• Transform magazine
  • September 16, 2019

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Invest in employee experience not employer brand

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Building a reputation among employees and the recruitment audience requires a strong foundation that runs deeper than an EVP, says Radley Yeldar’s Stephen Duncan

Join Duncan at the Employer Brand Management conference on 12 December. Attendees will learn from almost 20 in-house experts from global organisations who have mastered the art of managing their employer brands. To book your place, click here.

Here’s a startling statistic: within 30 days of starting a new job, one in eight employees begin looking for another new job. This is just one of many findings made by PWC’s Saratoga Institute after analysing nearly 20,000 exit interviews from organisations around the world.

What could happen to make someone want to leave a job so soon after starting? Maybe their boss wasn’t as charming as during the interview. Or the job didn’t quite live up to its promise of excitement and international travel. Or the work tools weren’t fit for purpose? Or maybe they felt they didn’t fit in?

Nobody who starts a new job expects to leave so quickly. In many cases, it seems the real-life role didn’t live up to the expectation created during the recruitment process. In other words, the reality of employer experience trumps the promise of employer brand.

We all know that if you’re selling a fundamentally flawed product or service, great branding can’t make up for it. Eventually consumers recognise that they are being deceived. It’s the same for employers; if your product is flawed, no amount of employer branding bling will make up for it.

Yet many organisations seem to believe that their employer brand or employee value proposition can simply paper over the cracks. So they design the branding to sell the organisation rather than to serve its true purpose of setting the bar for all aspects of the employee journey.

There’s only one way to earn a reputation as a great employer: you must get the employee experience consistently right over a period of time. Once earned, this reputation will not only help you attract good people but help you hold on to them.

It starts with getting the simplest things right: a decent working environment, good leaders and good colleagues to work with, fair pay and the right tools and processes for the job. These are the foundations.

Then there are cultural factors, including recognition programmes, development opportunities, organisational dialogue and opportunities to set the direction of the organisation. Done well, these initiatives greatly enhance the employee experience; done badly they damage it.

Of course there’s also a difference between a good and a great employee experience. Usually it comes down to the degree to which people feel they share a common purpose where their work is more than just a job to them. But no employer can directly create this part of the experience; it usually occurs spontaneously once you get all the other things right.

Make no mistake: creating a great employee experience is challenging. It needs the cooperation of all the groups who influence it – everyone from HR and communications to IT and facilities. In particular, leaders and managers must deliver on their responsibilities. Little wonder so many organisations take the easy option of fixing the packaging rather than the product.

In reality, there are no shortcuts. Only by investing in a great employee experience can you build a reputation as a great employer. Once you have this reputation you can then begin describing it as your employer brand – one that new employees will recognise as soon as they start their new job.

Stephen Duncan is lead employee engagement consultant at Radley Yeldar.