Please welcome Cyndy Trivella who is guest posting for me this week. You can follow Cyndy on Twitter @cyndytrivella She is always full of wisdom! Thanks Cyndy!
Cyndy began her career in Human Resource Communications as an Employment Branding Specialist and Recruitment and Retention Strategist on Madison Avenue in New York City over 14 years ago. Prior to that, she worked in corporate human resources as a training and development coordinator. In addition, Cyndy has multiple years of media planning and account strategy experience at a management level from both the media and agency sides. She has managed/manages many client accounts ranging from Fortune 100 to small start-ups. She holds a BA in psychology and mass communications from Westfield State University in Massachusetts. Cyndy is the Director of NAS Recruitment Communications in Kansas City.
What’s In a Brand?
When most people hear the word brand, they think about the products and services that are most familiar to them and no doubt there are some notable brands out there. What many people are not aware of or have even heard of is a very specific type of brand… the employment brand. So what is this thing called an employment brand?
Well for the sake of clarity, it is a compilation of perceptions, actions, messages, conversations, and images which a company portrays about itself to its internal and external audiences. These audiences are comprised of vendors, stockholders, customers, current employees and future potential employees. Seems like a daunting task for a company to be all things for all people, but without a doubt there are companies that possess an omnipresence with their audiences. These are the companies that “get it.” They have taken a 360 view of their organization and have chosen to not distinguish between a customer and an employee, because at the end of the day, the customer and the employee are the same entity. It would seem obvious who these companies are and is some instances they are a household name that is held in high regard. They have a great product or service; they are regarded as an employer of choice; we rarely, if ever, hear any bad buzz about them, and; they really don’t toot their own horn, because their audiences are doing it for them. So what is it that makes these organizations stand out amongst a bevy of other organizations? In a word: culture. The word culture is subjective when referring to the attitudes, values and spirit of an organization. We don’t necessarily know what defines good culture, but we sure know what makes for bad culture. So when considering the companies that get media notoriety for being an employer of choice, and in thinking about those who don’t there are distinctions between the two.
To begin, companies that are known as having a well-developed employment brand generally have two very obvious characteristics; they are both employee- and customer-centric. They clearly see the connectedness of happy employees equaling happy customers. There has been research conducted to determine if there is a direct correlation between positive employee attitude and a healthier bottom-line, but the findings were less than conclusive so at this point we can only speculate that there is a connection between the two, whether that be direct or indirect. When I personally consider this point, I think about all the interactions I’ve had with customer service providers and the emotions those interactions have evoked and the feelings I walked away with. In a nutshell: good interaction = continuing interest in the organization’s product or service; bad interaction = I need to find another company that will listen and be interested in my continuing customer relationship with them. I often wonder what makes some companies interested in how they are represented by their employees and why they have chosen to take up an interest while others seem to work in silos that don’t recognize that connectivity between what happens internally does not stay within the confines of the building.
Without a doubt, culture is a way of thinking that must start at the top of the hierarchy and spread throughout the organization. It is a precedent that must be part of the company’s values and it should incorporate what is a true depiction of how that organization views its internal and external audiences. When companies do this and understand their employer value proposition and what distinguishes their brand apart from the competition, the company is in control of its fate and ultimately the perceptions and conversations that will take place about the company. In theory, it seems like a pretty easy thing to do.
In essence, company leaders need the courage to ask the tough questions, confidence that the answers they receive will be what they need to know and not what they want to hear, and the conviction to act on the information. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an organization re-inventing or re-evaluating its values, but there is something very wrong when an organization refuses to acknowledge when the culture is fractured, and further to not realize how the well of internal dissatisfaction seeps customer water table. Just something to ponder… do you think there is a correlation between employee attitude and customer satisfaction? I believe one day the findings will point to an empirically conclusive correlation between the two, and with that, a transformation in how business will be conducted. Great company culture will be the norm and not an exception.
Now is the perfect time for companies to evaluate their culture and to re-tool, enhance or reaffirm their values. The economic situation has turned many companies into leaner and more efficient businesses, forcing company leaders to take a hard, close look at how they handle their business; and within that business plan, company leaders need to place consideration on the ever-important topic of workplace culture and its direct correlation on the employment brand.