In an age where employer branding is becoming more competitive than ever, workplaces will necessarily undergo invariable changes, the architectural need is both extrinsic and intrinsic in order to engage and hold employees.
Innovation is a magical word, it brings with it imagery of big bright ideas and creative implementation, when applied to anything mundane, things become new and exciting. When innovation is applied to workplaces it act as pixie dust and transforms dull corners into vibrant play stations. Globally, companies like Google and Microsofthave been leading the work and play revolution and back in India companies like RMSI, Fab India, SAP Labs, Godrej, Bajaj, NetApp also joined the bandwagon having featured this year in Great Places to Work. It is certainly good to observe that the list by industry is growing more diverse, many non-tech companies are adopting some of the non-monetary benefits associated with the tech industry, such as free food, leaves for educational pursuits, and general support for families. This is a healthy sign when we talk about creating conducive work environments or discuss the roles played by HR and Top Management. Business innovations are a strong outcome of employee engagement or workplace innovations that catalyses or result in quantum leaps in productivity and performance, also a major contributing factor in creating Preferred Employer Brands.
Employer brand is an organisation’s reputation as an employer or as a ‘great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market i.e. active and passive job seekers, and clients. The term was first used in the early 1990s, and has since become widely adopted by managements globally. The process of employer branding is concerned with talent attraction, engagement and retention strategies. Employer brand management incorporates every aspect of the employment experience and people management processes and practices termed as ‘touch-points’ that shape the perceptions of existing and prospective employees.
We have heard and read work culture stories many times before. Employees gliding around on scooters or sliding down plastic tubes, then there are treadmills, yogas, bean bags, Friday parties, gamification, scavenger hunts, etc. These may seem tactical but are excellent routine and tangible touch points. At a little more emotional or intangible level, to connect further and deeper, maternity or paternity leaves, daycare facilities, medical support, offsites or outings with families lay emphasis on creating everlasting employee relationships. All of this assimilates to enhance employee’s satisfaction and help increase engagement or touch points.
It has been observed and even known that CEOs of certain companies consciously act funny or mildly maverick or even eccentric when it comes to demonstrating their benevolence towards their employees, also most of the times it may be a manifestation of their leadership styles. Stuart Snyder, CEO at Cartoon Network was named the ‘Most Playful CEO’ of 2012 by Playworks, he was often seen peddling around the company grounds on an oversized tricycle. Richard Branson to make sure his employees are taken well care of even goes as far as to collect feedback by walking around the cabin talking directly to the staff during his Virgin flights. He had revealed that success of his businesses at Virgin does not lie in ‘Customer First’ but in ‘Employee- Centric Management’ Strategy, he believes in a ‘Happy Employees equal Happy Customers’ formula. Similarly, an unhappy employee can ruin the brand experience for not just one, but numerous customers and that may stay in memories for a considerable amount of time, that is surely detrimental and avoidable.
What companies are trying to do more and more is to effectively translate the intangibles like morale, integrity, personal growth, work satisfaction, association and connection into something more tangible to arrive at a scientific approach of employee engagement and employer branding while capitalizing human resource and creating a work culture or fabric. All these efforts are directed and must be, in order to build a strong client base. Many companies as illustrated earlier have achieved milestones and have set benchmarks for others to follow;it has become clear that high levels of employee engagement benefit companies enormously though with a slight disclaimer about financial implications these companies will have to necessarily bear especially the businesses in their infancy. Budget lines may restrict and compromise employee satisfaction.
What makes a place ‘great to work for’ is a healthy mix if employee satisfaction, CEO leadership, career development or personal growth opportunities, work life balance, support for families and other non-monetary or intangible benefits. The companies that usually fare well also effectively communicate mission and values to their employees right from the beginning while hiring and all the fun after that must scale and bind them all together. That is rightful blending of Employer branding and Employee Engagement.While attempting to create stronger employer brands, it has also lead to another noticeable trend. The art of creating and designing output driven workplaces have resulted in a relatively new designation, that of Chief Creative Officer (CCO). He directs a company’s creative output; develop artistic design strategy defining the company’s brand. The CCO creates the unique and clear brand image of the firm and deliver this distinctive design to both internal and external consumers. The power of chief creative officer can even be compared to that of a CEO and at times the roles are interchangeable or handled by one or even jointly. Creative officers lay emphasis on individuality and culture of empowerment. They are instrumental in designing fun filled workplaces to overcome monotony and encourage interactive engagement and collaboration to unleash performance.Christopher Bailey who joined Burberry in May 2001 as design director, became Creative Director in 2004, and Chief Creative Officer in November 2009.
On 15 October 2013 Bailey was named as the CEO of Burberry following Angela Ahrendts’ departure to Apple in mid 2014. Bailey responsible for delivering the company’s global vision, business strategy, brand imagery, product design, creative marketing, architecture, consumer technology and digital innovations is credited with transforming the fortunes of the company, turning it into the luxury industry’s digital leader. He also masterminded the design of Burberry’s largest store and oversaw the design and development of the Global Headquarters in London.With phenomenal rise of social media, Employee Value Proposition that define benefits offered by companies have grown more transparent for talent acquisition and retention. Organizations are relying more and more on employee engagement and advocacy.The workplace architecture needs to be designed and constructed after much thought and planning to factor in what drives and motivates its people. Innovation is certainly magical but the hand that throws the pixie dust and cast the spell is an interpretation of collective efforts put in by ‘People’ of an organization and nothing should take the focus away from them.