The term ‘employer brand’ is increasingly creeping onto PR briefs, into campaigns and onto the mainstream news agenda. Whereas it used to be the stuff of blog posts, internal news channels and the occasional CSR story, the term is now seen as a way to actively recruit, engage and retain top talent and increase brand equity.
But can employee-led communications really form part of an external communications agenda and do people outside of your organisation even care?
Employees hold huge sway on how people view the company. If you do well, they can be your biggest advocates and ultimately, drive business success. Vice versa, they can be your undoing. As we saw with Mike Ashley and his appearance in front of the Select Committee, the narrative around how employees are treated all form part of the brand value. Sports Direct’s treatment of its employees showed a direct correlation between the reputation of a business and its share price, which, following the newspaper investigation fell from 734 pence in December to 403 pence in less than a month. Then, later, to a further low of 348 pence in April 2016.
Creating brand ambassadors
We should not underestimate employees’ influence on the success of a brand. What the company does and how employees feel all form part of the external conversation and how others, including the media, the Government and investors perceive the company.
According to the Employee Engagement Benchmark Study 2016, 77 percent of employees in companies that have significantly better financial performance than their peers are highly or moderately engaged, compared with only 49 percent of employees in companies with lagging financial performance. Engaged employees add financial value to the bottom line.
Engaging employees to enhance brand reputation
Reputation is not about what you have achieved or your company’s financial performance to date. It is about the external perception of your business and what people say about your company when you’re not in the room. This is where your team can come in.
Companies are seeing the value in creating campaigns that bring people to the fore. Not only can it help to drive down recruitment costs and make you flavour of the month with HR but by creating stories around your people, the fantastic work already been done internally is externalised and given greater context.
The tangible results are not to be underestimated. By developing a corporate narrative around investing in your people, empowering teams and by sharing successes, you will build brand awareness amongst new and existing employees, partners and customers. As a result, your employees feel engaged and invested in the future success of the business. And the business? The company or employer is seen to ‘do right’ by the businesses and the people you employ. Your brand is only as good as its reputation and that is invaluable.
Sophie Lister, Client Director