Guest blog: Employer branding

The what, why and how of employer branding

While companies are starting to get their heads around what employer branding is, why it’s important and how it differs from (and yet complements) corporate branding, few are getting it right. And some organizations are struggling to know where to start. But I get it.

There is so much being written about candidate experience, personas, journey mapping, ATSs, employee advocacy etc. Often employer branding ends up confusing the hell out of Talent Acquisition and Recruitment, HR, and Communications or Marketing teams. They don’t know where to begin, and/or narrowly focus on their own perceived part of the pie. As a result, employer branding ends up being confined to either the ‘too hard’ or ‘another meeting needed’ pile. Lots of conversation, little action.

As employer branding professionals we need to be leading the charge on addressing the three biggest issues affecting its success. These are:

1.     Mindset of senior leadership

2.     Silo’d thinking

3.     Industry cohesion

So what can we start doing, right now? All the below require little or no budget…

Mindset of senior leadership

a. Strategic thinking – Link the employer brand strategy and associated activities to the delivery of the business strategy. If senior leadership see this, they will sit up and take notice.

b. Go armed with data – Show execs the numbers, educate them on the trends and emerging themes, and provide insights that drive action.

c. Clearly outline the why, what and how for senior leadership engagement and role modelling – Too many of them don’t understand any one or all of these.

Silo’d thinking

a. Communication – Talk to your people. Talk to your Talent Acquisition and Recruitment, HR, Communications and Marketing colleagues. They will tell you what your EVP really is. Ask questions, seek opinions and listen intentionally. Keep doing this.

b. Cooperation – Accept you won’t have all the answers and neither will your agency. Go and find internal experts who can help you and involve them from the start.

c. Collaboration – When you’ve found these experts, get them involved in creating the solutions – not just the design of your EVP, but the activation and ongoing embedding.

An EVP needs to be a combined, holistic and integrated effort between the Recruitment, HR and Communications teams. Find out why from Simon’s recent presentation.

Industry cohesion

a. Sharing is caring – This is an incredible industry with fiercely passionate people doing amazing work. Let’s share as many of our successes, and fails, with each other as we can.

b. Reach out for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’re all learning. Chances are someone, somewhere will have a similar challenge to you. Crowdsource. Co-create the solution. No one does it on their own.

c. Stand proud – We are all ambassadors for employer branding. Be unashamed when you talk about it with your colleagues, family and friends.

So there you have it, 9 quick tips you can start doing today for a little less conversation and a little more action on employer branding.

Simon Rutter leads the development and implementation of Takeda’s employer brand in the UK and around the world.

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Many thanks to Simon, Global Strategic Employer Brand and Communications Director, at Takeda for his insight into employer branding. At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire, motivate and transform your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on successfully developing your employer brand, call or email us today and let us show you how an employee value proposition can boost your organisation.

Guest Blog: Positive Onboarding Experience

A Thousand Onboarding Firsts

When was the last time you started a new job at a new company and had a positive onboarding experience? What were you thinking in the days leading up to the new job and what was your first day like? In case your ‘Dear Diary’ entries are bit vague from that time, here’s a quick refresher on some of the things that probably went through your head…

When you accepted the offer to join, you were saying yes to one of the most wonderful experiences humans have; to become a part of a group. More than just being invited to join this organisation, you were excited about the new position; the new responsibilities, the new culture and, especially, the first day. A new chapter in your life, new adventures, new challenges, people and a new place for you to prove yourself to the world. This organisation invited you to join them and it felt great.

You were also a bit nervous that you were the newbie. The outsider. You were nervous about asking questions so you didn’t appear petty, irrelevant or downright stupid. You were concerned about what you were going to wear. And you might have made a dry run to practice your commute or written down questions for your first meeting with your new boss. You might even have tried to memorise some of the names of your new teammates.  Or you might have been concerned about learning all the relevant skills needed to do your job. In summary, you were embarking on the early stages of your onboarding journey.

Four Keys to Successful Onboarding (EAST)

Regardless of the role, experience and age, everyone experiences similar challenges to some degree. The message to employers: The first day of onboarding a new hire is your opportunity to get everything right. There are four keys to make the first day one that is memorable for all the right reasons.

Make Onboarding Easy

The first day starts with getting to work. Sure, Google Maps can give directions. But as the new boss, you can lower stress for the new employee by offering insider tips. “Once you get off the train, head out of the station onto 4th Street and walk toward downtown. Enter the door under the sign that says The 421 Building and tell reception to ring me. It’s about a 7-minute walk from the train. And if you pass the bakery, you’ve gone too far!”

