As an employer, have you ever felt that it’s nigh-on impossible to find good people?
As an employee, have you ever felt that it’s nigh-on impossible to find a good workplace?
Welcome to the 21st Century, in which the world’s most profitable companies encourage grown adults to behave like Tom Hanks in the movie Big in order to make work feel “fun”, meanwhile acting more like HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know what’s really fun? Showing up to a mutually rewarding company culture.
It Starts At First Contact
We’ve all had job interviews – we know what kind of questions to expect (“tell us about your previous role”, “what’s your experience with XYZ?”), although sometimes they throw a few curveballs in (“if you were an animal, which one would you be and why?” – WTF!?). Then it’s our turn to ask the questions: “how big is my team?”, “is there a fridge full of booze?” and finally, The Golden Question: “What’s it like to work here?”. Here’s your stock answers:
- For us, it’s all about people.
- It’s amazing, we all go out for drinks on Fridays after work!
- We have a ‘wellness week’ every year!
- We have a football team!
- We’re young and vibrant people!
You’ve been Punk’d
You’ve started at your new job! You’re excited to get stuck in, make an impact and kick goals for your employer while progressing your personal career. Things don’t feel quite right, but that’s okay…it’s only week one… Four weeks later, things still haven’t improved.
Two months in, you’re back on Seek.
Welcome to the world of unethical recruitment: you’ve entered the universe of fake employer branding. Employers create a thriving culture of loyalty when they truly understand that people are people – not just numbers on a spreadsheet. We need something more. A football team is lovely, but we can do that on a weekend with our mates. Drinks after work (or at work) can be nice, but when you’re expected to work unpaid overtime until 7pm or answer client emails on a Sunday, well… we’d rather buy our own drinks.
Years ago, job hunting was about finding a stable company that pays a great salary. Nowadays, Gallup reports that 87% of employees are disengaged at work. Conversely, “in businesses with highly engaged teams, profitability increased by 21 percent, sales productivity by 20 percent, and output quality by 40 percent”. Things are different now – we also want to have fun and feel appreciated. People need to be happy, and research by Deloitte demonstrates a strong competitive advantage in companies who realise this. Free beer is all well and good, but we’d prefer to see the leadership team genuinely treating a junior business development coordinator in the same way that they treat a director, a client or a senior hygiene executive (that’s an elderly toilet cleaner, for those who don’t speak corporate).
Culture is everything – if you don’t get it right, your employees will show themselves the door.
Is Employer Branding actually ethical?
Employer branding is essentially the act of “branding your company as the best place to work within the industry, by communicating to potential employees unique selling/value propositions of the business”. This is our definition, but you get the idea. However, branding means different things to different stakeholders – and we’d rather not feel like we’re on the business end of a red hot branding iron.
Employer branding is a crucial aspect of business, but not many brands take it seriously. To succeed, organisations need to become more ethical and transparent in the way they promote themselves. Some spend millions every year on communicating their employer branding goals… but how many of them try to make those communications consistent with what happens internally?
You might have encountered campaigns in which you see a Facebook ad of a smiling young woman with a headline reading: “ongoing training programs”, or perhaps it was an image of a handsome young man using a computer with a headline that says “workplace flexibility”. But do those things really happen?
Accountability is key. After you lay the groundwork for a holistic company culture, stakeholders must be equipped to nurture and grow that culture. If you don’t, you’re investing in a future meltdown.
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”– Richard Branson
Employer branding isn’t just a job for the marketing agency, just as company culture isn’t simply a job for HR. Take care of your people – all of them. If you’re committed to fairness, get in touch – we’ll work with you to improve your company’s public perception, making you the most desired workplace in your industry. Otherwise, you may end up ranked amongst the graveyard of companies who “could’ve”.
Employees – take heed.
Employers – take action. Otherwise you may end up recognising some aspects from a list like this.