CATEGORY

ENGAGEMENT

 

A Two-Way Street

Lack of engagement in the workplace is an issue that isn’t going anywhere, any time soon. Everyone has days where they hit the brick wall or count the seconds on the clock until they leave; but the problem is when those days become the norm. Every year more research and statistics come out and cause concern as they reveal how the majority of employees feel unengaged at work, how even engaged individuals are at risk of burnout, and how just measuring levels isn’t actually helping anyone.

It was interesting to see in the recent NYT Smarter Living piece ‘Feeling Uninspired at Work?’ that the advice focussed on the individuals and employees: take some time to refresh your mind, send the email you’ve been meaning to send, find a way to tick something off your to-do list no matter how small. All positive ways to give yourself a sense of progress or accomplishment. That said, the achievements end up benefitting the employer as much as the employee. Which brings up another common frustration. The responsibility can’t always be on the individual to restart their motivation generator. Employers can also be providing the right tools and environment to make engagement in the workplace a possibility and a reality, rather than “something that would be nice to have”.

Employees today have endless distractions and opportunities just a click away, and in many cases face outdated management styles and frameworks that stifle motivation. Left unaddressed, disaffection, detachment and disillusionment are huge blockers for any company trying to roll out new objectives, embed values and culture, or retain talent. So, what do you do? Offer Taco Tuesdays for everyone? Redesign the office space to include more plants and natural light? Provide ping-pong tables? These are fine ideas and they can work as rewards, but they don’t move the engagement dial in the long term as they don’t address the root of the challenge – how to engage people in the uninspiring everyday processes or procedures they have to do.

No companies truly want their employees to be miserable. More than ever before organisations today are under pressure to craft modern, appealing offerings for employees, that stand out from the competition – attracting new exciting talent, developing employees into the best they can be, enabling the right work/life balance, supporting meaningful causes, offering more opportunities… It’s a lot to promise and consistently deliver. Where do you even begin?

Enhancing the Every Day

We define engagement as an emotional and psychological attachment people have to a brand, product, idea or organisation. The feeling of trust you have towards a cosmetic brand because you like their ethics, their marketing, and the fact you can see results (albeit small) after using their products. Because of how they make you feel, you keep buying from them again.

So, in order to foster engagement in any environment, you need to start with the people. Understand their drives, their motivations, what they enjoy and what their pain points might be. Once you can better empathise with them, you will be in a much stronger position to work on impactful and meaningful engagement solutions. If your employees feel that you understand their needs and that your programmes empower them, rather than further complicate their day, they’ll then be more willing to adopt new approaches.

A lot of the work we do at Motivait comes down to helping companies enhance the experience of a specific area or process. A more exciting onboarding process, redesigning manager training and development, driving teamwork and collaboration. We use RAMP theory as a core part of our solution design process to encourage intrinsic engagement – a drive that comes from within – as this is what helps turn passive individuals into active participants. When their sense of Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery and/or Purpose are reinforced, people willingly take part in specific activities and work towards objectives because they want to, rather than feel they have to.

More often than not, small changes that then add up to a larger impact over time is the best starting place. Seeing progression is important, much like the NYT article referred to when suggesting ticking off items of a to-do list. What is even more powerful is having the acknowledgment or encouragement come from colleagues or managers, rather than always being self-generated.

Simply developing mechanisms for positive feedback when tasks are usefully achieved can improve people’s motivation to continue. Creating an environment where employees can see the corporate values in action, rather than just listing abstract concepts, through champions and leaders leading by example. An engaged workforce will be more open to collaborating, committing, and representing, once they understand the reciprocity and value to their contribution in the greater scheme of the organisation.

Solutions and practices that reinforce the idea “we want to make your experiences with us better!” are all it takes to start shifting perceptions. Once they take root, they can then become vehicles for promoting and influencing desired behaviours and be a step closer to achieving company objectives, values and culture you’ve set out for success.

User Experience (UX) is the practice of product or service design that looks beyond the physical or visual design. It analyses, enhances and emphasises the way people could interact with the experience being created.

With the growing need to better understand how customers or consumers think, combined with the demand for clever, seamless interfacing, it is possible that UX could in fact be gradually morphing towards something like User Engagement Design. Good design, and particularly UX design, looks through the lens of the user to understand their view of the world, in order to connect with them, and hopefully enhance their daily routine.

