Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on February 25, 2012
What difference does an elusive femme fatale bear from a faithful and sensible wife? The answer is a no-brainer: Trust and Commitment, both of which stem from the very adjectives that this wife carries. The relationship can be extrapolated to the equation that prevails between a company and its employees. But what places the tag of a wonderful wife or a dumb damsel on an organization? An inevitable social creature with nomenclature ‘brand’, that owes its genesis to the actions of the company, is the answer. The composition of the company, which could be anything from rats that would leave the sinking ship at the first sight of storm, to men who would stay irrespective of the weather overhead, is a direct function of the image it carries. This image, or brand as the management jargon calls it, holds the key to, a motivated and committed workforce, which ultimately distils to the success of the enterprise. The enigma termed as brand of an organization, considered as employer brand when poured through the sieve of human resource perspective, calls for a forensic investigation to demystify its ingredients and bring forward its effects in today’s corporate arena.
What is it that makes people choose organizations like GE, Accenture, Microsoft etc., leaving behind bigger pay packages from other companies? The career page of Microsoft asks, ”How far will you go?” and then goes on to answer the question for job seekers. Proctor & Gamble quotes “A new challenge every day” and defies them by saying “Discover your challenge. Discover your future. Discover P&G” on its career page.
Deliberate or not, brand is inevitable. A company’s internal customers are its employees, and just as the company sheds blood over selling its product in the battlefield of marketplace, it has to fight out the ‘war of talent’, its only weapon being its brand. Brand is what makes capable people join a company and stick to it when they have other better paying choices. There can be myriad factors that would help a company to form a positive brand. Appropriate recruitment policies, knowledge about the significance of their work, work flexibility, involvement in decision making, are a few bricks that form integral parts of employer brand ‘building’.
Recruitment policy is the first rendezvous point of a potential employee with the company and makes the all-important first impression on the company. A casual hiring process undermines the significance of the employee’s role and very often begin what is an only a temporal relationship. A thorough examination on the other hand, of employee – organization fit and his competencies and attitude, is a trademark of eternal interest by the employer. Take for instance, Google which takes about 6 to 12 assessment rounds to choose an employee. The attrition rate of Google is only 3%, which shows the extent of commitment that its employees exhibit towards it. A company that communicates its overall objective to its employees and makes them cognizant of their role in its pursuit elicits dedication and commitment from them. A considerate organizational behaviour, such as posting the women employees in the city where their spouses work, allowing work from home and flexi-hours, increase the satisfaction level of employees.
Literature presents the well-known three C’s of employer branding: Culture, Commitment and Communication. Culture entails the layers of organizational atmosphere like work ethic, career path, the vernacular, dress code and the like. The second ‘C’ stands for commitment to deliver what was promised at the time of recruitment. Starbucks, known for its strong employer brand, provides unique benefits and services, well beyond industry standards, and its employees reciprocate by working long and hard.
Furthermore, companies must make sure that they add a morsel of their employer brand message in their communications within and outside, every now and then. Global food services group Sodexo’s social media activities have given it a huge visibility and strong awareness about the community work the company is involved in. On the flipside, when an organization’s name is flashed for wrong reasons like an instance of improper conduct by one employee with other, its image takes a huge hit. Negative press about Foxconn, primarily comprising of suicide cases, has forced its image to carry a dark shadow in the minds of people.
In today’s dynamic business world, where most of the arsenal like technological edge or operational effectiveness that companies claim as their core competencies, runs dry before long, a talented and committed human capital is the only weapon that can be counted upon. In the recent turbulent times of global recession, companies which had a committed talent pool could conveniently freeze new hiring and pursue the then prevalent ‘cost cutting’. Furthermore, satisfied employees act as the best brand managers. The fragrance of the companies’ good work policies spreads automatically through the wind of ‘word-of-mouth’ of its current employees. Accenture, Tata Motors and GE are cases in point, where college graduates and students think highly of them without ever having worked with them.
From the vantage point of employees, getting attached to a strong employer brand assures them of a bright career ahead and a trust that their work, views and issues will be valued and respected. Talented personnel choose to work for a particular company because it finds the best offerings with it, also known as Employer Value Proposition (EVP). A unique and favourable EVP is what counters a wage premium given by competitors and tips the scales in favour of the organization at the time of recruitment. The encumbrance of responsibility, to concoct an EVP of suitable benefits, work policies, growth prospects and the like, is what rests on the shoulders of the HR function, which is what makes it the terminus a quo of a self-sustained growth that the firm aspires to achieve.
No company can drop the onus of employer branding on its HR department and sit back in peace. Employer branding is an exercise that flexes all muscles of the organization body. The business decisions and activities of the firm are not detached from its brand as an employer. No matter how deeply the principles of theory are instilled in a company, but if its revenue is sliding abnormally downwards then its demand in the labour market is bound to bite the dust.
Accordingly to Richard Mosley, an employer branding guru, the critical aspect is to have consistency between your internal employer brand and external employer brand. The efforts of building and sustaining an employer brand can be fruitful only when it holds the right position in its business stance. Marketing holds the vital role of exuding an effective communication to the world outside, and the other functions must ensure a clean reflection of the enterprise by honouring the line of ethics in their working. Just as Jeremy Bullmore, former Chairman of JWT says, “We (employers) build images as birds build nests; from the scraps and straws we chance upon”, a positive value adding employer brand can only be built by considering all the business aspects in totality and not just HR in isolation.
After all is said and done, commitment can only find life in the air of reciprocity. An enterprise which treats its employees like replaceable cogs in the wheel will usually receive a similar payback from them. Besides, commitment and motivation go hand in hand. An organisation that wills to have employees who will work till the job is completed, rather than from the commonplace ‘9 to 5’, must take a strategic HR stance that considers them as family and gives them the due importance. After a careful analysis of the segments of people that constitute potential employees, an appropriate set of benefits should be designed that would bring the talent home, which could have otherwise, stepped into the doors of the business rivals. Moreover, a consonant behaviour towards one another, that trickles down right from the CEO to the bottom and takes shape of what is called a harmonious ‘culture’, is crucial to retain the best talent.
This article has been authored by Siddharth Tiwari and Shefali Rattan from DOMS, IIT Delhi.
Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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