All organisations are aware of the effect their brand values have on their consumers. But what about promoting those values to potential and current employees?
In this area, HR can learn a lot from PR. We can borrow the branding techniques used to attract and retain customers and adopt these to develop better relations with our employees. Here’s how the employer branding journey can work.
Reaching the right candidates
Employer branding starts with finding potential recruits who already share the same values as your company. Thanks to social media, it’s getting easier to reach the right people while staying true to your brand. Tailor your company’s online persona to reach your preferred people and involve your current team to create a buzz.
You can also use clever targeted recruitment campaigns to connect with people who are likely to work well in your environment. Google’s famously cryptic foo.bar recruitment drive is only accessible via a popup to those who frequently search high-level computer science terms – winnowing out a crowd of relevant candidates from the get-go.
Similarly, IKEA in Australia cleverly hid job descriptions inside its flat packs, reasoning that those who buy its products are already engaged with the brand. How can you target individuals who are already on the same page as you when it comes to your brand values?
The importance of the employee experience
Once you’ve recruited your staff, you need to make sure that the cultural and practical promises you made during their onboarding are met. There should be no dissonance between recruitment and the reality – just like how you aim to uphold your promises to clients and consumers after the sale is made.
An employee will develop their perception of your organisation based on their everyday experience within it. This includes their perception of your employer brand, so ensure that you carry your brand values over into your working environment. If you’re selling a product and make a big deal about your plastic-free packaging, make sure your office isn’t using disposable cups. If you’re targeting a diverse audience but hiring from a talent pool of a certain demographic, widen that recruitment pool. Be transparent about which values you aspire to but haven’t achieved yet; employees should appreciate your honesty.
Monitor how your employees perceive your brand values and your company’s ability to uphold them. You can do this through employee engagement surveys and focus groups, just as you would with external customers. Actively (and visibly) address your findings and look for quick wins that maintain motivation.
Employees make the best brand ambassadors
Have you considered encouraging your employees to be ‘brand ambassadors’? Since word of mouth tends to be people’s most trusted source of information, companies of all shapes and sizes are using their own workforces to promote their products and services. Nokia encourages its employees to speak freely on social media about its products, tapping into live conversations to share their knowledge and enthusiasm.
Likewise, an engaged employee can be your best ambassador for promoting your values. Because an engaged colleague has a genuine personal conviction, they will naturally promote their organisation to friends and family. Ask your staff to make personal recommendations on social media when you post a vacancy, or to write a review for site such as Glassdoor.
Glassdoor also have a five-point plan to encourage their employees to become brand ambassadors, which can apply to recruiting internal or external customers:
- Encourage (promote engagement and a sense of community)
- Communicate (explain why you need them as advocates)
- Incentivise (work with motivators)
- Train (in how they can promote you)
- Make it easy (fit ambassadorial duties around their daily role)
Be prepared to communicate honestly
How can you internally manage a crisis in your company’s PR? No doubt you have a media strategy if things go publicly wrong, but this could also be your most challenging time in terms of recruitment and retention.
A PR crisis which distances your company from its values could send employees packing. While it might seem tempting to act as if nothing is happening and let the whole thing blow over, this course of action will alienate your staff further and damage your employer brand. Instead, use internal communication to reach out to them. Listen to individual and group concerns. Explain what went wrong and what changes will be made to prevent it happening again. Be honest.
There’s a lot recruiters and managers can learn from how businesses handle their consumer PR. By recruiting with integrity, engaging the inductees, then growing them into ambassadors through positive employee experience, we create a virtuous circle of recruitment.