The basic role in employer branding is played by the coherence between declarations and actions. Unfortunately, many companies tend to neglect this area. It is a mistake, because employees who are convinced their company’s messages are authentic become its best ambassadors.
Travesty of Communication
In Disrupted – pungent criticism of the Silicon Valley – Dan Lyons reveals the weaknesses of non-authentic organizational culture. He believes obliquity in corporate communication starts with relations with employees. Lyons stigmatizes for instance:
- overoptimism, which stops people from expressing their opinions;
- mistaking workplace with a playground, resulting in false evaluation of reality (free sweets instead of better wages and development opportunities);
- trite representation of company’s mission (omnipresent “changing the world for the better”);
- corporate language, which does not allow to call things what they are (dismissing an employee called a promotion).
Communication in the world described by Lyons is a travesty, because it’s goal is not communication, but propaganda. As a result, even the employees who buy into the corporate story at first, sooner or later notice that they’ve been deceived. It’s easy to guess what their attitude to the former employer will be when they eventually find another job.
Not only words matter
Employer branding is not about showing the company only in superlatives. It’s goal is to prove the authenticity of company values in action. As Monika Chajdacka says in the book First Customer by Urszula Radzińska, “Everything you do is communication. Every decision communicates something to people.” Thus success does not depend on words, but on integral perception of what is happening in the organization, and on adequate responding to the events.
The validity of this attitude is proven by the success of companies which have chosen this model of self-presentation. One of such companies is Netguru – a Polish startup, which last year was listed among the most rapidly developing European companies by the „Financial Times”. “We believe we attract great people mostly because we run a stable, transparent and ambitious business based on partnership. We hope this is how our team talks about us,” says Kuba Filipowski, co-founder of Netguru, in an interview with Artur Kurasiński. “No number of table football games, multisports, free meals and xboxes can replace the feeling you are being treated fair at work.”
Values are the foundations
Integral employer branding is only possible when companies are aware of their values and are able to act in accordance with them. It is key to define those values. It is not as easy as it seems, as pointed by Michał Nowak in Marketing of Values by Justyna Bakalarska: “Even though people have their values deeply rooted inside them, no one is willing to devote time to them.” It’s much easier to copy something from another company’s website and get a copywriter tune it up. But this attitude is snaky, because the first crisis is going to painfully reveal the shallowness of the company’s declarations.
For corporate values to be authentic, it’s not enough they are decreed by the top. Everybody must believe in them – not just the management. What’s more, they should be in accordance with the company’s goals and be reflected in practice. Consciously chosen corporate values mean higher responsibility for words and deeds, but also a stable ground to build authentic internal and external communication. It’s worth looking at the best – it already works for them!