Corporate Brand and Culture in the Talent Market

Never has company culture and brand been such a hot topic for organizations. It is simple to ascertain the corporate culture and brand of any organization. Glassdoor and LinkedIn provide potential candidates with insight about an organization that factor into a candidate’s decision to engage, apply, and accept opportunities within the company.

Applicants begin experiencing corporate culture from the moment they view a job requisition and form an opinion about the organization long before they apply. As a result, corporate culture and employer brand is the first hurdle hiring teams face in attracting the right talent. This is an issue not just for recruiting teams, but for hiring managers and lines of business throughout an organization. There are several tactics companies can take to drive corporate culture and thereby attract talent.

It’s not just about perks, cultural fit is key

With companies like Google leading the way, we have seen everything from movie rooms, ping pong tables, gyms, and all-inclusive dining programs to offices with more sleeping pods than the spaceship Avalon. Every office does not have to build sleeping pods to become an employer of choice, but if companies want to attract the right talent, they need to think about their corporate culture and employer brand. It is important for employers to be clear and transparent about what their corporate culture is and what type of employee will succeed in this culture. Financial services companies probably do not want sleeping pods, but instead may want to offer other types of perks like free dry cleaning. The wrong tactics can attract the wrong candidate and may be counterproductive to attracting the right talent.

Organizations that want to make recruiting top talent a priority need to create the right messages, narrative, and employee experiences that align with their culture and employment brand.The organizations who are successful start by bringing together key stakeholders both within and outside of HR. They determine the desired organizational brand, what they are currently known for, and what they want to be known for in the future.

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Take a company who wants to be known for agility, transparency and innovation. It may create an office where executives have foregone formal executive suites and moved to an open space where leadership teams – comprised of the C-suite – all gather around one table. This lets visitors and candidates alike know the executive team is transparent and agile, or even that they want to preserve the spirit of innovation that comes from a startup culture. We have even seen an investment in revamping traditional Dilbert-like office spaces for this very reason. A candidate who feels comfortable in an office space with pool tables that is buzzing with noise will likely not enjoy a formal office with privacy cubes that is quiet. Both environments are a direct reflection of the corporate culture and both environments will attract very different types of talent.

But it is not just about the work environment, many factors go into the corporate culture and brand. Take for example a company that is known for tethering their employees 24/7 and in return provides a strong compensation offering. This is great for someone who really wants to feel connected and has a high desire to be actively contributing 24/7. This would not be so great of an environment for someone who values work-life balance as a higher priority than compensation and needs a highly-structured work schedule to be effective.

Walk the talk

In a past role, I worked with a leader who created the corporate values for the organization and 15 years later those of us who worked there still remember them.  ICARE (Integrity, Customer-First Accountability, Respect, and Excellence).  This mantra was not only promoted through employer branding materials but also throughout the actions of the leaders of the organization.  If these values were disingenuous not only will candidates be disillusioned and deterred from interviewing with a company; it could negatively impact current employees’ engagement and productivity, having a detrimental impact on the corporate brand.

Companies that create a set of values in a vacuum and do not reflect the integrity of those values in its real-life behaviors and incentives do more harm than good. Setting values can be an important starting point, but it is essential to think through how to incentivize and reward those values to reinforce the right culture.

Career transparency

The ability for employees to see where their career path and the ability to own that trajectory is key to creating a culture where employees want to work. Employees are much more likely to stay and grow within an organization if they know what options are available to them, and if they are empowered to develop their skills, experiences, and knowledge. If they have a strong sense of how the organization values them and is investing in them, they are more likely to be engaged, productive and effective within the culture. And of course, recognition and reward is critical to an employee’s engagement and effectiveness within an organization.  Employees want a clear career path to feel appropriately rewarded and recognized.

Companies creating a positive corporate culture that accurately reflects its employment brand take a thoughtful approach with actionable programs that drive culture (values, environment, culture, career transparency, talent management strategies, cultural fit, etc.). Be clear and honest about company culture, reflect that culture in the candidate process and employee experience. Reinforce behaviors that support that culture. Evaluate candidates to ensure they will thrive within that culture. Lastly, make this a project and pull in the C-suite who cares about the brand.It is not just an HR priority anymore!

MORE: Hiring New Staff: How to Gather the Perfect Team

Amber Lloyd

Amber Lloyd
Amber Lloyd is global leader of HCM strategy and customer engagement at Infor, a business software provider.

Amber Lloyd

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