You’ve done it. You have a stellar consumer brand. Your career website tells the story you need to—about your culture, the talent you are seeking and the opportunities you have for those that are more than a culture fit, and are a “culture add.” You’re getting resumes from the right candidates for the right jobs. Things couldn’t be better. But aren’t you forgetting something?
Once your exciting new candidates are new employees, is your talent brand holding up internally? And just as importantly, do your existing employees feel like they are a part of the story?
Now’s the time to take the principles of your talent brand and make sure it applies internally across all your communications touch points from your intranet to your training programs. Here are some tips on where to begin.
Create Internal Awareness of Your Talent Brand
As you developed the brand architecture for your talent brand, you likely shared it with and sought input from your senior leaders, key HR stakeholders, your communications teams, and hopefully some influential hiring managers. Now it is time to go further. Consider creating an eye-catching, one-page overview of your talent brand and what it is trying to achieve related to your culture and working at the company. Share it with all your people managers and give them key points to share with their employees—an appropriate time to launch might be in conjunction with a milestone of your performance management cycle, merit increases or bonus payouts, or when the company releases its yearly goals or strategy.
Once you have communicated your talent to employees, get them involved. And I don’t mean just in your employee referral program. Consider tactics such as employees creating personal statements (with photos) like “I’m proud to work for my company because…” or “I enjoy coming to work every day because…” and having them share on your intranet or internal social media channels, such as Yammer. Consider partnering with your external communications teams to share the best ones on your corporate social media channels to furthering our your corporate reputation and employment brand.
Take Stock of Internal Touch Points
Are various touch points across the employee life cycle telling the same story as your talent brand? Is your talent brand coming through in your internal communications?
Take the time to look at some of your internal processes to ensure that they are reinforcing your talent brand and that your new hires and existing employees hear the story that is being told externally living up on the inside.
Some key areas to look at that may need updating or refreshing to match your talent brand include:
• New hiring onboarding and orientation
• Learning and development programs/training (especially training for new people managers, inclusion and diversity seminars, rollouts of the code of conduct, etc.)
• Performance management process (Did you promise ongoing feedback during the hiring process and are you living up to it? Are your people managers equipped to do it?)
• Talent management and succession planning (Are you honoring the tenants of your talent brand as you evaluate the future talent plans of the organization?)
Review all your internal materials from top to bottom—from new hire paperwork to benefits brochures, to your intranet platform, to signage around the office. Does everything support the talent you want to keep today and the talent you want to inspire tomorrow? Each piece of your internal communications should support the story you want to tell about who you are as an employer—from attracting new talent to keep your best talent. Now may be the time to embark on that communications audit you’ve been avoiding.
Need help reinforcing your talent brand internally? Let us help.
A positive employment brand can help attract top candidates, making recruiting for your top positions easier. But, candidates don’t come to us in a vacuum. Before they even apply for a position or speak to a recruiter, they’ve been exposed to advertising, the experience of family members or friends, and the power of social media to shape what they know, or think they know, about our business. In fact, according to a recent Roper survey, over 60% of the respondents listed word-of-mouth as their best source of information.
And that’s what has brought about a great attention to Employer Branding. Companies are looking to have more control on the impression of their company in the mind of an applicant. And according to a variety of Employer Branding surveys, including early data from one we have in progress (you can share your employer branding experiences here,) those who have succeeded have been guided by the same methods and techniques used by consumer branding agencies. Moving beyond simple brainstorming sessions between Talent Acquisition teams and/or Internal Communications, the research methods used to glean employee information and create employer brands have now expanded to commonly include employee surveys, focus groups and executive in-depth interviews. But, in today’s highly social world, with unemployment at 10 year lows, and the competition for talent a top concern for CEOs everywhere, that still might not be enough.
Talent branding considers that employer branding has become a two-way street, as the employee and candidate experience is sharable (almost viral) and transparency and authenticity are the table stakes.
Talent Branding can be considered the evolution of Employer Branding. At its best, it is the art of making a strong emotional connection from your organization and its culture, to the talent it needs to attract and engage to drive the business forward. And while the visible output of the efforts may be the same- a redesigned or enhanced website, recruiting booths, brochures or website banners, the research and development process has been refined to be collaborative and as inclusive as possible of all audiences and all available information.
We are seeing a greater emphasis placed both on the employee experience, the candidate experience and the development of personalized messages that can speak to the wants and needs of each of our audiences at every phase of the hiring process including candidate rejection and employee termination.