And make sure cultural quirks are shared to warn them. “Because of the big game, everyone will be wearing team jerseys on Monday.” Be sensitive to the fact that whatever you take for granted because you’ve been there for some time is completely unknown to your new hire. Make their welcome and first day of their onboarding experience an easy one.

Make Onboarding Attractive

Just because the new hire has decided to take the job, don’t stop selling them on how much you want them. Continue to make the onboarding experience attractive to them. Start by warming them up with a phone call the week before they start. Let them know you’re excited to have them on your team and offer up time for the new hire to ask questions.

Because we are attracted to things that are relevant to us, make sure the things that get personalised in your office are properly personalised for your newbie. Print their name on the folder of welcome documents when they walk in the door. Name tags, security credentials and any legal documents should have their name correctly filled in. Legal name on legal documents and nickname, if they prefer, on name tags and name plates. Everyone likes it when other people get their name right – don’t miss this small step to make the new job attractive to them.

As silly as it may seem, start with praise and recognition on the first day. “I know the paperwork can be a pain, but I appreciate the effort and focus you’re putting on it. You’re doing great. ”There’s no reason to be disingenuous, but don’t pass up opportunities to remind them of how you’re aware of the effort they’re putting into their first day. That will go a long way in establishing vivid memories that contribute to greater retention and enhanced referrals, when you need them.

Make Onboarding Social

Work is possibly the most significant community that we belong to because of the time we put into it over the span of our working career. That community has an impact on the new hire’s life and the newbie wants that community to accept them in return. We all want to be accepted.

Let the newbie know that he or she is accepted, welcome and that you are full of hope for their success. Thomas Jefferson’s mother supposedly said to her young son when his school expelled him for poor performance that she was proud of him; and that the teacher believed he was such an exceptional student that he needed a different class to challenge him!

Foster a support network that the newbie can rely on.  As you introduce coworkers, connect a reason for the new hire to know them. “This is Sasha, he’s great with office paperwork. And this is Gina, she’s terrific with technology issues.” The newbie is unlikely to remember all the specifics but knowing there is a supportive social network is key to getting off to a good start.

Part of the social onboarding process should include one-to-one meetings with relevant team members and associates from the organisation. Get the newbie to commit to setting up meetings with a list you provide and as they achieve those mini-milestones, be sure to recognise the effort and achievement. Small as it may be, we want the social side of our lives to work without trouble.

Make Onboarding Timely

There are certain times when we are more ready to change than others. We are more apt to reignite our gym membership when we start looking at swimsuits in the Spring. We are more apt to buy life insurance after the birth of a child. Timing matters and authors Daniel Pink in When and best-selling researcher Robert Cialdini, PhD in Pre-Suasion both emphasise the timing and sequence of events and how they impact behaviour change.

Asking your newbie on their first day for a commitment to meet with each member of the team will gain compliance. And it can be more nuanced than that. Don’t ask the newbie to commit to work objectives until they’ve got an understanding of the job. The first commitments they should make is to be learning the necessary job skills and demonstrating them in a timely fashion.

Also, how time is spent is equally important. Having big gaps in the calendar before the newbie knows how to do the job will lead to listlessness. Make sure you pack their days with relevant learning opportunities until they have a feel for the work. Then, you can more easily fill downtime with tasks from the backlog.

Easy, Attractive, Social, Timely

Onboarding, onboarding experience, easy, attractive, social, timely, Robert Cialdini, Pre-Suasion

Since our brains are not digital cameras recording every single moment humans pay attention to, and remember, the vivid extremes in life. That means that a single, small experience at the wrong time can over-influence our memories.

A study was conducted with the ostensive purpose of asking classical music critics to rate the performance of a conductor (when listening on a vinyl record). All the people in the study listened to the same recording. Some listened to perfectly clean recordings. Some listened to records that had a scratchy sound in the middle and some had a scratch at the end of the recording. At the conclusion of the listening session, the critics rated the conductor’s ability with the particular piece of music. Critics who heard the scratch at the end of the performance rated the conductor’s performance lower than the critics who heard no scratch in the recording.

Key Onboarding Tips In Summary

Be careful how you create all of the ‘firsts’ for your new hire.  Each first impression contributes to their opinion of the company and that links to their happiness on the job. It affects their emotional engagement with the company and their satisfaction with their manager.

Make their introduction to the company Easy; make their first day Attractive; leverage the Social side of their new workplace and make your communication with them Timely.

Plan ahead and help your newbies feel wanted; just like you wanted to feel when you first joined.

Tim Houlihan applies the behavioral sciences to workplace engagement and consumer behavior to corporations around the world.

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Many thanks to Tim, Chief Behavioral Strategist, at BehaviorAlchemy for his time and insight into engaging audiences. At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on successfully onboarding your new hires with, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Defining organisational integrity

Organisational Integrity: we hear it, we see it but do we follow it?

