Protecting and managing how consumers and clients respond to a company’s brand are naturally top priorities for any organization. What some companies tend to overlook, however, is how employees feel about their place of employment. Those feelings and attitudes about work also affect a company’s brand—particularly in a tight economy, says Karen Stevens, director of client services at RiseSmart, a recruitment and outplacement firm. “What companies really need to understand is that a really strong employer brand—protecting that and having employees that are passionate about their job—is going to benefit the company’s bottom line,” says Stevens. Surveys continually show that companies with high employee satisfaction tend to benefit from increased returns in profitability. For example, in 2010, companies with employee engagement levels of 65% produced shareholder returns that were 22% higher than average, according to global human resource consultant Aon Hewitt.
“When you have engaged employees, they’re giving it their all because they feel that the company respects them,” Stevens explains. “At the same time, when you are an employer of choice you are able to attract and retain the best talent.” Stevens offers several considerations managers should take into account as they continue to require their teams to do more with less.
Don’t take your employees for granted.
The mistake companies make is having the attitude that employees should just be happy to have a job. “In an environment where you’re doing more with less, you want to have an employee population that’s excited about their job, and is giving more and is willing to give more because they are engaged and emotionally connected to their job. Even in tough economic times, top talent is in demand.”
Ask for input and exercise trust.
Employees want to feel like their contributions are needed. They also want the opportunity to deliver results. “Management tends to have more of a ‘command and control’ attitude over workers. But the companies that really flourish are the ones that let go of that command and control and say, ‘I trust you. I hired you because you’re an expert and here’s a problem that needs to be solved now. It’s your job to solve it somehow.’ When people are given the freedom to use their own initiative and their own creativity they are happier and more engaged. Ask for feedback and input including employees no matter what their level, and then acknowledge and be appreciative of that input whether or not the idea is used. The employee needs to feel respected and valued.”
Remember that employees carry their experiences with them.
When an employee leaves a company, what they share about their experience impacts a company’s brand. “When someone exits an organization, whether they were laid off, fired, or they quit, where are they going to go to work—a competitor, a customer, a vendor? In any of those situations, you want them saying really great things about you. So it’s really important to treat your employees with respect.”