Employer branding isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s one of the most talked about business leadership terms of the past couple of years. If, as a business leader, you’re still not making efforts to maintain a strong employer brand, then you’re damaging your business. Fact.
Take a look around your offices, are they thriving with open and honest conversation? Take a quick look online, are your brand stories being shared by your employees on social media? Are your products or services leading the field?
Is your brand just a shadow of what it could be?
If any of the following sound familiar, then it’s likely that your employer branding could (and should) be improved.
1. Extra effort goes unrewarded
If you’re not recognising and rewarding employees efforts, then you’re kidding yourself if you believe that that behaviour will continue.
Employees who don’t feel appreciated won’t continue to put extra effort in and will end up simply doing what’s required, nothing more. If you’re seeing improvements to your business as a result of a worker’s efforts, then they must be rewarded accordingly or you risk a reduction in their productivity or, worse still, risk them looking elsewhere for a more appreciative employer.
The reward doesn’t have to be financial, a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way and encourages future effort.
2. People aren’t leading by example
Teams look to their leaders for guidance on how to act and conduct themselves while at work. If the example being set is to be unresponsive, tardy or just plain lazy, then it starts to create a culture that has these traits at its heart.
Leaders need to realise that it’s their direct responsibility to lead by example and be the person that their team looks up to and respects, not just a face that occasionally interacts with them when they manage to make it into the office.
3. No leadership at all
Not leading a team, just leaving them to their own devices, is the opposite of why you’re paid a manager’s salary. There may be valid reasons why you’re not demonstrating good leadership qualities, it could be due to required attendance at too many meetings, restrictive policies or procedures, too many shared responsibilities that require the sign off from a number of different people or simply not feeling that you have enough authority, even though you have ‘Manager’ or ‘Team Leader’ in your job title.
Great leaders understand their subordinate’s goals, invest in their teams and have the ability to motivate and inspire. It’s important to understand the individual needs and motivations within your team in order to motivate on a personal level.
Whatever the reason, if this sounds like you, either make efforts to improve your skills or step aside and allow someone who will lead the team and contribute to the brand to step in.
Poor leadership results in low morale, poor financial results, high turnover and a lack of productivity.
4. Onboarding’s just a buzzword
Simply saying that your brand has an onboarding process isn’t enough. If, in practice, new employees are introduced to a couple of colleagues and then just left to get on with it, you’re not onboarding them.
Effective onboarding of your employees plays a crucial role in your talent management strategy. Too often, poor induction processes lead to confused employees, high first year turnover and reduced productivity.
It’s an essential element in the reduction of turnover, an increase in productivity and the foundation of a strong and positive company culture.
The main advantages of onboarding include:
- Attracting top talent
- Early employee engagement
- Encouraging open communication and collaboration
- Reduced turnover
- Increased employee productivity
- Improved wellbeing (less stress)
Look around the office, if there’s anyone working with you that you’ve not spoken to, then your onboarding process is failing.
If there’s anyone that, after an initial introduction period, is still confused about their role, then your onboarding process is failing.
5. No one’s inspiring innovation
Are you, as a brand, constantly striving to stay ahead of the competition? Is your service or product setting the benchmark for your industry and seen as the brand to beat?
If you don’t encourage and inspire innovation within the business, then you’ll be the one’s chasing the competition, forever one step behind and wondering why you’re not doing better.
Creating and nurturing a culture of innovation will prepare your employees and brand for industry changes and trends, while pushing boundaries.
Consistently challenging employees to be innovative inspires creativity, collaboration and cohesion within a business. All of these factors are crucial in a competitive market and healthy working environment.
6. Employees go unheard
Employees are your best source of what’s going on in the market, what customers are saying, what makes people buy (or not buy) your product, how internal processes can be improved and many other factors that are essential to the success and growth of your brand.
If you don’t encourage your workforce to provide this type of feedback, then you’re missing out on vital information and your brand will suffer as a result.
Listening also demonstrates that, as a leader, you’re taking an interest and are empathetic towards your employees. By regularly having discussions, and taking an interest in what your workforce have to say, you’ll build a culture of trust and mutual respect. This in turn will improve engagement, productivity and morale within your business.
7. You don’t recognise the importance of advocacy
Advocacy is one of the most important elements relating to the success of a brand. If your employees aren’t happily sharing your successes and news, then you need to work on employee engagement.
Highly engaged employees are more productive, loyal and provide free marketing. Ignoring the benefits of advocacy and not encouraging a culture of engagement will increase turnover and recruitment costs, while impacting on potential business growth.
— Neal Schaffer (@NealSchaffer) May 3, 2016
The stats regarding advocacy speak for themselves (Source: Kredible)
- 53% of decision makers have eliminated a vendor from consideration based on information they did or did not find about an employee online
- On average, an employee advocacy program involving 1,000 active participants can generate $1,900,000 in advertising value, based on an Employee Advocacy Study at Kredible
- Only 33% of buyers trust messages from a brand, while 90% of customers trust product or service recommendations from people they know (Source: Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey)
- Employees have 10 times more followers than their corporate social media accounts (Source: Cisco)
8. Social media is still an alien concept
Social media is now one of the most critical tools for many businesses. Whether it’s employees interacting, support, collaboration, direct marketing, word of mouth or the sharing of reviews, social platforms are key to your brand’s future.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. In a study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
Some more stats about social media (source: LinkedIn):
- 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media (Source: MSLGroup)
- Social CEOs are much more likely to be seen as good communicators, compared to unsocial CEOs (55% vs. 38%, respectively (Source: Weber Shandwick)
- Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently than other leads (Source: IBM)
- According to Gartner, the number of companies blocking social media access for employees is dropping 10% per year. 50% blocked access in 2010 – less than 30% blocked in 2014. (Source: Gartner)
— Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas) May 2, 2016
Social media allows a business to show off its employer brand and engage with its audience and potential customers in a way not possible a few years ago. Not encouraging your employees or giving them a reason to take advantage of this medium reduces your marketing potential and the opportunity to show what a great brand you are to work for (and do business with).
9. Your office environment is all wrong
How inspiring is your office? Are the walls full of interest and colour? Do you provide and encourage the use of social areas for discussion and collaboration? Is the lighting used healthy? Is the temperature at the right level?
These are all questions that should be asked when designing the space in which your employees will spend most of their day and hopefully generate a return on your investment inside them.
Settling for a sterile, colourless, environment will have a negative effect on creativity, productivity, morale and overall performance, while impacting the wellbeing of your employees.
Other elements to consider when designing/decorating an office include:
- Individual desk space
- Air quality
- Natural lighting
- Noise and acoustics
The negative effects a poor employer brand has on your business:
1. You’re not attracting the best talent
2. You’re alienating hard working employees
3. You’re forcing employees to look at alternative employers
4. You’re losing sales to the competition
5. You’re missing out on the most powerful form of marketing (which is also free!)
6. Your brand’s not as innovative as it could be
7. You’re increasing costs across the business
8. You’re negatively impacting productivity
9. You’re negatively impacting employee communication and collaboration
10. You’re negatively impacting employee wellbeing