I made a post a few weeks back regarding my opinion of the idea of employment branding. I want to take a moment and expand on this topic as I’m still not sure how clear it is to most people and I think I can clear it up.
First let’s clearly define “brand”. Brand can be defined as a bank account the balance of which consists of the net of deposits and withdrawals. Every time someone in your target market has a positive experience with your product, service or company, that is a deposit. Every time someone in your target market has a negative experience with your product, service or company, that is a withdrawal. Your brand is dynamic /fluid and occurs at both a micro and macro level meaning it is in the minds of both each individual you are trying to reach (or not which is a net 0) and also in the collective mind of the masses. The larger the balance in your brand bank account, the greater the strength of your brand. When things go wrong with regards to your product, service or company and executives respond poorly, that can equate to a major withdrawal that can seriously weaken your brand. When customer service is slow to respond to a common and growing customer complaint, this trend of tiny withdrawals can turn into serious brand erosion.
Now let’s cover the difference between the two; your brand is what consumers say about your product, service or company and the value of your brand is expressed in how often consumers choose your brand over your competitions.
Your employment brand is driven by what your employees say about working at your company and is expressed in many ways including how they refer to their job or company in the social networks or by looking for a job in another company. The only thing worse than a a good employee who quits and leaves your company is when a marginal employee quits but doesn’t leave.
With sites like www.glassdoor.com and social media sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter employees now have a number a places to anonymously voice their comments, concerns or compliments. Each time an employee refers positively to their employment experience, that’s a deposit in your employment brand bank account. Every time an employee posts a negative comment on Glass Door or one of the many social media sites, that is a withdrawal.
The first step to managing your employment brand is to make sure you have a great place to work. Survey your employees if you’re not sure what this means. The key to managing your employment brand outside of your company is to provide your employees with many social media outlets and tools to share their positive experiences. Whether this is a fan page on FaceBook or a group on LinkedIn or something else it is important to open up the channel.
Secondly, companies need to monitor the chatter and the good news is there are many ways to automate this monitoring like www.search.twitter.com or Google alerts for your company name. Both of these tools provide RSS feeds so it is easy to turn on your computer everyday and see if people are making deposits or withdrawals into your bank account.
And finally, leaders need to understand transparency and be willing to respond to comments, concerns and complaints in a respectful responsible manner. If your company is smart enough to develop and participate in social media channels, (by the way, you’re employees are doing so with or without you), but fails to respond to member feedback, especially when it is negative, this can turn into a serious withdrawal.
I totally agree with the importance of employment branding although I’m still skeptical that any amount of advertising and promotion can create one where it didn’t exists before. I just want company leaders to clearly understand where it comes from and what they can do about it.