Employment Branding

Recently, the marketing departments in a few savvy companies have quietly been adding social media positions that didn’t even exist a few short years ago. From small start-up companies to large corporations, the social media expert has now become a highly sought after employee (or team) to engage the online/mobile customer. The marketing function now includes systems and processes to accommodate the rapidly growing two-way conversations that are taking place with the customer. In many cases it’s become a vital path to ensuring the company’s brand stays intact in the eyes of the consumer as well as being an effective marketing channel.

The July/Aug 2010 Harvard Business Review states “these days anyone with a smart phone, [iPad] or a computer can inflict lasting brand damage.” That’s because consumers have quickly become well informed and eager to use the online forum to speak out where they will be seen by thousands (and potentially millions) of people who may be easily swayed.

The same HBR article provided a pertinent example about how “popular mommy blogger Heather Armstrong was so upset over the failure of her Maytag washer and the company’s ensuing service missteps that, using her mobile phone, she told her million-plus followers on Twitter they should never buy a Maytag.” Science Creative also reported in our article that “today’s social media moms rule the social web withFacebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bebo, FriendFeed and more” – and they have the ability to make a difference with the way a company conducts its business and how it treats its customers.


Toys"R"Us Career website

With many of today’s recruitment tactics of taking the candidates perspective (in order for them to screen themselves in or out), there are several career websites communicating the aspirational and emotional appeal of the job via company culture and employee’s personal ambitions.  The Wall Street Journal states that ” in a recent survey of 2,457 college students and recent graduates, Potentialpark Communications found that the best career sites “go beyond information, and offer inspiration,” appealing to “the emotional decision centers of their visitors.” Potentialpark ranked the sites on the basis of usability, branding, relationship building, application management and recruitment process.”

The work that we are doing at Science Creative seeks to continue the employment branding work we had done for our previous clients such as The Home Depot and Toys”R”Us where we lead the development of candidate focused communications in which the career was more than a job, more than a paycheck – it was a calling.

Image: Toys”R”Us – Aaron Gresham and Ian David

These days with the economy still fragile many HR Managers may be thinking that they have a lock on retaining their top talent because they may be too nervous to even think about looking for a new position. Think again. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, in February 2010, “the number of employees voluntarily quitting surpassed the number being fired or discharged for the first time since October 2008.”

The reasons come down to the perception that the economy is in fact getting better (and for those who held tight during the worst of the recession they’re now ready to bolt), and, according to the WSJ article, is “the effect of the heavy cost-cutting and downsizing during the downturn on workers’ morale.” Executive recruiter, Brett Good, said “employees feel disengaged with their jobs, which is going to lead to a lot of churn as we come out of the recession… they feel like ‘a bird in the hand’ isn’t good enough anymore.”

This just proves that internal branding and communications with employees even during down times still needs to be in effect. When I was working with O2 ideas we developed an employee program for our home building client, Taylor Morrison, that both solicited their input and rewarded them with a vacation. The program (called The Big Idea created by Ian David and Joey Graddy) included a cool downloadable PDF guide and stylish T-shirts that everyone wanted. It was a huge success and helped make the employees feel as though they were part of a company that cared, was fun and where they wanted to be. The program represented an ongoing commitment by Taylor Morrison to engage their employees. It may not have prevented  some employees from eventually leaving but it did a great job of promoting the company as being a fun and rewarding place to work.

So, it’s important for HR Managers to keep in touch with their employees and to continually develop internal communications programs that will engage employees and help keep the pride they have for their employer as well as for their positions.

Check out a great example of true employment branding in Fast Company where employees “live” the brand and are effective at becoming evangelical about the business (their employer). The company builds loyalty with its customers when employees have a passion for their work because they are empowered and have fun at the same time.