Big companies need to change fast if they want to attract and retain talent

Employer branding is currently living a golden moment and I couldn’t be happier. For years, I advocated the importance of internal branding and now I can see more and more companies starting to understand the importance of positioning their brand to their employees, not just to their customers.

Employer branding is also changing, and it’s changing fast. Like in the world of marketing, the digital revolution means that we need to move from one-way communication cascaded from the company to the current and potential employees, to a conversation model where employees are empowered to become Employer Brand ambassadors. Employees want to talk about their company, about what makes them work for their employer, what makes them get up every morning. We’re now used to sharing every detail of our life on social platforms, and work is a big chunk of our life. But what if companies embrace Employer Branding, even in its latest developments, but forget that the digital revolution also means a revolution about the way we work?

I recently had the chance to speak with the HR manager of a big MNC. She was telling me how the company is dedicated to their employees and shared their plans for the company’s Employer Branding. This MNC seems to genuinely care about their people and is willing to invest in Employer Branding in order to acquire the top talent available. When I asked her what would make the working environment unique and appealing, the HR manager spoke about how energetic and passionate the people who work there are. I then asked about flexibility and she was puzzled. She just told me that the people who work there are energetic and passionate, obviously there is no room for flexi-hours.

I must admit I was taken aback. As a business owner myself, working with clients and suppliers spanning across a 12h time zone difference, flexibility is key. If I was to work only during my day-time hours I would only get 1-2 hours per day with some of my stakeholders, which wouldn’t make any business sense.

Now, I appreciate that not all jobs can be fully flexible, that not everybody can work from the comfort of their own couch at 1am, but let’s consider 3 facts:

1) We know that small and micro businesses are taking the world by the storm and are becoming the driver of the economy (https://www.makeitcheaper.com/blog/the-role-of-small-businesses-in-the-uk-economy.aspx)

2) We also know that Millennials prioritise work-life balance over other job benefits when choosing a company to work for (http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/191435/millennials-work-life.aspx)

3) Finally, we know that there are a significant number of employees with 10+ years of experience who suddenly quit their job, with all of the associated costs for their employer. These are mums that can’t balance work and family life.

What do these 3 facts have in common? Flexibility.

Micro and small businesses are agile, they move fast, they are receptive and adapt to the latest trends in their markets; they need to be flexible in order to beat the competition from bigger, more established companies. They often work long hours, but rarely on a traditional 9-to-6 schedule, they simply can’t afford it. They might have to work Saturdays and Sundays to get the job done, but most likely they don’t do it from their offices. Most likely they do it from their own homes, before breakfast or in the middle of the night, around their other priorities.

A young talent in a company might want to go to away for a long weekend leaving on a Friday, and they might be willing to work until midnight the night before to get their job done as much as if they were in the office all day Friday. In the same way, a parent might want to be there for pick-up after school but with an important deliverable for work, they will then happily work at 8pm after the kids are in bed as long as they had the chance to spend time with them.

Flexibility allows for talent to be creative and to work at the best of their abilities, in a happier place that empowers them to be responsible for delivering without neglecting their own life.

What companies need to understand is that the world is changing and big heavy mammoth business practices will only make them slower in the race to acquire talent that small businesses are already starting to win.

Giulia Iannucci is a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant with 14 years of experience gained across the EU, Australia, Asia and the UK. Founder of her own business, KnowThyBrand, Giulia helps her clients position their brand as the cornerstone of their company, and guide them in creating professional and compelling digital marketing campaigns.

Follow: @Giulia_KTB

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