As an approach, it puts user requirements in the spotlight from the beginning of any concept or project. And if the user feels something has been made with them in mind, the more readily it will be adopted.

Engagement as an outcome

Users tend to develop a personal affection when a product empowers or entertains them. Nowadays, most companies are vying to develop this emotional connection through marketing and customer engagement strategies. They produce eye catching apps, websites, communications and campaigns that reflect the trending designs people today respond to. For brands, a stronger emotional engagement will mean more likelihood to use their services, or even to perform better as an employee, which can drive higher profitability. However, a cool design on its own isn’t enough to encourage meaningful or long-term engagement. You need to put some thought into it.

 

It is here we like to place a lot of emphasis in our work. By prioritising the drives and needs of the end user, you provide a smoother route for them to connect with you, your processes or objectives.

And with the richness of graphic or visual design and the flexibility and potential that technology can provide, it has almost never been easier to reach target audiences today. Appealing to the eye, ease of use, accessibility at just the touch of a button – it all works together to invite users to start exploring. Beyond that, a solution’s survival then depends on the ability to successfully onboard the user and continuously prove its value.

 

To create meaningful experiences, and sustain the journey you want a user to embark on, requires complementing design with some of the principles behind human psychology and human behaviour. This helps us interpret emotions, reactions and motivations, therefore helping us to build scenarios that will provoke desired interactions. You want to minimise frustration – creating an environment where the user almost instantly knows where to find what they’re looking for. An engaging application or service will almost anticipate the user’s next want or need.

Connecting to the mind of the user

 

It may sound complex, but it doesn’t need to be. UX design principles help map how we most commonly interact with things around us, and provides the key to innovate the ways we could experience something. All coming together to surprise, satisfy and stimulate an engaged end user.

In the worst-case scenario, you want to stop a user feeling lost or stuck. Ideally though, you’re creating an experience so dynamic and enjoyable for the individual that they recommend it to others and keep returning out of genuine loyalty.

 

It is here that great UX design sits: at the intersection of technology and psychology. Providing the methodology to first hook an individual into engaging with something, and then anticipating the ways a user will want to access and interact, so that the overall experience feels intuitive and responsive to them personally. The goal is to make each user feel special – as though an application or product was designed with just them in mind. And replicating that feeling across millions of other people as well. Easy!

 

Gamification actually doesn’t have to be fun.

For many the word “Gamification” conjures images of video game-like experiences, where people maybe race cars, or collect trophies, or compete in timed challenges against colleagues, and having fun instead of working. Others who know more about gamification, may visualise a veneer of “forced” fun being layered over important – albeit dull – tasks. Either of these situations has negative connotations and misconceptions that can put people off wanting to get involved.

However, what if I was to tell you that gamification doesn’t have to look game-like or be designed for fun at all?

There are many definitions of gamification, one that we use is “The use of game design, game elements and play for non-entertainment purposes.” Whatever definition you use, the essence of the concept is to use game design and game elements in non-game contexts, or applying lessons learned from games to improve non-game experiences.
Gamification is utlimately about understanding people and what motivates them and using that to create better experiences for them, with the help of game elements.

Gamification: The User at the Heart

In a business context, gamification is normally part of an overall solution designed for a specific objective. That might be to improve learning and development, it could be to increase efficiency, it could be to make on-boarding more effective. Whatever gamification is being used to help solve, it is infrequent or unlikely that the business objective is “make it fun”.

Fun is subjective: we each experience it in different ways, as a result of different stimuli. Ask someone what they consider fun and they could tell you anything from scary movies, rollercoasters and rock climbing, to reading in a quiet park or cooking a new recipe. If you look at research into fun, you will see many varying explanations of what fun actually is and how it is experienced differently by different people.  This makes it very hard to use fun as a design objective when you are not building a true game – as in the case of gamification.

The elements of games that we may associate with fun – themes, narratives, challenges – may not figure at all into a gamified design, if the client has no desire to see them. But this doesn’t mean that the solution can’t include gamification. Feedback, progress, reinforcement, signposting, virtual currencies and more are all game elements that are not directly associated with fun experiences but are often core to gamified solutions and still fit the definition of gamification.

