Why recruitment might just be easier at unconventional companies

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Hiring can be hard at the best of times but when you’re facing a highly unique employer brand things become even trickier – or do they? HRM spoke to one talent acquisition expert who says companies with a distinctive identity may actually be at an advantage.

“If you want to attract like-minded people then being vocal about your brand values is definitely a benefit,” stresses LUSH’s retail support manager Elisia Gray. “The biggest one would probably be to do with engagement.”

Gray, who recruits for head office roles and retail managers across New Zealand and Australia, says the company’s overt and individualist identity actually serves as a tool for attracting talent.

“A lot of the head office staff started in the retail stores and were attracted to our brand because the brand values align with their personal values,” explains Gray. “They feel they don’t have to leave some of their personal values at home when they go to work and do business.”

When employees can relate on a personal level to their employer, she says, they’re far more likely to go the extra mile.

“When that’s there, the amount of discretionary effort is so much higher,” says Gray. “So when it comes to those mega days where you wake up at 6am and you don’t finish until 10pm, it doesn’t matter as much because you really care about the brand and the way the brand is perceived.”

While the cosmetic company is known world-over for its outspoken activism, environmental awareness and ethical business approach – it’s also attracted its fair share of controversies.

Last year, the big brand caused a stir in Australia when its window displays, intended to promote body positivity, were deemed “pornographic” by the Advertising Standards Bureau. 

“We are very strong on the activism,” admits Gray, who also supports manager training and career development. “It’s not necessarily to be confrontational but we do want to draw attention to the issues we’re passionate about.”

She concedes that this business approach isn’t always for everyone.

“Someone described LUSH once as a big of a Vegemite company and we’re completely comfortable that,” laughs Gray. “Some people don’t like it but it’s those people who do like it that we want to relate and appeal to.”

This, she says, is why recruitment plays a critical role.

“I think it’s always important to – as much as possible – have the customers’ perspective in that corporate side of the company,” she stresses. “It keeps us relevant and part of the conversation.”


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