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Retention and Engagement

February 15

How often have you seen an exterior of a beautiful house on a TV or movie set — it can be an architectural marvel or a simple, tasteful home with a manicured lawn and exquisite landscaping? It draws you in and you wish you could pick up this house and replace yours with it. If the outside looks this good, you can only imagine what awaits you beyond the front door. But, if you were to turn the knob and move beyond the threshold, you'd be rather disappointed. Where you may expect to find a designer inspired interior — or something that aligns with the exterior of the home, you find a non-existent interior —only the stark framework holding up the grand façade.

Companies may be creating a similar false promise to potential candidates. Organizations invest time and money creating and promoting their external brand. Why should they not? A strong external brand showcases a quality offering and forges brand loyalty for customers and future employees. But, what happens when those candidates, who are now employees, learn the brand message that resonated so strongly with them and influenced their decision ends after they entered the front door of their new employer? They feel duped. Some may even experience the disconnect when applying for a position — if a company's web site is cumbersome or difficult to navigate and lacks information. The application process may be long and arduous and follow-up from recruiters may be slow or non-existent. All of the steps in the recruiting, hiring and employment process are giving potential and current employees a taste of your internal brand, or lack thereof.

Most new hires shape an opinion of their new employer during the first few days and weeks of employment. Much of this is based upon their observations within the hiring and on-boarding process. If they arrive, prepared to invest and commit their time and energy but find they are lacking the necessities to perform their duties — desk, phone, supplies, computer and a direct manager who provides guidance and open communication -you can bet they are designing a future move that usually ensues within the first two years of employment.

Long-term employees are also susceptible — an organization could have a seamless hiring and on-boarding process, but once that honeymoon phase of a new job is over, these employees may no longer feel the love! Those with a strong work ethic and knowledge capital are valuable to an institution and employers do not want to lose them to a competitor. Replacing these individuals is costly - both from a financial and productivity perspective. To deter this from happening and to extend their tenure, employees expect their employer to live up to the principles, which are really the foundation of every organization, that first attracted them - open and honest communication from senior management and their immediate supervisors, ongoing training to enhance their skills, a sense of personal meaning and recognition and appreciation for their contributions.

A company needs and wants their employees to be their best brand ambassadors, not their worst. To be the best, business elements must successfully align with the brand strategy so employees emanate the brand on a daily basis and possess a sense of pride in their employer. If an internal brand was never established or the launch was not fully executed, an organization will continue to struggle with transient staff and will forever be hiring and re-hiring the same employees. In the past, this was already a tremendous hurdle, but with the advent of social media, negative comments about companies can be found immediately on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. Those comments are out there for the world, as well as future employees, staff and customers to see. Institutions cannot afford adverse feedback, but it is virtually impossible for an organization to police every site out there. From the social media aspect alone, it would behoove corporations to cement the notion that there definitely needs to be a connection between perception and reality as well as promise and delivery for their employees.

To avoid constant turnover and to retain and engage employees, all aspects of a business, including recruiting and on-boarding, should be linked with the company's brand strategy to convey one cohesive message. An employer brand does require commitment from its employees, but the employees do benefit from the rewards as well — they have a sense of pride in their work and are able to identify personally with the brand. As we know, an engaged employee is far more productive, provides superior customer service and will remain loyal to their employer for the long-term. By retaining loyal employees, companies are better poised for growth when the economic upswing occurs and funds that were allocated for recruitment can be directed to enhance the skills of its' current talent.

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