When you hear that XYZ Company is a great place to work you know they are doing something right and it’s tempting to breezily say “we’ll have some of that”; but it’s a long slog and will take up a lot of Leadership time; but it’s worth it. What’s involved in Building a great employment brand? For a start, the marketing piece comes last not first. If you tell the market yours is a great company to work in and the reality doesn’t support that brag then you not only fail but create a huge barrier to entry later on. What characterises a great place to work? That varies hugely but generally is not defined by a cool fussball table and free fruit on Fridays, although they may be a small part of it. In a nutshell it’s doing what you say you are going to do, a bit like Ronseal. Having a consistent set of behaviours that people sign up to. Some of what follows will sound motherhood and apple pie but there is little doubt they contribute to a place where people want to work:
· Treating people with respect. Not a soft option as that includes being open and honest and that can be tough, but most people can cope with proper feedback delivered well.
· Recognition. Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done provided it’s warranted. Simply telling everyone they are “Great” is vacuous, doesn’t fool anyone and quickly becomes a joke.
· Trust. Most people want to do a good honest job. Yes you need to take sensible precautions against the one in a hundred that doesn’t but don’t punish everyone in advance for the possible shortfalls of the few, but deal quickly with anyone who doesn’t meet your standards.
· Work. The quality of work is critical. Give people good quality work that is right for them and they will generally flourish. Push people to their realistic limits and watch them grow. Most will surprise and delight, some will struggle and you recalibrate what they can do but most people want to be challenged.
· Career growth. This can be tough in flat organisations but you can find ways of giving people scope for growth, for instance by representing the organisation externally or putting them on projects that build skills. Career growth doesn’t have to be hierarchical.
· Fairness. Not to be confused with equality; but treating all people by the same standards. There is no room for favourites or special privileges as that quickly leads to cliques forming and groups being set against each other.
If you get these right then over time your reputation for being a great employer will get out there and only then do you get the marketing machine working to let everyone know what a brilliant organisation you are running. The pay-off is huge. Top quality people will beat a path to your door, attrition will be lower and you won’t have to pay a premium in salaries and bonuses because people know that time spent with your firm will be enjoyable, rewarding and set them up, eventually, for a progressive move if and when they leave. So, developing a good employer brand isn’t some woolly nice to have; it sets you apart in a crowded market and delivers tangible business results. It also makes life a lot more pleasant. What’s not to like?
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