Invest in Brand Strategy to Boost Employee Retention and Happiness
Over half of all Americans are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months — and that number is even higher if you include the ramifications of quiet quitting. As we all know, the past few years have altered work and our relationship with its purpose in our lives, but beyond that I've also noticed a shift in how organizations think about overall brand perception. Now more than ever, organizations feel the need to take a stance on polarizing issues, contribute to social justice initiatives and be part of a larger mission.
While it may seem like an organization invests in these brand-building activities to enhance external public perception, building a strong brand identity is even more critical for employee retention, productivity and overall happiness. In this piece I will outline why your colleagues need to know, understand and believe in your brand to feel fulfilled and help the business grow — and show you how you can get there.
Educate Colleagues About Your Brand Early and Often
My journey to becoming AvePoint’s chief brand officer was nonlinear. I started off in IT, served as CTO of our Public Sector business, then CMO, and now here I am. I am certainly still learning as I go, but in every role I’ve always been a firm believer in transparency and frequent communication. Unfortunately, too many companies today present an “about us” slide in the early days of onboarding new employees, host an annual or even bi-annual all hands meeting, and call it a day. That’s unsustainable, especially today when so much about an organization can change — good or bad — on a dime. Instead, brands need to be more intentional with consistent and clear communications to their colleagues.
Think about it from the external brand perspective: An organization wouldn't just stop at one CNBC TV appearance. Instead, organizations strive to continually drive brand awareness, grow impressions and maximize the reach of their message. The same applies internally when trying to stay connected with employees, keep them abreast of changes, and reinforce the company’s ethos, whether that is through identity pillars, core values or business objectives.
To effectively and consistently communicate with colleagues, companies may consider hosting frequent town halls, investing in an intranet, developing a newsletter, acknowledging peers who embody specific core values within the organization and hosting office hours with certain executives or team leaders. Additionally, the company mission and educational resources should be easily accessible and referenced even after employees’ onboarding is complete. Each of these activities share the goal of ensuring colleagues know the organization they work for and can align with its initiatives.
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Build Internal Brand Reputation With Trust
Once your colleagues know more about what the organization does and stands for, they must believe it. The best way to do that is to earn their trust by delivering on your promises. For example, one of AvePoint’s core values is that we promote continuous learning and the growth mindset. But we don’t just say it. We actively offer employees a stipend for education that will advance their careers. In fact, I took advantage of the program and enrolled in a course on Brand Strategy with a few of my colleagues last year.
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Similarly, let’s say your organization is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. If your colleagues want to develop employee resource groups to further marginalized or underrepresented groups, the organization should be willing to fund them. At the end of the day, how your employees feel about the organization not only has an impact on how it is perceived externally, but also on employee satisfaction, productivity and engagement. Further, employees who are unhappy could have a negative impact on public perception, given the potential for negative Glassdoor ratings, failure to win workplace awards and even the impact of whistleblowers that we have seen at major technology companies.
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Increased Engagement Will Follow
Ultimately, if you state what your company stands for and is on a mission to do and you back those words up with action, more engagement with the brand should come as a natural byproduct. While many companies are still focused on what hybrid work policies will look like, or which snacks and happy hours will lure people back to the office, the real drivers of engagement are frequent communication, validation and trust.
When folks are confident in and proud of their organization, they will be more engaged and promote the company to others. This can be measured by social metrics like how frequently your employees are resharing corporate social posts, or by how many employee referrals are coming to the talent acquisition team. In addition, how engaged your employees are during internal activities like Town Halls, sales sprints or even fundraising and philanthropic events can be an indicator of the overall effectiveness of internal brand efforts.
In conclusion, the goals your brand team may have for growing awareness, elevating reputation and increasing engagement externally should all be applicable internally too. A failure to focus on the perception and efficacy of your brand for your own employees can harm your external brand efforts. But, with a strong brand strategy for your internal teams, you’ll boost productivity, feelings of purpose and overall business growth.
About the Author
Dux Raymond Sy is the Chief Brand Officer of AvePoint and a Microsoft MVP and Regional Director. With over 20 years of business and technology experience, Dux has driven organizational transformations worldwide with his ability to simplify complex ideas and deliver relevant solutions.