The UK’s most engaging companies are married to their employer brand

If you ask your HR director about employee engagement they are bound to declare it as the key to future prosperity and eternal growth for your business. It has taken on an almost mythical status as HR teams seek it, measure it and spend lots of money boosting it. In reality, it’s a simple concept and one that can have dramatic consequences for your business.

Put simply, an engaged workforce is committed to the values and goals of a business and is prepared to go beyond the call of duty to achieve them. It is not something that can be written into contracts or forced upon staff, it is a positive psychological contract that ensures fairness, communication and shared values. The benefits of high engagement include increased productivity, greater creative thinking and reduced employee turnover.

Inversely, poor staff engagement causes high absenteeism, low morale and a lack of creative spark within teams. In times of recession, when companies cannot easily increase salary or benefits, engagement is crucial to keep the crew together through choppy waters.

Your employer brand should attract… and retain
Corporate HR departments have long been focused on creating employer brands that attract the best and the brightest. It’s normal to see a large company with a separate website dedicated to careers and recruitment content, complete with quirky videos of employees at work.

The employer brand is about values and ethics, and is important to attract the right type of employee. Oliver Gibbs, from recruitment website developer Recsite explains:

“Companies have caught on to the need to attract the right job applicants with a slick employer brand, however it’s less common to see a careers page being used to communicate with the existing workforce. Integrated content across email, social media and career site is a fantastic way to have a conversation with employees as well as candidates – these two groups don’t have to be kept apart. In fact nothing promotes a corporate culture better than evidence of positive communication between workforce and management.“

Progress within the online recruitment market means it is easier than ever to compare jobs by salary, location and benefits. Job seekers are now looking more to corporate recruitment websites to scope out the corporate culture prior to application; it has become one of the key decision-making criteria for candidates choosing an employer.

“We like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain”
An employer brand message is about attracting the right type of candidates to the business and should be as accurate as possible. Promoting a fictional corporate culture will only lead to increased staff turnover when expectations are not met.
Small businesses feel this acutely due to the intensity of working environments; new recruits must fit in with the culture socially and professionally. An employer brand can be even more important for SMEs than large corporates.

Company careers websites can be an effective platform for HR departments to communicate news and events designed to boost morale. Integrating content onto social media channels can boost the community feel within a company. For example, uploading some photos from the company football tournament onto the career site will enhance the employer brand and when posted to platforms like Facebook the content becomes much ‘stickier’ and tends to be shared from team to team.

The appeal of social media is its power to bring people together to share content. This needs to be managed carefully to avoid PR disasters and inappropriate language. Clear parameters must be set within the HR team as to who can publish and moderate content.

A careers website that is visited by an engaged workforce can become one of the most cost-effective recruitment tools available to a company. When you are actively recruiting, a well-presented employee referral scheme can help you reach an un-tapped talent base. Your workforce become recruiters, actively seeking job applicants across their own social networks. E-recruitment providers such as Recsite can help power these referral schemes through interactive careers portals with built-in applicant tracking.

An online careers presence can help improve a key factor in engagement – communication. Nothing can alienate workers more than failure to grasp the bigger picture of company performance. Executives can easily fall into the trap of appearing to live in an Ivory Tower away from the Coalface and this has an affect of losing the inherent value to the business of a cohesive workforce.

Oliver Gibbs explains; “Internal communication is absolutely critical across multiple platforms. One of our most effective services to clients is a weekly performance newsletter. This gets sent out to all employees with real time data of corporate performance including sales targets, output, business growth and news. These graphical emails include call-to-actions for employees to reply and ask questions about business performance. They can also be a great sounding board for problem solving and ideas. You don’t have to be Google to listen to and trust your employees”

A visible employer brand will not in itself make your workforce instantly engaged, however an integrated platform makes it easier to reach employees and candidates. Provided you are true to your company’s ethics and values, an online employer presence will become a sustainable human resource for many years to come.

Oliver Gibbs is Co-Founder of e-Recruitment technology firm Recsite and works with corporate recruiters, recruitment agencies and SMEs.