Values-based recruiting could now be top of the agenda – here’s what to consider

Experts deconstruct the benefits and requirements of adopting a VBR model, and why it could work in the current market

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LinkedIn has recently announced it will launch a values-based job search filter, but does this mean values-based recruiting (VBR) is the future of hiring and selecting candidates?

The social networking platform says the filter will “make it easier for jobseekers to discover open job opportunities that align with their values”, which include equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and work-life balance. 

Additional research by LinkedIn also revealed it experienced a 154 per cent increase in job ads mentioning culture and values in the past two years, while two thirds (67 per cent) of professionals in the UK want to work for companies aligned with their values.

Simon Cutner, director and head of Macmillan Davies’ London office, says there is “much evidence” to suggest candidates are putting more weight on company values. “This has been something that was creeping in before the pandemic, but coming out the other side there is no doubt the time we have had working from home has magnified the importance placed upon the values our employers can offer us as either current employees or jobseekers,” says Cutner. 

Indeed, this is evidenced in previous People Management reporting, which revealed nearly two thirds (58 per cent) of employees have considered leaving their jobs in the next 12 months because their employer does not have the same values as them.

Meanwhile, a study of nearly 33,000 workers in 17 countries from ADP demonstrates VBR  is not just limited to the UK, as three quarters (76 per cent) of employees would consider looking for a job elsewhere if they found their employer had no EDI policy or an unfair gender pay gap.

How do you demonstrate company values?

Nicola Kleinmann, head of HR and talent consultant at Your People Associates, says adopting VBR can be useful in a highly saturated job market. “It would help both parties [to introduce VBR] as it would help the journey, and allow an element of self directing both in and out of organisations if the values don't resonate with what candidates are looking for.” 

But she adds it can be problematic as values are “deeply embedded” in a person's psyche, so demonstrating those values to a candidate could be challenging: “The problem with values is how deep a company goes in terms of actually living those values. It's easy to disclose them, but what are the behaviours associated with those values and how do they track and measure that?” 

This is also highlighted by Katie Allen, EDI consultant and executive coach, who welcomes the move by LinkedIn but points out that jobseekers will be looking for evidence. “The real question for hirers will remain: how are they evidencing their commitment to these values? A filter is only one step in attracting people to their job advert, and a useful one. But what will candidates find when they begin to research the business, or when they accept the offer and start work?” says Allen. 

Yvonne Smyth, director at Hays specialising in HR, adds that candidates want to know that these values are “not just on paper, but in practice”, so organisations ought to provide evidence. 

Smyth suggests that VBR could “certainly help connect employers with candidates who would fit with, and enhance, their organisation”, but that businesses should provide examples. 

“Employers need to give insights into what a lived experience is likely to be in an organisation, through case studies and storytelling, for instance. Given the world of work is evolving so quickly, hiring for potential as opposed to pure skills is important for a successful, creative and sustainable recruitment strategy,” says Smyth. 

When it comes to adopting a VBR model, Kleinmann says values would “ideally” come before job aptitude, and welcomes organisations changing how they recruit in the current market. “You can be open to training new skills and nurture talent, and we really don't see much of that in a market like this, where clients are spoilt for choice; they get so super prescriptive with experience  – even down to sector-specific skills,” she says.

But candidate experience must align with the values a company is promoting, Kleinmann stresses. “Are you displaying your values in the hiring process?” she asks.