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Industry Insights 27/9/2017

Your Employment Brand and What It Means

Rohan Christie
By Rohan Christie
Your Employment Brand and What It Means

The start of a new financial year is a fresh start to take some time out to reevaluate business planning, practices and direction. One area businesses seem to struggle with, or lack awareness in, is the idea of defining and promoting their Employment Brand Value (EBV). In other words, how you are seen by potential employees as an employer of choice.

The EBV is very different to how a business is branded commercially, or how it creates appeal to its customers. BMW makes “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, BHP is “The Big Australian” and Red Bull “Gives You Wings.” But what is it like to work at each of these places of employment? Sometimes the two can become intertwined. We have placed people in roles with Bunnings in the past and the love the customer feels for popping down to pick up a new power drill, lawn feeder and a sausage, is shared by the employees that work there.

We are currently seeing many foreign businesses setting up in Australia. They have amazing websites and commercial branding, but when it comes to their recruitment process, there is no awareness of how their company is being represented to Australian candidates. The net result is they are generating a poor reputation as an employer and are unaware of this.

Recently I worked with an offshore employer and we were in the final stages of negotiating a job offer at the end of a long and detailed recruitment process. This new entrant to Australia discussed an executive level salary plus a structured bonus arrangement, which was particularly attractive to the candidate. The employment contract that was ultimately passed to the candidate, however, had “at the Director’s discretion” numerous times throughout the document, to the point where it was no longer in the spirit of the discussion.

This is a time the employment brand comes to the surface; are you prepared to do what you said you would, or try to convince someone to a lesser outcome than what has been promised? We pointed out to the employer that the detail in the contract did not meet the expectations following the interviews and subsequent negotiations. We also advised the candidate that if the employer did not act in what we thought as a fair and balanced manner, they should walk away with our full support. Fortunately, the employer looked at the bigger picture and agreed to revise the contract to remove any reference to the discretionary nature of payments.

This resulted in a big win for them as a future employer of choice, as we can highlight this fair and balanced approach with any future candidates who may see them as an otherwise risky proposition. Evidence of how someone thinks is hard to find. Once you see it and experience it, it is what EBV’s are built on.

Each business operates differently but to remain in business the EBV is vital and the ramifications of neglecting it are considerable. A company’s brand must be created through both internal and external perspectives – it doesn’t matter how successful a company is branded commercially if its employee branding is inadequate. With an insufficient employee-branding model in place, employers will not attract the highest quality candidates and will not stand out to these candidates in the recruitment process.

Most businesses have a very thorough understanding of how they brand their business to customers. They invest heavily and then successfully monitor and improve the interaction. In contrast most employers struggle with the EBV of the business and what it means, with no understanding of the outcomes. If you can build an aspirational employment brand, you will hopefully have candidates lining up wanting to join you. But there are several steps that need to be followed to ensure this occurs.

1. Set the target of what you are aspiring for

Whilst you may be a developer that creates a brand of affordable luxury, that does not mean you want your people to work that way. Sipping mojitos on a pleasure cruiser is not going to get your project built. It is all about understanding the skills and behaviours; map out what fits your business model and be true to them.

2. Be genuine, respectful and considered when dealing with candidates

All candidates like to feel considered and respected. When dealing with people, make them feel like people and not just another applicant or person about to be rejected. Sure, they may not be right for you, but what about the people they know? If it is no, explain why so they respect your brand and speak highly of you to others, and don’t have a negative experience. This is a big problem with multi-listing roles with multiple agencies, it is all about the race to get a placement, not thinking about the damage that can be done to a brand in who is getting left behind.

3. Set expectations clearly and deliver

There is nothing worse than over promising and under delivering. I am a Collingwood supporter; where is our finals campaign? Make sure whatever you say can be realised. This is also important for having employees you have hired becoming advocates of your brand once they are on board.

4. Offer things that are not always in your best interests

There are a lot of people in the world operating under the principles of WIFM – “What’s in it for me.” We have a Charter at Kingfisher and this defines how we deal with people, internally and externally. Item 4 is “Operate with integrity, act in your best interests.” This means sometimes the facts, both the good and bad (and ugly) can create more meaningful and longer term outcomes. Saying to someone “This will be a great career opportunity, but your boss is slightly mad” means if they take the role, they are fully prepared and also thankful for the insight. And when the Manager fakes his own assassination at the staff Christmas party, the candidate will not freak out (true story, this did actually happen). If you have good people and you treat them well, hopefully that creates goodwill that carries to others you are yet to meet.

Does your EBV pass the test?