Employment brand and today’s seminal printing press moment
Posted by: Joel Capperella
John Sviokla posted a great article on Harvard Business Review this morning regarding the management of brands in the advent of the new media. There are plenty of pieces like it, but this one struck me for its simplicity, and the three easy recommendations for brand maintenance in a world in which the future key demographic is always connected, always informed, and heavily opinionated.
Two things struck me in Sviokla’s piece. First, the title, “Continuous Brand Management for Generation 10:45.” I had never heard the term “generation 10:45″ before, and find it fairly interesting. Second was this line: ” … as business leaders we must all accept the new reality and understand what it means for managing our brands.”
This cannot be understated. I believe I have written before about new media being a printing press moment, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the dawn of radio or … um … maybe the printing press?
It is a seismic shift in the manner in which information is distributed and consumed. It may be difficult for those who find themselves on the tail end of the key 18-49 demographic to understand the impact, but our children will know no other world than one with a demand for credible information in real-time, anytime, anywhere, about anything.
Their relationship with not only the data itself, but the manner in which it is accessed, will drive markets, change politics (more than it already has), expand faith, extend relationships, and impart culture.
Sviokla’s article serves those who care about corporate brand well. But what about those of us who want to protect our employment brand? What is the proper response? Let’s consider some of the elements that Sviokla introduces.
According to Sviokla, “dealing with this always-on consumer” is a reality for any B2C or B2B business today. The same notion must be applied to the manner in which we develop our workforce. Our workforce strategy must be an “always-on workforce strategy.”
This requires a categorization of workforce segments at a much more discrete level. We’ve written about proper workforce segmentation, but as the new media matures, it requires an even more aggressive, multi-faceted approach.
First, all necessary positions must be broken into what we consider standard employment brands, but given a rating that properly reflects the impact that the position has on the overall employment brand.
In other words, a weighted scale that drives the overall investment and effort of connecting highly weighted positions with the representation of the brand in the public forum. This doesn’t necessarily mean more senior-oriented positions, but instead, the positions that are most closely aligned with what it means to be an employee of the organization.
Additionally, the intangibles of the brand are significantly more important today than they were even 12 months ago. While a 10 percent unemployment rate doesn’t exactly usher in a war for talent, even the most pessimistic economists believe the recover is somewhere around the corner. And when it comes, a significant increase in talent migration is likely to occur.
Therefore, establishing the feel of your employment brand is absolutely critical. The definition of the employment brand’s feel must then be driven out and across all forms of the new media in order to lay the foundation for what candidates perceive about working for XYZ company.
Segmentation mapping is something else that must be considered when driving the overall employment brand. As the desired workforce segmentation is defined and reconciled with the overall success plan of the organization, each category of employment must be mapped and prioritized. Full-time employment is an obvious place to start, but equally important are consultants or contracted labor.
For instance, profiling a successful project and promoting the interaction with the consultancy as one that learned from your organization’s employment culture will help drive perception of the brand and have the secondary benefit of adding value of doing business with your firm — a value that can positively affect the rates paid for such services.
Also, clearly articulate the utilization of a flexible or contingent staff. Proclaiming the benefits of being a temporary worker at your firm helps to dispel the stigma that can sometimes accompany a temporary position. Bottom line: your segmentation must be as predictable as possible, and it must drive the value of your employment brand.
The final and perhaps most obvious step is to determine which new media you will use to drive the employment brand. Yesterday’s Careers section of XYZ.com is today’s Facebook XYZ Employment Fan Page or employee Twitter feed. As the mechanisms are selected, the organization must drive hard to create a greater openness about employment at XYZ.
This means tearing down the secrecy that some of the more mature corporations in America have as part of their culture. Open up the realities of the workplace. Share the successes and lives of your employees with the public at large. Illustrate the employment culture and connect it to current events.
Also, create a social media policy and encourage employee participation within the boundaries of that policy. Get your PR team in the conversation and let them help you drive stories that will gain traction in the blogosphere in which your more sought-after candidates reside. Train your recruiters how to leverage the tools, establish their own recruitment brands, and drive the discussion in the social online communities that matter most to XYZ.
Sviokla profiles the expectations of tomorrow’s workforce. They will demand a continuous brand experience. Their use of enabling technologies and the length of that use helps drive continuity. It is a reality on which the most forward-thinking firms are already way out in front. What are you doing today to leverage today’s printing press?