What Will You Say When They Ask Why They Should Work For You?

I do not care who you are, where you went to school, which union represents you, how smart you are, or how smart you think you are — executive, doctor, nurse — you are not entitled to work in a hospital.

To run a hospital, or to take care of patients who trust us to help make them better is a privilege, not a right or ‘just a job.’

I stopped immediately when I read that statement. It was from an old blog post written by my good friend John Self, an executive tecruiter in the healthcare space based in Dallas.

What hooked me to this article was the branding statement, although John’s article was focused on entitlement. What better filter to have for your organization than to say this is how we feel about our hospital and our value statement.

I recently asked a group of talent acquisition specialists what they would say to a candidate with a few offers on the table if they turned the tables to ask, “Why should I work for you?” There was a deer in the headlights look.

If you had a powerful branding statement like the one above, it would allow you to make crystal clear what it was you were offering the candidate — a purpose, not just a job. For someone who was on a mission to find a career in this space, it would be a perfect fit. For someone looking for a job, maybe not.

Work and the workforce is changing

When our customers started telling us, ‘I love Groupon because it’s getting me out of the house, making me live my life,’ is when we realized the full impact of what we were doing.”…We’re not in it for making money. We’re in it for the passion we have for big ideas, making an impact and making the world better.

Those words were from Andrew Mason, the founder and former CEO of Groupon.

Work should be purposeful and meaningful. It should contribute to making the world a better place. Work should be more than a job. It should be a cause that’s making a difference in people’s lives.

You may say that this is utopian, but I say the workforce is changing. It would have been considered utopian in years past. But this is not your parent’s workforce.

Mason did not talk about the services Groupon offered. He talked about a contribution to society. That motivates people to get out of bed because a P&L sure does not. His statement talks about why work is important.

In Self’s statement, the most powerful word is privilege. It is aspirational and motivational all at the same time. Very concise and to the point.

When I read it I thought about a friend who was senior level telling me his company did a full week off-site to try to get their statement correct. I looked at him wide-eyed and said, “A week! It took a week to come up with a statement?” He tried to explain how they brought in consultants to guide them through it. I gave up because he did not see where I was coming from.

Folks, if you must hire someone to tell you what your company is about, you are in big trouble. If you can’t articulate why you are in business, and what the purpose of your organization is and how it fits in the whole scheme of things, something is amiss.

Purpose 101

How are you going to connect with this new workforce?

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A young lady came in my office back in NYC years ago and told me she was resigning. When I asked why, she told me she was moving back to San Francisco to take a job as director of marketing for an animal humane society.

I almost fell off my chair. She was definitely A talent and had a great future in NYC, so I asked her why go work at a dog shelter. Her reply was that she had worked in this organization all through high school. When the opportunity to move back and join the ranks as director of marketing, she did not hesitate. She told me that this was her love and mission in life. She knew she could rise within the corporate environment, but that is not what she wanted. She also mentioned that she was taking an extreme pay cut, but nothing could outweigh the joy of doing something that she loved as a child.

That was my intro into “Purpose 101.” I never forgot that story.

You must move beyond the money and the perks, the new workforce will demand it. You must be able to articulate the whys of your business. Because in the end, the question could be turned back to you: “Why would I want to work for you?

About the Author

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.