Employer Branding: The solution to attracting & keeping great staff
It's just plain wrong to assume that, even in our current depressed economy, people who are not presently working are desperate to take any job you offer them or that those already working for your company will stay put. Our daily conversations with job candidates--especially the good ones--inform us otherwise. High-performance workers--whether employed or financially secure or not--continue proactively to seek out good employers--companies where they can work long term while still continuing to progress professionally.
Moreover, research continues to reinforce the proposition that human capital brings value to your business. One recent Journal of Management article, for instance, explains how excellent staff constitutes a rare, valuable, non-substitutable, and difficult-to-imitate resource that creates competitive advantage for your company. So—as we’ve said many times before--it benefits your company’s bottom line to attract and retain top performers.
Towards this end, creating a valuable employer brand is the most powerful tool a business can use to gain competitive advantage. Employer branding entails creating an image of your organization as a "great place to work" in the minds of current staff and such key external stakeholders as your customers and present and future job candidates. A company's employer brand is communicated both externally and internally through the actions and messages of its leaders, as well as its corporate policies, standard operating procedures, and daily practices.
Brands that draw job seekers
Studies have shown the following elements of a company's employer brand rank highest with job seekers (in no particular order):
- progressive work environment
- industry leadership
- high ethical standards
- encouragement of innovation
- open organizational communication
- strong corporate culture
- social responsibility
- environmental responsibility
- commitment to continuously improving the company & its profits.
Corporate Value Propositions
Good staff prefer to commit to employers who continually maximize their operating efficiencies and target markets. Such companies usually have well defined procedures and the tools and technology to augment them. Strategically, these companies will also stay current through regular assessments of the chargeable services they have identified as value-added propositions for their customers and will encourage, acknowledge, and reward employees whose contributions keep pace.
Employee Value Propositions
Other important factors in the practical success of employer branding are employee value propositions—the benefits staff receive in exchange for working for the company. In order to be most effective, employee value propositions must achieve two purposes simultaneously: (1) attracting, engaging, and retaining employees; and (2) reflecting the employer brand. Ample evidence proves that a successful link between employee engagement and employer brand can significantly improve a company’s efficiency, profits, and employee retention, among other indicators.
So for example, if the company wants to brand itself as family friendly, it could offer its staff such employee value propositions as flexible work hours. If the company wants to brand itself as a magnet for high achievers, then it must reward above-average performance and initiative appropriately; for example with training allowances or a clear advancement path for employees who demonstrate the potential to achieve it. Note that employee value propositions can be either psychological (e.g., public recognition of accomplishments in the company’s newsletter), functional (e.g., primo parking space for the employee of the month), or economic (e.g., fiscal raises, bonuses, incentives, stock options, or pension plans.)
Communicating your brand
When it comes to broadcasting your employer brand, your current employees are your strongest advocates. Even in today’s economy, when companies have been regularly forced to restructure, if you treat downsized employees fairly and ethically, they will continue to view you as an employer they were pleased to have worked for.
Also consider that personnel services like PrintLink can help you communicate your employer brand to job seekers in the most effective terms. Particularly during this economic turndown, our client companies appreciate our ability to deflect any negativity about them that may be circulating in the marketplace, and our ability to help job candidates recognize and appreciate the current direction our clients’ management is taking.
Best Workplace Awards
Printing Industries of America (PIA) is the world's largest graphic arts trade association, representing an industry with approximately one million employees and the interests of more than 10,000 member companies. Significant among its offerings to its members is an awards competition called "The Best Workplace in the Americas Awards" (click on http://www.printing.org/bwa).
This competition is based on the premise that by providing a superior workplace, companies can maintain a successful workforce. Accordingly, PIA’s Best Workplace Awards target the following eight key elements that spell a good workplace for staff:
- Management practices
- Work environment
- Training and development opportunities
- Financial security
- Work-life balance
- Recognition and rewards
- Health & wellness programs
- Workplace health & safety
PrintLink encourages printing and graphic-communications companies to apply not only to PIA’s Best Workplace Awards, but also to other types of best-managed-companies competitions staged by trade organizations and publications both inside and outside our industry. By this means, many worthy companies stand to benefit from gaining wider recognition of their employer brand and its potential to attract talented staff whose expertise may lie outside traditional printing.
Making printing an attractive career choice
Despite global economic and societal change, our industry's products and services still remain central to all business and personal endeavors. (Just think about how many of them touch your own life every day, from your cereal box in the morning to the signs in your business's parking lot.)
And increasingly, the complexity of our industry is expanding. Thanks to the impact of the technological revolution, Communications Services is becoming more and more of a data-driven industry. True, the corresponding rise in automation has reduced the number of people required to drive it. But nevertheless, with more and more high-tech applications becoming available to the marketplace in both the US and Canada, our industry continues to be a very large, increasingly challenging, and diverse arena of employment.
Moreover, the Printing and Graphic Communications industry is a unique hybrid: usually statistics categorize it in the manufacturing sector, yet it is actually part manufacturing and part service. And--just like many of the business sectors most sought after by today’s job seekers and the companies most often featured in best-workplaces listings--our industry offers the potential for a wide range of job functions, including;
- real estate
- pharmaceutical & healthcare
- food & beverage
- custom manufacturing
- data management
- advertising, marketing & branding
- public relations
- communications & web hosting
- business & personal consulting
Besides this sorry state of affairs, PrintLink is also concerned about the ultimate fate of people whose skills were previously employed in printing but whom the bad economy has recently forced to pursue other careers. Rather than seeing them permanently lost to the industry, we hope that a renewal of strong employer branding by the industry as a whole and by companies individually will entice some of our downsized workforce back into the fold.
Our own staff do their utmost to excite job candidates about the changing dynamics of print and graphic communications and the continued strength of the sector as a career path of choice. We also suggest that by devoting greater care and resources to developing appropriate employer brands, printing companies can help ensure that our industry will be enticing place for future generations of first-rate employees to build their careers.