We went golfing for the first time in four months Sunday. Being the golf nuts that we are, this dry spell was almost unbearable. Living in South Florida affords us the ability to play year ’round – a blessing that is not lost on us. It also gives us a chance to be with our family with which we spend way too little time. Why don’t we have more of a “work/life balance”? This is one of those key company culture descriptors (aka buzz words) that you see in everyone’s recruitment marketing today, along with “employee-centric, family-oriented, growth opportunities, great benefits, competitive compensation” – you know the drill. (According to a recent story on SHRM, companies are thinking about doing away with those “great benefits.”)
Create a real work/life balance company culture – and only THEN say that you’ve got it. We find that most companies spend time trying to come up with their employer brand based on what SOUNDS like great marketing, rather than focusing on the real deal. Maybe that’s because the real deal isn’t marketable? Everyone has seen a great blurring of the line that separates work and home life but the shift is almost entirely in favor of the employer. After all, we bring our work home all the time. How often do we go to the office to hang out with our kids?
Are there companies that really offer work/life balance AND opportunities for advancement? There should be. According to a November USAToday story on attracting Generation Y to a company, 20 somethings expect this, and companies need to get up to speed with this and build their brand around it. According to Lisa Gundry, professor of managegement and director of the Ryan Center for Creativity and Innovation, “Increasingly, organizations are adapting to the needs of their employees. These needs can include flexible shifts or hours, flexible locations [teleworking arrangements, or even living at a distance from the organization], assistance with child care and elder care and also more innovative kinds of accommodations such as including places for employees to play [game rooms, exercise and health/fitness facilities] and socialize, as well as stimulate the creative senses of employees so they can generate more innovative ideas in their work. The competition to attract the most talented employees will drive this change, and many organizations view it as a positive change because the result is you create a workplace that is an extension of people’s lives and homes, rather than the artificial separation between work and non-work that has been the model of the past.”
When trying to build your brand and ultimately brand loyalty – Think about what you truly have to offer the next generation of employees – don’t just try to come up with a new catchy headline and slick logo. Be truthful about your greatness; offer insights on ways that you are continually seeking to improve your shortcomings – concentrate your marketing efforts on finding ways to offer real windows into your company culture.
The web is a medium unlike no other for being able to offer such authenticity. Companies need to focus on and harness the web’s power for corporate web site optimization, blogging, access to corporate videos and webcams, online chats with current employees, email marketing, social networking and more. We believe that to fully realize the power of the web for authentic employer brand building, it necessitates expert specialists, a dedicated strategy, and a mindset that isn’t watered down by obsolete models. Companies will need to be brave to stay relevant and be so open, but the rewards will be great: better talent, more loyalty, better bottom-line.