If you want to build your employer brand, start by tuning in to your office chit-chat
Employer branding is transforming talent acquisition into retail markets and organizational values are put on display in excessive campaigns. But if companies don’t get their stories straight and their cultural act together, talent will continue to flee.
In recent years, the rapidly increasing gaps between demand and supply in face of desperate need of talent has turned the world of work into a bloody battlefield — not only in tech but in all industries and verticals worldwide.
Consequently, the hunger for talent has resulted in organizations investing substantial cash in employer branding — marketing, advertising and publicity stunts aimed at creating the right corporate image to attract the right talent. Until recently television, social media and billboard advertising were the sole domain of retail products and services such as food, clothing and banking, but not anymore. Today more and more Hi-tech companies are signing-on famous actors, singers, celebrities, and social media influencers, to star in their campaigns and convey their corporate values, with hope to lure great talent into their organizations.
But true employer branding is not the result of excessive advertising on billboards, television, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. It happens by word of mouth, in private conversations in office corridors, informal chats in coffee shops, or review-oriented platforms such as Glassdoor. There, and only there, trustworthy information about an organization is revealed, such as healthy or toxic corporate culture, work-life balance or imbalance, and the extent of opportunities for professional development. In other words, money or marketing campaigns cannot create shortcuts for true employer branding. If companies don’t get their stories straight and their cultural act together, talent will continue to flee.
Don’t judge a company by its cover
Great people join great organizations with great leadership and a sense of community. A company’s public image, its core values and even its vision are only a small fraction of what defines organizational greatness, or as the legendary Peter Drucker wisely put it, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” How managers respond to employee requests for professional or personal support, how senior executives steer the boat in times of crisis, and how appreciation is shown for a job well done — will create vast ripple effects inside and outside the company. Organizations are judged by how they make their people feel, not by their happy hours, their interior design or their variety of snacks.
People join companies that can offer them meaningful work, personal attention to their needs, and space for growth, professional development and pleasure. No wonder the “me too” stories and the topic of workplace abuse are on the rise, at both awareness and practical wellbeing levels. People are fed up. They want to make a decent living, to express a greater range of skills, to enjoy a flexible work mode, to learn new things, and to work with good people. Organizations that take their human capital’s wellbeing seriously will benefit a strong employer brand and direct recommendation by their own people.
True colors shining through
Organizations that communicate their narratives authentically and transparently to their people and their families, their customers, their suppliers, and their immediate and extensive communities — will benefit preference by jobseekers, as well as a powerful and refreshing organizational image. Consequently, companies that choose to overlook the effects of job harassment and work-life imbalance on employees, compromise their people’s well-being or avenge those who decide to leave, will suffer dire consequences. They will experience increasing employee turnover and low talent acquisition, no matter how much money they invest in marketing campaigns, public relations or promotional gimmicks. If this is the case, there is no point in trying to alternate the narrative. An unauthentic ethos will crack in face of the truth, and it will only be a matter of time until everybody realizes that ‘the king is naked’.
At the end of the day, great organizations aren’t differentiated by their groundbreaking technology, nor by their extrinsic rewards, but rather by their true colors: their intrinsic rewards, their added value, and their impact on their people. Don’t be afraid to let them show.