Inspiration from The Circular Economy: Recruit, Retain, Recycle (Part 1)

A recent report developed by JWT Intelligence titled “The Circular Economy” (download) focuses on the trend towards a markedly different way of doing business, forcing companies to rethink everything from the way they design and manufacture products to their relationships with customers. As described in the report:

“The vision: a smarter, more regenerative and restorative way to create, use and dispose of products that designs out waste from this cycle. An alternative to the ‘take, make and dispose’ model that predominates today, the circular economy is an old concept that’s steadily gaining ground among influential entities and corporations.”

While not every trend report offers relevance to the world of recruitment and talent management (did you know that aerial yoga and cocktails on tap are both “Things to Watch in 2014”?), I couldn’t help but consider how our field could benefit from thinking in the context of the circular economy.

Inspiration from The Circular Economy: Recruit, Retain, Recycle (Part 1)We all can attest that in many cases, the HR space today is not always efficient or proactive—and for that reason, there can be significant waste in both processes and function.

In this two-part series, I’ll examine how this thinking can impact the areas of both Retention and Recruiting. Let’s start with Retention.

Essentially, any company with a high turnover rate produces a lot of waste, as they invest heavily in an employee (e.g., recruiting costs, training, on-boarding, etc.). This investment is lost the second that employee leaves.

This brings to mind one aspect of the circular economy report that highlights the “repair movement,” through which goods are repaired and used for as long as possible rather than thoughtlessly tossed out. Companies are empowering consumers with the information, tools and replacement parts to fix their products, and also designing goods to make the repair process easier.

Shouldn’t employers proactively manage and repair employee dissatisfaction versus just accepting a high turnover rate?

  • Repairing could take many forms, such as improved internal communications that ensure employees understand the company vision and decisions.
  • Repairing could include internal processes that ensure employees feel their voice is being heard.
  • Repairing could ensure that the proper training and technology is provided to foster productivity and collaboration.

In addition, fine-tuning your performance management can likely contribute not only to “repairing” dissatisfaction, but also to identifying any issues early to ensure that minor challenges or frustrations don’t escalate. Ideally, an effective program should be preventative, reducing the need for repair by ensuring that employees are focused and fulfilled and feeling that they have a path forward in the organization.

For example, The Motley Fool developed an interactive employee handbook that is both educational and reflects their unique culture. Tools like this ensure that employees start off on the right foot and understand the culture they are joining and the “rules” that govern behavior.

Finally, since it is inevitable that some great employees will leave, a targeted alumni recruiting program could offer a way to facilitate “secondhand sales.” These individuals know your organization already and are proven performers. For example, T-Mobile recently won a Most Strategic Use of Technology award for a program they developed, targeting what they called “A-List Boomerangs.”

Stay tuned for our next post that examines how thinking “circular” can inspire more effective recruitment efforts.

Pete Price, a strategist and experience planner at JWT INSIDE, keeps up with trends and the impact of technology on recruiting while always ensuring that audience needs are met and considered. While involved in brand development, his passion is on bringing them to life in a way that is meaningful to the audience. With a focus on the entirety of the candidate journey, efforts include research, messaging architecture, UX, and brand activation. Contact Pete at

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