eCommerce store can be run from anywhere with an internet connection, and at any time.
Certain elements need people around during particular hours — support, for instance — but most don’t. And those that do can be heavily automated: customer support chats can be handled largely by chatbots at this point. Why even bother trying to force people to fit their work into a strict schedule?
You might worry that allowing too much flexibility and freedom will lead to lower productivity, but that’s unrealistic. If anything, you’re likely to see the opposite effect. Workers allowed to get on with things remotely (given the right routine) are going to be happier and more settled, leading to higher productivity and increased company loyalty.
Establish an international and multicultural flair
For reasons including the aforementioned rise in flexible working and the networking opportunities provided by the internet (social media in particular), it’s increasingly common to have multicultural teams with workers from across the globe. This is appealing to candidates, as it adds interpersonal variety, brings varying perspectives to the company, and helps to encourage equitable working conditions.
It’s also a sure sign of ambition, because global selling (something made easier with a multicultural team) is a natural growth path for eCommerce brands — once you’ve done the research and figured out the profit margins necessary, you need only invest in an international eCommerce platform and start scaling your existing operation. Why not pursue it?
To achieve this, think carefully about how welcoming your company feels. Do you expect people to fit into a particular box when it comes to things like clothing and character? Or do you prioritize ability and dedication while allowing people to be themselves? The latter is a far more attractive state of affairs for prospective employees.
Provide worthwhile and proportional rewards
Money is extremely important to top candidates (as you’d imagine), but it isn’t the only thing that matters. Your company needs to be offer a compelling package that goes beyond base salary, and part of that involves offering proportional rewards.
It doesn’t need to be set in stone — instead, it’s a matter of building a culture that ensures that employees who work hard and achieve great things are recognized and rewarded for it. If you set a precedent that hard-working employees earn more, get better perks, and are given more responsibility at your company, you’ll look far better.
This is particularly suitable for eCommerce because you can track the analytics to determine where your sales are coming from. Is your PPC director bringing in the profits, or your copywriter? Are they contributing to similar extents? If nothing else, it feels good to have your dedication acknowledged, and makes you want to work even harder.
To attract top talent, you should establish a broad and welcoming culture that allows people to work with as much autonomy as possible, provides upward mobility, and ensures that everyone is appropriately compensated for their work. If you can set out specific values as well, that’s fine — but these elements are key.
About the Author: Pat Foster writes for Ecommerce Tips, an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Start growing your business today and check out the latest on Twitter @myecommercetips.