Why would you care for your employees – Employer Branding for Real!

There is a lot of buzz around employer branding these days and it is an area that I personally judge to be probably one of the most important topics for a CEO to constantly revise based the fact that there is one no more important issue than to keep the talents and plan on how to attract new. As for the lip service made about how the employees are the biggest asset to our company, it is in fact that. It is far more important than anything else in a company, it is them that make or break a company. This goes for any company to even if the demise of a large international one might take a very long time but bad management of the employees will break it at one time or another.

Employer Branding so far has mostly shown in road shows at universities, employment fairs etc, at least here in Sweden IMHO and a lot of talk in the consulting community but there are being steps taken. I saw a good start of portal yesterday from Malmö Stad shown to me by one of my friends at twitter @iJen_f and there are more and more companies that are moving in the right direction, generally large international ones mostly so far to my knowledge.

What is my take on Employer Branding except from my earlier blog posts on how to think while recruiting and on how to compensate plus how to manage your recruitment agency.

We start with the simple stuff in the list… the things that can be handled with relative ease and that will give goodwill for being fixed:

  • The corporate handbook for employees – make it as short and sweet as possible, make sure that it is read by employees from all over your organization to make sure it is understandable… I have received “welcome kits” that are so over the top that you wonder if you went down the rabbit hole after working for a period of time in the company.
  • Set up a truly good intranet with easy access routes to important stuff like HR, Employer specific info like your salary and vacation info, employment time, your latest yearly review, your and career plan, company-wide info, wikis, process and protocols that are mandatory to have read and signed off, perks and benefits like gyms, vacation homes, car pools etc.  This might seem to be a very non-make or break thing but as an employee it is one of the most annoying things in the world to not find the correct info or get access to your own data.
  • If you need to have a time-tracking system for your employees, make sure they are the ones that are part of the review-board for what system to buy, because they are the ones who will use it… while working for GE I had TWO systems to do my time-sheet in and both were hopeless to use spent hours every week to fill it out…

Now for the a bit harder stuff in my list, it is hard because it put serious demands on both Top Management/Board of Directors and the HR-department and it will put a very specific focus on the corporate culture, do you really want to be a thought-leading, employee centric company?

  • Train and make sure that your managers have an ethical and empathic point-of-view on their teams and keep track of it with a company wide audit of employee satisfaction that encourage honesty and that it would be a part of the management bonus to ensure a constant flow of feedback to make sure that numbers are constantly growing. I.e. make sure that your managers are on their toes. Also be vigilant in ensuring that managers do not go after their teams if rated poorly. People as a group seldom rate some one poorly without a reason. The grade is usually earned. Ericsson was very good at this while I was working for them in the early 2000. GE on the other hand were terrible at this…
  • Make it clear where HR stands in the organisation, many companies have not made this clear for themselves which gives employees a fair distrust of the HR-department when it comes to report mis-management and general problems that you cannot discuss with your manager if he/she is the problem. This I have seen both great and horrific examples on over the years.
  • Employer Branding and Corporate Culture is like all marketing and image building activities, you can wish all that you want about Image, perceived Position, Levels of Satisfaction and Employee Loyalty if you do not truly show that you care about your employees as a valuable member of the company you will never succeed in achieving your objectives. To this slightly disturbing statement comes the fact it will take quite a long time to change the employees perception… The bigger the company the longer the time to change…
  • All activities on the side of marketing like having a true CSR-agenda, not a just a strategy, will definitely boost morale within the company, the possibility to volunteer to help out in programs both with in the community and internationally bring engagement. The list can be made long but this is just a taste of it.

There are many steps to take in efficient employer branding for the future, many not simple because all your actions as a CEO/Board Member will be taken as a rule of thumb for the rest of the organization… No matter what you preach, they will not do what you say but what you do… 

So Employer Branding is not something that is to be just delegated to the HR-department to be run as just another program to boost morale and fix the efficiency problem…

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