Organisational integrity is and should be the foundation of any working environment.  Building trust and incentivising staff to go ‘above and beyond’ is encouraged through honesty and transparency filtered through great leaders.

As a collective interpretation of individual integrity; organisational integrity guides core values, aspirations and patterns of thought and conduct among staff.  It creates an environment that encourages trust, promotes accountability and consequently, better engagement.

By integrating more robust standards, successful organisational integrity creates an environment everyone wants to be a part of and fully supports, comprehends and understands any structural, transformational changes.

The core values

But what are the core values to base a successful organisational integrity strategy on? And how can you avoid disruption to the integration and implementation of the strategy including performance management, role conflicts and ethical climates?

organisational integrity, core values, values, company culture, culture, employee engagement, accountability, responsibility

Fundamentally, the key value is trust!  Creating an organisational integrity strategy must encourage trust from the team; promote honest and transparent communication and create peer and senior led decisions based on the motto ‘do what you say you will do, truthfully and consistently with your team’.  Taking into consideration these core values will help achieve a more sustainable and operable strategy. We have put together our top core values tips to help create a culture of trust and organisational integrity based on three simple points.

Top three core values tips:

Smarter decisions: Decision-making can be an easy task.  But if you are over-committing or under-valuing expectations, respect for leaders and managers soon becomes waned and tiresome.  As a result, staff motivation starts to drop.  Making more meaningful and attainable decisions can contribute to a better engaged and trusted workforce.

Honest accountability: Composing and delivering decisions can naturally become hierarchical if not communicated effectively or coherently with the team.  Integrating decision making that responds to crisis situations or provides honest account of current problems can have a cascading effect on the mentality of the team.  Avoiding happy illusions will encourage staff to respond in the same transparent manner; it enables them to see the reality of their situation and taking responsibility for delivering results.

Open environment: Creating a more open and receptive culture within any organisation allows staff to feel supported; it encourages them to speak up as and when a situation may arise.  This leads to greater accountability and responsibility to improve, excel and promote a more effective and motivated working environment.

As employee engagement experts, Engage for Success state: ‘Trust is fundamental to high performance in a team, and high engagement in an organisation. Organisational integrity builds trust’.

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 At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communication and engagement solutions. We inspire, motivate and transform your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information or help with developing an organisational integrity strategy, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Guest blog: Emotional intelligence – the organisation is like a brain, not a structure

Emotional intelligence

Does your internal communications department struggle for resources, influence and internal clout? Recent findings in cognitive psychology and employee engagement have indicated that better engagement and positive emotional intelligence is key to a successful organisation.

Avoiding viewing companies as ‘structures’ with people as ‘resources’ is essential in the same way as communicating with employees is central to improving business performance. In essence, results depend on getting the right alignment of strategy, skills and emotional commitment; none of which is possible without clear and effective communication.

People are emotional: defining emotional intelligence

The Righteous Mind | Jonathan Haidt | Engage for Success | correlation between higher engagement and higher performance | ClearVoice

Over the past fifty years, cognitive psychology research has connected human behaviour and decision-making with the emotional state of mind. Equally, this has been identified through highly educated professionals such as data analysts and research scientists.

Consequently, all people are emotional!  Confirmation bias, is a common tendency to filter out evidence that clashes with emotionally preferred narratives. Some people are better than others at recognising and challenging their own biases, but are all prone to creating them. In an interview, leading academic Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind, says: ‘…emotional reactions tend to drive the reasoning reactions, and I think most of the neuroscience literature is consistent with that.’

Research indicated a positive correlation between an employee’s personal drive and an increase in performance levels; creating a strong emotional dimension within the workplace. As the UK’s Engage for Success concludes: ‘We now have a substantial body of evidence showing the correlation between higher engagement and higher performance.’

Communication is vital

Organisations who enhance and encourage emotional intelligence promote a more engaged and collaborative workforce. By identifying company structures as organic representations of a brain, business leaders can better understand how to treat their workforces.

‘If we rethink our understanding of the dynamic, organic reality of the organisation, we realise it’s more like a brain than a structure, in which case it becomes obvious that the connecting neural networks need to be active and healthy.’

Philip Whiteley is an author and journalist specialising in workplace culture and the link to organisation performance.

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Many thanks to Philip, Author & Journalist, for his time and insight into emotional intelligence. At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to drive emotional engagement as part of your employee communications strategy, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Guest blog: Speak with one voice

Internal and external communication as one

In a healthy organisation, the internal and external communications functions are close; it is a matter of basic coherence and integrity that strategic narratives to both audiences are broadly the same. The challenge is that in some organisations the internal communications function can lack status; whereas that of the external communications can prompt cynicism. For an organisation’s success it is vital that both speak with one voice.

