Employees are the lifeblood of every company. Every employer wants to have the best by his side, to make the most out his or her business. And in order to get all this, and more, an employer needs to understand two concepts - and the manner in which they are linked – employer branding and employee engagement.
Two vital concepts
Employee engagement stands for how engaged and how dedicated the employees are with their work. Workers with high engagement will come in early to work, give their best and focus on providing you 100% of their capabilities.
Employer branding is how a company presents itself to candidates, it is the personality and trustworthiness of an employer. In the same way a company would present and sell its products and services to consumers, employer branding is doing the same towards (potential) employees. It represents how you treat your employees, it sets expectations for your people on how they may expect to spend their time at your office.
However, the benefits of employer branding aren’t just about attracting the right people (more on that later). It also has clear benefits for the employees that are already placed at the employer’s. Following are the ways employer branding influences employee engagement.
Show loyalty, get loyalty
One part of your employer brand is how loyal an employer actually is towards their employees. Once you employ a person for a certain position, do you end up treating them well? Do you respect the years or even decades they spend with your company? Do you intend to change your people policies without considering the inputs and sentiments of your employees? Trust us, people will notice.
To significantly improve retention, employers need to show that they appreciate their employees’ loyalty. Understand that high turnover comes at a literal great cost. A research paper conducted at the Centre for American Programs shows that, that in America (barring highly specialized jobs, like surgeons) the cost of turnover per worker is around 20% of that employee's salary. So, people coming and going constantly will cost you. An employee will never be truly engaged in your company if they know they can lose their job at any minute.
You invest in them, they invest in you
Another important aspect of employer branding is showing a desire and wish to invest in your people. Thus, seminars, educational courses, opportunities to network - all these are very important for the modern workforce. In fact, almost a third of employees will leave their job because they believe they won’t be able to advance in their careers. There needs to be a sense of continual advancement here, in one way or another.
If you want your employees to truly invest their time and energy into your company, you need to invest in them too. Giving them the basics, like a steady paycheque and an ok work environment will give you steady, ok results. But what you really want is for them to be completely engaged, to give more than what they thought they could. For that to happen, you will need to return the favour.
Attracting the right people
Employer branding has an interesting, indirect, influence on employee engagement. A popular, trusted company will attract people who by their very nature have very high engagement with the work they do. These are intrinsically motivated people who expect only the best form themselves. Understand that while you won’t have to motivate them as much when you hire them, you actually do have to get them to want to work for you. Working on your employer brand is vital for this specific area.
You need to realize that the most talented employees have one thing in common – they want to work for, and with, the best. No matter what country or culture you are from, a talented employee who always gives 100%, knows how much he or she is worth and will strive towards the best.
A matter of standards
If you want your employees to have high standards, you need to set yourself up as a company that has high standards as well. Furthermore, you need to meet the standards of your staff. Standards can including anything, from work and the clients you do business with, to the cleanliness of your office and the location of your company.
Even the most dedicated employee won’t be as engaged as he or she could be if they work in a dirty office, with poor equipment. Furthermore, even if they are motivated at the beginning, having low standards for the work will lead to them slacking off. Thus, if you do not meet the standards of your employees, there is a high chance half of them will leave you and that most likely the other half will simply slack off.
Leading by example
The behaviour of your employees will reflect your employer brand in turn. And your employer brand is, among other things, built by the behaviour of your managers. So, as part of employer branding, the behaviour of your managers directly influences employee engagement. Employee superiors need to show respect, and to actually care about their job. For example, If a supervisor is constantly late, you can be certain that employee morale will drop, and that eventually, they will be late as well.
In fact, in a huge study on respect at the workplace conducted by the University Canada West, it has been shown that among the most important indicators of respect is a supervisor keeping his or her promises. A manager needs to do exactly as he or she says, otherwise, people will simply care less about the promises they themselves keep. They will acre less, they won’t show any (true) respect to the company if your managers don’t respect them.
Communication and feedback
A big part of your employer brand should be the willingness and honesty shown in communication. By presenting yourself as a place where people can talk freely, and communicate their wants and wishes, you will get people more comfortable with honesty. This honesty can manifest itself in expressing their desires, in being direct on what can be improved, on providing proper feedback.
Present yourself as a company that cares about the needs and ambitions of its employees. For example, a poll of over one thousand job seekers lead by the Addison Group has shown that, among other things, three-quarters of people will leave or start job hunting if they were passed over for a promotion. But, quite often, people don’t even mention they want a promotion because they are afraid of stating what they want.
People who are afraid of making mistakes, and who are in the dark about what they should do, will make two employee engagement mistakes. First, they will simply care less about the company, and will not fess up to any errors they make. Second, they will be afraid of standing up for themselves, and will be afraid of looking dumb.
If people see your company as a place where they can talk freely and openly, then you can expect excellent employee engagement. An employee who is relaxed and open will care more about their work, since they won’t have to focus on saving their own skin and hiding their emotions.
Employer branding has powerful influence over the product and morale of employees. They will care more, they focus more, and they will try, at all times, to give more than 100% of their energy and dedication. An employer brand that is defined by feedback and open communication will have employees who are open and relaxed. A brand seems as respectful will gain the respect of its workers. Any business that is willing to invest time, effort, and money into advancing its employees will get the same treatment from them. Finally understand that high standards attract high standards – if you want to get the crème of the crop, you need to act in the same way.