Good service comes naturally from satisfied employees who are proud to work for any organization, who will embrace the holistic corporate culture that supports existing employees and new hires in becoming instant brand ambassadors for their employer, without promptings. Employee branding is not lip-service, it is empowering your employees with clear goals, targets and the opportunity to grow, they will be committed to your long-term vision and businesses will grow naturally if they are treated as important resource. Employee branding is a comprehensive process, it is how you are perceived by employees, former and current, including those aspiring to work for your organization. It is not just your recruitment, hiring procedure or your dress code, or even your employee value proposition, your promotion or disciplinary processes. It is the combination of your values, your mission, vision, and every single knot and crack that build your employees within your organization.
An organization that places premium on employee branding, is an excellent example of a purpose-driven company that cares not only about its customers, but also other stakeholders, like its current and former employees. If you want your organization to stand out from the crowd you need more than just basic Human Resource centric appraisal system, or reward package, as you make them essential value chain for employee branding, therefore communicating the corporate culture in talent acquisition, onboarding and employee engagement strategies, are concomitant part of the entire branding.
If your employees know that they are not dispensable appendages to your organization, they will be loyal and retention rate will grow from time to time. Therefore, it is crucial to leverage the power of employees as brand advocates, then you could turn your workforce into a powerful voice. This will ignite the fire of an endearing social phenomenon – employee advocacy and engaged workforce. Employee branding will automatically boost your organisation’s products and service delivery. In the age of social media and co-creation, your employees have the farthest reach you cannot undermine, through their social platforms they could share your brand message, which becomes stress-free endorsements for your company.
One of the many advantages of employee branding is increased loyalty, which will elicit instant brand affinity from other customers. During the aftermath of the #EndSars protest in Nigeria, hoodlums looted a SPAR Nigeria supermarket at Circle Mall, Jakande in Lekki Lagos State, the employees decided to use their Twitter handles to share the empathetic message from SPAR which read : “Our Lekki store has been vandalized and looted. But, we acknowledge that this is only a setback compared to the larger issues we are all facing as a nation, and our thoughts and prayers remain with Nigerians everywhere, and for a peaceful resolution to various issues at hand. Rebuilding a supermarket is hard. Rebuilding a nation is even harder. We stand with you Nigeria. Stay focused. Be the solution. #sparnigeria #staystrong #sparstrong. Within 4 hours this Tweet from SPAR Nigeria and its staff was re-tweeted by more than 300,000 Twitter users. Some Nigerian celebrities and influencers volunteered to embark on crowdfunding to help rebuild SPAR Nigeria Circle Mall, that was the extent to which the tweet shared by employees struck the right chord and elicited flurry of empathies.
In establishing a great culture of employee branding, just like building a global brand, you must be realistic with your expectations. It is not a rocket science, not everyone of your employee will come on board right away, therefore create a strategy to get everyone engaged step by step. Employee branding should be cross functional and not HR-centric, start by identifying a group of employees who will help with your goals and objectives, include employees who are the most vocal and influential in their units or departments, place them in a focus group, gradually expand to other employees as a pilot towards building a formidable employee branding. Encourage senior management buy-in, have constant conversations and engagements on what the organization stands for.
After establishing a strong framework for employee branding, hold training sessions that will equip each employee on how to build their personality brands, which will invariably rub off on employee branding. Teach them the dos and don’ts, walk them through what the kind of contents to share and why they are not permitted to share contents that are the sole responsibilities of PR or corporate communication departments.
Employee branding is an opportunity to exemplify the corporate culture, including how to demonstrate the values, by sharing those innate values that stand your organization above others. Share your unique selling point as an organization, if you identify as a “market leader”, don’t pretend to be a “follower”, if “safety” is one of the brand values you have projected, never show a glimmer of “unsafe”.
Take a look at the demographics of engaged employees and their overall representation of your employee brand values, track whether the programme has led to increased staff retention and employee advocacy. Keep undivided attention on metrics like “Organisational Communication”, “Teamwork”, “Sense of Ownership”, “Secure Our Long Term Recruitment Needs” “Build Good Talent Framework” “Differentiate Us From Competitor” because they will move help to increase your employee branding.
Research by Gartner in Q2 2020 showed that Google, L’Oreal and IKEA are brands known for great employee satisfaction and engagement. Even in a tough situation like Covid-19 lockdowns, they continued to empower their teams, focus on employee’s happiness and wellbeing of their employees. I will conclude with this long but apt quote from the book by Richard Branson, Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur
“You get the idea. Every business, like a painting, operates according to its own rules. There are many ways to run a successful company. What works once may never work again. What everyone tells you never to do may just work, once. There are no rules. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over, and it’s because you fall over that you learn to save yourself from falling over. It’s the greatest thrill in the world and it runs away screaming at the first sight of bullet points.”
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Dr. Kester Osahenye [Kester is a Creative Writer and works in telecoms as Senior Manager]