Sometimes all we have is our reputation. We carry it with us throughout our lives and careers. A damaged reputation does irreparable harm and although it may be repaired over time, it is best to be proactive to ensure proper status in the industry.
In the electrical wholesale industry, there are thousands of businesses, many with great reputations and others with maybe not so great. What is your company’s perceived reputation? Does the company you own or work for have a stellar image? And how is that measured? And who makes this stuff up?! This is what we call employer branding. Employer branding is defined as “the image of the organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the minds of current employees and others in the external market (potential candidates, customers, vendors, etc.).”
The issue here is how we as business owners, hiring managers and staffing firms can attract the best available talent. This also delves into employee retention which will be discussed in a future column. The strength of your branding influences the quality of your hires. In essence, the companies with the best reputations routinely attract the best talent. Ponder this: which would job-seekers rather work for, an ‘A’-list company with ‘B’-list lines or a ‘B’-List Company with ‘A’-list lines? Tough one isn’t it? Is it the reputation of the company or the quality of lines they carry? There are obviously many other variables such as location and compensation but it eventually comes down to the branding.
I know of one agency in the U.S. who has the best lines, the best reputation and the best people. But guess what? They don’t pay very well. However, people are standing in line to work for them. Why? They know that there is actually prestige in working for them in addition to the customer doors that open because of years of the company’s great reputation. But it didn’t happen overnight. That’s great employer branding, wouldn’t you agree?!
Look at Starbuck’s, a multi-billion dollar corporation selling four dollar cups of coffee. Who would have thought that by 2005 they would be named the second most admired company by the way they treat their employees and customers? And were named 10 out of 11 years amongst the best places to work in America? They branded themselves as being flexible with their employees and routinely promoted them and allowed them opportunities to become managers or open new stores. Again, it didn’t happen overnight. The company worked feverishly for years to gain that advantage.
We’re in a recession, right? Well, what steps could you take now for the future? Obviously, any investment to improve the strength of your brand only makes sense when the return is reasonable for success. Any growth and investment during this recession in order to promote your brand is important, and frankly, talent is the key to growth. Branding your company as the best place to work during a recession is critical to this process. Trust me, top talent is looking, especially now. When you are able to grab these players during a recession, it will positively impact productivity. Small- and medium-size businesses should benefit the most, but if you can provide an image that projects stability, security, and growth during this economic climate, you will see a shift in the attitude toward your company. This shift will come in the way of reputation building through the eyes of your employees, customers, vendors and even your competitors.
In brief, until the quality of interested candidates is very high, your employer brand is not delivering its most important contribution: greater profitability. Remember that your investment in attracting new employees now will have a far greater impact on your profit and will pay dividends for years to come.