Brand = Culture
Take a look through any Human Resources blog at the moment and there’s a particular theme that appears time and again, sometimes dressed up as employee engagement, other times as cultural innovation, but most typically as “Futureproofing the Workplace”.
It’s a term many communications practitioners will have heard of recently, the idea that technology is not only disrupting consumer behaviour but now is also disrupting the workplace. And there are loads of sub-topics that fall under this banner, from engaging with Millennials as they enter the workforce, to career mobility, to the importance of creative competitiveness.
Ringing any bells? It should be. These aren’t just ‘Human Resource’ issues but rather long-term business strategy issues that impact anyone in a leadership position, especially those whose day-to-day focus is strategy, growth and engagement – brand, marketing and communications.
Every one of these issues is really addressing the importance of how a brand impacts culture. Not just an identity (we’ve said it before…), a good brand defines the proposition of an organisation, how it helps achieve its strategic objectives and meets the needs of its audiences. Put simply it is “how it does business”.
Many organisations are saying that as well as an external facing brand, they should also have an “Employee Brand”, or an “Employee Value Proposition”. In fact, we’ve had requests for proposals for these very things…
…you won’t be surprised to hear however, we disagree.
A brand is a brand regardless of audience (external or internal). It provides absolute clarity around who the organisation is, which in good times provides the direction for growth and in recessionary times provides the platform for maintaining customers and focusing the organisation on what is important.
It is a single framework that sets the foundation for all communications. For internal audiences, it creates a specific and unique culture that joins together employees’ beliefs, attitudes and ultimately their behaviour. This generates specific and predictable employee responses which can lead to greater discretionary effort, a commitment to stay and motivation as a team member and/or leader. These responses have short-term and longer-term outcomes that improve both employee and company success.
So, how to achieve this?
Looks simple, doesn’t it? Most organisations will claim to have a defined purpose, vision and values. The true test is whether these are aligned with the strategic direction of the business (its actual needs) and if they define the behaviours and personality traits of the organisation (how it acts), a key component of which are its employees.
Aligning internal culture, reward and processes with brand often falls under the banner of Organisational Development. Whilst not incorrect, Organisation Development is the implementation of change in an organisation to meet strategic demands. To be successful this change needs to represent the whole business and a representative from each part should be involved in the definition and process.
More than any generation before, as millennials move into more senior roles within the workplace it is important that their personal values align with that of the organisation. Therefore, it is more important than ever to have this defined. This will allow an organisation to retain and reward the employees it needs and attract more of the right sort of employees to help it improve and grow to achieve its strategic aims and objectives.