To hire the high grade employees required for a company it is productive to think of them as customers shopping around for an attractive workplace. Like most consumers their opinions blend fact with myth. Impressions of a business can be shaped by remuneration and career pathway but also by a particular name.
Mr. Branson, brand ambassador par excellence, thrust Virgin upon us with risk-taking and exuberant flair. We were breathless for a while. That record company guy is publishing proper books! That publishing company is going to run trains! The breadth of the Virgin Group’s activities astounded: the do-it-differently sensibility seeped into public consciousness. Now it is Google who go-get the future by shouting about sweet office perks, lavish parental leave and data-led analysis of happiness. You can probably lounge on bean-bags and play table-football with creative types too. The consumer-as-potential-employee fantasizes about contributing to the brand.
Companies with stardust have sufficient shine to withstand flickers of reputation damage. But for everyone else, adverse publicity such as a grilling on Newsnight, could dissuade tomorrow’s employee from making contact. Gauche graduates aren’t the only wannabe workers gazing in at the window. 40 per cent of prospective management employees reject companies that have negative connotations. As people we naturally want starlight to fall on us too and dodge the rain.
Positive aspects of a working week can be obscured by a less-than-dazzling public persona. Substance QI’s Attractive Employers research proposition includes a 360 degree look in the mirror at your company. Looking inwards – to capture what current employees think and say about the company – can assist headhunters and refine communication materials. The route to successful retention and recruitment is to check current standing in the road. Don’t allow your company’s greatest asset to pull off in the direction of competitors.