Being at the center of negative publicity can have a devastating impact on any organization. From adversely affecting the stock price and equity risk to waning corporate tax behaviour, the cost of a bad reputation in terms of talent and brand value is high.
To gauge the statistically, approximately 30% of people say that they wouldn’t work for a company with reputation issues at all. Of those who would be willing, men report requiring a 53% pay increase, while women would require a 60% increase. Hence, the risks are more significant than ever, particularly for publicly traded companies and heavily regulated industries. One corporate misstep can lead to a full-blown communications crisis. One rogue employee can do massive amounts of damage to a brand’s reputation.
Companies frequently try to manage this risk by imposing restrictive policies about when, where and what employees are allowed to communicate. The partial or wholesale prohibition of social media use is among the most common approaches. With so much at stake and shareholders to answer to, this seems like a prudent approach.
However, this outdated model of brand control fails to take advantage of a company’s most powerful assets – its employees. The reality is that current, past and prospective employees are going to talk about employers, and they are going to do so in very public ways. While companies could choose to view that as a negative and attempt to shut down such communications, there is another option. Now, more than ever, companies have an opportunity to brand themselves as employers of choice and harness the collective power of employees and candidates.
Creating an environment that fosters trust not only results in a more positive and productive workplace but creates a platform from which employees and candidates can become powerful brand ambassadors. It’s a virtuous cycle that enhances the Employer Value Proposition (EVP) organically. Here are a few key insights collated by the ManpowerGroup Solutions- an executive recruitment agency that can help employers create brand ambassadors that have the power to drive an EVP forward:
Today, the risk associated with incorrect or sensitive information being shared, alongside anything that might damage the company’s reputation is more significant than ever. After all, it only takes one irresponsible or misinformed person to launch a PR crisis.
Employers’ response to mitigate this risk wherever possible has been creating policies that prepare organisations for the worst case scenario. Companies often choose to treat the brand conversation as a monologue rather than a dialogue. For example, companies tightly control benefits, leave, day-to-day supervision and individuals’ use of personal social media accounts in the workplace.
It’s not difficult to see how these decisions might increase management’s comfort level regarding the extent to which risk exposure has been managed. However, the tradeoff is that these types of policies have a direct impact on employees’ experiences with the company. The message to employees – and what can ultimately manifest itself as the corporate culture employees and what candidates talk about – is that employees are not to be trusted.
In a buyers’ market, employees may be more likely to tolerate restrictive policies that are rooted in a lack of trust. This is precisely why trust has been largely overlooked in EVP until now. For many companies, the global financial crisis has bought time. Jobs have been in short enough supply that employers have had a false sense of complacency and haven’t been concerned with the experience their employees and candidates are having.
But, trust is a two-way street. For all the well-meaning, yet restrictive policies, employees and candidates are communicating about employers anyway. In addition to sharing information with their own networks, employees are increasingly broadcasting their points of view anonymously at websites like Get Rated!, Vault and Glassdoor.
In countries that are emerging from global financial crisis, many employers are finding that employees expect more freedom in their work lives and how they communicate about it. Companies that innovate through EVP now may well find themselves better positioned in the long run.
Nearly all employers – nine in ten – look at candidates’ social media profiles and more than half have passed on a candidate due to content they’ve found online. But how many candidates have passed on employers due to their digital profiles? The answer may be surprising to some.
78% of job seekers say that ratings and reviews from former and current employees influence their decision to work for an employer. Nearly half of Glassdoor users require that a company has a rating of at least 3 stars to even consider applying for a position.
Studies show that employees are increasingly talking about their employers on multiple channels. In fact, one survey showed that 40% of UK employees said they’ve criticized their bosses on social media sites. The trends aren’t limited to current employees either. According to the Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Benchmark, 83% of people will share a good experience with their inner circle and 51% will share it on social media. At the same time, 66% will share a negative experience with friends and colleagues and 34% will post information about their bad experience online. The likelihood of sharing both good and bad experiences on social media has more than doubled since 2012.
The findings of work satisfaction among workers across the globe are quite bleak as well. Nearly three in four employees say their employer doesn’t promote their employment brand on social media platforms. One particularly stark finding showed that only 13% of workers in 142 countries actually feel engaged at work and half of the people surveyed say their job has no connection to their company’s mission, and has no meaning or significance.
But, studies have consistently suggested that a vast majority of millennials want to work for the same companies they value as consumers. And, we know from research that millennials talk about their work experiences with more than half report using personal accounts to conduct business. The implication for employers is that employees and candidates will talk about them, whether policies about how, where and when they can communicate are in place or not. They have platforms to do so anonymously or transparently, and there is no shortage of people willing to listen.
Candidates are increasingly likely to talk about their experiences – both good and bad, whether they received a job offer or not. However, the impact of a negative experience is especially potent due to what psychologists call negativity bias – the idea that people have stronger reactions to negative inputs and as a result are more likely to recall and recount them more vividly than they would positive experiences.
Among employers, there is enough of a concern about this issue that the Talent Board and Hireright recently released a Candidate Resentment Calculator, designed to calculate the amount of money a bad experience costs employers. Even using a very conservative example of a medium-sized retailer with 3,000 employees/250 annual hires and an 8% negative candidate experience rate yields almost $400,000 in lost revenue.
Despite a growing awareness about the importance of EVP and the increasing investments towards it, only half of American workers believe their employer is open and honest with them and a quarter of employees don’t trust their employers at all. Employees’ trust in leadership has a significant impact on retention and satisfaction. One global survey found that only 27% of employees who plan to leave their jobs have high levels of trust in their companies’ leadership.
Employers need to prioritize creating effective internal communications and employee engagement programs (i.e., investing in employees sharing their work with each other in sophisticated ways that connect to the mission). Communicating pride in the work employees are doing and demonstrating that the company cares about its people and its mission is critical to developing a winning culture and raising the EVP.
And, once this is accomplished, employers should not be the only ones communicating the key messages about it. In fact, because employees and candidates have greater credibility, they can authenticate and validate what the employer is saying and doing. Any company can craft a well-written EVP that reflects everything marketing and HR wants to get across. However, the true value of an EVP is not in how it is defined but in how it is executed and perceived by employees and candidates.
The global talent market is rapidly changing and the shift of power is gradually shifting from the perimeter of employers to the verges of candidates. Candidates have increasingly more anonymous and transparent mediums of communication. In this world of changing, poor candidate experience can cause a medium sized business $400,000 in lost revenue. All these markers point towards the importance of creating a strong organizational culture. One can easily argue that this should start at the top, but it is something that can be built from the ground up.
Companies need to increase their investments towards strategies that enhance their Employer Value Proposition and extend awareness of their EVP to employees and potential candidates. These include investments in social media, employee events, creating a positive candidate engagement experience and employer websites, to name a few. For accurate workforce solutions that help in attracting the top talent, it is recommended for employers to consult an executive recruitment agency such as Manpower Solutions.