Branding From the Inside Out
By Peter Weddle
Courtesy Weddle's Newsletter
There have been lots of good ideas offered about how to hone an employment brand for those on the outside of an organization. But, what about its inward facing side? Recent surveys reveal that internal mobility is now one of the most important sourcing methods, yet very little attention has been paid to employment branding on the inside.
Of course, in these times of reduced resources, it's appropriate to ask whether it's even worth the effort. What will an internal brand accomplish? After all, once a person is employed by an organization, they're committed, right? Wrong. Recent surveys also show that management actions taken during the recession have stimulated considerable restlessness among employees, especially those who are good enough to have options. Hence, there's no guarantee that the top internal performers you want to recruit for your openings will be around to listen ... unless you convince them they should.
What Does an Internal Brand Do?
For those who are unfamiliar with an organization, its employment brand defines the nature of the working experience it offers to employees. It differentiates the organization from its competitors in the labor market and, if well constructed, acts as a magnet for the best talent. But those who are employed by the organization don't need that information. They already know what it's like to work there, so why bother investing the time and effort to tell them?
The answer to that question is what sets an internal employment brand apart from an external one. An employment brand designed to influence candidates must do two things effectively: it must inform and sell. It must feature the key attributes of the working experience in a way that convinces even the most passive person to do the one thing we humans most hate to do: change. A good external employment brand can compel top talent to move from the devil they know-their current employer, boss and commute-to the devil they don't know-your employer, a new boss and a different commute.
An internal employment brand, on the other hand, has a very different role. Its purpose is not, as one might expect, to retain talented employees-although that is an obvious byproduct. Rather, an internal brand should help you accomplish your recruiting effort.
It must promote and sell the best and brightest among your coworkers on the opportunities your organization offers for their continued growth and advancement. If it succeeds at doing that, they will resist the offers they will inevitably receive from external sources and be more susceptible to the internal offer you make. In effect, a well constructed internal employment brand will compel the "A" level performers who already work for your organization to "throw their lot" in with it-to invest their future with the devil they know.
What Are the Attributes of a Good Internal Brand?
A well honed internal employment brand reminds employees of what's best about their employer. It generates pride in what the organization-and thus they-do and how they do it. In other words, an internal brand focuses on those organizational attributes that stimulate esprit de corps, an emotional connection that individuals feel with the employer's mission, culture, products and/or services.
That connection is a far more durable set of "handcuffs" for top talent than bonuses or benefits. Equally as important, it activates a strong desire for more significant participation. It compels them to up their game any way they can. As a result, they are predisposed to accept internal mobility opportunities IF they are presented correctly-as a way for them to contribute more effectively to that which makes them proud.
Branding on the inside is, therefore, a talent accelerator. It ups the performance of employees on-the-job and enables you to redeploy their talent to other jobs that will optimize their impact. Think of it as a strategic two-fer. There's no better justification for investing as much (or more) time, priority and money in branding to your coworkers as you do in selling your organization to complete strangers.