Thu, Aug 15, 2013
Joe Cecere is president and chief creative officer of Little, a strategic design firm based in Minneapolis that for more than 34 years has been helping clients to grow brands, strengthen their workforces, launch products and connect with customers. Little’s Design Principles have been successfully deployed for worldwide Fortune 500 organizations such as Target, Lowe’s, Microsoft, Medtronic and Sealy.
You have your product, logo, business cards and rockin’ website. Think your brand is done? Not just yet. From cashiers to packaging designers to customer service, employees play a crucial role in shaping brand identity. Yet a 2013 Gallup study of American workplaces found that only 41% of employees feel that they understand what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from competitors.
This understanding is part of what makes an engaged employee, defined by Gallup as someone “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and contributes to their organization in a positive manner.” So, how can companies foster employee engagement? It begins with an employee brand—a clear and authentic definition of what your company stands for and the role employees play towards achieving the company vision.
To develop an employee brand, first think strategically about your company’s talent value proposition (TVP). Built off of your company’s vision, mission and values, a TVP outlines the unique opportunity an employee receives by working at your company and the ideal employee experience. A well-designed TVP answers questions like: How is this brand different? What is the company’s ultimate goal? What defines an ideal employee? What is the ideal talent’s mindset and attitude?
The strategic TVP platform is then brought to life through employee branding – the powerful internal and external communications received by employees and recruits that communicate what they will receive for investing their blood, sweat and tears in your company. Employee branding occurs across channels – print, digital, social – the opportunities are endless. For example Target Corp., in partnership with Little, strategically designed the quarterly editorial RED magazine to be much more than just your typical employee
newsletter. RED reaffirms the employee brand story in every issue, dishing the latest company updates, news, and feel-good stories to all employees .
A successful TVP is the roadmap for internal communicators to connect employees to the company in relevant and motivating ways. Engaged by communications evoking the employee brand, employees see how their actions help achieve their company’s vision. In its recent study of employee engagement, Gallup discovered that when the company’s mission inspires employees to believe their job is important, key performance indicators show strong improvement. In fact, Gallup found that companies with highly engaged employees experienced 25% lower turnover, 22% higher productivity, 10% higher customer ratings and 22% higher profitability. As morale soars, the bottom line skyrockets.
When employees understand how their role supports the company’s vision, they no longer just working; they’re proud to help fulfill a shared mission. And when employees take pride in their brand, people notice. Job seekers notice. With a strong employee brand, companies save on recruitment costs by attracting the right talent and retaining top performers.
It’s simple, but true: Employees are the spokespeople of a company. When they feel connected to the brand, they draw customers in. When they believe their company is the best, they share that belief with others – on the sales floor, at a meeting, or even off-the-clock with family, friends and social networks. Companies who have solidly built that connection by clearly articulating their employee brand at every touchpoint through employees’ careers will come out ahead. Tell a consistent, captivating brand story that your employees believe in, and they will spread the word.