The side of Reliant Stadium in Houston reads, “The Road Ends Here” as the city hosted the Final Four this past weekend. As an avid college basketball fan (and really awesome wife) I secured seats for the semifinal games – Butler vs. VCU and UConn vs. Kentucky. This was not a wonderful Final Four for the city of Houston as there were no #1 or #2 seeded teams in the semifinals this year, but it was an incredible couple of games if you are a fan of college basketball.
Kentucky had a huge contingent of followers in Houston, which was to be expected as the largest school left in the tournament. But even as Blue Nation filled the seats of Reliant my eyes tended to rest on the much smaller group of fans following the Butler Bulldogs. Butler has about 4,000 students total which is probably the make-up of the Ag majors at Kentucky. Butler has a dance team of 12 – there are junior highs in Houston with three times as many girls on their dance teams. We had to strain to find the Butler band, but then saw a handful of brass instruments in the student section.
What they lacked in size and stuff, Butler more than makes up for in spirit and pride. I was thinking about what a great recruiting and engagement tool making it to the Final Four must be for all the schools, but especially for a small college like Butler. Most high schoolers probably never even heard of Butler before the tournament (unless they followed basketball last year…) but I guarantee there are a ton of new fans and potential students taking a look at this liberal arts school. Just think how many hits the Butler U website got this past week?!!
How do you bottle the “Butler-like” enthusiasm for your company’s recruiting or employee engagement efforts? Especially if you are a small organization, how do you stand out against the Big 4 or elite Fortune 50’s in the university recruiting wars? On the experienced hire side, how can you compete with GE, IBM or PepsiCo?
You do it by having every single employee wearing the proverbial t-shirt, humming the war hymn and so proud of where they work that the spirit is contagious. You create an environment where even people outside of your walls want to promote and sing your praises too.
And as HR, you are one of the stewards of your company’s culture, and at the end of the day, it’s not about how many koozies with the company logo you give out – but it IS about how many employees tell your story and promote where they work by coming out in force to support programs and initiatives that make the organization better. You have to find the element of pride in something – whether it is a new product, marketing slogan or acquisition of a competitor; find that “something” that makes people talk about why they love working where they do. Find the thing that employees want to support, nurture, and be a part of. The element of belonging and being a part of something special with your co-workers is paramount, no matter the size of your organization.
As we walked away from the stadium, I thought that while the basketball tournament road ends there, it was truly the beginning of a journey for so many new fans of Butler. We left with two requested Butler t-shirts – one for my Traditionalist dad and one for my Millennial nephew. I left wanting a bulldog and thinking about how to capture that same feeling of excitement about my business with my employees.
hrQ is a national HR search, Interim HR Staffing, and Human Capital Consulting firm. Your people equation. Simplified.
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or interim roles and has amassed a rockstar human capital consulting team doing work across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.