Conscious Culture and LinkedIn Profiles

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I was recently having a conversation with a client who had just been promoted to manager of her team. In sharing her new experience as a leader, she spoke about how it was a challenge to not only manage her team’s responsibilities but also to make sure that they are productive, growing and happy. Her logic on what her mandate is as manager touches on two Conscious Capitalism Tenets: Stakeholder Orientation and Conscious Leadership. The premise of Conscious Capitalism is that companies that operate with a sense of purpose (beyond just profit) and take care of all of their stakeholders (not just investors and shareholders!) enjoy higher profitability in the long run. My client recognized that her team members are key stakeholders in her company and that their contentment is important to her.

LinkedIn: A valued recruiting tool
In addition to being key stakeholders, employees are also a valuable assets to a company, and ones that companies spend a lot of time and capital to recruit and train. As anyone who has worked on, let alone managed, a team knows, employees are going to stick around in a role where they are fulfilled and well satisfied, and if they are not, will look for an opportunity to jump ship as soon as possible. As recruiters, we have come to rely on LinkedIn as a tool to help us identify many of these individuals who are open to new roles. So, someone who has a fleshed-out profile with specific details on what they’ve worked on is someone we’re likely to contact. Unfortunately, sometimes profiles are blank or have only very generic company data that doesn’t give me a sense of what expertise and experience this person really has.

Does this belong on my profile or will HR get on my case?

While the unfinished profile does drive me bonkers (I suspect some people don’t want to be buried in messages by the likes of me, and that’s understandable) I am much more frustrated by the profiles that provide only general company information as a result of company social media policy. One investment bank, after a significant data breach, has issued a memo directing employees to display only the company name, job title and a generic company description on their profile. Data security is a legitimate concern for banks and should be taken seriously. However, it feels a bit heavy-handed to restrict to this level of generic information — I suspect that a more nuanced policy would still retain confidential details while allowing professionals to highlight their accomplishments. Whether or not restricting profiles has a significant impact on the bank’s data security, one thing is clear: those employees are unlikely to be contacted by recruiters about other opportunities.

Conscious Capitalism and Stakeholder Orientation
The cynical among us might wonder if similar practices are designed specifically for this reason – to make it more difficult for employees that are difficult to retain or who have specialized skillsets to leave the firm. Firms operating under the tenets of Conscious Capitalism recognize that keeping prized employees is much more complex than simply sabotaging their ability to publicize their professional brand. Danny Meyer, CEO of Shake Shack and the Union Square Hospitality Group asserts that in his companies, “there’s not a more important stakeholder to get right than our staff.” Part of getting it right is making sure that, as my client has noticed, employees are happy and growing. I would add to this that supporting employees in their careers includes allowing them to build a professional brand and publicize it, even though this may result in more recruiters knocking on their doors. Those employees that are dissatisfied, even downright frustrated, will find ways to leave – the best way to protect the investment directed towards building a productive employee is to treat them as a valued stakeholder and to be a partner in their professional growth.

Job satisfaction results in retention. Period.
If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve spoken to a professional who was denied growth in their company because they were too “valuable where they are.” This is an employee that has had their growth and satisfaction sacrificed, and is someone who is much more likely to take my call. Conscious companies understand that employees are going to follow their best interests and strive to align corporate best interests with those of their staff. Employees that are well taken care of, as Danny Meyer points out, are going to ignore my enticing message to consider another opportunity, regardless of the level of detail in their LinkedIn profile.

For companies that lack that warm, fuzzy culture feeling that recruits and retains rock star employees, being actively involved in employee growth is a critical way to keep talent. Finance continues to lose ground to technology where a vibrant culture draws the best. Banks would likely be better able to compete if they invested in helping their employees reach their goals, even if those goals ultimately take them outside of the bank. This works, because while they’re there, employees will function at a much higher level, garnering significant returns on the investment in employee satisfaction (pun intentional). Allowing people to highlight their personal brand on their LinkedIn process sends the message that the employer cares and can be a powerful way to retain talent.