By using simple gamification elements, and user centric design, users can be encouraged to keep returning to an experience, to complete a process, and actually connect with and absorb the content. Starting a solution with a tutorial, using a progress bar to show the user how they’re getting on, energising the journey with a surprise Easter egg, all help to nudge us along while doing something in the same way we’re happy to spend hours playing games. In this way, there may be fun moments, but they are the result of good design rather than trying to shoehorn fun into a solution to fit a need to make gamification fun!

Fun experiences are almost always preferable as people engage with them far deeper and in far more meaningful ways. But if an incredibly fun experience might distract users away from a key message or process, it is still possible to peel back on the elements most commonly considered ‘game-like’ without steering clear of all gamification completely. Simply remember it as a tool to engage audiences with, rather than how to turn dreaded cyber security training into Mario Kart.


Delivering EVP through employer branded experiences

So, you have begun your own company-wide introspection to define your Employee Value Proposition (EVP), or have already defined it, now it’s time to think about delivery, or in other words, how to articulate and bring your EVP to life in employee experience terms.

As a reminder, the EVP is the employment offering between employer and employee, the employer’s commitment to help satisfy what employees need and want from their work, in exchange for their daily efforts and energy towards the organisation’s goals.  While all organisations have an EVP, not all intentionally define, shape and formalise it into strategy.

More importantly – and a key differentiating factor – not many organisations go as far as articulating and delivering their EVP into actual, lived ‘people experiences’. Experiences that are differentiated by your EVP, unique to your organisation, and articulate your company identity, goals, mission, values and norms.

These people experiences range across the employee life-cycle touch points (attraction, recruiting, onboarding, performing, developing) to those key job tasks, activities and processes instrumental to your organisations’ success. These key events can serve more than their original functional purpose. They are times where employees, partners, prospects, clients and customers all interact with your organisational brand and value proposition. This means that people are forever appraising/re-appraising whether their experiences of you are aligned to your EVP commitments, and in turn, will determine whether they reciprocate value (e.g. employees giving discretionary effort.)

Being able to manage and articulate your employer brand ensures you are in the best position to attract, engage and retain the people needed – it’s about standing out from your competition and communicating a consistent EVP in experiential terms. For example, this could be about providing a rich, realistic preview into your organisational norms during employee attraction, to training and ongoing reinforcement for how staff should handle customer communications during service disruptions. It is these kinds of opportunities that can really be utilised to differentiate your organisation from the competition.

Taking the familiar employee life-cycle, here are some example ideas to illustrate how you can articulate and bring an EVP to life:

Attract

  • Create ‘day in the life of’ role-play scenarios or simulations, played out through a working day narrative with the prospect in control, can provide realistic job or company previews. Not only do they support job-role fit & encourage self-selection in prospects not aligned to your company EVP & role, they are creative opportunities to articulate your identity, values and norms.

Recruit

  • Two personal selection methods, situational-judgement tests and assessment centres, can provide an opportunity to communicate your EVP to candidates. Situational scenarios and assessment centre exercises designed with familiar contexts in which assessed competencies are performed in, offer another opportunity to reinforce organisation EVP and brand to candidates.

Onboard

  • Preboarding and onboarding of new starters need to provide role clarity, socialisation, organisational knowledge and reduce any shock factors.
  • Technology can allow onboarding to begin before day 1, allowing new starters to connect with new and existing employees, to learn and assimilate company & role specific knowledge, to experiencing case studies in narrative-driven experiences. If designed well, these can support new starters time-to-proficiency.

Perform

  • Feedback and recognition mechanisms, powered by technology, allowing managers and peers to applause and recognise values-based behaviours can reinforce EVP-based behavioural norms.
  • The use of quick ‘pulse’ crowd-suggestion, voting and feedback mechanisms can provide feedback opportunities for employees, customers to clients. This data can provide insights into whether your EVP commitments are being delivered consistently across your employee and customer interaction points.

Develop

  • Games-based learning and simulation games can be designed specifically around learning objectives and within highly-contextual, employer-branded experiences. These simulations can serve to promote the relevance of training to employees and encourage its transfer back into working environments.

 

If you’re interested in doing something to impact and support your organisation’s EVP, why not get in touch and see what we could create for you? info@motivait.net 


Before answering the question of “Why Gamification”, it probably makes sense to wrap our heads around “What is Gamification?” for this discussion. If you look around, you will find several different definitions. From a non-academic perspective, the most useful way to define gamification is “The use of games or game-like experiences to increase motivation and engagement with an activity or process”.

