Investing in internal brand development and a robust internal communications strategy is vital for employers who want to attract and retain the right talent, inspire employee loyalty, and improve business performance.
Research has shown that employee turnover could be reduced by as much as 28% when a strong, cohesive and compelling internal brand strategy is in place. However, Forbes reported that just 30% of employees were confident that their company followed through on their employer brand commitments.
Potentially, that’s up to 70% of employees who are disengaged, not bought into the brand and not working to drive the company forward. All these factors negatively impact business performance.
Once you have invested in your employer brand strategy, how do you embody it within your workplace culture? In this blog, we explore:
- Aligning your actions with your internal brand messages
- Creating a workplace environment that reflects your brand values
- Fostering a culture of engagement and advocacy with your employer brand
- Creating two-way conversations with your employees to evolve your internal branding
Align your actions with your internal brand
Your internal policies and processes, the way employees treat each other, and the demonstrable commitments you make to your internal brand promise determine your workplace culture.
If your actions as an employer and the behaviour of your senior leaders don’t align with the promises you make to your employees in your brand messages, you erode trust in your brand values. This leads to disengagement, low motivation and poor employee retention.
To start with, your brand values must be authentic. They should reflect the passions and beliefs of the business leaders, not be empty words. If you co-create and agree your values as a wider leadership team, you’re more likely to get buy-in from the start.
Next, review every element of your organisation and identify where your policies, processes and behaviours don’t align with your employer brand messages. Then, make the necessary changes to bring everything into alignment.
When you start from a foundation of authenticity and alignment, it’s far easier to be consistent with your internal communications and to effectively and smoothly communicate the reasons behind any organisational changes to your teams.
Focus on the work environment
There are many factors that impact your employees’ experience of the work environment, including office design, leadership styles, and employee opportunities.
Having an aesthetically pleasing, inspiring place to work with natural light, good air quality, and ergonomic workstations is important for productivity and wellbeing. But it’s also important that your workplace design enables your employees to align themselves with your brand values.
Firstly, display your brand purpose and values clearly to provide regular reminders to employees of your bigger picture purpose, their role in it and of your promise to them as an employer.
Secondly, your workplace should enable employees to demonstrate and engage with the company’s values. For example, if one of your core brand values is collaboration, how does your office design reflect this? Is it open plan? Are there comfy break-out spaces where people can meet and co-work? Or if you value creativity and innovation, does the décor inspire creativity? Are there relevant books available for employees to read, or inspiring artwork on the walls?
Your senior leaders have an important role to play in creating a positive, brand-aligned workplace culture.
Buy-in from leaders at the early stages of developing your employer brand messages and values isn’t only essential for authenticity and ownership, it also creates a deep understanding of how their behaviour can influence and direct workplace culture.
For example, if accountability is essential to your employer value proposition (EVP) then your leadership and management styles shouldn’t seek to control or micro-manage.
What’s more, your leadership teams are the influencers of your organisation, and people will look to them for guidance on how to embody your values.
To support your leadership team to live and breathe your brand while at work, and set an example for their teams, effective internal communication is vital. Communicate with them through inspiring, always-on campaigns which equip leaders with the clarity, knowledge and tools they need to fulfil this aspect of their role.
Employee opportunities such as events, internal campaigns and competitions are powerful tools in amplifying your EVP and demonstrating your commitment to your internal brand messages.
For example, if you are committed to making a difference in an area of social impact, you could provide paid volunteering opportunities for employees to help a charity within that sector.
If you state you are committed to diversity and inclusion, you could run events that celebrate Pride month, raise disability awareness, or educate employees on issues such as unconscious bias.
To build trust and loyalty with your employees, all of these areas must be in alignment with your internal brand.
Fostering employee engagement and advocacy
Engaging employees with your brand and empowering them to embody your brand values goes beyond a one-off internal brand launch meeting and displaying your values on the office wall.
It’s important to create an employee engagement strategy that communicates your brand messages regularly and consistently in an engaging, inspiring way.
The most successful internal branding strategies are those which generate whole-hearted participation from employees, across a range of different channels and make a personal connection with employees.
Ways to inspire employee engagement and advocacy
- Acknowledging and rewarding employees when they go above and beyond to demonstrate your brand values
- Enrolling employees as ‘champions’ in key areas of your business, such as ‘diversity champion’, ‘wellness champion’ and involving them in developing and evolving policies and processes, or organising events
- Implementing a formal employee advocacy programme and providing training for the hard and soft skills your employees need to participate
Not only is a dedicated employee advocacy programme a great way to reward employees for their loyalty, provide them with upskill opportunities and give them the support they need to grow their personal career profiles and networks – it also benefits your business.
Companies with a successful employee advocacy program are 58% more likely to attract, and 20% more likely to retain, top talent.
Get feedback from employees
Creating a workplace culture that aligns with your internal brand is an ongoing and evolving process. Two-way communication between your organisation and employees to gather their feedback, hear their experiences and listen to their ideas is vital.
When your employees feel seen, heard and valued, they are more likely to be engaged at work, deliver their best work, and go above and beyond to contribute to the success of the company.
IBM research found that 95% of employees who had a positive experience with their employer said they engage in activities that are not part of their job but are beneficial to customers and their company. For staff reporting a poor employer experience, that figure fell to 55%.
Ways to gather feedback from employees
- Annual surveys which give employees the opportunity to have their say on organisational policies, processes and changes
- Pulse surveys to collect anonymous feedback in key areas aligned to your values, at regular intervals
- Employee engagement surveys to find out what is engaging your employees and what isn’t resonating
- Open forums to hear employees’ opinions, facilitated by an impartial third party so they can be honest and open
The insight gathered across these touchpoints allows you to assess whether your employees are engaging with your internal brand, what they believe you can do to improve, and where to prioritise changes in order to promote employee engagement and happiness.
When you give employees the opportunity to have their say and be part of shaping an aligned and positive workplace culture, your internal brand will be more authentic, powerful, and resonant – inspiring loyalty, advocacy and driving performance.