Most of what is written about an employer brand is baloney! You can’t fabricate the perfect job or control how people feel about their workplace day by day. And as for creating a workspace to make people feel happy all the time – well, good luck with that.
In reality everyone has off days, companies change, departments restructure, business pressures come and go. Most of all, peoples’ needs evolve as they travel through life, whether it is the need for more money, more recognition, the need to travel or the need to experience entirely different things.
What you can do is identify firmly what type of employer you are. When creating a workplace, outline what your employment offer is going to look like and make that brand identity and experience known. This way you will attract more like-minded individuals. It also figures that if you can articulate your core values and your offer with authenticity – and walk the talk – you can better attract authentic people who are well matched.
When I asked my team why they joined my company, they (coming from a wide range of ages and places) said it was about shared core values, transparency, honesty – being able to talk about real things while they deal with real life and do very good work. This covered the need for flexibility and their eagerness to learn. Some reiterated that this was more important to them than being a ‘sexy’ company (with beanbags or foosball tables) or even what the company does. It was more about being safe and respected and understood.
After 21 years in business I’ve pretty much seen it all. I’ve made good employment choices and those I regret. Like all employers we evolve, move through different phases in business with different personnel needs. With all those years comes a lot of experience. People stay working with people they like and mostly when core values are aligned. If the core values fall out of whack, people start looking for another employer.
Sometimes life just happens and people leave. It is a practical reality and comes down to the combination of changes with life and work circumstances. As with home life, people make mistakes and often it is whether you can live through those mistakes or you choose to opt out.
The fact remains that we spend most of our time at work, so where you work and who you work with has to make you feel good. When I first created my own business, it meant leaving my young children so I was adamant my workspace would be the best it could be to warrant the heartache of leaving them.
Ultimately, the aim of any employer (in their right mind) is to keep good people for as long as possible and move them on as soon as possible if the fit isn’t right or becomes strained. Onboarding and offboarding are equally as important as each other. They must be managed equally well and are often overlooked by SME businesses (if not also the big guys)!
Environments are best if they are open, honest, transparent with no bull, and teams, employees and the employer can safely call it how it is. This is not as easy as it sounds, but it is much easier in SMEs where there is less red tape one can build a culture from the ground up.
Workplaces function more efficiently if you get to know your employees. Individual personalities respond differently to work pressures, responsibilities and experiences Everyone is different, so the one size fits all doesn’t work well these days and certainly hasn’t since I began in the workplace. Creating a work environment that fits and nurtures a wide range of personalities is a good thing. Not so easy, but a good thing. This means in practice you can build and tailor for each person and provide perhaps flexibility or training or good work life balance on an individual basis.
Note that when circumstances are tailored and vary for the individual, it is important to govern and record it so it is fair and encourages an environment where people are and feel cared for and their personal circumstances are considered in tandem with everyone else’s needs.
Other basics such as comfort, light, heat, air temperature, ergonomics, safety, basic food supply and updated IT are often overlooked and are equally important.
As a business owner, you must of course be familiar with the Fair Work Act and understand your legal compliance and employment award responsibilities. Within that however, you can choose your own ways to operate and offer more (but not less) of governance-meeting criteria.
The other thing to bear in mind today is social media. Employees need to know the clear instructions and policies around social media use and their responsibility to their employer brands under legal contract.
You can choose how you hire, how you conduct and time performance reviews, improve the hiring and onboarding process, conduct training, set KPIs, levels of social engagement and the exit process. The key is to put the right person in the right seat. This is your joy as an employer and while it is fun to create, it is an ever-evolving process.