Some small businesses have learned the hard way, that unhappy customers are far more likely than happy customers to make their feelings and experience known online. Negative customer comments, or stories, in strategic places can have huge impact on business reputation.
But the customer side of your business is not the only side that’s affected by stories. Your ability to attract great candidates for employment also depends on the stories they hear about being an employee in your business. Your reputation as an employer is known in HR circles as your Employment Brand.
Just as you must pay close attention to what customers are saying about your business, you must also pay close attention to what your employees are saying about you as an employer. Positive, inspiring stories about what it’s like to work for you will lead to candidates seeking employment with you without much recruitment effort on your part.
Dr. John Sullivan, noted Human Resource thought leader, calls Employment Branding “The only long-term recruiting strategy.”
Conversely, negative stories about working for you and your company will work against you when it comes to finding good employees.
So how do you know what stories your employees are telling about working for you?
Obviously, if you ask directly for employee stories, you may get only positive ones. It might be better to begin your process by telling your employees that you want to evaluate how your company is doing as an employer. Let them know that your reputation is important to you and you want to do what it takes to make your workplace a workplace they choose to stay with and one that attracts great new employees. Make sure you follow through on this, or your reputation among your employees will suffer.
Next set up a survey on one of the free survey sites like surveymonkey.com. You might ask questions like the following:
- What makes our company a good place to work?
- What makes our company a poor place to work?
- Give an example of a time when you felt excited about working here – what lead to those feelings?
- Give an example of a time when you wished you didn’t work here – what lead to those feelings?
- What would make our company a better place to work?
- Given a choice would you stay as an employee of our company?
Add any other questions you believe will have the best likelihood of giving you a clear picture of where you currently stand as an employer. Your challenge is to identify your employees’ intrinsic motivators and what makes them feel emotionally connected to your company.
If you don’t already do so, design an effective exit survey. One study in England showed that while employees were still with the company, a high percentage said their reason for leaving was for promotion or higher wages. Once they had left (IE: some time had passed) that number had dropped considerably. They then felt ‘safer’ giving their real reasons for leaving.
Go back to your former employees and ask them to complete an exit survey, even if you had them do one before they left. Here your main questions will be centered around their reasons for leaving and any suggestions they might have for improving the employment situation in your company.
So what are the key stories being told about your company? Please share them with us, along with any Branding or reputation management tips you might have, in the comments section below.