How can we encourage employees to be the storytellers on behalf of the employer brand? We’ve asked this and much more to Bryan Chaney who heads up employer branding at Indeed and is the founder of TalentBrand.org.
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Why is employee storytelling important?
Employee storytelling is huge. I feel like employees have way more credibility than they used to even just 10 years ago. For instance the Edelman Trust Barometer, they show consistently that people trust others who are like themselves, more than they trust brands or executives from those brands. I share that information internally because in addition to broadcasting what it’s like to work in Indeed, we’re also an empowering and recruiting team. Part of that is saying, “Hey, you should be doing this thing, and that thing, and sharing the stories.” And we frame it up in a way that tells them that people trust individuals more than they trust big brands. It’s something that lets them know that they are a lot more powerful than they think they are. Being able to capture those stories well really helps showcase those perspectives in a way that feels more trustworthy, like there’s less of a gloss or sheen or marketing spin to it. That’s one of the things that’s really important for us to preserve as we’re helping them capture those stories.
What’s your formula to success with employee storytelling?
It’s a little bit different with each group. So what works in sales, for example, is a very different story than when you’re talking to someone in product or engineering. They care about different things, and one of the things that I’ve done early on in my career is look at categories and motivators, and really try to map that back to the content of the story that we’re sharing. We’re going through a content indexing process right now so that we can understand what’s great content, what people get excited about, and how does that tie back to a motivator, so that we can better understand the types of content that are working.
We’re consistently trying be faithful in capturing an employee’s story, helping them crystallize their message. Everything that we broadcast, everything that we share is reviewed and approved by the employees themselves, which I think is really important so that they feel like their voice is heard, not just figuratively, but literally as well.
How can we avoid making mistakes?
The biggest mistake that I’ve ever made in my career for employer branding was not taking the time to understand the voice of the employee, and that’s a big part of it. So time is a function, but also being able to spend time with them, not just thinking about it, but spend time in engaging conversation, and watch the employees in their natural habitat. It’s a bit of a documentarian, but listening to that, paying attention, and directly asking them what they care about, and asking specific questions that speak to their personal journey.
One of the things that we will be doing here at Indeed is what I call culture jam sessions. That’s getting groups of people in a room and asking them what’s unique about the Indeed experience from a perk’s perspective. What is your favourite unique perk that you have here at Indeed? And so that’s everything from, “I love the fact that we have a barista in the engineering office to make me coffee whenever I need a pick-me-up in the afternoon.” Or, “I enjoy the fact that we have pet insurance because I have a dog” or whatever that may be, everyone has a different take on their benefits and what that means to them. So that’s one example of a question. My favourite question to ask is, “If working inside Indeed was a movie, what music would be on that soundtrack?”
You learn what kind of music your employees like to listen to, but you also learn how they feel when they come to work. Is it quick paced music? Is it happy? What kind of personality does it have? Not only can you tell a lot of stories by that, but you’re also collecting thought for your employer branding content. You’re gathering words that they use to describe all the stuff. You’re also able to then pull together playlists around the different departments and say, “This is the playlist for the product team, this is what it feels like to work inside Indeed if you’re in product. Here’s the music that they like to listen to.” You have a whole new piece of content that you can share externally.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @BryanChaney.