You only have to look at the rocketing popularity of resources like Glassdoor, to see how much brand matters in the world of modern recruitment.
Individuals are as keen to critique their employment experience, as they are to share reviews of their latest holiday or restaurant visit. And rightly so – we live and work in an era of user-driven content and shared voice. As a result, whether we like it or not, this puts the reputability of an organisation very much in the public eye.
Whilst brand building was once the sole responsibility of a marketing department, the past few years have seen brand rise up the HR agenda too. The movement has admittedly been very gradual – not least because Human Resources professionals already have enough to do! But as the employment landscape has grown more competitive and the battle for talent has become tougher, HR leaders are recognising the impact that a positive – or negative – brand experience can have on their recruitment potential.
It has been widely cited, for instance, that millennials actively seek evidence of an organisation’s values ‘in action’. It is no longer enough for brand purpose, principles and personality to merely exist on paper – people are looking for manifestations of values in the real world. They want to buy into the purpose and they want to see that everyone in the business lives and breathes the values, from the senior management team through to the colleagues they’ll be working alongside. If not, they continue their job hunt elsewhere.
Perhaps this is because this younger generation – the future of work – are willing to challenge the norm. Perhaps it’s because they’ve grown up brand savvy. Either way, first impressions count among this demographic.
This is a generalisation of course, but this trend is becoming increasingly commonplace, and not just among candidates in the earlier phases of their career. A labour shortage – especially among niche skill-sets – means individuals of all ages can now afford to be ‘picky’.
This shift has presented a quandary for many businesses. Brand is a very personal thing, and in the early years of an organisation’s existence, it is often shaped by the founder. As the company grows, the brand may evolve, to the point where a ‘reset’ is sometimes required if things begin to feel a little wayward. But herein lies a crucial question – who should be involved in the rebrand?
As eluded to above, this type of exercise is often typically spearheaded by the marketing department, but ‘buy in’ from the senior management team is also crucial HR definitely needs a say during this process too, as well as representatives from throughout the business who can embody the employee voice. Because, yes, there’ll undoubtedly be some people who are quite happy to just come to work, do their job and go home – they won’t look into the detail. But there will also unequivocally be those who seek a sense of purpose from what they do, and if they have the chance to shape that purpose, even better.