It’s fashionable these days to talk about the importance of being a strong ‘employer brand.’ But as is the case with most concepts of this ilk, it’s really just a new term for applying basic common sense to the practice of running a successful business. Look after your people and they will look after your business. Or to put it another way - create a strong internal culture and not only will you attract the best talent, you’ll retain it as well.
Having dress down Fridays, pool tables, canteen areas and free fruit are all well and dandy, but today’s employees expect a little more from their places of work, their careers and those who employ them.
In recent times, intangible facets have become much more important than tangible ones. Creating a vibrant and harmonious workplace for employees is no longer just a ‘tick in the box’ exercise. It is a fundamental part of making an ethical and honest declaration that puts people at the centre of a business development strategy and helps to enhance productivity, performance and profitability.
Having been an employer and an employee myself, I can see clear wins on both sides of the fence. And with a portfolio career that brings me into extremely close contact with several dozen businesses every year, I also witness at first hand, that things are definitely changing for the better. Here are eight suggestions, that I believe every employer who wishes to create a truly engaging internal culture should think about.
- Demonstrating a clear policy on the importance of every employee’s mental and physical health.
- Ring-fencing a percentage of profit into areas such as free breakfasts, team lunches and gym membership.
- Upping the amount of ‘fun’ or team building activities planned throughout the year.
- Creating individualised development programmes.
- Offering upskilling opportunities that may, or may not being related to an employee’s day job.
- Creating assignments that can add to an employee’s feeling of achievement and self-worth.
Purpose and Values
- Have a clearly articulated company purpose that goes beyond generating profit.
- Ensure all staff are aware of and exemplify the values and ethics of the business.
- Highlight areas where the business is practicing what it preaches and demonstrating how staff can become more involved in shaping this activity.
- Sourcing talent from less traditional spaces and places.
- Ensuring “unconscious bias” doesn’t creep into an ongoing recruitment policy
- Ensuring that a broad church of views occurs during decision making processes. Thus avoiding the potential of myopic “group think.”
- Demonstrating a willingness to be challenged and hear fresh ideas.
- Adopting a culture of listening rather than just telling.
- Creating an inspiring vision for the business and those who work within it.
- Working tirelessly to achieve trust, avoid criticism and gain loyalty.
- Create personal freedom and be open to increasingly agile working practices.
- Allow people to make mistakes, but highlight the fundamental importance of learning from them.
Nurturing Ideas and Creativity
- With trust and freedom, comes the desire to be more creative and this requires break-out spaces, open hubs and collaborative working points that are more than beige meeting rooms.
- Creating internal teams who are challenged with creatively owning tasks, such as new product development, organising away days, or new ways of presenting ideas to clients.
- Looking further afield and seeing what businesses are doing in other sectors, even in other countries.
- Think about where the business wants and needs to be in five years.
- Preparing answers for the conundrums that shorter deadlines, tighter budgets and new technology will undoubtedly impact upon staff.
- Considering what work / life balances will make the business a more rewarding and productive place to be.
David Reid, iMultiply Marketing Director