In a sense, companies compete for two groups of people—customers and employees. While gaining customers is the predominant goal, winning the battle for high-quality employees is usually critical to achieving that goal and sustaining success in the marketplace. But, a company that has crafted its brand for maximum appeal to its customers may find that its “employer” brand is a whole different story.
A successful business may have a reputation as a sweatshop that is high stress or demands sacrifices of personal time. Another less successful company may be known for putting people before profits and being especially supportive to workers with young families or others who need flexibility with their hours. In both examples, the companies have developed an employer brand with pluses and minuses. It can be invaluable to have a clear idea of how your company is perceived as an employer. But, it can be difficult to get an objective view, as well.
One test is to look at employees that you hire. Are they willing to accept the same compensation for a similar position to come to your firm (and not because it is convenient in some other way, such as commuting time or moving to a new area)? Or, do you find you have to offer compensation and perks that seem higher than the industry average?
Employment experts often site numerous factors that are more important than monetary compensation, including: recognition, respect, a sense of teamwork. To those, I would like to add the perception of the company’s internal brand culture. That is to say, do the employees feel like they are working for something that is worthwhile, a higher purpose than selling more stuff than we did last year?
Jim Stengel, former chief global marketing officer for Procter and Gamble, put it simply in his book, “Grow,” where he describes the basic goal of many top brands is to “improve people’s lives.” For some brand cultures, this can be self-evident. Health care organizations are an obvious example. But, Stengel recounts in his book how the Pampers brand reinvigorated its performance by focusing its brand strategy on helping mothers raise healthy babies, instead of just selling more diapers each quarter.
So, having a brand that appeals to your customer base and is motivating to your employees and prospective hires can be a critical factor in getting the best people to work for you. And not every brand has $10.4 billion in sales and the global awareness of Pampers. Fortunately, brands of all types and levels can be made appealing to job candidates with some forethought and attention to company culture.
An upstart brand with a high-tech approach might be attractive to some prospective hires over a larger, more established competitor. Or, a brand with a social value mission could attract certain prospects.
Take some time to review how you communicate your brand’s vision to prospective employees. Do you articulate it clearly, perhaps even in a printed document for their review? Does part of your interview process assess how well an employee is suited to embrace your brand concept and move it forward? Does the culture within your organization consistently reinforce your brand and provide corrective adjustments as needed to keep it in place while being both appealing and inspiring?
The right people in an organization can make a huge difference to its performance. And actively managing your “employer” brand can help you get (and keep) those people on board.
As published in the Central Penn Business Journal and Lehigh Valley Business.