In this podcast…
Once upon a time I ran a surf shop. The surfing industry by nature is a fun group and I can tell you their conferences blow our conferences out of the water. It isn’t even close. I was basically the sweat equity partner, running the operations top to bottom but not signing the checks. There were two partners and myself, and our shop was maybe 800-900 sq. ft. We butted heads at time because one partner wanted to sell product to the whole family from grandparents to babies, one wanted to target adult men about to have a holiday, while I thought we should go after the teen market. Now I dismissed the adult male about to go on holiday market right off the bat because most adult men about to go on holiday tend to have their spouse pick out their clothing, so attracting men shopping for themselves seemed like a pretty small pool of customers. Attracting the entire family presented another problem. Our shop wasn’t that big. There’s a reason Wal-Mart take up acres of commercial real estate. It’s hard to be all things to all people when your store is the size of a large apartment. Employer branding is the same thing.
In our third Resonate podcast, Jason Seiden of Brand Amper interviews employer branding and workforce research expert Susan Strayer LaMotte. Full disclosure. I’m a big fan. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Susan a couple of times in the past few years and she is awesome. Companies looking at their culture and their employer brand face the same identity crisis my surf shop did. Who are you and who do you want to be? Susan in her experience has tackled this challenge a lot. You survey the workforce and the leaders with the question, “What word(s) represent(s) our company culture?” That’s your basic starting point. You have to know where you are before you can start a journey. So what do you do when you are three grown men with competing visions for a surf shop’s glory, err I mean the competing visions of company’s culture and employer brand? You start by getting on the same page.
When Companies Aren’t Honest about their Employer Branding
Salaries and perks have become commodities that candidates seek out, and as employers our employer branding is a promise of our work experience. I mentioned that it is hard to be everything to everyone. From a philosophical standpoint when you stand for everything you don’t really stand for anything at all. And Susan agrees, “When you try to sell to everybody whether you are selling a product or an employee experience you might see short term uptakes but you’re not going to see any long-term value or relationships.” When you leverage the employer branding and culture to attract candidates but don’t actually have the employer brand you advertised, you burn through the trust and goodwill you were trying to create. The candidates you did attract will likely not stay for long and the word will be out on your true employer brand in probably about 140 characters or less.
Old & Busted: Using Channels that Drive Volume
New Hotness: Attracting the Right Candidate
Thinking the spray and pray method will work to attract today’s candidate, is a bit like thinking rocking your hammer pants on a first date is a good idea. Statistically there is a chance that you might be about to meet “the one” but it isn’t likely. Or for our Millennial audience out there swiping right on Tinder all day will get eventually get you a match but it probably won’t be the one you want. You have to think of your employer brand like the marketing department thinks about your consumer brand. Look at the HiPos currently working and determine what they have in common. You need to know who your target audience is and find the channels and the strategies that will allow you to connect with the right candidates. You have to think of you candidates as what Susan refers to as “the whole self model.” Our candidates and employees aren’t two different people – a worker and a person. There is no magical divide between the positive and negative interactions worker me has vs. person me. When you have a bad day at work it caries over to your home life and vice versa.
In reality, work/life is more blended and integrated than balanced. And we as recruiters and employers need to be able to engage both sides of a candidate’s/employee’s self. I don’t think it should be an earth shattering revelation that being transparent and honest about you real employer brand will long term work in your favor. There is a feeling not just in today’s candidates but also in consumers that the slick heavily produced branding video you paid for is BS. It’s viewed as fluff purposed designed to make you feel one particular way. You are better off with a glimpse of the true reality, shot on someone’s iPhone about what actually happens day to day. There is a reason why out of all the crazy opulent homes we all saw watching MTV’s Cribs back in the day, it wasRedman’s duplex that felt the most real. You want to attract the right people but if you aren’t authentic don’t expect them to stick around. Does your office struggle to live up to the values of the brand? Do you think we should be looking at work/life blending or work life integration? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
Resources mentioned in this podcast are:
Heard in this podcast:
Jason Seiden, CEO & Cofounder, Brand AmperJason’s a storyteller. He launched Brand Amper, a brand management platform for recruiting, based on 20 years experience solving leadership and communications challenges for Fortune 500 executives and their employees.
Susan LaMotte,Founder, exaqueo
Susan’s known for her pioneering work in employer brand and culture, has worked with renowned global brands & has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Washington Post.