What salaries are you paying? What interview questions are you asking and how do people rate the talents and abilities of your CEO? The answers to these questions are so easily obtained that we take it for granted, yet it might not be that we have given enough thought to the implications and responsibility it places on recruiters, hiring managers and even our employees themselves.
If you are about to embark on an Employer Branding initiative, here’s how you can build a bullet-proof talent brand and take things to the next level.
There is so much out there about cultural fit. And it does have its place. We all want that perfect candidate. The one that can live up to all the clichéd buzz words — “hit the ground running,” “add value,” “contribute right away,” and of course “fit in.”
And yet, at the same time, we are looking to build a culture of diversity in backgrounds, thinking and experience. We are looking for people who can bring something to the table versus just bring themselves to work. That’s why I think it is now time we move past culture fit and embrace a new term — “Culture Add.”
Why culture add?
When you are only thinking of culture fit, I think there is a good chance you are hiring people who think and act alike. In today’s world of speed, innovation, and adaptability, you might just need different talents around the table to progress as much as you need to. When you consider if a candidate is a “culture add” then you are looking for candidates to bring in new ideas, a different point-of-view, and bring out different traits in others in a collaborative, positive way. Ideally, this person will fill in what you might be missing to give you that competitive edge for your products or services.
The 3 Es of culture add
Employees: If you embrace this concept of culture add, I urge you to be clear with your existing employees that the next new team member will be great — but may not be just like them. Emphasize the benefits of collaboration among diverse teams, and when those benefits happen celebrate them.
Employer brand: If you want to go even further to embrace the concept of culture add, take the time to look at your employer brand — from your website to your internal materials. What would you need to do to refresh or enhance it to speak more broadly to the qualities of your culture and how prospective employees can add to it? Decide if it’s an option or an imperative and make your choice known.
Expectations: Provide change management training so hiring managers know how to talk with candidates and to help managers understand there are expectations they’ll need to meet. Offer them training so they don’t fall into a bias trap.
And above all, remember that when you hire for culture add you’re not just adding to the culture but adding to the bottom line as well.
Need help with defining your culture? Try Brandemix Rapid-Cycle Talent Branding.
Don’t Fear It—See It as a Tool of Empowerment
Don’t be threatened by the idea of an internal communications audit. It’s not something that will undermine the great job you are already doing as a communications professional. You do a communications audit because it will showcase and help you prioritize the great work you are doing and to help give you more time for the projects you want to focus. If you are working on a branding or rebranding initiative, this is the perfect time to embark on a communications audit and tie the two events together.
Do a communications audit because you are a leader and want to show it—to your team and your boss. This is your chance to do even more—despite what I know are your limited resources and lean staff.
Ready to get started? Read on for communications audit tips, so that you can do your best work yet.
Set some deadlines around when you expect to start and end your communications audit—meaning when will you start it and when will you present your overall findings. Does your mid-year or annual performance review make sense? Should your summary be timed with a business priority such as having it completed before you begin the annual planning or budget process? You may identify projects that need a complete overhaul that warrant a separate timeline, and certain activities that you think can stop may need wind down time.
If you have a team, this is the time to engage them in the overall vision for the audit and let them know they will be a part of the process—and the decisions.
Block time on your calendar to work on the audit. Even if it is just an hour a week or part of the time of your weekly team meetings, dedicating focused time to it will make feel like the priority it needs to be—but not overwhelming.
You have more than you think to get started. Here is a short list of items to start assembling.
• Annual Editorial Calendars
• Communications Plans for specific groups/departments
• Individual Project Plans/Trackers
• Schedule for Compliance and/or Routine/Repeating Messages
• Company Events Calendar
This is where you are going to roll up your sleeves and pull the details on your projects—the brochures, the intranet stories, the postcards, the email messages, etc.
You will want to put together a grid for each project that outlines the following:
• Channels used and effectiveness
• Gap analysis (What could we have done better? What should we try next time? What audiences were reached well? Who wasn’t? How can we be more digital?)
• Writing style (What was it? Did it work? Should it change if the project comes up again?)
• Tone of voice (Was it effective? How should it evolve?)
• Branding and Design (Did it follow the guidelines? How did it fit with other materials? Did it all work as a campaign?)
• Message consistency
• Make a recommendation: Does this project stop? Can the communication be combined with something else? Does it continue in a similar way? Does it need to change significantly?
