“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well” said Jeff Bezos.
There is no doubt that an organization aspiring to live long has to build reputation for itself and use the power of this reputation to attract bright minds and keep them together for a long time. This employer branding is a set of beliefs that need to be communicated coherently and consistently. How do we do this?
Outside in approach
Employer brand needs to speak to potential candidates, current employees and their influencers. We need to communicate our value proposition to them. They need to find something attractive in what we offer.
First of all, we need to be clear what do we offer to our current employees and future employees; and most importantly, how they are different from the competition. We need to think how we will interact with key employees. Our processes of rewards and recognition, leadership development, succession planning, learning and development embody these specialties about our offer.
Can we define the position that we intend to occupy in the hearts and minds of our intended target audience? For example, one could define oneself to be an innovative company or a warm and humane company or aggressive and ambitious or a company that cares about good health. The point is about defining a position that our audience relates to and values.
Many a times, our leadership team does not have adequate clarity who they are serving. Their customer segments may either be amorphous or not studied well to figure out their identity. Once this understanding is adequately sharp, one can decide how we are going to be different from the competition. The next step will be to articulate the value proposition for the employees. The flow-down will naturally be to define how we interact with key employees and how others should hold us in their hearts and minds.
Build Internals strong
As we complete the first 3 steps, we have a value proposition ready for communication to our current employees as well as potential employees. We need to carry that to academic institutes, families and the public media. Secondly we need to live our life in such a way that our actions reflect what we would like others to think about us.
Let’s say, we want to be known as an innovative company. Our organization must practice innovation in our day to day activities, most of our employees must have a KPI linked to innovating a product or a process so that customer experience is enhanced. Our employee bonuses must be linked to the innovations that they do. Our recruitment efforts have to be focused on finding inquisitive souls and curious minds. Every discussion in our company has to be exploring continuous improvements and at the same time, promote espousing new ideas. The company must have innovation labs to inject life into the ideas and screen the most powerful ones.
Companies like 3M, Dupont, Amazon, Google, Tesla, Netflix and P&G are known for something unique in their respective domains. They are clear what they want to be; they have been able to build strong internals which help them practice what they be want to be. Moreover, they strengthen their core continuously to stay the course.
How are we doing?
Sometimes, an industry sector experiences a swing and it impacts the attractiveness of the sector as a whole and hence, the employer brand of the company either shines brightly or loses lustre. Similarly there could be regulatory aspects or economic cycles or social changes which impact the brand. It is important that the Board reviews the brand power vis-à-vis external benchmarks from time to time.
Commonly known metrics such as tenure of staff, attrition, offer acceptance rate, profitability per employee, customer satisfaction score, NPS and employee engagement scores tracked over a period of time can indicate the performance of our employer brand. We have to find a way of comparing our scores with external benchmarks and take appropriate actions.
As the ground realities keep evolving, our value proposition and positioning need periodic review. We have to check if our target audience is still relevant and our competitive positioning is working well. Looking at the market dynamics, we must check if our offerings in the market are still appealing to our customer base. Else, we may have to rework the fundamentals and not shy away from upsetting the applecart.
After all, we have to do the hard things well!