REPUTATION ROAD: Yelena Derevyanko from PR-Service about how to start building an employer brand and why the best job is a game

How to make people come to work in your company as to a holiday party? And to do this under a shortage of not only qualified personnel but also generally “high-quality” people. Yelena Derevyanko, a co-founder of the PR-Service agency and vice-president of the Ukrainian PR-League, has quite a collection of recipes. The author of the monograph “Reputation Management in Business” told Leadership Journey how companies could not only earn good money but also have a good name. With the best staff.

Yelena Derevyanko

Leadership Journey (LJ): Today, many companies are concerned about the employer brand. How justified is this emphasis in managing corporate reputation?

Yelena Derevyanko (Ye.D.): Personnel is objectively the most important target audience of any business. Not only as a product creator but also as a subject of communication. Even if there are few employees, each of them is the first and most trustworthy advocate and ambassador of a corporate brand for the public.

Besides, there is an objective factor of the competition of companies for quality personnel. First, all over the world, people want to work less and rest more, to be a workaholic is not fashionable anymore. Moreover, the Z generation sees the sense of life in anything but work.

EMPLOYEES TODAY ARE SOURCES OF SERIOUS REPUTATION RISK FOR A COMPANY

Secondly, Ukraine has its own specifics: a demographic dip and mass labor emigration. A real battle between the companies has unfolded for the remaining capable hands and creative brains. This leads to the emphasis on employer brand. Moreover, this trend is extremely long-term, and it will continue until robots solve the problem of personnel shortage and work avoidance for human civilization.

Finally, employees today are sources of serious reputational risk for the company. In the postmodern and post-truth era, an employee is in most cases faithful not to his temporary employer, but to his personal interests. Therefore, on the one hand, you should have a serious security service, able to work with personnel, and a well-balanced corporate regulatory framework governing the relations between the employee and the employer. On the other hand, it is necessary to monitor the level of staff satisfaction as an internal client and take measures when the satisfaction lows down.

A real battle between the companies has unfolded for the remaining capable hands and creative brains

LJ: What should a company, just entering the path of building a brand, start with?

Ye.D.: To begin with, the project curator should pray for the success of a complex endeavor (just kidding, but in every joke, there is a bit of joke). Then you should set goals and analyze the starting conditions:

  • What kind of employees does the company need to achieve business goals now and in the future?
  • What is a perfect job and a perfect employer in view of employees (that is, the basic attributes of the employer brand)?
  • Where to get them?
  • What other employers are our competitors in the search for brains and hands?
  • What are our competitive positions in this market? How can we win this competition?

Of course, such an analysis is needed for each category of employees. If you have the opportunity to conduct special field studies – fine. If not, one can use intuition and do a desktop analysis.

LJ: What tools are most effective for a company to be perceived in the community as an attractive workplace for job seekers?

Ye.D.: The basic condition is that a company should look decent on the Internet because internet is the source to find a practical-oriented view of a potential employer. Therefore, a virtual image must meet a number of requirements that boil down to the following:

  • a business should look working and active, demonstrate the ability to generate cash flow;
  • a business should create an  impression of a reliable and capable company to keep afloat in today’s turbulent times;
  • a business should have features of humanity – do not look like a sweatshop, demonstrate social and environmental responsibility.

Of course, you do not meet corporate evangelicals (supporters) often at forums, which discuss employers. Mainly, such forums are channels of negative messages. Anyway, they should not be completely ignored because they are a valuable source of information and should be balanced by adding positive messages on employers’ brand.

A COMPANY SHOULD LOOK DECENT ON THE INTERNET

LJ: How to maintain a favorable impression on employees already hired?

Ye.D.: This is a slightly different story. Since in this case, a company needs to not only make an impression of a decent company but also actually be decent, at least to a certain extent. The practice is a criterion of truth. Only after people are hired they can assess how much the promises that are generously sprayed by a myth-like brand in the outside world are kept by the real employer within the company.

That is, the wider is the gap between the company’s image and its real internal «kitchen», the less is the respect for the company and its management, the less diligent and loyal are the employees.

THE PRACTICE IS A CRITERION OF TRUTH

But there is one interesting point. If the value systems of the employer and the employee match, then the chances of success are much greater even with a significant gap between “to be” and “to pretend to be”. Because then there is a feeling of a tribe, gang, team — some kind of unity that allows you to achieve common goals.

Insane authoritarian aggressors tend to have loyal fanatic adherents who rather worship them. For intellectuals, the expert power of knowledge and the strength of the personality of a manager are important, so as not to feel humiliated.

FOR INTELLECTUALS, THE EXPERT POWER OF KNOWLEDGE IS IMPORTANT

The “snowflake” generation likes those who are babysitting with them in the literal and figurative sense – from the office interior solutions, daily routine and the contents of the office refrigerator to the style of communication.

LJ: What tools of employer brand building are the most effective today?

Ye.D.: It depends on a specific category of employees, the economic and other interests of their representatives, which determine a set of motivators effective for the category. Given other things being equal (the motivation package including monetary remuneration and social package); people tend to choose a workplace, which suits their life goals and ambitions best.

The world is atomizing; breaking up into microsegments, therefore the employer’s brand becomes more multi-dimensional

Do you need frisky young people with no intellectual claims? Give them drive, fun, career and cash prospects. Do you need nerds? Give them more free time and opportunity for self-development. Do you need employees who stand firmly on their feet and do a good job? Give a human attitude, a financial foundation and show direction. That is, transform these ideas into specific activities of external and internal PR.

The world is atomizing, breaking up into microsegments, so the employer’s brand is becoming more multi-dimensional. The main thing is not to lose the common denominator of the attitude towards the company as an employer, i.e., the objectives of reputation management in the eyes of current and potential employees. You can achieve your objectives with a strong correct brand and fail to achieve them if the brand is reverse.

LJ: What brand of employer are you building in your PR-Service Agency?

Ye.D.: About 10 years ago, I said that working with us is an exciting game. Today I am ready to repeat these words. The purpose of what we do is creation. Therefore, we need creative people, those who understand the beauty of the feeling that you transform the world using a word, an image, and an action.

WORKING WITH US IS AN EXCITING GAME

Of course, there are many illusions in this; human forces are limited, nobody has canceled the highest forces. However, this is the beauty of a long game; when during a long time (clients stay with us for long, as a rule; the projects are long-term) you can see a real increase in reputations companies and bringing companies to the target format.

Therefore, our people are strategy players. These universal soldiers can do a lot and are not afraid of the complexity of the task, or responsibility. Each employee has his own motivation, but these features are common.

About the hero:

Yelena Derevyanko

Senator of the European Economic Senate,

Co-founder of the Agency PR-Service,

Vice-President of the Ukrainian PR-League,

Doctor of Economics and author of the monograph “Reputation Management in Business”.

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