Laying Off – The Brandful Way

Did you hear about the layoffs this week at HMV – a British electronics retailer? One of the employees who got laid off was running their twitter account and decided to tweet what was going on as it was happening. Perfect example of what not to do.

It’s amazing how far the brandful workforce approach reaches. It gets at the root of running a good, solid business. If you don’t, then it will eventually catch up with you. You can’t decide at the last hour to start treating your employees better. It’s something that has to be part of your way of doing business; an accepted norm. If your organization doesn’t have sound internal practices, they can be changed over time, however it does take time, but it will pay off.

Brandful employees continue to promote the brand long after they are gone, regardless of the reasons they leave. But the flipside – having employees that are disgruntled – can force an organization to pay the price, as seen in this article about HMV.

Brandful Recruiting

I just got back from Miami where I spoke to a great group of recruiters at TMA’s Strategic Recruiting Summit. There were some fantastic companies represented like USAA, Kellogg’s (who both recruit their customers as potential employees), Hilton Grand Vacations, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Gate Gourmet, AbbVie, McKesson and Kaiser Permanente. I was glad to see that many of the organizations are focusing on recruiting as part of their overall brand strategy (their candidate experience reflects on their brand- especially when the folks don’t get the job- they can continue to like the products and services and remain a customer), however I did see some unfair challenges that recruiters face – because some of the c-suite still don’t get it. Why should recruiters be boxed into an “employer brand?” Aren’t they, along with every single employee, part of the larger brand?  (Side note:  a brand is simply what folks say about you behind closed doors. It can pertain to an organization as a whole, a specific product, a person or a group of people.)  In our transparent world, can you really separate the employer brand from the consumer brand anymore? Should it be up to the recruiter to figure out the workforce brand and recruit toward that? Why are organizations asking their employees to describe their work environment and help the company figure out their employer brand? I don’t get it.

I’d like to see the c-suite take more of a lead in not just figuring out the employer brand, but shaping it into what it should be. And what it should be, is aligned with the business model and customer promise. They need to ask themselves: “What kind of employee do we need working here that can delight our customers and fulfill our business model?” Once they figure that out, then the recruiters can more successfully find the right kind of folks to charge the company forward.

But don’t forget about the brand. I asked the audience how many of them were looking for a “brand match” while recruiting. (That is- someone who, in addition to having the right skill set and experience, is also passionate about the particular services or products that they offer.) Many recruiters raised their hands. I didn’t get the chance to find out how they were doing it, but I did hear a great story from Tomya at Sloan-Kettering.  She explained that they ask every single candidate whether they’d feel comfortable being in the hospital setting around cancer patients. If not, they don’t get hired. Being one of the best (if not the best) cancer centers in the world, they are ensuring that all of their employees care about their cause. Tomya suggested an accountant could choose to be an accountant at any type of organization. If she wants to be an accountant at Sloan-Kettering, she needed to care about the services they deliver and want to be a part of it. No wonder, employee engagement is at the top of the charts at Sloan-Kettering.

During my presentation, I suggested the following steps to implement a brandful recruiting strategy:

  • hire from your customer base
  • hire folks with a demonstrated passion for your product or service
  • hire folks with a passion for your mission or cause (could come from nonprofits)
  • hire folks who are excited to use your brand perks (ie. discounts)

I mentioned a comment made to me while I was shopping at Trader Joe’s. The store clerk said to me: “I spend my entire paycheck here!”  That’s when you know you have a brandful employee.

Thanks for reading my blog. If this is your first time on my site, please look around at my other posts and events, and join in the discussion. Catch you later!

20,000 Clicks From One Employee

One employee can generate 20,000 clicks.

According to the content marketing company, Elevate, employees are able to spread the word, in a way that’s much different than traditional marketing outlets.  Their work shows that just one popular employee, can generate almost 20,000 clicks on facebook and twitter, regarding news about their employer’s brand. Multiply that by many employees and now we are talking about a workforce that is brandful™.

But consider the downside. That was the upside. What if employees are not brandful and not only, not interested in sharing the cool stuff that goes on in their organization, what if they actually wanted to bash it? I recently saw a youtube video of an x-employee discussing the “ins and outs” of worklife and I noticed that her video had 80,000 clicks.

But it’s not just the number of clicks. What happens with those folks who clicked? Do they buy more or less of the product or service? I’m not sure if anyone has an answer to this (if you do, please add to the discussion) but Elevate does report that 92% of customers prefer content shared by someone they know. They may be more likely to believe it and act upon it, coming from someone they know.

It has also been reported that organizations spend seven times more on content distribution than content creation. If every workforce was brandful™ – and truly promoted the products and services – it would seem to have some impact on both the content creation and distribution. But there are many more reasons to consider building and sustaining a brandful™ workforce.  Social media is only one of the six channels in which employees can promote the brand. Please see my other blogs, especially the overview, to learn more. Leave a comment and join in the conversation.