Employees Make the Brand!

Companies commit significant time and resources into articulating their brands for the marketplace. I really look forward to Forbes annual “Most Valuable Brands” list http://www.forbes.com/powerful-brands/list/.  In most cases, its easy to surmise which brands will make the list. These Companies are dogmatic about their strategies, products and consumer experience. Many keep us excited about what’s to come. Some brands influence our lives in meaningful ways. I’m hopeful that we will see more of this kind of thinking and action, as the normal course of business, when it comes to how Employers think about employees. Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook . . . are modeling the way in making the employee experience a strategic imperative. But there’s a significant population of Employers that haven’t been able to translate their concerns about the talent gap and being able to compete into consistent action. Why employers undervalue the importance of this work is baffling. Undervalue sounds harsh. But what’s not a strategic priority doesn’t get our attention or resources. So let’s call it what is. It is that very lack of action that becomes a distraction to the brand’s greatness.

Harvard Business Review cited that only 61% of Employers developed an Employee Value Proposition to support their employer branding activities hbr.org. Fewer Employers are noted as even having a clearly articulated employer brand. There is no better time than now for a shift in our thinking. Employees are one of the biggest assets to any company. They are the brand ambassadors; the secret sauce. If Employers really want to attract, hire & retain the best, we must be willing to demand the best of ourselves and challenge our values and beliefs that limit our progress related to the employee employer relationship. Corporate transparency and trust have become synonymous. Trust in government and business is on the decline http://www.edelman.com.  And all the while, employees have unprecedented access via the Internet and social media to get and tell their truth about Employers.

There’s lots of good to be said for having a clearly articulated employee value proposition (EVP) http://www.kpmg.com.  Most important, is that it will enable your talent management efforts. Let’s face it the war on talent will be around a long time — especially good talent. Whether or not you have an EVP, you must be intentional about ensuring management practices and employee policies align with the brand. It’s simple: employees should be treated as well as customers. When they aren’t, business suffers; the brand suffers. Here are some fundamental truths related to this alignment. Hopefully something here will inspire you to take the lead in making the employee experience more than a conversation.

Truth #1: Employees make the brand!

Truth #2: There’s an implicit arrogance in believing your own press about your greatness as an Employer. It inhibits retention; circumvents good thinking; makes it tough to recruit in a talent economy; and influences over paying for jobs. Humility is a healthy and helpful disposition.

Truth #3: The tone & spirit of some employee policies breed lose/lose outcomes. While our customer policies tend to inspire win/win.

Truth #4: Too many times employee policies are created to offset management skill gaps. Commit to management development; hold managers accountable for improving.

Truth #5: Some management practices are contrary to what we mean to reflect: stiff, harsh, punitive, biased, indifferent…stupid.

Truth #6: Paralyzed by data, risk management, nonexistent creative thinking and poor writing skills, we take the path of least resistance and allow our employee policies to be written in legal speak. They don’t reflect the soul of the brand and they don’t inspire.

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