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Attracting talent through storytelling

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Storytelling - everyone is talking about it. There are almost more stories about storytelling than actual compelling stories in business these days.

Stories have the ability to motivate people, to create movements, to engage, to excite and conversely to scare and alienate. Writing stories is hard. I know. I have been involved in developing what I call 'strategic stories' for years and I still find it hard. I am still developing my craft.

In business, I have noticed a lack of strong stories. Often the strategy is interesting and right, but not compelling and moving.

Often, we talk about services and products but not the stories behind them. We also talk about things like 'employee experiences' and 'human-centred' without a compelling story behind what it is, what these things really mean.

In my view successful business stories drive values, these values create culture and culture enables the strategy.

When, as HR leaders, we talk about the employee experience, I think, we are really talking about the employee story. What is the employee story we want to tell? What is the story we would like our employees to tell? And what does that mean when we are creating our processes and supports?

What is the employee story that emotionally connects and holds us to higher standards? What is the employee story that implicitly reflects the values we expect our people to live by?

All great stories have some form of a three-act structure, a beginning, a middle and an end. An employee story should follow this same simple structure.

Before creating an employee story we need to ask ourselves:

  1. How will we represent the employee story and create awareness of our company, in the right ways and in the right places to attract potential future employees?
  2. How will we make sure that from the moment an employee interacts with our company that our employee story is consistent from initial contact to onboarding right through into the company culture?
  3. If an employee leaves the company, how will they describe their employee story and experiences? Will this be in line with the expectations we set ourselves?

How can you create your own impactful employee story?

A really useful exercise is to develop a 2-page employee story 'treatment'. This should describe the employee story for the business simply and clearly. Treat it like an elevator pitch for employees and the story we expect them to live in and live by. Start writing!

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We conduct research, workshops and engagements across 7 core areas: Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Technology, Employer Proposition, New Workforce Models, Creative Leadership, Government & Regulatory, Future Skills.

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