Having employees who are absorbed and totally enthusiastic about a company is the goal for many organisations and has many internal stakeholders from Human Resources to Marketing to Customer Service. Sharing some of her years of experience on employee engagement projects, Philippa Brown, Brand Director at Brand On, explains some of the key insights learnt from employee engagement programs Brand On have developed.
Having employees who are absorbed and totally enthusiastic about a company is the goal for many organisations and has many internal stakeholders from Human Resources to Marketing to Customer Service. Organisations have their own brand voice often driven by the marketing department but how can the brand voice be driven throughout the organisation to create a cohesive message which remains long after the brand strategists have left the building. Taking a new brand and sharing the messages through global organisations is essential in order that employees have clear and authentic views of the company and what it means to them.
Engaged employees are more productive, more profitable and safer than less engaged employees. A recent report from KPMG entitles “The real value of engaged employees” revealed a significant increase in employee advocacy - 78% of engaged employees would recommend their company’s products or services whilst only 13% of those without employee engagement would do the same. They tend to create stronger customer relationships and stay longer with their company. Engaged employees are also likely to be a company’s best source of new ideas.
Communicating brand heritage and future vision in a visible way helps to reinforce employee engagement, create a positive environment and encourage real brand integrity- ensuring that key values that sit on a wall actually happen in the workplace. The old adage “If you write it down it will happen” is a truism in this context – organisations who consistently communicate their values, behaviours and purpose grow faster and retain their key staff in the process.
Encourage a clear message from the top
Commitment from the CEO should continue well after the launch party to ensure longevity and belief within the organisation. A strong narrative from the top down on the purpose and objectives of an organisation can reap immense rewards in terms of improvements in productivity especially after mergers, acquisitions and restructures. Brand On recently worked with an international construction services company who de-merged in one of their major markets. This lead to a requirement to more effectively communicate their business and brand values with the development of a fresh, new identity. As part of a staff engagement strategy, Brand On worked with their designers and internal team to develop and roll out a series of “teaser” communications globally to staff to let them know that the change was coming and give a hint of the direction it was taking. This strategy helped to make the employees feel part of the process and to manage expectations about what was going to happen and why.
One of the key elements of employee engagement in 2016 focuses on purpose- this is something that many employees strive for – a working purpose that connects them to something larger- what are they contributing to society in their daily work? We see this linked to Corporate Social Responsibility communication explains Philippa “We have a long working relationship with Skanska- an international project development company headquartered in Sweden. Their CSR communication focuses very much on what their people deliver as their working purpose- they are building schools, but the larger picture for them is that they are creating enhanced learning environments that through new tools and encouraging new ways of working, allow children an enhanced start in life.”
Use an interior designer to develop spaces which reinforce the brand values
An engaging workspace is important for employee wellbeing, staff retention and talent recruitment. At the same time, it should be something transformative, that helps employees understand any cultural changes which may be taking place. It should reflect core brand messages creating, consequentially, atmosphere which is true to brand for employees and visitors. Even small changes can help endorse key values such as large scale graphics or lighting – it’s not always necessary to completely refit the entire office. Consider the employees, both demographically and geographically. If much of the workforce is working remotely you can encourage engagement into the workspace and communicate brand through strong graphics either permanently or a short retail style campaign to inform through table talkers, banners and even office supplies.
The future of employee engagement
Feedback from the latest Wolff Olins report #WOreport indicates a shift within organisations to the “uncorporate”, the report opens with “Employees today are uncorporate individualists.” It identifies a need for more open engagement and freedom. The non-corporate brand. Some brand owners will need to find creative ways to imply brand without an overuse and control of logos which could perhaps be through multi-sensory office design or biophilic design. However the uncorporation evolves there remains a need for companies to define themselves to their employees, suppliers, stakeholders and customers through effective creative communications especially to, arguably, the largest group of advocates - employees.