Earls: A Superb Employer Branding And Social Recruiting Case Study

Earls image
Recruitment is tough enough for many companies right now, so how would you feel if you tried to recruit new employees for restaurants across Canada and the USA without any recruiters? And I am not just talking about management roles, I am referring to staff at ALL levels.
This post is about a company that I came across while doing research for my latest book – Earls restaurants. They don’t have recruiters, HR staff doing recruiting, or even an ATS. Instead they empower their employees to help them recruit all their new staff, by focusing on their employer brand,  employee engagement, and maximising the use of social recruiting via all the social networks.
It is such a refreshing story, that I used the Earls case study in my book Social Media Recruitment (have you got your copy of this best seller yet?). It is a brilliant example of how a combination of how engaged employees can make such a difference to the success of a company.
When I was over in Vancouver earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of meeting up with the VP of People Operations for Earls, Brenda Rigney, (in an Earls Restaurant of course) to get an update on their successful expansion across the USA, and to present her with a copy of my book that the case study appears in.  And for the record, the #earlsburgers and draft beer were fantastic!
#Earlsburger andy headworth

Why I think Earls restaurants are a such great case study for employer branding, employee engagement and social recruiting

The Earls restaurant chain, a successful family-owned business for 30 years in Canada and the USA, is a company that has no recruiting team, no ATS and no HR department and yet still manages to hire hundreds of motivated employees every year for their 61 restaurants across Canada and the United States. There is a really good reason why – they are filled with people that are genuinely passionate about great food and drinks served in their inviting environment.
A huge challenge Earls (similar to most on the this industry) is that 85% of their employees (7000+) are millennials, which are a workforce demographic that are notoriously difficult to keep happy. The approach that they have taken to attract, engage and recruit employees, has been to fully embrace social media, and it has become very effective for Earls as a recruiting tool, when other more traditional methods like job boards and Craigslist have failed to attract the right quality of applicants.
While they may not have an ATS or HR team, they do have an excellent career site – EarlsWantsYou – that is fully mobile responsive (their audience do live on their mobile devices, after all) and focuses on the things they know their target audience want to see and read. But it is a site with a difference – you cannot apply for jobs online, you print off the application form and take it into your local restaurant.
earls career site
All the recruiting for the company is done at a local restaurant level, with applicants having to turn up and hand in a completed application form. They do not allow any online applications, and while they do advertise the types of roles and the jobs available on their good career site, all you can do is download a form to fill in and take into the store from 2–5 pm. They do also use the social channels to share their positions as well.
In today’s world of online recruiting and fast-moving technologies, this may seem a strange way to hire people for all their vacancies. But actually it plays to the strength of Earls – its people and their great culture. The strength of this great culture and engaged workforce (measured at 80 per cent engagement in a recent internal company survey, which also had an 82 per cent participation rate), is ideal for embracing social media as their primary recruitment channel. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are perfect for Earls to show their culture, great food and drink, and what it is like to work there. They empowered their employees and gave them the platforms to talk about the brand they are proud to work for – and to celebrate their success. In simple terms, they give all their employees a voice and encourage them to use it.
earlswantsyou twitter

 

When I spoke to Brenda Rigney, Vice President People Operations at Earls, she summed it up brilliantly:

Our employees tell our story for us, whether that be face to face with our customers, or on the social networks. They are a huge part of our recruiting success. The majority of our roles in the business are promoted from within, so everyone who joins Earls has the opportunity to progress through the company, with the full support and training that we give them.’

Earls operate a complete non-judgemental policy, therefore helping to nurture their employees use of sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Their social media strategy is really quite simple – it is all about the brand, the employees and their stories. They have created a #myearls hashtag that they encourage everyone to use when posting content, and their social media branding is cleverly focused ‘Earls Wants You’, ‘People Grow Here’ and ‘We’ve Got Soul’. And, of course, these are perfect for adding to images and sharing them across social media to constantly reinforce the recruiting messages.

we got soul earls

Earls uses their employees and the social networks as their recruiting channels, but they don’t endlessly broadcast jobs, they let their employer brand (and their employees) do the work for them. They have promoted vacancies via a Facebook app and used PPC when launching a new restaurant in new locations, and they promote all the adverts on their career website, but you still have to apply locally for the job.

This strategy has been very successful, but could not have worked without the hard work that has created and maintained the culture and the brand at Earls, the sense of purpose they have given to their employees and the employee advocacy across social media.

They have also put together a slideshare deck sharing some of the secret sauce that makes Earls so unique. They have called it the The Leadership Log .

This is one of many international case studies I have collected for my Social Media Recruitment book, so if you like this one go and grab a copy of the book today from Amazon UK, Amazon US or your local country Amazon site.
If you want to read more great example of companies using social media in recruitment, make sure you don’t miss any future posts by subscribing to this Sirona Says Blog.