For us, it is one of many tools used when looking to solve problems presented by clients. Whilst gamification is not specifically about turning something into a game, it is useful not to exclude them completely from our minds when looking for solutions. It’s often where most people’s inspiration comes from, or a good place to begin when trying to work out how to make something more interesting.

When we are approached for work that requires gamification, it is usually related to some kind of need to increase active participation, be it on-boarding, loyalty, education, or any myriad of reasons. Frequently at the heart of the challenge is someone wanting someone else to do more of something! Or even “we need everyone to be doing more of this, all together, in the same way”.

Gamification has some unique strengths that other, more traditional approaches, may not have. Especially when it comes to encouraging large groups, and engaging with different profiles of people.

When trying to increase active participation, it is essential that people find the activity accessible. This is something that games do exceptionally well. They have evolved over the years to become accessible to anyone at any age without the need to read large manuals. We can do the same with gamification, creating experiences that hold the user’s hand through the early stages of their participation – their onboarding into the system.

Games are great at breaking down huge experiences into manageable chunks. In the “real world,” we would describe that as goal setting. Taking a large goal and breaking it down into manageable and therefore more achievable goals. There is scientific theory behind this called Goal Setting Theory. Researchers, Locke and Latham set out five principles that improve a person’s chances of achieving a goal. Clarity, Challenge, Commitment, Feedback, Task complexity [1]. Gamification can support all of these five principles in various ways. If we consider that good games get all this right, it is safe to say that well-designed gamification can do it too.

One of the most important things that can be done with games and game-like systems is creating the opportunity to fail. This sounds odd, but games teach you by letting you fail,  try again, fail and try again. It creates a safe environment to improve. The use of business focused games and simulations can do the same. If an employee needs to understand how to find all the exits on an oil rig, surely it is better to let them walk around a virtual model of the rig, rather than the real thing?

Gamification can also add fun to tasks that may not naturally be seen as fun. Whilst it is not the main reason to use gamification, it is certainly one that can resonate with users. Why does ethics training have to be a dull pdf followed by a quiz? It could instead be a fun series of videos that play out various scenarios based on user choices.

So why do we choose gamification as one of our solutions to engagement problems? Because it works really well and users enjoy the resulting experiences!

 

[1]        H. L. Tosi, E. A. Locke, and G. P. Latham, “A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance,” Acad. Manag. Rev., vol. 16, no. 2, p. 480, 1991.

 Happy employees drinking chai lattes, playing pool and table tennis, being creative and brilliant. That is the vision some have come to imagine is the ideal work environment. We have all seen the pictures from companies like Google, with chilled out developers working in converted phone boxes and sliding down the helter-skelter to their next meeting.

The reality is, of course, often very different. The practicalities of most office environments mean that these sorts of extreme designs are not possible. However, that does not stop people trying. The number of times I have seen a pool table or foosball table awkwardly shoehorned into a corner is incredible.

The reasoning behind this is often honourable. Someone somewhere has been given a bit of money to try and increase employee happiness, and therefore engagement, based on a poor employee satisfaction survey result.

It may seem a generous and forward-thinking idea, but it is often a poorly planned “knee-jerk” reaction that fails to address the deeper issues that may be affecting the feelings of the employees or why there may be a low level of engagement.

In reality, satisfaction and engagement surveys have certain issues that could affect the true vision of employee engagement. For starters, not all employees may believe they are anonymous, leading them to refuse to take part, fearing that “Big Brother” is watching. Others may take it as an opportunity to vent frustrations that are not directly related to their overall engagement with the company. Yet more may be too busy to do it, probably those that are actually the top performers! So, the survey never really represents to true levels of engagement across the whole company.

Imagine you find that a particular department has low morale. Do you really think that putting a pool table in the coffee room will lift that long term? Did anyone in their survey cite a lack of a pool table as their reason for being unhappy in their role? Of course not. You need to dig deeper and understand the root cause of the issues, then work to improve that. But you can only do that if the employees trust you, which is where things like a well thought out Employee Value Proposition (EVP) start to become so important!

The same can actually be said of many gamification implementations in companies looking to boost employee engagement. They are introduced to try and add some flavour, fun or competition to boost productivity or happiness. Just like the pool table, this often doesn’t address the core issues. In fact, with badly implemented gamification the issue could be compounded. If a company can afford to invest in that, why can’t they invest in something that employees actually want? That’s why it is so important to plan a gamification solution so carefully and why we put so much time into the user research at the start of any project. If you don’t understand them, you can’t possibly design something that will resonate with them and be accepted.

