What’s in the secret sauce to developing a great employer brand? To find out what the ingredients are, we sat down with Adam Glassman, the Recruitment Strategies Manager at Alorica; a global customer service BPO with over 100,000 employees in 16 countries around the world.
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Do you have a ‘secret sauce’ recipe to building a brilliant employer brand?
I do have a secret sauce. I don’t know if it’s so secret or just my impression of it, but for me at its core, a strong employer brand, again, tells the stories of those people behind the company. And generally throughout history, good stories have some kind of a hook. They have something to keep us interested. And today even more so, our attention span is so limited, it’s so small that anything we can do to attract some attention and keep somebody interested in watching a video or reading some content is all the more important.
For me, the secret sauce really comes down to three things. And the first one is finding and collecting the stories of your people. So who are they? What do they do? What makes that story interesting to somebody who’s never met that person, and again, probably has a very short attention span. So it can’t just be, you know, this is John Smith, and he’s from London, and he’s 33. Well, that’s not really interesting. You need to dig a little bit deeper behind the story. In doing so, the second piece is what I like to call “sharing the why.” And when you’re telling those stories, the why is really one of the most critical elements of that story. So why do the employees do their job? What motivates them to do it for this company? What compels them to get up every day, early in the morning and maybe fight through traffic and trudge to work? There’s a reason, right? And it can’t just be a paycheck. You could get a paycheck anywhere. Certainly, your pay scale could go up or down, so maybe benefits is part of that story.
But generally, there’s a reason. There’s a why behind why your employees do what they do, and that should really be one of your hooks. The third aspect is that the best stories have some kind of an emotional pull to it. It tugs on your heartstrings a little bit. It has something you can connect with, you can emphasize with, and it really makes you feel a certain way. And so each company has to kinda decide what is that feeling that they want their audience to have, and it’s really important to tie your stories to that feeling.
How can you ruin your employee brand?
I think there are a lot of things that companies can certainly do to hurt themselves here. I actually wrote a piece on this for the Undercover Recruiter not too long ago. But a couple of things, when I think about some of the things that I see, probably the most common mistake is that companies still think that they can control their brand. Some of them, even in this day and age, don’t want to get on social media for fear of negative criticism like somehow that stops a bad review from happening, right, simply because they don’t have a Facebook page. They don’t let their employees have the freedom, like responsible adults, to talk about the company or share information about the company, and they live in this reactive mode like they’re living in a turtle shell petrified of coming out. So I think that’s probably first and foremost. They’re afraid of getting out into the marketplace and sharing positive stories for fear that it could turn negative. I think the second thing is probably not understanding how to properly leverage your brand and share some of the EVP that you’ve probably put a lot of work into. There are a multitude of different ways to do that, but for me, if you have developed a solid EVP that truly reflects your company and your employees, you want to infuse that into everything that you do. So all of your external communications, your website, your ads, your social media, any interactions that your recruiters have with candidates, it should really reinforce that message over and over again. Another point that I see where companies struggle is they try to be something that they’re not.
Being authentic and being real to me trumps almost everything else. I see that a lot especially lately where there’s this increased push on trying to attract millennials and how do we hire millennials and how do we employ millennials, and companies are trying to jump on that bandwagon. And you know what, it’s okay if your brand isn’t for everyone. We obviously have to adjust to a changing demographic or changing generations, but if you are a very conservative bank, don’t go out into the marketplace and talk about how your employees played ping-pong every day, you know, and we provide M&Ms; for lunch or whatever it is that you think you’re doing, if that’s not true to who you are. Because at the end of the day your EVP should be matching who you want to hire because it doesn’t do anybody any good to attract people who are not the right fit for the job. Lastly, I always think it’s a good idea if you can somehow connect your employer brand to your consumer brand. So again, kind of telling those stories of why most people, particularly for retail organizations, know the consumer brand much more so than the employer brand. So they know what products you sell or maybe they have an affinity towards your brand because they like that product or they’ve walked into your store. Being able to tell the story of the people who make those products or who sell those services, and really sharing some of that story and connecting to what people already know from a consumer perspective is always a good idea. I see that mistake a lot and that’s a missed opportunity for a number of organizations.
Who are some of the companies doing it right?
You know, I think, and maybe I’m just cynical, but I think we tend to have moments of doing it right. But like I mentioned, we don’t control the brand anymore. Right? So one slip-up or one argument your employee gets in or one bad experience, and all of a sudden we’re “a bad company,” and it’s posted on YouTube for millions of people to see. I think of some of the experience that Uber and United Airlines has gone through recently. You know, did anybody think they had such terrible brands a year or a year and a half ago? Probably not. But your question was who’s doing a good job today? So I’m maybe a little bit US-centric, but I have a couple of brands that I see out there who are telling some good stories. The Home Depot tends to tell some good stories about their associates and their employees as does Thermo Fischer, who has been written a lot about lately particularly in the U.S. There’s a lot of good stories that they’re pulling out, and that’s an example of a company that’s really pulling out the why. Right? Their employees are working there for a reason. You know, these are very smart people who are innovating research and working on diseases and cures for diseases, and things like that, so there’s a lot of real stories and real emotional pull there.
Who else? I see Taco Bell is actually pretty innovative in their career space usually on social media. They’re usually some of the first people to or one of the first brands to hop on like Snapchat and try some different things like that. I like Target too which is interesting because I think for me… It’s in the U.S. in particular. A lot of brands have started to become more vocal publicly about where they stand with some of their core values particularly when political issues arise or social issues are coming up publicly. A lot of brands interestingly enough in the last couple of years have started to really take a stand where in years past, you couldn’t get a brand to comment on it for fear of losing business or getting criticized. Now, brands are saying, “Hey, look this is where we stand. This is who we are. We will fight for those values, and we will fight for what we believe in,” and I think Target’s one of those brands. So I do value that.
What’s the next big thing in employer branding?
The next big thing? Well, I think there’s a ton of room for us to improve what we’re doing today. So you know, like I said, telling better stories and understanding who our employees and our candidates are is probably a great place to start. But if we’re looking ahead, I actually see a world where our EVPs may start to become a little bit more personalized, and so when we think about our values, our brand’s values in certain cultural components those may be standards. But as we get a better understanding of who our candidates are and personalizing some of that experience, we may be able to personalize the EVP a little bit too. Right? So why can’t we provide relevant components of that EVP if for instance, we know that a candidate likes, I don’t know, Habitat for Humanity and building for the communities. Why can’t we personalize some of that EVP and talk about our community work a little bit heavier in our content messaging and our content marketing to that candidate because we understand who they are and what they value? So I think probably in the coming years as we get more data and we start working artificial intelligence into more of what we’re doing in talent acquisition, I see a little bit more of a drilled-down EVP that could be more relevant to each of our candidates.
Follow Adam on Twitter @aglass99.