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SME firms must stay on top of their employer brand

Ignoring your brand’s health is like ignoring your blood pressure – eventually, it’ll catch up with you, writes Claire Gallagher.

user iconClaire Gallagher 11 April 2024 SME Law
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Editor’s note: This story first appeared on Lawyers Weekly’s sister brand, HR Leader.

Do you really know how healthy your brand is in the eyes of your staff? And do you know how to find out?

For those who believe ignorance is bliss, I am, firstly, strangely jealous and, secondly, seriously concerned.


In a world full of information, data, news, and even fake news, there is no excuse for not knowing. This is especially true for the state of your brand in the eyes of your employees.

Want to know how your brand is faring with one of your most important stakeholder groups? There’s an easy way to find out. Just ask.

In the words of Albert Einstein: “The important thing is to not stop questioning.”

To check you are on track with your strategic goals, delighting customers and staying a step ahead of the competition you need to keep asking questions.

But to fully understand what’s working, we need to ask how. How are we delivering all this? How engaged are our people in our strategic goals? How do our people see customers? How do they feel about where we are today and where we are heading?

Think of it in terms of input equals output.

It’s a simple equation. If you want happy customers, you need happy staff. And yet customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) all too often run in parallel. How many organisations focus on experiences that will enable their people to deliver the ideal customer experience? They’re different sides of the same coin, no?

Post-COVID-19, there was much talk about the “Great Resignation” with the expectation that employees would take back their power and walk out on companies that didn’t appreciate them. Fast forward a couple of years and what we’re seeing is the “great disappointment”.

In the throes of an economic downturn, people no longer feel empowered to quit. They’re staying put so they can cover their exorbitant mortgage, grocery and petrol bills. And they’re wallowing in their disappointment as back-to-the-office mandates and pay gap statistics come rolling in.

Then there are the people being recruited on the promise of a supportive workplace, opportunities to learn and the chance to change the world when, in fact, the day-to-day reality is very different. The first three months pass in a blur of too much information, endless paperwork, and somewhat terrifying compliance training, and you still don’t know where the cool kids go for lunch. By then, you’re entrenched and the hits just keep on coming.

So, what’s the solution?

Just as we need to get regular blood and cholesterol checks, businesses need to check the health of their employer brand. Test the alignment or gap between stated claims around employee value propositions (EVP) and the lived experiences of your people, including new hires.

Does the promise match the reality? Check the levels of employee advocacy. Ask your people how likely they are to recommend you as a great place to work. And review the employee experience, including safety. How does this connect with or influence CX?

Conducting an employer brand health check will give you a snapshot of what’s working and highlight anything you may need to address. Think of it as an early warning system.

Ignoring your brand’s health is like ignoring your blood pressure – eventually, it’ll catch up with you. Don’t gamble on blissful ignorance; instead, start asking questions. You might be surprised by the answers.

Claire Gallagher is the director of employer branding at Principals.