This doesn’t mean you should not install a pool table, but make sure that it is part of a structured plan to improve all of the factors affecting employee engagement, not just a patch with a “that’ll do” attitude attached.

As digital continues to become the norm, retailers with “traditional” card based, point collection loyalty schemes are feeling the push to evolve. In a world where people carry a supercomputer with them at all times, the idea of a plastic card in your wallet can feel dated. Looking at the recent changes in the market, a number of retailers certainly agree, and are in the race to update and enhance.

Loyalty in the news

Sainsbury’s, for instance, having bought Nectar are looking to make their whole loyalty scheme app based. That is not the only change they are making either. In an attempt to move away from blanket discounts, they are looking to reward people based on their frequency of visits and how long they have been a customer. This is a big move in a world where most are used to just being rewarded directly in line with what they spend. It feels much more in line with the definition of ‘loyalty’ the average customer may have too. They are also testing a “choose your own reward” system to give loyal customers a new level of choice and personalisation.

In light of the news of Sainsbury’s and ASDA joining forces, it will be interesting to see what happens, considering ASDA have always shied away from loyalty programs!

What makes this even more interesting is that Waitrose recently cancelled a similar scheme. They gave their customers the opportunity to choose 10 frequently purchased items to get discounts on. However, the feedback they received showed them that many found this to be confusing. Waitrose has now simplified the system, choosing to move to a tailored discount system instead.

The moves aren’t just towards ‘simple, fast, digital’ though.

Tesco invested a great deal into updating their card-based scheme over the last few years, moving to contactless to create a better customer experience. In their attempts to simplify their offering, they have drawn anger from shoppers at how fast the changes are coming into place.

So, what does it all mean?

It is safe to say that these examples and the many others out there represent some large shifts in how loyalty schemes will work, but it is not the core mechanics of point collecting changes that are interesting. It is the potential reasons behind the changes that offer more insight.

The varying approaches and ‘snakes and ladders’ feel to the changes, arguably represent a market trying to get a read on their audience. What do the masses unanimously want? Choice? Simplicity? Digital? One of the main reasons cited for the changes is simplification of the service, a very customer-centric concept. Given too much choice, people can falter and feel overwhelmed (the Paradox of Choice). The average consumer needs to understand the point behind, well, collecting points and the rewards can’t feel so out of reach that they give up and disengage with the scheme.

The alternative, as some have chosen, is to create offers that are personalised based on past shopping habits. This still offers the customer value but does overload them with excessive or overly complex choices. It is also a step closer to rewarding people for being them. “Dave, we appreciate your contribution as a customer, so enjoy something you want.” Simple, but it is a way of letting people know their value, which is a powerful loyalty drive.

Loyalty & Engagement

This more holistic style of engagement and loyalty can still include the traditional points collecting and incentives, but that is just one part of the puzzle. We are seeing a shift towards businesses using their knowledge of the customer to create a better overall experience. Rather than just saying “Buy this and we will give you that”, they are saying “How can we make buying this a better experience for you?” This can take many forms, from the better use of the pure loyalty-based schemes to the customer service in the shops themselves, moving some of the responsibility for loyalty to the staff themselves.

Loyalty is not about money, club cards or even quality and service. It is about all of these things together designed around the customer. It is a relationship where the customer feels valued and feels they are getting value, where there is mutual trust.

True loyalty is like true love. It’s irrational, hard to find and needs constant effort to maintain!

It’s been a month now since the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change 2018 conference “Going Digital & Beyond” and I have been reflecting on a key theme that struck me as being so important and relevant in the work I do at Motivait. Mostly, it is the idea that intervention effectiveness and engagement have distinctly different sets of design and outcome criteria.

For any intervention, programme or solution to be effective in achieving its aims, it must be engaging for users (for this blog, I’ll focus on digital interventions). Whilst this is hardly breaking news, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking user engagement and user effectiveness are the same thing and therefore only designing exclusively for one or the other.

The effectiveness of an intervention is determined by whether it positively changes desired behaviour(s) and delivers intended outcomes. Effectiveness is determined by a range of factors; from how the intervention is delivered, the population and context, target behaviour(s), the extent of relevant behaviour change techniques & psychological theory applied to the intervention content, to name but a few.

