5 Hiring Lessons We Can Learn From Nike

Best Free Recruiting SoftwareNike is one of the most influential companies in the world and has won many awards for innovation, diversity, and being one of the best places to work. They’ve landed on Glassdoor’s best places to work list 7 times as well as landing in their top CEOs(4 times) and best places to interview lists. They made a ten healthiest companies to work for in America list and one for best companies for minorities. But Nike doesn’t do the showy routine many other powerful companies do, making big news splashes and social media sensations. They just quietly spring up in all these lists. So, what can we learn from Nike to strengthen our own hiring strategies? Empower people, be transparent, conduct surveys thoroughly, focus more on being than showing, and to always look for the next goal. What is the best free recruiting software on today’s marketplace? Recruiteze is number one for several reasons! Want to learn more about our amazing recruitment technology? Try our online recruiting free trial today.

5 Hiring Lessons We Can Learn From Nike

#1. Empower

Nike’s careers page highlights the crucial parts of its company culture, innovation and doing, with a heavy focus on the doing part. Whether that doing involves creating a new product or fixing the world’s problems, Nike wants to empower people make it happen, and all that doing requires empowerment, like how a workout requires fuel.

The company makes sure people get that idea right off. The above the fold portion of the careers page is predominantly a photo with the text, “We are the people who do.” Above that, you can eventually see the navigation buttons for things you might want to find quickly like locations, internships, diversity policies, and benefits.

The rest of the page is also heavy on driving the cultural point home such as the bit about, “We Lead. We Invent. We Deliver. We Use The Power Of Sport To Move The World.”

This careers page gets a bit repetitive, but defining the culture is always a good idea because it helps candidates self-screen. The right ones will be further invested in the company while others may decide it’s not for them and move on. Clearly, thoroughly, and accurately representing the company culture is very important.

Nike’s benefits are uniquely suited to empowering employees to “do,” covering a wide range of areas such as fitness, career growth, financial stability, charitable work, and health.

Here’s the list they supply on their benefits page.

  • RELOCATION New job far away? We got you.

  • SUMMER HOURS Enjoy time off & stay balanced.

  • DISCOUNTS Get a generous employee discount.

  • GLOBAL IMPACT Drive change with community outreach.

  • FITNESS Access fitness centers & a culture of sport.

  • CULTURE We value diversity, collaboration & creativity.

  • TRANSPORT Go by bike or get a transport pass.

  • COACHING Develop & advance your career.

  • SUSTAINABILITY We lead the industry in reducing impact.

  • FINANCE Earn competitive pay & robust savings plans.

  • HEALTH Access to healthcare benefits.

  • FAMILY Take time for what matters.

This is exactly the point of benefits, to provide fuel for employees to succeed.

Apparently Nike does a good job of backing up their claims too because the employee reviews include many references to advancement, work-life balance, and feeling valued. Employees added in one that many people really appreciate, the ability to try many different things.

Work It Daily found this employee quote, presumably from Glassdoor because that’s where the rest of their quotes came from, “Amazing leaders who helped me turn what seemed to be a summer job into a game changing experience.“

This is just one of many quotes from employees referencing the company’s nurturing of employee growth. There were quite a few in the Indeed link above.

#2. Just doing it

Nike’s CEO isn’t a household name like Steve Jobs, and if you run a search for working at Nike online you don’t get loads of pieces about the culture like you do about many of the other companies who top these best places to work for lists. But Nike keeps making a splash with the numbers, more results than talk.

#3. Be transparent

Nike doesn’t just measure internally to determine their state of diversity, they make their results public. In fact, they’re linked to on the careers page under the tab, inclusion.

Their figures prove that, globally, men and women’s pay is almost identical, 99.6 cents to $1! The same is true for white and non-white employees in the U.S., 99.7 cents to $1.

On the same page, they also list all their actions to improve diversity.

#4. Survey

Nike learned the importance of surveying the hard way, when a group of their female employees started their own survey regarding sexual harassment.

Nike has been suffering from a toxic workplace issue without the CEO realizing it(though HR did), but this year a group of women became so fed up that they took matters into their own hands. Fifty Nike employees came forward with descriptions of sexual harassment that resulted in the resignation of six high-ranking executives.

Due process is necessary, but as is too often the case, and Nike’s situation proved, you can’t rely on reports alone. Their effectiveness relies solely on whether the person receiving the reports acts on them, and doesn’t retaliate. Reporting policies should always be paired with open-door policies and surveying to ensure they are actually working.

In fact, surveying should not be overlooked for its value across the board. If you want to improve factors such as diversity, productivity, innovation, employee engagement, or employee satisfaction, surveys are invaluable tools to get real input directly from the employees.

Maximize their effectiveness by acting on the information found in surveys. People aren’t likely to invest in thoughtful answers or put themselves on the line if they think no one’s listening.

The Forbes article above that discussed Nike’s lesson said that out of 3,000 HR executives who had taken a quiz on effective surveying, 34% admitted that they hadn’t surveyed at all recently and 44% gave one of two answers that both revealed that their surveys were ineffective.

The writer went on,

“Now, those companies that haven’t seen changes in their scores, or their scores went down, it’s pretty clear that while they may have decently-constructed surveys, they’re just not listening to the results (let alone acting on them). And over time, that lack of action is going to disillusion the employees and perhaps even embolden leaders who are doing a poor job of engaging employees. If a leader doesn’t care about employee engagement (let alone a sexual harasser), what’s the incentive for that leader to change if they know the company isn’t going to listen or act on the employee engagement survey? They’re essentially free to just keep on being a bad leader.”

So definitely conduct surveys, but make sure they are also effective surveys. Don’t just throw token ones out there, be strategic with them, prioritize them.

#5. Don’t Assume Your Efforts are Enough

One doesn’t reach a plateau where diversity, productivity, innovation, or employee engagement has been “achieved.” Nike’s slogan isn’t you’ve already done it. There is always more to do as there can’t be 100% of any of those things. Even if we could manage to achieve perfection in any of those areas, it wouldn’t last, because mistakes would happen, we’d get sloppy, or times would change. That middle one, getting sloppy, that’s what assuming you’re done accomplishes. Presumably, Nike’s CEO was relying on the fact that their sexual harassment policy was adequate and HR was handling things while a scandal was brewing.

So measure, survey, build a company culture where employees can speak openly at any time without retaliation, and never stop doing more to achieve your goals. Enough isn’t possible. You’ve got to keep growing, perfecting, and adapting, or something’s going to start stagnating.


Nike has been quietly excelling as an employer in many areas. They make a fine example of being results oriented, empowering employees, and transparency. Unfortunately, they lagged behind in the sexual harassment department because they weren’t actively listening to their employees, they assumed their efforts were enough. So, take Nike’s example and focus on being the best without necessarily having to tell everyone about it, creating a company culture that encourages employees to do more, be transparent, continue to set goals for yourself, and survey your employees.

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More from the hiring lessons series:

  1. Hiring lessons from Richard Branson
  2. Hiring lessons from Dell
  3. Hiring lessons from SpaceX
  4. Hiring lessons from Yahoo
  5. Hiring lessons from Apple
  6. Hiring lessons from EA
  7. Hiring lessons from Ikea
  8. Hiring lessons from Chobani

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