FourthLine's Lauren Webber sits down with Dionne Smith, the Director and Founder of DPS Brand Consultancy, Brand Masters Online Training and BrandMe! Magazine, to understand the growing importance of an employer brand in the modern market and where she thinks recruitment fits into that.
Employer branding or ‘brand culture’ is extremely important. For any business to deliver on the perception that it wants to create with its’ target audience, their employees must be on board with what that means for their role and understand how they fit into the values and mission of the business. They need to fulfill the expectation of what the business wants their customers or clients to experience when they interact with them.
Employees are no longer afraid to be more vocal, when an employer doesn’t fulfill the expectation that they should within the business. More people are speaking out about their negative employment or interview experiences and with the advent of social media, employers and business leaders are much more exposed from a cultural perspective.
From a personal point of view, having worked in two different companies with the culture in one company being brilliant, supportive and progressive, making them one of the best companies to work for, to another where the majority of the employees didn’t like working there, (or at least within my department); as they felt intimidated and undermined by management.
it’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about helping businesses understand that the power of creating a strong brand starts within.
It appears to be quite prevalent in financial services firms in particular – even more in the higher-level legacy professional services firms. The historical hierarchies are still there and this has a knock-on effect in the way people think about how they do their jobs and how they treat each other. It has become so ingrained into the legacy of the business, to the point where there are no efforts made to change perspective and identify the best ways to engage and cooperate with employees, on how they manage their role and their progression.
Nowadays, you cannot afford to not take that on board, you must listen to what your employees say and not just play lip service to it i.e. with surveys and then nothing changes. If you want to move forward as a brand and be current, you need to have a solid brand culture internally that you can showcase externally.
People talk to each other. If I had known someone from a company who complained about their culture I wouldn’t then apply or interview there.
Retention is a key metric that shows whether you are doing things right.
A high turnover of staff is a clear sign that your brand culture and the way in which you run your business is not right. High turnover rates have and does put people off working in different companies, it is a red flag and a huge cost for the business. Again, whether through LinkedIn second or third level connections, negative experiences do travel so you need to have a strong awareness of the ways in which your brand is being communicated. I think any business can put a spin on a role to make it sound amazing, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
The secret with anything (and this cuts across the board either the employer or employee), is that we need to focus on the ways in which we treat each other generally.
Equally, as a brand you need to be very clear about how you treat a customer, an employee or a prospective client as their experiences reflect your brand in the market. Dionne believes that everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated at work, not to feel like they aren’t being taken seriously or that they are under undue pressure. It is about harnessing their desires and inspiring employees to be their best and make a difference to the business in whichever way they can.
We also need to remain current and keep people informed about how things are changing. The ways in which people communicate internally and externally is key to a business’s success.
Poor recruitment can often be at the heart of this and personal experience has taught me that a candidate’s perception of a brand is monument. Looking at how people are treated throughout the recruitment process is a significant opportunity to shape your brand perception.
If you have a poor process and fail to give feedback then an assumption is created about your business.
Communication is the biggest challenge that we face globally and poor communicate can be extremely damaging. If you look at brands like Virgin and John Lewis, their communications externally (and I would expect internally as well) are consistent with a message.
Whether that is in terms of dealing with customers effectively and ensuring that the communication is kept with one person, so not having to re-explain themselves, is fantastic. It shows that they take pride in making sure that they have people that care about the customer experience and can present their brand in the right way.
When building a brand, you need to use your mission, vision and values to create the consistency and perception needed, to showcase what makes you stand out. These are the foundations of every business. They define what your brand looks like, feels like and convey where the business is going to your customers.
Brand values play the biggest role with employees. Most companies may have mission, vision and value statements, but they don’t use them in the right way.
When you look at your strategy, planning and marketing, most companies forget to refer back to those original statements to ensure that they are in line. Instead, most look to their competitors for inspiration rather than the focusing on their own values and mission. This inevitably weakens the perception the brand is trying to build with their audience and instead creates confusion in their messaging which could damage their reputation and credibility within the industry. Similarly, the employees need to understand where their role sits within the mission, vision and values, ensuring that customers have the positive experience the firm wants them to have.
When you focus on building your brand from the inside out, you will attract better quality employees who understand the importance of their own personal brand and reputation.
In turn, this positively impacts on your business and you will have a much stronger brand perception, reputation and credibility within your industry, increasing your overall business growth and employee productivity. By maintaining the level of support, encouragement and accountability, your employee turnover rate will decrease, inspiring better cooperation and motivation with your employees. All of which directly impacts your bottom line.
For an employer or internal brand to be successful, they must adopt a stance that is people-centric. It all comes down to us as individuals, coming together to make the changes we need to, whatever they may be, doing it in ways that foster a sense of fulfillment and achievement in work.
Recruitment is at the heart of this and without a strong employer brand, you will miss out on quality candidates and lose your staff to competitors.
Topics: Talent Solutions