Using an example, if we take employee job-strain as a commonly experienced challenge for organisations, we may use the Job Demands-Resources model as a relevant psychological framework to understand and reduce job strain. Then, we could translate its principles into the content design of a workplace wellbeing app to help managers & employees learn how to reduce employee job-strain –let’s give it a name and call it MyWorkBeing.

While the intervention’s content has been designed using relevant theory, it does not necessarily mean that this alone will attract users and sustain their engagement to the point where it is actually achieving its outcomes. In our made-up example MyWorkBeing app, it needs to be engaging enough, for long enough, to help employees’ change behaviours associated with job-strain, in the long-term, not just for a week.

There are multiple factors that influence engagement with interventions. Aside from variations in individual differences (e.g. motivation), these include the extent to which persuasive communications is used to attract users, to usability and UX, to specific engagement designs such as gamification elements and how specified they are in behaviour change techniques terms (i.e. the ‘active ingredients’ from behavioural science that regulate changes in behaviour).

So thinking about our MyWorkBeing app, it could include features such as onboarding tutorials to help users understand the apps usefulness, self-help education videos such as mindfulness, goal-setting, feedback and monitoring to cope with personal stressors, to the use of crowd-creation and crowd-rating mechanisms to generate and rate employee ideas on how the working environment could be re-designed to support wellbeing (e.g. better communal areas to incentivise social lunches, to work process changes).

When it comes to evaluating digital behaviour change interventions, it is important that engagement and effectiveness are evaluated separately without confusing their criteria. Engagement with digital interventions is considered to be measured in behavioural terms (amount, depth, frequency of use, etc.) via system analytics and in subjective experiential terms (attention, interest, vigour, satisfaction, etc.) via self-report measures.
Here we can observe what levels of engagement with the intervention, as revealed from the above metrics, is bringing about the desired changes (i.e. effectiveness criteria); this is referred to as the ‘optimal dose’.

Using our example, what levels of user engagement with the MyWorkBeing app is resulting in reductions in job-strain related behaviours (e.g. lunching at desks, email access out of hours) and outcome measures (e.g. absenteeism, wellbeing self-report measures)? We could find that those users who set and regularly monitor their goal progress and frequently watch self-help video features, to have better outcomes compared to those who only engage with the crowd-creation & crowd-rating features.

The take away message here is that engagement and effectiveness are equally important and should both be designed for carefully and evaluated with their different criteria. Simply, if users are not engaging with something, it’s not going to be effective. By the same token, if people are engaging, but the content design (or some of it) is not relevant to users, it’s also unlikely to be effective.

It’s open season in the world of applying for graduate schemes. In the background, Brexit negotiations and threats of a 2020 “brain drain” tinge the graduate recruitment market with nerves and uncertainty. Still, for now, the same huge demand remains for opportunities across the country. The same demand, the same competition, but also the same headaches persist for the recruiting teams. If anything, they’re showing signs of growing.

21st Century Graduates

800 graduate positions were left unfilled in 2016, with graduates turning down or reneging offers that left a quarter of the UK’s leading employers with less intake than planned. The generations now reaching the employment market are faced with more choice and information than ever before, and many fiercely value the ethics and culture behind a brand just as much as what their starting salary could look like.

Graduate recruiters need to find ways to create emotional engagement to carry candidates through the early stages of joining and beyond. There are 101 reasons that could put graduates off moving forward with an opportunity. Old fashioned selection processes, myths around the profiles being hired, London is the only place that offers a competitive future….

Organisations can set themselves apart from the competition, not just by offering flexible hours or appealing holiday cover, but through effectively connecting with and preparing their candidates.

Budgets, budgets, budgets

Constraints on resources and budgets within HR and recruiting departments overall dictate that teams need to get creative and stay relevant to their target audience, without simply buying their attention or forcing them to a one-off seminar. Most recruiters now rely on social media more than traditional advertising but are also developing more direct partnerships with universities. But what if you’re not one of the widely recognised brands? How can you successfully reach the graduate population, and stand out with your approach?

The average cost per hire for a graduate is estimated to be £3,383. This comprises of £1,722 on attraction & marketing and £1,661 on selection & assessment. Fewer companies are planning on increasing their budgets around recruitment for the foreseeable future, which means it’s going to become more important to reach and attract the right candidates who could even develop beyond graduate level within the company.

