Employer branding means to look good or to be good?

Team Spirit

Whenever we hear employer branding we hear it used mainly in an external context: the need to attract talent, the need to have a great reputation as a better premise and promise for a successful hiring. I’ve seen lots of people at the top of the pyramid (be it executives or HR people) that hold a clear perception about what branding should do for an employer: project externally an attractive image for the company in front of those who are supposed to negotiate very little when faced with an interviewer. Once candidates reach the mighty Employer Brand, the privilege is self-understood.

I believe things function rather the other way around: corporate reputation is solidified upon what happens within the confines of a company and depends heavily upon how each and every day at work looks for each and every employee. The truth of a company resides in the internal life satisfaction and at a lesser extent in the events or the communication targeted externally: what employees talk about over a coffee during lunch break, the way they feel together, the pleasure they take in doing their job, the feeling of independence and appraisal they get with every success and the precious feeling that they matter at the end of the day. These are much more valuable assets for a company than any communication campaign no matter how smart and buzz generating it gets.

Here is my top list of improvement areas where companies should look at when approaching an employer-branding program:

Ground zero – a sine qua non condition: align remuneration packages with the market and the industry. Don’t necessarily be overpaying but certainly do not be underpaying! Extrinsic motivation is still here to stay at least as long as people will have to pay money for whatever they need in life;

First: Conceive personalized programs, don’t judge people motivation in bulk; offer experiences rather than goods; offer development tailored upon individual needs, elaborate thinking around what moves every person. At least top talents, and high stake employees with a strategic role in the company.

Second: Consider personal development at least as important as professional development. Personal supports professional, there is no other way. Personal is professional. And personal is not personnel. “Personal” is the acknowledgement of the simultaneous roles in life that people hold, affecting their professional performance: as an stressed spouse, as a caretaker, as an unhappy child of someone, as a current debtor in depression, as a sleepless young mom or who knows what else. People take all these roles with them every day. Ignoring this personal context when assigning a job damages the projected results. Companies must really connect to the personal history of their people (not to their privacy, though!) in order to retain and motivate them.

Third: Time and space of work are crucial. Time and space is all we have, basically. Invest in design thinking when refurbishing a new space, do not consider merely redecorating. Think the space as a fluid reality built around the needs of humans, give them the time to recharge, reboot, replenish. Flexible schedule and alternation between office and remote work start to become a common reality, not only in tech or creative fields. Decent collaboration, good ideas and fruitful cross-pollination, nice vibe and organic growth happen when time and space are well together and people fit in naturally.

Mihaela Rădulescu

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