I’ve been thinking about the impact a company’s HR policies have on its brand and marketing efforts after hearing a couple of similar stories from friends and family members who recently conducted job searches.
In both cases, they were interviewed onsite by well-known companies, one even spending several hours at company offices for multiple interviews, yet neither were contacted afterward and told they were not selected. Not only does your heart go out to people who have experienced this, you get angry on their behalf – very angry. It’s not about the disappointment that they didn’t get the job, it’s about the company’s lack of common courtesy to follow up and let them know. And while I understand that HR personnel may be busy, it doesn’t take much to comprise a standard email that can be sent to those not selected. An even better approach would be to actually make a quick phone call to those who spent their time preparing for the interview and inside your offices to let them know of your decision and provide constructive feedback.
And how do I perceive these companies now that I’ve heard these stories? Like anyone, my respect has dropped significantly, and I have made a mental note not to patronize them in the future. And from a marketing perspective, I wondered how many others who heard these stories did the same… it most definitely was not a great reflection on the brand and most likely impacts the companies’ bottom line.
According to Nick Corcodilos on CMO.com, “It’s time for HR to start worrying about profitability. But it also needs to be accountable for public relations. (I’ve suggested elsewhere that HR should report to PR.) Like it or not, HR is that arm of marketing that reaches out to the professional community you recruit from. HR has a profound effect on your brand because, like customers, job candidates talk about their experience.”
Further, in Futurestep’s Innovation Imperative research – a global study of over 4,000 employees and 800 recruitment and talent management professionals – 44% of people globally said a company lost their favor if they did not contact them following a job application – it can make or break an employer’s brand.
In many cases, HR personnel and company recruiters are a job candidate’s first point of contact, so Marketing personnel should be working with them to ensure the company brand is upheld during the recruitment, on-boarding and once hired, management process. Marketing and HR personnel should establish procedures that provide personal and positive interaction with all job candidates, and for the ones who are hired, should make certain that new employees have a positive experience from day one on the job. Further, they should continue to track how employees are doing, and that they are successfully integrating within the company, and conduct regular check-ins to address any concerns. Finally, company personnel should be proactive in holding leadership and management accountable for any unethical behaviors that may lead to the demotivation of employees and negatively impact company culture.
In Why Employee Engagement is Your Employment Brand, Bersin by Deloitte states, “Gallup believes that only 13% of all employees are highly engaged and Glassdoor data shows that only 54% of employees would recommend their employers to others. Many people are unhappy with their jobs, even if they’re not telling you explicitly.”
The article also outlines how leadership and management play a huge role. New research shows that the factor most highly correlated with an employee’s willingness to recommend their company to others is their respect for senior leadership. So everything leaders do is reflected in your employment brand… if your leaders are not part of this process, your recruitment efforts will suffer.
And in a 24/7 interconnected world, not ensuring courteous communication and happy employees can come back to bite companies in a big way. Consider how a disgruntled employee affected the reputation of HMV, a British electronics company. Red Banyan Group outlined a situation at HMV which encountered an unexpected communications challenge when working through a set of layoffs. Among those let go was the organization’s social media planner, who took her frustration to the company’s Twitter handle and began live tweeting about the firings to 70,000 followers.
The employee sent out detrimental tweets such as: “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring” and “There are over 60 us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring.”
According to the continued corporate tweets, the organization struggled with to how to handle the situation as management was not familiar with Twitter. The renegade employee eventually messaged the company with instructions on how to revoke her access since she still possessed administrative rights the following day. And while all negative posts were eventually deleted, it was not before journalists had immortalized them through screenshots.
A great case for why marketers should work collaboratively with HR staff to ensure employment policies are in line with and support branding efforts. Aberdeen Essentials puts it this way, “The relationship that companies foster with customers by defining and promoting the brand or organizational mission should be consistent with the relationship that HR builds with potential, current and former employees. While HR supports Marketing by identifying the best talent to represent the brand, the Marketing team reinforces the HR mission by clearly articulating the brand purpose to employees. In fact, Aberdeen research shows that 67% of Best-in-Class companies have a clear employment branding initiative that involves Marketing and other departments.”