Brand and employee engagement lexicon

From my upcoming book The Talent Journey, part of the upcoming 55-minute guide to … series .

Definition Of terms

Attraction – Getting the right people to want to come to work for you and not your competitors.

Brand – The sum total of what and how people think and feel about your organization, its people, and its products and services.  Typically a significant intangible financial asset seldom managed like one.  It’s what they say it is, not what you say it is.

Brand engagement – Broadly, how connected people feel to your brand.  In this context, brand engagement is about how well your employees and other stakeholders are connected to, and prepared to go the extra mile, for your products and services.

Employer Brand – Your reputation as an employer amongst potential and existing employees and other stakeholders.  Again, it’s what they say it is, not what you say it is.

Employee Journey[1] – Whether it’s broken down into two stages or 12, there is a well-embedded concept that breaks down the experience into touch points.  In broad terms, thinking through how your engagement effort applies to people at each of the following stages of the employee journey can provide great insight into who needs to be involved, the potential ROI and benefits to the business, the best media and engagement techniques to apply, and what other actions need to be taken:

  1. Brand – A person knows something about your organisation, or learns about it, through a variety of touch points.  These may include your consumer/corporate brand, product and service experience, word of mouth, recruitment advertising, or online experience.
  2. Employer Brand – At some stage, the person considers your organisation as a place where they might like to work.  They seek information about your organisation – again from a range of sources, most of which your organisation has no control over whatsoever.
  3. Attraction & Recruitment – The person decides to find out more about you, and to seek a job offer from your organisation.  They experience your attraction and recruitment process and decide to join you or not join you.
  4. On-boarding and induction – The person is inducted into the organisation and experiences “on boarding”.
  5. First 90 days – The person experiences their initial time with your organisation, including initial perceptions, setting of initial goals, objectives and expectations, and forms a picture as to whether what you offered is what they receive.
  6. Engagement – The person continues to develop in their role (or not), and at various stages, they consider looking for a different role or challenge – with your organisation or with another organisation. Or, the organisation considers finding a different role for the person with itself or another organisation!
  7. Departure experience – The person leaves employment with your organisation – and may (or may not) consider rejoining at another stage, continuing to advocate your organisation as an employer, and its products and services.

Employee Value Proposition – What you say and do to show what you offer as an employer and what people can expect of an employment relationship with you. 

Engagement[2] – Employee engagement is broadly how much people care about, and are willing to do something extra for their career, their company, their colleagues, their communities and their customers.  When it’s working well, therefore, employee engagement is a good thing for everyone on your stakeholder list.  Employee engagement delivers:

  • Commercial and cultural benefits to the organisation, and
  • Personal and professional benefits to the stakeholders involved.

 Insanity[3] – Doing the same thing but expecting different results.  Often prevalent in employee communications. Alternatively, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!”

ROI – Return on Investment (or Return on Involvement) – Getting more out than you would if you put your money in the bank or invested in something else (or if you want to calculate it, let us know your current discount rate). 

1.  Engagement builds shareholder value
Smart companies understand that how they attract, engage and retain their people has as much impact on their business performance as their R&D, products and services, and marketing communications.  Companies that do it well outperform those who don’t. 

2.  Engagement builds brand equity
Your brand and intangible assets represent something between 40 and 70 percent of the total value of your organisation on your Finance Director’s balance sheet.  People make or break your reputation.  And people are your greatest asset (according to your annual report).  So it makes sense to manage your reputation, as a business and as an employer, like the important financial asset it is.  External brand building in the employment space is no longer just about recruitment marketing and advertising, either.  It’s just as much about marketing, advertising, PR, HR and internal communications.

3.  Engagement enhances productivity
There are always going to be employees who go the extra mile, and those who don’t. The trick is to have as many of the good ones as possible.  People don’t join a company with the intention of “not being engaged.”  If you invest in making sure people have the awareness, attitude and tools to contribute, people will be more productive.  They will contribute more, and the good ones will stay longer.  Make sure your employer brand, employer value proposition – whatever you want to call it – is working hard as a business asset.   It’s critical to ensuring that you get the right people, that they get productive quickly, and that you don’t have to go through the process of hiring them all over again.

4.  Engagement improves talent attraction & retention
The simple act of making the effort to engage and give people a voice is often enough to make a difference, even to cynics.  What’s more is that your employees can act as a key channel to market for your reputation as a business and as an employer.  It’s not just about being nice – it’s about cost saving and improved productivity.  You can reduce recruitment advertising costs as well as agency fees if people become employer brand ambassadors.

5.  Engagement affects customer attraction & retention
Organisations invest heavily in their infrastructures, in developing products and services, in sales and marketing, in supply chain and getting their products and services to markets at the price that will yield them the most profit. The problem is, you can get all of that right — and still lose customers and market share.  The truth is that for nearly all products and services, even if your performance and pricing are perfect, poor service and interaction with your people – sales forces, procurement people, customer facing, client facing and service staff – is where your reputation is made or broken.  Customers are willing to forgive a lot if your people treat them well.

 Stakeholders – Depending on your objectives, your stakeholders may not be limited to employees of your organisation.  Often, engagement efforts need to take into account other stakeholders who may be affected by changes in the way people inside your organisation think and behave. 

 These can include:

Your organisation

o     Senior executives and leaders

o     Business and people managers

o     Employees (and their families and friends)

o     Contractors (and their families and friends)

o     Former employees

o     Future (potential) employees

Other organisations

o     Outsourced functions (HR, IT, etc.)

o     Suppliers

o     Partners

o     Regulators and government & related bodies

 The broader community

o     The investment community

o     Shareholders / investors

o     Environmental and Corporate Responsibility interests

Your customers/consumers or clients

o     Potential customers or clients

o     Current customers or clients

o     Past customers or clients

Your competitors

o     Direct ‘traditional’ business competitors

o     Non-traditional and indirect competitors

o     Competitors for talent


[1] Gower Handbook of Employee Communications, Gower Publishing, London, 2009.

[2] Gower Handbook of Employee Communications, Gower Publishing, London, 2009.

[3] Albert Einstein, 1879-1955.

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