There are matters of commercial confidentiality, but the organisation should express the same values. There should be clarity about who the company is, what it stands for, and what it’s doing, in the broader narratives. If different stories start to emerge externally, compared with practices and messages internally, this is a warning sign; an indicator of a disconnect between strategic planning and operational reality. Bringing internal and external communications together as part of strategy-setting, scenario planning and operations ensures that plans fulfil their potential.

The importance of honest and open communication

In an organisation with integrity, the marketing, personnel, research, production and senior executive departments are speaking consistently. They communicate with each other, around a shared objective of understanding the customer journey, and how well the company serves its customers when interacting with them.

ClearVoice, employee engagement, employee experience, Silke Brittain, employee communications, internal communications, strategy, people, employee voice, integrity, communications strategy, innovation, strategic narrative, performance improvement, employee journey, customer journey, employee value proposition

Honest and open communication is encouraged, and in both directions; such organisations treat an honest and reasonable complaint, from a customer or an employee, as a learning opportunity; as a chance to improve that customer journey and the employee’s experience.

You can test the honesty of your communications with surveys and with data. Your perception may be that you put the customer first, but have satisfaction ratings dipped in the past six months? If so, do you know why? What do your employees say about your organisation? Have your employee engagement levels dropped? And how has this affected your organisation’s performance?

How is feedback providing an opportunity?

Senior leaders, marketing, internal communications and HR should be inviting and actively seeking feedback from customers and employees at regular intervals. Annual surveys provide a broad insight into engagement and overall satisfaction; augment this with regular pulse surveys, focus groups, morning tea breaks or huddles.

Listening to feedback is the first step, acting upon it the second and arguably the more important step. Each feedback providing an opportunity to encourage interaction, engage in honest conversation and bring internal and external communication closer together by sharing success stories, acknowledging ideas for improvement, and celebrating progress.

The challenges of improving performance, boosting employee engagement, and bringing the internal and external communications together, are all closely linked activities. They are not separate departments, but distinct disciplines that form part of a collective endeavour to improve the experience for the customer and the employee with your organisation now and into the future.

Philip Whiteley is an author and journalist specialising in workplace culture and the link to organisation performance.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to use feedback from customer satisfaction and employee engagement surveys to improve your organisation’s performance, call or email us today and let us show you how communication can boost your organisation.

Internal versus External Communications: The Relationship

Internal versus external communications: making a stand!

Internal versus external communications is a staple topic.  Historically, they have targeted very different audiences; communicating with those who work inside the organisation and communicating with those who do not.  However, the audience focus for internal and external communications is now migrating to a more targeted reach and instead; companies are embracing ‘all’ audiences instead of a targeted selection.

From investors to shareholders, employees to the general public, communication has evolved into a hub of ‘share and display’. Consequently, as companies demonstrate value recognition, the divide between internal versus external communication starts to merge.

Companies that have merged internal and external communications

Companies, including HSBC and Royal Mail, have avoided compartmentalising communications into internal and external by introducing channels that are accessible by  all audiences.  As a result, both companies have increased engagement and strengthened trust in their overall brands.  With over 250,000 employees located across 71 countries; HSBC, has launched a weekly TV programme that aimed to unite and screen their employees inside and outside the business.

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According to the Event and Visual Communication Association, a 15% engagement increase was recorded internally as a result of the new channel entitled ‘HSBC Now’; embracing the open culture of their workforce.

Royal Mail created an online platform aptly named myroyal.com giving public accessibility to internal news and recent accreditations, awards, shares, employee feedback and even, an online uniform brochure!  Subsequently, Royal Mail’s latest online channel led to better engagement with their employees as well as their customers.

The dynamics of internal versus external communication

Below are three fundamental tips for creating a unifying relationship between internal and external communication:

1. Communicate & explain: Create an understanding of team responsibility from the onset and this can help to reduce negative impact on departments who are divided.  Schedule workshops or regular meetings with key teams, which aim to inform, listen and deliver key campaigns in the pipeline.

2. Liaise & feedback:  For a crossover of internal and external communication to be successful, implementation of key messages must be shared across the channels.

3. Share & implement: One of the biggest downfalls for organisations who don’t communicate their internal or external comms strategy, is their inability to communicate, share and implement the campaign internally as well as externally.  For employees to actively engage and promote the company message they need to understand, participate and engage in the campaign.

Brief, share, reiterate what you are doing, why you are doing it and how it affects the whole company.

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At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to step away from internal versus external communications, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.