Honeymoon vs Hangover

The numbers of students who see their first role as a stepping stone towards other opportunities is on the rise. 60% of students say they would expect to be in their first job for less than 3 years. So how to make them stay?

A large proportion of graduates feel they are underemployed and underappreciated in their roles which could be a factor in the rising trend. Is there a way to set and manage their expectations accordingly from the start, and demonstrate what it is really like to work in your company with minimum surprises? 69% of employees are more likely to stay in their company for at least 3 years after a great onboarding experience. It is essential to remember that first impressions count, creating a memorable and innovative approach to onboarding could be the key to unlocking a long-lasting employee experience.

For best ongoing success, it’s crucial all employees- graduate or senior- have a clear understanding of their role and what is expected of them, feel confident in their ability to perform and contribute, as well as feel trusted, connected and valued within their organisation. There are ways to deliver these needs and objectives, without subjecting new joiners to PowerPoints or uninspiring email attachments. It’s true what they say, you get what you give, so why not offer an experience that fills your young and impressionable employees with enthusiasm about the environment they’ve just joined?

A friend made fun of me recently as we looked at booking a weekend away. Within seconds of us deciding on a city, I’d started ‘the list’. “Remember to schedule in ‘have fun’ somewhere between 11am and 11pm” they texted.

“The list” is where I- you guessed it- list out the key things to see, visit, eat in any destination I’m headed to. It’s begun to frequently take the form of a shared Google doc with whoever I’m going with, and yes, it does eventually start to develop schedule-like symptoms. Times where we might be leaving the hotel, when we could make dinner reservations, how long it could take to walk from one monument to the next and look there’s even a great ice cream place along the way for a pit stop at 3.17 on Friday.

Before you sign me up for a crash course in spontaneity, I should reassure you that I rarely ever follow ‘the list’ word for word. I’ll end up wandering around, see a street sign I recognise from my searches and remember that an interesting tea house/museum is nearby. In reality, this list is simply where I collect parts of a puzzle that I get to put together as I go along. My own personalised travel recommendations that I collect as I get excited about the upcoming trip. It’s inspired by the Facebook album I scrolled through, the Lonely Planet article I read, the Instagram pictures I pictured myself in. TripAdvisor recommendations, local food blogs, the hotel review that caught my eye because the building has an interesting back story. On my phone I’ve gone exploring, piecing together an experience I’d want to live. You could say it’s a millennial specific affliction. Really, it’s the same day-dreaming we’ve all done at our desks or on our daily commute. However, through the rise of social media and enhanced digital photography, we can now delve deeper into that “Wish You Were Here” feeling, and it’s something travel marketing professionals are really beginning to mine into it.

“I’m the Hero in this Story”

Recent research has pointed out that 80% of people trust the opinion of friends and family when it comes to booking a holiday. The survey found that people were less likely to use sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook or Twitter as primary sources for recommendation. Stats like these reinforce what we’re seeing across industries: recommendations and references are becoming principal purchasing influencers. The results or trends aren’t suggesting that the reach of social media should be ignored when advertising or sharing a message. However what that message conveys is important. Part of the work we do at Motivait is to reintroduce personal touches or user centricity back into processes and experiences. Our solutions rely on UX and UI research to make sure we design something that will tap into those emotional, intrinsic motivators. Why are people influenced by their best friend’s album from their #amazingadventure? Because when they see someone they personally relate to enjoying an experience, they can picture themselves enjoying it too.

Travellers, more than ever before, are able to engage with the stories and experiences of a place so that they’ve bought into their potential holiday before they’ve even booked anything. While tourism may have often been considered a stable and unchanging industry- people are always going to want a holiday- today’s digital platforms are offering an opportunity for organisations, councils, and national bodies to flex their creative muscles. People still want a holiday. But they can also now picture and curate the holiday experience they could have. And they would thrive on the chance to see themselves as the protagonist of that story or experience.

Better still, travel and tourism bodies can deliver experiences that connect with audiences they may have lost touch with. Museums or galleries that would have once got an eye-roll from younger generations, could present a story or path to follow that ignites the explorer within. Could a city famous for its lamb dishes offer a route where the vegetarian traveller can still come away giving it a 10/10 for gastronomy? The potential to connect with your audience can be limitless; as long as you remember to put them at the heart of the destination.