Your employer branding future
What sort of future does your employer brand have?
And so on it rumbles.
Brexit is the story that keeps on giving.
Right now, it is focusing minds in the High Courts, as the Attorney General makes the case that the Government can proceed with Article 50 – the effective trigger for the two year countdown to leaving the EU – without the approval of Parliament. It is anticipated that Article 50 will be actioned by March next year, suggesting that we will exit Europe by early 2019.
That much about our future post Brexit we, broadly, know. How the next two years will shape up and how many twists and turns they will have to accommodate is distinctly less clear.
This lack of clarity has, however, already been punctuated by some of Brexit’s early repercussions. The plunging value of the pound, down around 17%, has seen the cost of buying goods produced overseas move in the opposite direction.
(To put sterling’s performance into perspective, the Economist suggested this week that it was one of the world’s worst performing currencies, comparing it to the Nigerian naira, Azerbaijani manat or Malawian kwacha).
Such currency pendulum swings created one of the more iconic headlines this week, with Tesco threatening to take that UK staple, Marmite, off the shelves. And Marmite wasn’t the only product likely to disappear from the aisles of the UK’s largest retailer. Because of Unilever’s demands to raise the price of what Tesco pays for its goods by a hefty 10% - to cover the weakness of sterling –the retailer was days from binning all Unilever’s products.
Lots of bluffing, bluster and brinksmanshipping. But a future without Marmite, Dove and Ben & Jerry’s? Not ideal for either Tesco or Unilever and some form of deal has subsequently been cobbled together.
At times of doubt, uncertainty and ambiguity, a clear sight of the future distances organisations, countries and employers over and above the competition.
And TMP were fortunate enough to work with Unilever a year or so ago on an employer branding project. Fascinating, challenging and ultimately hugely rewarding the project certainly was, and possibly the most interesting insight to draw from this was the Unilever vision. The organisation was aiming both to double in size over the decade and to halve its carbon footprint. Sustainability was an approach or an initiative, it was what the organisation did. Today and into the future.
I’m reminded of this having come across an article by Indra Nooyi, Pepsico’s Chief Executive Officer this week. She speaks with immense pride about what Pepsico has achieved over the last ten years from a business and environmental perspective.
This isn’t a self congratulatory puff piece, the point of the article is to outline Pepsico’s vision for the next ten years – Performance with Purpose 2025. This includes a significant contribution to the education of women, providing sustenance to under-served communities and reducing emissions within Pepsico’s supply chain.
It references the alignment of companies such as Pepsico and the societies and communities they are a part of.
Most important from an internal perspective, it unveils the future to Pepsico’s employees (those working there now and those who might consider the organisation tomorrow). It creates a compass point for those people to aim for. It shows them where their contribution will lead. It suggests that Pepsico stands for more than making tin cans, making fizzy drinks and making the quarter. It has a future with clarity and granularity and it wants its people to be part of that future.
From a global brand viewed on screens across the world whose products are consumed by international audiences, to a UK energy supplier operating call centres across the country. Both a market sector and a talent pool often perceived, unfairly, as low profile and lacking glamour.
Nevertheless, our work constructing an EVP and messaging platform for SSE’s contact centre audiences proved a hugely and, surprisingly positive experience.
Amongst our many insights, research suggested their people felt invested in, felt encouraged, felt inspired and felt supported.
Above all, perhaps, I have never come across an employee base with as much line of sight around the future of where their organisation was going and what that meant for the people working there. SSE people were aware of the challenges, the change as well as the opportunities that the next two to three years were likely to deliver.
Implicit in this is the trust that SSE put in its people – either they would respond positively to such clarity and buy in to a future with the energy firm, or they would decide such a future was not for them.
Painting a picture of how the future is likely to unfold appears to be working. SSE has the lowest number of complaints referred to the Ombudsman in 2015 and the best complaint handling record every quarter since 2009, according to Citizens Advice.
We live in a VUCA world, with change and upheaval all around – and Brexit has only added to this sense of turmoil. The workplace is in constant evolution – according to Spanish professor, Arturo Bris, 60% of the jobs that will be done by the next generation do not yet exist and that one job in five roles will disappear in the next five years.
Whilst predicting the future isn’t what it was, those organisations that have the confidence and purpose to map out how they see the next two years and articulate it clearly for both external hires and internal employees will have an employer brand that feels more stable, more anchored and more tangible than those with no more than the next quarter as a reference point.