Managing for Success

Using your Brand to Retain Top Talent
by Suburbia Advertising

A strong brand is one of the best tools you have to attract and retain employees. When you are recruiting new employees (and keeping your existing employees happy and motivated), make sure to harness the power of your brand. For companies already invested in understanding, developing and building their brands, this isn't an onerous undertaking. Essentially, your task is to marry your brand values and promise with the fundamentals of what motivates people at work. Through this, you'll cultivate employee satisfaction, and subsequently, retain your top talent.

There are three key ways to achieve this:

  1. Lead by example

    First and foremost, live the brand. This is a crucial step in inspiring employee enthusiasm and loyalty. All members of the management team, particularly company owners and senior management, should personify the company brand strategy. Make an effort to talk about and emulate the brand promise as often as possible – this is a significant part of how you build credibility, trust and hope. Your employees will look to you for guidance, so the more you show them how the brand should come to life, the more likely they are to represent it properly.

    Ways you can integrate the brand:
    Explain to your staff how company decisions regarding marketing, policy, and operations reflect the brand promise. Show them tangible instances where the brand has come to life and helped to improve the company's bottom line.

    Integrate the brand promise into recruitment advertising, interviewing, goal setting, and rewards and recognition programs.

    Ensure your marketing uses vehicles that effectively communicate your brand promise. For example, if your company is about industry and culture, an investment in a monthly newsletter with trends and tips could be a very strategic use of your marketing dollars.

    When it comes to operations, ensure that you're integrating your brand promise into your decision making. For example, if you're a creative company, your products and services should always reflect this brand promise. Don't cut corners and think your customers (and staff) won't notice.

  2. Understand what motivates your employees

    We could fill several newsletters discussing the topic of meaningful motivation for employees. Fortunately, human nature isn't that complicated when it comes to work. For most of us, our ideal job is one that allows us to make a difference and perform meaningful work with like-minded people.

    How people view making a difference and performing meaningful work within an organization often has to do with how well they understand and embrace the brand values and promise.

    For example, Starbucks prides itself on giving all new employees the chance to experience their brand firsthand at their mandatory 'Barista Bootcamp'. During orientation, all employees from janitorial staff to chief executives, learn the company history, the correct method of roasting coffee beans and how to craft the perfect espresso. Through this they ensure all employees get a chance to make the beverage that forms the base of the entire Starbucks brand.

  3. Give meaningful rewards

    Be innovative in the way you reward your staff. Link the innovations to your brand's values and promise. Depending on your situation and business, you could consider some of the following:

    • Take the time to get to know your employees and the type of recognition they prefer. Some people are put off by public recognition and would rather be thanked in person. Others thrive on being rewarded in front of their peers. Ensure that you're giving your employees the type of praise they appreciate.
    • Transit/travel incentives – bus passes, subsidized parking passes, incentives for carpools, secure bike storage.
    • Flexible working hours.
    • Incentives to try and use your products and services.
    • A comfortable break room – give your employees a nice, clean and cozy place to relax and chat. Be sure to include decorative touches or elements that reflect your brand promise.
    • Allow employees to take their birthday off work.
    • Memberships or discounts for a local fitness club – a great perk that also keeps your employees healthy.
    • Free (and good) coffee – never underestimate the motivational power of a well-brewed caffeinated beverage.
    • Reward staff for long-term employment with a meaningful anniversary gift.
    • Explore giving little rewards for small achievements and big rewards for 'Wow' moments. Little rewards include personal gifts that are meaningful to the employee. For example, giving a bar of good quality chocolate to a cocoa-loving employee who stays late to finish a project on deadline. Big rewards are much grander, and reward employees who truly go above and beyond. One small Victoria company surprised the staff with a Christmas bonus of a free trip to Mexico in recognition of their hard work through the fall.
    • Finally, never underestimate the power of a sincere and steady stream of "well done" or "thank you" – two simple, but powerful expressions that we are sure almost any brand would support.

This article has been reprinted with permission from Suburbia Advertising. Suburbia Advertising is a leading retail branding agency in Canada.

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