The Role of HR in Protecting the Employer Brand
Human resources management is no longer just a function of hiring, onboarding, evaluating, and firing employees. The emphasis on creating a positive employee experience for each person in the organization has generated a shift. Now, organizations are taking the time to understand and meet employees where they are in terms of growth needs, skill development, and career path.
Creating a positive workplace culture is not just about ping pong and beer Fridays, although those things still exist in a popular workplace. Moving forward, the organizations that take the lead as employers of choice will have systems in place to connect each and every employee to the work they’re doing and will help team members find fulfillment, no matter the job title.
Establishing and maintaining a positive workplace culture and creating brand evangelists amongst your employees begins by creating positive experiences at every stage of an employee’s interaction with the organization. Positive impressions of your organization begin with recruitment and are further built through hiring policies and practices, onboarding systems, career growth opportunities, and continue even as employees transition to roles outside of the organization.
Initiatives to improve the employee experience
When we talk employee experience, we are often talking about the level of fulfillment each employee feels as a result of the work they do and the feedback they receive. When employees are fulfilled by the work they are doing, and feel they are making an impact and growing in their careers, they report higher satisfaction ratings in internal and external surveys. Highly fulfilled employees become brand evangelists, and they talk enthusiastically about the organization to their friends and on their social networks.
Although many organizations want their employees to be fulfilled by their work and to be brand evangelist, few have instituted the initiates that drive these results for employees. If you’re looking to lead the way for your company to improve its employee experiences and create a truly collaborative workplace culture, here five initiatives to help you move your organization forward:
Establish deliberate cross- functional projects: for example, invite marketing to an IT team meeting to get a fresh prospective on ongoing projects and find areas for collaboration.
Schedule an innovation day: organize cross-functional teams and then pose a problem for them to solve together. Example: Put yourself in the shoes of a customer and approach a problem from their viewpoint – encourage innovative ideas for new product and services, or ideas for changing and updating existing offerings to meet the needs of the customer.
- Institute an idea bank: have a place where people can deliver their pie-in-the-sky ideas. Commit to actually taking action on the ideas, and put systems in place to further explore and develop employee’s ideas. Some examples of the types of ideas that employees would be encouraged to share would include:
- Identifying company opportunities
- Advocating employee opportunities
- Specifying resources needed to do their job better
- Indicating employee growth opportunities that benefit the organization
- Revealing road blocks to achieving individual development goals
- Re-evaluate and revise how your organization measures performance: does your organization recognized shared wins, or are individuals and departments siloed and measured individually? Create a culture of teamwork and recognition while highlighting individual efforts.
- Identify growth opportunities for employees: employees have come to expect to learn and grow through their work. Make sure employees have the growth opportunities they need by identifying learning opportunities such as:
- E-learning options
- Global knowledge courses
- Mentoring programs within the organization
- Job shadowing
- Short-term gigs
- Conferences and industry events
Project an Employee-First Image
If one of your goals is to be an organization with an employee-first image, then you need to put initiatives and procedures into place to ensure that the employee is first. As complicated, or simple, as that may sound – putting the employee first is easier when the company is operating as “business as usual” and harder when the organization is in the midst of change.
Whatever the status of your organization, put a few best practices into place to make sure your employees are always top of mind. In that regard, communication is key. Improve employee communication by:
- Creating a pattern of timely communication: make announcements internally first. Don’t let your employees find out about corporate policy changes, earnings, or restructuring initiatives from the press or through social media.
- Give plenty of lead time: if you must reduce your workforce, make sure you give your employees ample lead time. It’s a mistake to think that keeping the information secret will help you to retain the employees not impacted by the layoff.
- Foster a culture of redeployment: whether voluntary or involuntary, losing your best talent is costly for the organization. To keep employees engaged, establish a formalized redeployment policy to create a flexible and mobile workplace environment. Offering redeployment during good times provides career growth for employees, and having redeployment options during a corporate restructuring or downsizing event allows you to keep your most valuable employees, save on future hiring costs, and retain institutional knowledge.
- Facilitate internal networking: organize collaboration opportunities and social events to give employees opportunities to interact with people outside their team or department. If you know of two people with similar interests, or are aware of a team member looking to make a change, facilitate introductions between employees to get the conversation started.
- Write resume and LinkedIn profiles for employees: helping your employees keep their LinkedIn profiles updated to include their current roles and reflect their unique skills and value proposition, not only makes you an employer that cares about its employees, it has the added bonus of reflecting well on your organization for people who are researching through LinkedIn in advance of applying or considering a business partnership.
Nurture positive relationships with influencers
Besides employees, there are many people who influence your employer brand and reflect your company culture. To protect your company reputation, and promote a uniform experience for those who interact with your company, you might want to consider communicating a policy for working with outside consultants and others. Your brand reputation is on the line when people from outside your organization engage with you for work.
Make sure to create a positive environment for anyone who comes in from the outside, including:
- External marketing or PR agencies
- Customers and clients
- Non-competing strategic partners
Consider these people as part of your team and treat them in a way that makes them want to share their positive stories with others.
The role of the HR department is changing and the future leaders of HR will be those who can anticipate the trends and prescribe strategies to stay ahead of the curve. If you’re organization hasn’t created a roadmap for improving employee engagement and providing employee fulfillment, now is the time to consider a few new initiatives. Don’t forget to consider your benefits and severance packages, including outplacement as part of your strategies to protect your employer brand, build positive employee and alumni relationships, and limit your legal and financial liability.