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Kate shares her thoughts on the value of your employer brand.
Having gone through the pain of a rebrand on more than one occasion, I know the hard work that it entails, not to mention the fact that for several months if not years after the actual ‘go live’ date you are finding old livery, be it pens or signs, letterheads, or uniform. As a business, your brand is important to you, and rightly so. It is your identity; it is what sets you apart from competitors and what people know you for.
But do you spend as much time, energy, money and effort on your employer brand? Now we aren’t ones for using jargon or management speak at DICE, but in certain circles this is called your ‘Employer Value Proposition’. Simply put it is showing what you offer your employees. In a post-Covid world where the employment market is as buoyant as it has ever been, it is what will set you apart in the marketplace for attracting and retaining talented employees.
So what happens when you aren’t at Google or Facebook status with your employer brand? What happens when you don’t or can’t have a business operation that suits ‘early dart Friday’ or ‘Monday Mindfulness’? Well you might be surprised to know that these things aren’t always valued by employees and can be seen as gimmicky. It is far more compelling for businesses to offer people things that they truly value, such as flexibility, long-term career development and fulfilling, challenging job roles.
A strong employer brand should show candidates what they can expect beyond the role, which means working to ensure that your culture is seen as attractive and compelling as a whole.
Your culture is how people behave and what they do when no-one is watching. Having a strong set of values that set out the guiding behaviours you want to achieve in your business is the first step towards driving your culture but it has to be lived – not just words on a wall or on your website. We work with clients to curate values that are then embedded through the actions and behaviours of everyone in the business. It’s not good enough to list values like ‘we embrace innovation’ or ‘we are inclusive in everything we do’, we have to work hard to bring these things to life and make them real in the business. We have to practise what we preach, or risk creating a gap between what we say and what we do, which is the fastest way to lose trust with your people.
The concept of being ‘real’ is vital for another reason and that is because of your existing employees. Many companies rely on referrals when hiring and existing employees are the most trusted source of information about real working conditions. Sites such as Glassdoor are commonly used by people researching their next role – if your employer brand is just spin, your chances of success are slim. Your existing employees are your brand ambassadors, so using them in your recruitment campaigns can be a great differentiator. McDonald’s have been doing this for years successfully, plus it is brilliant for morale when people see their names and faces in lights on your social media posts.
Flexibility has been the biggest change to employment coming out of the pandemic and people are more likely than ever to leave an employer who isn’t willing to explore a world beyond the 9-5 desk-based working. Listen and engage your people to find out their ideas about how to make flexible working work in your business. It’s too easy for leaders to say ‘that won’t work’ before giving it a go.
My last point is ‘help them grow or watch them go’. And this is probably the most important piece of advice I would offer any business leader in developing their employer brand. You want your people to stay? Help them see that there are career development opportunities and paths to grow. This doesn’t always have to be the next rung of the ladder, it can be sideways opportunities, job-swaps or project assignments. More than ever people are looking for ways to enrich their experience at work and lives generally.
The world of branding is often thought of as the one of the more glamorous or exciting elements of business and the same needs to be true when it comes to your employer brand. You want your employees (existing and future) to be excited about working for your business. Getting them fired up so that they want to join you, they want to work hard for you so that ultimately together you can achieve great things!