This is a good place to do a “client” or “stakeholder” review and evaluate your relationship with those you are creating content for and what feedback you may need to share with them to have an even better outcome next time.
Some thought starters:
• Did they clearly articulate their goals and objectives?
• Did they own their subject matter and give you the facts/content you needed?
• Did they give you enough lead time?
• Did they meet the review deadlines?
• Did they take the time to review the results?
What Can You Stop?
The only way you can go further on your priority projects is to stop doing some work. Use the facts to back you. Find ways to combine or streamline messages. Or maybe it just means YOU need to stop doing it—but it’s a great learning opportunity for someone on your team.
Where Do You Need to Go Further?
For campaigns that need a revamp, you’ll need to set aside time separate from your communications audit to evaluate how you will make these projects sing through the channel, voice, tone, branding, design or writing changes and where they fall on the list of priorities. This is a great opportunity to look at the workload of your team and redistribute work so that high-potential team members have stretch opportunities or the visibility they (or you!) need.
Share Your Results and Put Them into Action
I know you know this but before you make a lot of changes run it by whom you need to—your boss, your boss’s boss, etc. Get agreement and have an action plan for going forward for what you will stop, start and continue, and when you will be talking to your stakeholders.
Still need more help? Let us do it for you.
Being an employer of choice means top applicants are eager to work for you, competitors envy your employees, and your most talented workers stay with your company for years and years. Given the competitive job market, combined with the new-normal Baby-Boomer retirements and Millennial job-hopping, this seems like a great item for the top of your New Year’s Resolution list.
So how do you become an employer of choice?
The bad news is that there are a lot of factors outside of your control. Employer-of-Choice drivers include attributes like working in a great location, working for a company with great/prestigious name recognition and/or a number 1 position in their marketplace. But while we can’t all be Google (they get checkmarks for all 3,) the good news is that there are things that you can do to create a culture that elevates your position as an employer of choice. Here are some of them.
Become a Culture of Choice- Create meaningful and personalized employee experiences and rewards. Think about what matters to the people who matter most to your organization. If you don’t know, find out. According the the Jobvite Jobseeker Nation, compensation is more important to established professionals (ages 40-54) than Millennials who greatly value the flexibility to work from home. While you’re at it, start mapping your internal culture fit to the customer experience. Again, if you’re not sure what that is, find out from your Marketing department. When Southwest Airlines committed to a delivering customers to their final destinations with a smile, a joke or a song, they made sure that joke-telling was part of interview process and fun was part of their culture.
Socialize your Talent Brand- Having a clear, articulated talent brand that promotes your culture, employer brand, employer value proposition and talent philosophy (how you manage talent) is only half the job. The other half is TBPR- Talent Branding Public Relations. The average person has 1 to 12 intimate contacts, 150 social contacts and 500 – 1,500 weak ties. That means that an employee population of 100 people could influence 10,000 people on the merits of working for your organization. Make sure that each one of them not only has the information but has contributed their thoughts on what makes your organization their employer of choice. (Don’t wait to read about it on Glass Door.)
Focus On Career Development- A Gallup survey last May revealed that 87% of Millennials said professional development or career growth opportunities were very important to them in a job. The article goes on to say that “their strong desire for development is, perhaps, the greatest differentiator between them and all other generations in the workplace.” In just 3 more years, this high-achieving, highly productive yet untethered generation will make up more than 35% of the US workforce. So becoming an Employer of Choice means making the most of the Millennial’s time, skills and talents.
Become an Authentic Brand- Brands are about trust. Your ability to evoke a singular experience in the hearts and minds of multiple audiences will enable you to truly build awareness, consideration and preference with all your constituents, including employees and potential employees.
The internet has leveled the playing field. Your customers are also vendors, employees and investors. Conversations that used to happen around the water cooler are happening across the internet on sites like Glass Door, Yelp and Amazon. Yet within the organization, the drivers of influence for each of these target groups are often siloes of spin. The myriad of messages are often in competition with one another.
To genuinely be an authentic brand means that you have developed an integrated, values-based messaging approach that is true at the highest level for all audiences and speaks in one voice. An authentic brand represents the ultimate truth and often reshapes how you attract, onboard, engage and retain talent.
Your organization may not be sexy, well-know or a category-killer, but with the highest intentions and a steadfast plan, you can fulfill your goal to achieve Employer of Choice status.
Note: We are compiling a list of Employer Branding Resources. Please add yours here: