- Oldsmobile sold 35 million units before it was discontinued
- Kodak no longer makes digital cameras
- No one now “listens” when E.F. Hutton talks
- Levitz Furniture existed for more than 100 years
- We can no longer “fill it to the rim with Brim” (coffee)
So let’s take a lesson from this brand history and apply it to Talent Management. My fundamental question is this – Is your employment brand relevant to both existing and perspective staff? Is it improving, stable, or diminishing?
Research continues to reinforce that we are in and will continue to have a significant talent supply-demand challenge. Jobs will be harder to fill with quality candidates even though unemployment is higher than normal. Attracting, developing, engaging, and retaining a workforce that performs at consistently high levels will be a huge competitive advantage.
Historically, many businesses used ‘rational’ elements to achieve a relevant employment brand – things like higher wages, pensions, incentives, long-term employment, free health care, promotion from within, and ‘perks’ like subsidized child care, unlimited sick days, and free fitness center. Global competition and increasing shareholder expectations have put increased pressure on the ability to sustain these types of rational elements.
Other businesses focused more on ‘emotional’ elements including: creating a different workplace environment and business culture, values-based behavior, non-financial reinforcement (recognition), personal development, and world-class leadership that strived to balance customer, shareholder, and employee needs.
Here are a few key questions I ask my clients as they assess the relevance of the employment brand and its impact on current and future performance:
- What are current employees’ gut feeling about your organization as a desirable place to work? How do you know?
- What ‘promise(s)’ are symbolized in your employment brand that people believe you can deliver and they want to be a part of?
- What differentiates you from other employers? Can it be sustained?
- Do employees have a consistent experience that reflects your employment brand?
Finally, replace the word ‘brand’ with ‘reputation’. Is your organization’s reputation going to help it attract, develop, engage, and retain the talent you need? What are you proactively doing to be relevant to current and prospective employees? Your brand and reputation can’t be put on automatic – just ask Oldsmobile, Kodak, Levitz, E.F. Hutton and others.