Your employees are some of your biggest attractors or detractors for new business. How they experience – and talk about – your company brand can have a ripple effect throughout the industries and communities you serve, shaping your reputation for years to come.
Building and nurturing the kind of culture, vision, and mission that speaks to employee values can create enthusiasm about coming to work and propel your business forward in new and exciting ways. Yet, creating an exceptional internal brand in the eyes of employees can be a challenge. A single negative employee experience and/or opinion, when aired broadly, can travel fast within your network of contacts, impacting your ability to attract new hires and customers alike.
Here are some fundamental steps every organization can take to build a solid, engaging internal brand—one that attracts top talent, lifts customer relationships, and reinforces your reputation for excellence.
Talk About Your Mission, Often
Your internal brand is founded on core values that define your mission, vision, and purpose in the marketplace. Make sure employees up and down the organization can articulate your company’s core values and that they also have a clear sense of how what they do every day aligns with your vision.
For frontline employees, such as those who are directly customer facing, this can be relatively simple to achieve. However, behind-the-scenes professionals, such as those working in accounting, operations, and IT, for example, may have a harder time connecting the dots between their daily tasks and the broader overall purpose and vision that comprise your internal brand.
No one succeeds alone, and each person depends on another to drive sales, deepen customer relationships, and bring innovation to market. Make sure employees in every corner of your organization understand the importance of their jobs and feel valued and recognized for their contributions to your success.
Monitor Employee Feedback
Employees carry with them their own opinions of your company, whether they share them with you or not. Getting your finger on the pulse of this information can go a long way toward creating a brand that resonates well with them.
Formal, anonymous surveys can help. As a best practice, we recommend surveying employees as often as weekly – and requiring them to complete the surveys. Tools like OfficeVibe can help you score and track their responses collectively, identify potential areas of improvement, and take steps to continuously improve processes, policies, and practices.
Monitor sites such as Glassdoor as well for feedback. While online company reviews are often given by disgruntled ex-employees and may lack substance, they can dramatically impact your brand in the marketplace. Remember that you can proactively balance the impact of negative reviews by asking current employees to share positive feedback on these sites as well, information that can be helpful to new job candidates and aide in brand reputation management overall.
Bring Every Voice to the Table
Employees want to be heard and crave a sense of fairness at work. While there are always those who are first to speak up in meetings, there are also those who routinely sit back silently – and they may have just as much to say.
Be sure managers call on all their team members for insights and ideas when collaborating in group settings. Task them with holding weekly one-on-one sessions with team members as well, to ensure everyone is receiving the attention they deserve. 15Five is an exceptional tool for making one-on-ones productive and approachable!
Remember that constructive criticism goes both ways, so coach your managers to welcome employee suggestions for improvement. Enacting positive changes based on input from direct reports shows team members they are valued and that leadership teams are invested in their success.
Build Employee Trust
Fundamentally, employees value trust – and when you trust them with key assignments and new responsibilities, they feel professionally empowered and fulfilled. So, while it may be tempting for leadership teams to micromanage their employees to ensure tasks are completed and goals are reached, in the broader scheme of things employees who have ownership over their work are happier, more creative and productive, and more likely to speak well of the work environment you are providing.
Keep management teams focused on steering the ship, reinforcing strategies, tracking and responding to market dynamics, and delivering the tools, technologies, and resources teams need to drive innovation on all fronts.
Respect Employee Boundaries
In today’s digitally transformed economy, employees may feel tethered to work 24/7 by smartphones and laptops. This dynamic can make it difficult for them to realize the work/life balance they need to recharge and fulfill their personal responsibilities and goals.
Encourage employees to disconnect daily, and don’t be afraid to reward any extra time they put in during off hours with time off during the week, for example. Heaping extra work on those already shouldering a heavy workload can be demotivating or overwhelming and is a strategy that often backfires.
Employees Are Your Brand
Ultimately, the employee experiences you provide profoundly impact your brand internally and externally. What goes on at the water cooler spills out into the community and forms the building blocks of your reputation.
Employees who feel empowered in their jobs, believe in your vision and mission, and recognize their roles in fostering your success are truly your best brand ambassadors. As the face of your company, their perceptions carry more weight than almost any other factor with prospective clients, new hires, and other stakeholders. Their feedback can have significant strategic and financial ramifications for your organization as well, setting the stage for your future growth and success.
Marketri was founded on the principle that we can have it all – flexibility for time with our loved ones and time to embrace our hobbies, all while having a satisfying, growth-oriented career. We do this through taking personal responsibility for our work, creating exceptional work and results for our clients, and by caring about one another. By leading with the principles above, we have been able to fulfill mission we set many years ago. Do we stumble at times? Absolutely.
If you’re interested in seeing what our stellar team can do for your business, reach out to schedule a call. And if you simply want to swap “business leadership stories,” that sounds great, too! We love learning from other great professionals.