Poor employer rap can cost

Trust undervalued currency in getting and keeping staff.

Trust undervalued currency in getting and keeping staff.

The employment "brand", or reputation, of every organisation is a constellation of sentiments, beliefs and perceptions that draw individuals towards or away from the organisation. These perceptions sit in the minds of employees, ex-employees, customers, suppliers and the broader community, including in the minds of those who might one day contemplate working for the organisation.

An employer's brand is built and spread by what these people say to each other and derives from their experiences of the practices, values and behaviours of the organisations leaders - not by what organisations might say or espouse in websites and brochures. An employer's reputation can influence turnover and turnover costs (there is a strong connection between engagement levels and reputation) and also remuneration levels and costs: organisations with a poor reputation need to pay more to attract and keep people than those with a good reputation.

These are some of the themes taken up in a little book called Employer Branding by Hugh Davies, who is managing director of Macfarlan Lane. In fact Davies, and a colleague (Susan Moir) edited the book and wrote just one chapter - the remaining chapters were written by a group of HR leaders and others talking mostly about what happens in their organisations by way of building good "brands" for their firms. We read then about initiatives being taken in organisations like Kraft, BP, Worksafe, Telstra, Ernst and Young and professional services firms generally. There are also chapters (and a foreword) by experts in

this field.

In a period of economic stress, if organisations are to attract and keep good people, it is critical to focus on what builds and what also damages an employer's reputation. Not surprisingly, factors such as the quality of the work, opportunities and recognition, support and resources and work-life balance are important - as is how managers manage: the respect, autonomy given, and development opportunities for individuals.

When organisations are obliged to let people go, the way these events are managed - how victims are treated and supported and how communications about the situation are handled - become critical in the preservation of, or damage to, employer's reputation. It seems that many leaders of organisations remain blind to the presence around most organisations of an "ex-employee alumni", who talk with each other and with their former peers, often for many years, about their experiences with the organisation, and the way they were handled when being displaced.

As we see social media becoming more and more pervasive, so forums such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and email-based groups become important in identifying and working on the elements behind an employer's brand.

Indeed firms like Telstra are now very active in this space, using social media as a primary vehicle to recruit staff and communicate with both staff and the wider community - with internal measures of success such as their success in filling roles internally, the time taken to fill vacancies, utilisation of their website, and surveys capturing net promoter scores of prospective employees of their experience in engaging with the firm.

The book can be ordered through Amazon, in hard copy or as an e-book, and is also available through the publisher: bookpal.com.au.

Macfarlan Lane is a boutique career transition services firm.

Visit macfarlanlane.com.au

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