If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you (and your company). It seems straightforward, but there’s more to it than ‘taking care’ – your company is brand to more than just your customers, it’s also a brand for your employees. Here MVF Chief People Officer, Andrea Pattico explains the importance of employer branding.
If I asked you about your company’s brand, no doubt you’d be able to give a fantastic speech about the incredible value you offer to your customers. But what if I asked you about your company’s employer brand?
What is an Employer Brand?
An employer brand is your company’s reputation as an employer, and your value proposition to your employees. It’s how new candidates will decide whether they want a job with you or your competitor, and it’s your first chance to tell future employees what to expect from your business.
Whether you have a well-crafted employer brand or not, you can be sure that your employees are talking about your business to their friends, family and peers.
As the Chief People Officer at one of the UK’s best companies to work for (MVF has made the top ten of the prestigious Sunday Times list the past three years in a row) I can genuinely say that our team members are THE best advocates of our brand to prospective candidates. In fact, employee referrals make up one of the top three sources of quality candidates for our company.
This is because our team members provide a perspective on MVF that is authentic, honest and well told; three things that all brands (but especially employer brands) should be.
The point where your employees become advocates is where their authentic, honest and well told story reflects a compelling, positive employee experience of a business they are proud to work for.
The Importance of Employer Brand Advocates
There are so many digital resources for candidates to find out about a company, from Facebook to Instagram, LinkedIn to Glassdoor. But the really important ‘social media’ is still word of mouth, and the face to face conversations that happen when employees are not at work or within earshot of their colleagues.
For MVF, our employee Net Promoter Score score and quarterly engagement survey results tells us that we are doing well in creating a workplace that people are genuinely proud to recommend to others; somewhere people want to come and work, collaborate, be productive and have a great career. It also tells us where we are going wrong, which gives us the opportunity to address any issues quickly.
You’ll never know if your employees are truly advocates until you ask them, and give them an opportunity to tell you (anonymously) what they really think.
Turning Employees into Advocates
Having employees as advocates for your business is certainly an admirable ambition, but the truth is, advocacy is the outcome of doing the right things by your employees.
Here are some of the basic principles of creating a positive employee experience.
- Listen and Act
Earn trust by creating an environment where employees’ voices are heard, then listen, respond and act. Appreciate that your employees have opinions and don’t be afraid hear what they think.
A survey is just one way to gather information, but do whatever suits your culture, your size and your budget. If you are not currently canvassing your team members for their thoughts and opinions to identify advocates and detractors, or to just obtain regular feedback, start now!
- People Aren’t Machines
In one of our development programmes, we remind employees about the power of gratitude and saying thank you when things are going well. Last week, one of our team members came and handed me a token of gratitude. There were some special words written on the token that for me, summed up how employees become advocates: You treat people as people, not machines.
People have feelings, families, good days, bad days – lives! They know if an employer genuinely cares. Work as hard as you can to personalise their experience and adapt to different learning styles, working styles and personalities. One size does not fit all!
- Make Work Fun
Everyone wants to work in an enjoyable workplace, but fun doesn’t necessarily mean easy for most people.
Help employees to learn, stretch and succeed. When they do well, they tell others, who may want to be working for a company that can help them do the same.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, treat everyone with respect. It still goes a long way!