Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion are useful for attracting new talent
As a hiring and retention speaker, the biggest topic my clients are asking for right now is anything related to attracting, finding and retaining employees. I explain that the first rule of attraction is being attractive — creating a work environment that not only draws new team members, but also keeps them. But besides throwing money at the problem (as most employers are), how exactly can you make your business more appealing to prospective workers?
One unlikely thought leader on the subject offered some great nuggets of wisdom back in the fourth century BCE. In his treatise Rhetoric, Greek philosopher Aristotle described three modes of persuasion that are still used today in sales and marketing. In the current environment, hiring is sales and marketing, so these tools can be equally useful for attracting new talent.
The first mode of persuasion is called logos, which means logic. That’s appealing to people’s need for data and information. Think of an automobile commercial sharing the features and pricing of a vehicle. Recall a politician outlining their plan to fix the country. In employee recruiting, logos is telling an applicant what the job entails and the compensation for doing it. Logos tells people what they need to know.
The second mode is ethos, which translates to “ethics” or “character.” What Aristotle really meant was credibility. It’s giving others a reason to trust you. The same car commercial might share the awards the car has won or how it’s number one in its class. Maybe they’ll show someone famous driving the car. It’s a politician boasting about their years of experience and the endorsements they’ve received. For a corporate hiring manager, it’s the brand you’re associated with, word-of-mouth from team members or employee satisfaction ratings. Just being the boss brings a certain authority that, at least for a time, commands respect. Ethos positions you or your product as worthy and credible.
Finally, and most importantly, there’s pathos, which is emotion. That means deliberately tapping into how people feel. It’s the car commercial showing the proud owner in the driveway and the jealous neighbor on the other side of the hedge. It’s the politician giving you an inspiring vision for what’s possible, or their prediction of the downfall of the country should their opponent win. In hiring, it’s communicating in a way that gets prospective employees excited to come work for you. When you can get people to feel something, it’s easier to get them to do something. Humans are most driven by their emotions.
Information, credibility and emotion are used all the time in advertising to attract customers. But they can also be used to attract new employees.
Consider your “help wanted” copy. Many of your competitors are just describing the position, the qualities they’re looking for and maybe the compensation package (logos). They may include a paragraph about the brand (ethos).
But nothing influences behavior more than people’s feelings. You want your posts not just to inform prospective employees, but to inspire them (pathos). You want them to read the ad and feel something electric and alluring, just like how you want your customers to feel moved by your marketing efforts.
Consider the following real post for a dishwasher job:
Full job description
MUST BE ABLE TO WORK NIGHTS UNTIL 12am ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAYS AND UNTIL 11pm THE REST OF THE WEEK.
MUST HAVE OWN TRANSPORTATION
PLEASE DON’T APPLY IF YOU CAN’T MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS.
MUST HAVE PRIOR DISHWASHING EXPERIENCE!!!!!
You will be required to use the dishwashing machine to make sure all dishes and items are cleaned properly. You must also put away all the dishes after they are washed. At the end of every night the bbq grills need to be scrubbed clean. Starting pay is $16per hour
$300 signing bonus given on third month of employ
Job Types: Full-time, Part-time
Pay: $16.00 – $17.00 per hour
- Monday to Friday
- Night shift
- Weekend availability
This very typical ad is all about the “whats” and the “musts” (logos). It’s just the facts. From a marketing perspective (and this is a form of marketing), it speaks to the brain, but not to the heart. And with all the listed requirements, it also feels like they’re trying to scare people away. Some employers purposely use this approach to weed people out. But it’s likely the tone of this post will also turn off otherwise qualified candidates who are tired of heartless work environments and are looking to be somewhere that feels a little more wholesome.
You could express the same information as this post, but in a way that taps into prospective employees’ emotions and makes the opportunity feel more desirable. The ad might start with something like this:
“Are you a night owl looking to make money, have fun and grow with a proven brand? Would you like to be part of a tightknit team that proudly works to delight customers and support each other? Have you washed dishes before and now want to work someplace where you’ll be treated like royalty to do it some more? Then look no further, because this is the opportunity you deserve! Here are the details…”
Yes, there’s some hype here. But that’s the idea — you want to stand out. You also want to come across as human. And you want to tap into their humanity, as you would with your ads targeting customers. That’s the basis of pathos and how to utilize its power.
The above example may not be your approach. The post should be honest and authentically represent who you are (although if your work environment doesn’t promote teamwork or make employees feel valued, you have bigger problems than your ad copy.) Whatever you write, make sure it has emotional appeal, and not just information. Don’t just offer the job. Sell the job.
These days, employers are competing as much for employees as they are for customers. Both are flesh and blood human beings. And humans are moved less by what they get and more by how they feel. Aristotle understood this. His writings may be characterized as “philosophy,” but what he wrote about human motivation could easily be listed under “business.”
So take his advice. Create a work environment that feels good, and then communicate that emotional compensation in your recruiting in addition to all of the details. It’s a lot more effective, and it’s better for your bottom line.
[A version of this article originally appeared here in Franchise500 by Enterpreneur]
For more information about Employee Hiring & Retention Speaker, Scott Greenberg, please call 520-548-1160 or contact us through this website.