Big brands attract employees, but that’s not enough to keep them engaged – or keep them at all

IC expert Gabriela Torres explores how big brands can engage and retain their talent, by creating an employee experience that matches the view from outside the organisation's window.

Most people want to work for large, well-known brands that will spice up their resumes and take them to the next level in their careers.

In their minds, these organisations will offer exciting challenges and help them expand their professional skillsets.

And so, without looking back, they flock to their dream companies, but unfortunately, the reality doesn’t always live up to expectation.

Not every big-name brand is going to be entirely what people expect it to be, especially if they base their opinions only on how shiny the external brand is.

For this reason, their enthusiasm and engagement towards the company won’t last very long once they join its ranks.

So, how can we, as internal communicators, align what people see on the outside with their experiences on the inside?

And more importantly, how can employees be deeply engaged beyond the initial pride they feel when working for a big, well-known brand, so they stick around for the long haul?

5 strategies for aligning your organisation’s external and internal brands, to keep employee engagement high

Marry internal and external communications

There is nothing worse than hearing about something that’s happening in our organisations through the media, or from friends or neighbors.

Anything that an organization communicates externally must first be communicated internally, and, I might add, with fanfare where appropriate.

Why? Because we need to be consistent with our communications, and keep our main stakeholders involved.

Think about this – you wouldn’t sell, rent or remodel the house you share with your family without talking to them first, right? It’s the same thing.

As an added bonus, internal communication is a great way to spread the messages we want to convey externally.

Remember that your first spokespeople are your employees, especially when they work for a well-known brand.

People will always ask them questions, and they can be our best ambassadors – or our worse misinformants. The choice is ours.

Provide unique benefits related to the brand

If we sell electronics, our employees should be the first testers of our products.

If we are an airline, free tickets are a must for our staff, from time to time.

If we sell ice-cream, they should receive tempting discounts and regular samplings of new flavors; and so on.

Our employees should constantly feel special, mainly because there should be a clear difference between people who work in our organization and people who don’t.

Also, they must know that we appreciate them and their hard work. These perks should be appealing and reflect the brand’s DNA, and should definitely not be restricted only to clients and customers.

After all, it’s our employees who make our organization’s success!

Make employees the protagonists of organizational challenges

Related to what I said before, our employees have the potential to be our best ambassadors. Therefore, making them the stars of our show is the next logical step.

Who could be better suited to convey who we are as an organization to those on the outside?

Whether it is for employer-branding campaigns or TV commercials, employees are in the best position to endorse their organization’s brand when they’re genuinely proud of where they work.

In addition to this, giving these kinds of incentives and exposure to staff helps them to relate more to the brand, and internalize the core values more easily.

Take Zalando as an example. Across their social media accounts, they share many stories from their employees, so we get to know and relate to them, whilst at the same time allowing them to shine and feel good about the work they do.

Also, when challenges arise, employees have the absolute right to lead the processes to find solutions, because they are the ones who know the business from A to Z.

These could be formal or informal activities, but the important thing to remember is that there’s no better way to create meaningful connections with employees than allowing them to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

At the same time, this facilitates the development of new capabilities and gives them the chance to feel proud to work for the organization.

Create a visual brand experience in every location

We all know that workplaces must be safe, clean and comfortable. But let’s not forget that this is where employees spend most of their time, and that workspaces need to inspire people to do their best work.

Not only do they need to be pleasant to work in, but we also have a great opportunity to make these spaces unique experiences for everyone.

Take advantage of them to spread your organization’s vision, values and the magic of its brand.

There could be an exciting world brought to life within every location, where people can easily see who you are, what you do and why you do it.

It is more difficult to ignore something if we are exposed to it every day – as humans, we  tend to embrace and connect with the things we interact with repeatedly.

Being transparent, being human

Communicating good news about our brand is always exciting, and creates lots of reasons for employees and customers to feel proud.

But, it is equally important to communicate the challenges we encounter, as well as the not-so-glamorous stories that come our way.

First of all, employees already know about the bad news, because they are the ones making the business grow day by day and will have already figured out what is working well and what could be better.

But being transparent about all the things that are not so great helps us to convey transparency and authenticity that reinforces the message that no matter how great the organization is, not everything is going to be perfect all the time.

And this is definitely beneficial because, besides managing expectations about the experience within the company, it helps people to be conscious about the fact that, in some ways, all brands are a reflection of the people behind them.

It helps our employees understand this, without forgetting that we all are human and imperfect, and that’s okay.

And what better way is there to engage people, than by allowing them to be who they are?

Download our ‘Anatomy of an Engaged Employee’ IC Field Guide to get the lowdown on what employees really want when it comes to creating a stand-out workplace experience?

Did you know we’ve got a dedicated leadership-development team, who have equipped no less than 104,748 leaders worldwide with the skills to communicate and engage effectively over the last 12 months?

Get in touch today to find out how we could help you transform your leaders and managers from average, to exceptional!

Meet the author

Gabriela Torres

I am a Barcelona-based communications specialist with extensive experience in offline internal comms and creative writing. I’ve worked in the manufacturing and education industry, focusing on employee engagement and emerging internal channels. I love to inspire employees so that they feel empowered to figure out their own goals and shoot for the moon. In my free time, you can find me writing mostly about animal advocacy or personal growth.