For most companies, value doesn't just come in the form of products and services. Instead, value comes from within, as employees embody the organization's code of ethics, bringing customer centricity to life in all they say and do. Yet, for many brands, this shared commitment to the greater good isn't universal.
The CMO Council's recent "Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space" report explores ways in which marketing and HR leaders can engage employees in better radiating and reinforcing the company's brand values, ethics, commitments, and qualities as they work to shape corporate culture and brand personality. Conducted in partnership with Executive Networks Inc and CultureSphere, the study polled more than 230 senior marketing and HR professionals across the globe to examine the current strategies and techniques leading consumer brands have embraced in their effort to recruit and retain Millennial employees, build customer-centric cultures, and gamify the workplace to drive productivity, performance, and motivation. Overall, nearly 70 percent of those surveyed believe their management teams are strongly committed to the company's image, identity, culture, and collective ethos.
The following statistics highlight the struggles brands face when trying to instill shared values, ethics, and behaviors that symbolize and validate brand platforms, personalities, and promises:
- For nearly 90 percent of those surveyed, brand persona remains as essential, very important, or moderately valuable to attracting new hires and building lasting customer relationships, yet only 62 percent report having a formal brand platform that defines shared values and ethics.
- While more than 50 percent of respondents believe their brand personality to be fully embodied or very well reflected in their people and workplace, only 37 percent say they have a well-defined corporate culture that's universally embraced by the entire organization.
- Brands often seek to engage, motivate, and recognize employees using internal communications campaigns (51 percent), employee meetings, gatherings, and briefings (48 percent), training and development (39 percent), and a dedicated intranet site (27 percent).
- More than 50 percent of those polled report heavy or expanding use of social media and instant messaging channels for employee engagement and recruitment. Six percent, however, haven't used such technologies, and only 1 percent report that such tools are prohibited.
- Fifty percent of respondents would be interested in piloting or learning more about social media platforms for real-time, employee-inspired branding, for the key benefits behind crowdsourcing employee or partner-contributed social media content include: transforming workers into active advocates and brand champions (50 percent), strengthening brand authenticity and corporate credibility (41 percent), and unifying, engaging, and activating the organization (40 percent).
- Millennial employees want a collaborative work culture (88 percent), to make the world a better place (65 percent), and managers who empower and mentor them (40 percent). In response, organizations have implemented informal dress codes and work styles (29 percent), redesigned work environments (31 percent), and flexible work hours (33 percent).
Key takeaway: Companies typically seek to engage and activate employee and partner networks through company gatherings, meetings, shows, and events; new product introductions; delivering on customer care and handling promises; image and reputation building; and business performance achievements. But, when it comes to connecting with Millennial workers, few provide rich collaboration and engagement (25 percent), encourage open communication (28 percent), or possess a culture that's embraced by the entire organization (37 percent). To truly develop greater Millennial attraction and employee interaction, brands must create an internal culture where employees are part of the big picture, launch a collaborative, social environment where employees become brand champions, and inspire a corporate sense of purpose that radiates from the inside out. No matter the demographic, workers want to know that their contributions mean something-that they're part of something greater than themselves. Therefore, brands will need to adjust their strategies in an effort to support retention, boost engagement, and reinforce commitment to the organization's overall vision and mission.