Fierce Excerpts: The cost of a bad (brand) reputation.


*Photo from Joseph Avakian, a friend of Fierce.

Now Reading | A Bad Reputation Costs a Company at Least 10% More Per Hire

One of the most important segments we include in a Brand Strategy Document for any client is a section related to the important role functional philosophies, internal culture, on-boarding, and brand reputation management play within a company. Harvard Business Review took on the challenge of researching just how much a bad reputation costs. They found that three key factors contribute most to a bad reputation: stability, opportunity for career growth, and the ability to work with a top-notch team. Here’s their approach:

To learn more about how consumers evaluate a company’s employer brand and then translate their impressions into dollars, we recently partnered with ICM Unlimited to conduct a survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,003 full-time professionals in the U.S.

Our research found that the top three factors that contribute most to a bad reputation as a place to work are concerns about job security, dysfunctional teams, and poor leadership. The top three factors associated with a good reputation as an employer are stability, opportunities for career growth, and the ability to work with a top-notch team.

We also found that a company with 10,000 employees could be spending as much as $7.6 million in additional wages to make up for a poor reputation. We based this number on an average U.S. salary of $47,230, according to May 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics calculations; an assumed annual turnover of 16.4%, according to information from CompData; and the minimum 10% pay increase our research showed was necessary to convince a candidate to take a job at such a company. All told, that’s about $4,723 more per hire.

Those numbers are staggering. People surveyed said that even a 10% pay increase would not lure them over to a company that exhibited the three key factors of a bad reputation. The following excerpts are some good tips to either avoid this expense against your brand—or help if your company is already incurring this financial burden:

First, find out where your reputation stands. If you think you have reputation issues, take the time to understand what prospective employees actually think. Following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP conducted surveys to learn how people actually felt about potentially working at the beleaguered company. Not only did a lot of people not realize BP was hiring, but many were interested in jobs. BP also gained insight into what candidates were concerned about: the company’s financial position and safety record, of course, but also their career goals and whether they’d be a fit for the culture.

Figure out your employee value proposition. Do you understand what inspires your workforce to do their jobs each day? Knowing this will inform your brand efforts and help engage your prospects. Perhaps your team loves the free-spirited culture or your mentorship opportunities. If you don’t know, ask. InMobi, a performance-based ad network in India, surveyed 1,000 employees to learn what they valued about their workplace. When the company discovered its culture and practices set it apart, it was able to build employer brand campaigns around those concepts.

InMobi created a number of videos showcasing work life there, blogged about its culture and employee value proposition, and encouraged employees to get active on social. Its efforts caught the attention of the media, resulting in several favorable stories. Within six months InMobi saw applications increase fivefold. Interestingly, the jump in applications didn’t bring in a rush of lower-quality candidates. In fact, it was just the opposite — the company reports that because of its efforts, it’s attracting candidates of a higher caliber.

Speak to your audience (like a human). Once you know what to communicate, make sure you’re sending the right message to the right people. Consider SAP. To target more young tech workers, SAP revamped its career page, increasing visuals, adding 40 videos featuring employee stories, and tailoring content to students, graduates, and professionals. “Life at SAP,” a social media campaign designed to show rather than tell what it’s like to work at the company, engages prospects on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. SAP now has a thriving talent community with more than 550,000 members, giving the company a well-stocked pipeline of potential new hires.

Similarly, GE launched a funny ad campaign to give GE Digital’s employer brand a boost among tech workers. Featuring a fictional techie named “Owen” whose friends and family are struggling to understand that he has landed a tech job at a manufacturing company, the ads both humanize the company and show there’s more to GE than we assume. More than 800,000 people have viewed the ads on YouTube, and some candidates have told GE they applied immediately after seeing them.

Mobilize your biggest fans. When you’re ready to share, don’t forget your best brand ambassadors: your employees. Arm them with great content — images, stories, videos, tweets, GIFs, articles — encourage them to share, and amplify their efforts.

Part of Cleveland Clinic’s Middle East expansion plans included creating video job descriptions to attract prospective employees and show them what it is like to work for the clinic and to work in the Middle East. The talent acquisition team uploaded the videos to YouTube, tracked which hiring managers shared the videos, and shared the results in an email, creating a competition as everyone tried to out-share each other.

Get executive buy-in. The storytelling must come from the top. The difference between mediocre and great employer branding often is executive involvement. When the C-suite publishes or shares on social, it sets the tone for the entire organization.

Excellent advice. If you find your company facing these challenges, reach out to the Fierce people today.

Read the entire article here.