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It's been clear for some time now that to attract top talent, companies have to make candidate experiences better. Yet less than half of organizations actually report making regular improvements to the recruitment processes.

With a national unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, we are currently operating in a candidate-driven market. People have more freedom to be selective about employers, and if the candidate experience is negative, they will go somewhere else.

"Today's candidates expect a positive experience from an organization from the time they begin exploring opportunities, all the way through the application, interviewing and hiring," Ed Newman, founding member and chairman of the Talent Board, a non-profit organization responsible for creating the Candidate Experience Awards, told me in an interview.

And when candidates do make the cut and join the company, it's important to keep them engaged by creating an employee-centric work environment as well. Otherwise, your employees may become part of the 70 percent of U.S. workers who report that they are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work.

If there's a disconnect between your candidate and employee experience, you won't hold onto talent for long. Here are the key components of creating a positive employee experience.

Encourage Real-Time Employee Feedback

Real-time and continuous feedback are crucial for several reasons. For example, nothing hurts more than working a full year before hearing that your work performance needs to be improved. On the flip side employees also shouldn't have to wait until their annual review to discuss questions and concerns with their managers.

Millennials are gradually taking over the workforce, and they want feedback 50 percent more than any other generation. To meet the expectations of this generation, organizations need to forget about annual reviews, and instead encourage real-time employee communication and continuous feedback systems.

Provide Opportunities for Growth and Internal Mobility

Most employees want to work for a company that not only acknowledges that employee growth and success is important, but also provides ample development opportunities.

This is why it's becoming critical for organizations to focus on creating and implementing an internal mobility strategy that encourages upward or lateral movement and provides learning and development resources. With more room for mobility, employees will feel valued, and will know that their company is invested in their growth.

Create a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion

During the interview process, company culture is always presented in a positive light, but if the culture turns out to be different once employees actually start working, they're going to feel duped.

Diversity is more than just hiring people of different sexes, religions, ethnicities and ages—true diversity means differences in thought, personality and life experience. Your organization should embrace employee differences not only on paper but also in practice, and encourage diverse ideas to circulate and drive innovation.

Drive Inspiration and Passion Through Leadership

People don't just work for organizations—they work for people. That's why your leadership team should bring passion to the table, stand behind the brand, invest in employees and be transparent.

A leader's passion and inspiration will trickle down to management teams and beyond. If leadership is steering the company in the right direction, this is going to impact the way your employees feel about being a part of the organization.

Photo: Creative Commons