Category Archives: employee communications

Brandemix Bonus Reel: The Importance of One Brand

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, explains why it’s important for organizations to integrate their employer brands with their consumer brands — and shows how to do it right.

To learn more about employer branding, download our free strategy guide or contact us.

Game On for Employee Gamification

While speaking at a recent HR conference in Vegas, I had occasion to meet Jane McGonigal, game designer, speakerauthor, and probably the world’s biggest advocate for gamification, the idea of adding game incentives like points and prizes to non-game activities.  

While within the HR community gamification is still catching on (I find a number of my clients don’t even know recognize the word) gaming, in all forms, is incredibly popular. When the latest Call of Duty video game was released in November, one in four workers called in sick. Look at it from a productivity standpoint: The amount of hours it took to create all of Wikipedia’s content in 12 years…is spent every three weeks playing Angry Birds

During Jane’s keynote speech, she cited the 2012 Gallup study that found that 71% of American employees aren’t fully engaged in their work, making it “impossible to innovate” and costing $30 billion in lost productivity annually. 

Infographic courtesy of Gigya


It’s no surprise that she believes gamification can help. Evidently she’s
not alone. A study by gamification company Gigya showed that gamification increases website engagement by 29%, website commenting by 13%, and social media sharing by 22%. Here are some recent employee gamification success stories.

Motivating employees
Risk Management Services recently turned an internal re-branding into
a trading card game. “Another email or intranet page just wasn’t going to get employees on board,” Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement Amelia Merrill told IABC. “
This contest was fun and different from anything we have ever done.” Merrill said the initiative was a “smashing success.”
 
Orientation and onboarding
Recruitment marketing agency Maximum recently won a Creative Excellence Award for Best Interactive Media for its Deloitte China Virtual Tour campaign. Maximum virtually mapped Deloitte’s offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, allowing job-seekers to explore every department – and get a firsthand look at what working at Deloitte China is really like. More than 20,000 job-seekers took part in the tour’s game feature, Green Dot Mission, and shared their scores on China’s most popular social networks.


Health and wellness
Aetna recently partnered with social media company Mindbloom to create an enhanced version of Mindbloom’s Life Game, an online social game for personal wellness. Players grow an on-screen tree by attaining personal goals, ranging from health to relationships to finances. According to Forbes, activities include “substituting water for soda, taking the stairs to the office, cleaning your room each day, or simply thanking a friend.” Players earn virtual rewards while making progress in their real lives.

Employee referrals
Just last month, Herd Wisdom launched Most Wanted, a mobile app that gamifies the employee referral process. How? “Every action – from choosing an avatar to sharing a job posting – earns points and get participants in the running to win giveaways from Herd Wisdom,” the
company says. The game offers “instant gratification,” since employees can earn points and prizes before they refer anyone, and features funny animated scenes to keep them engaged. Mobile apps like Most Wanted turn social sharing and mobile gaming, which just about everyone likes, into a talent pipeline for any company.

Are you ready to gamify your careers site, social recruiting channels, employee referral program, or other HR initiatives? Contact Brandemix and it’s game on.

The Harlem Shake Does Not A Culture Make

It’s almost impossible to believe that an internet sensation combining
some of my favorite topics — workplace culture, internet trends, viral videos — could manage to turn me off but yes, it’s happened.

The explosion of Harlem Shake memes has put me on a rant as I wonder: Is it really good for your company’s brand? 
You say it makes your employee culture seem fun? I’m sure it was fun for the people in it and the hours it took to prep and shoot, but next week will it look as stale as your holiday party pictures from 2011?

You say the video differentiates you in the marketplace? Considering you’re doing almost exactly the same thing as Dr. Pepper, Puma, Intel, Rackspace and dozens of other companies, probably not. At this point, there are probably more companies that haven’t made these
videos than those that have. In my mind, your brand may be a follower instead of a leader.

Yes, your employees seem to be having fun, but if I’m an applicant, Ijust want a job. I have a degree, valuable skills, and a creative mind. I care about pay, flexibility, benefits, and work-life balance. I care about integrity and ethics and social responsibility. I care about travel and conferences and taking my dog to work. I want to see videos that speak to the things I think are important from the people you think are important.

If you think like me, I have great news. Today marks the start of TED2013 conference. More than 70 speakers from 14 cities and six continents will be delving into world issues, personal identity, spirituality, and music. It’s virtually guaranteed that these activists (like Bono), thought leaders, economists, and politicians will not be dancing. I encourage you to watch riveting talks by remarkable people and hear ideas worth spreading.If you don’t think like me, here’s a site dedicated to the more than 60 advertising agencies agencies doing the Harlem Shake. 

Bonus Reel: How to Ruin Your Employee Referral Program

A follow-up to our popular article about employee referral programs

How to Ruin Your Employee Referral Program

According to CareerXroads, 28% of external hires in 2011 were referrals, and that
number gets even larger when you factor in internal referrals. An employee
referral program is a fantastic way to find talent that fits your culture while
strengthening your employer brand with your current workers. It decreases cost
per hire, time to hire, and turnover.
But just as there are many ways to create an effective ERP, there are plenty of
ways to screw it up. Here are the most popular ones – make sure you avoid them.

Forget about 
it.
We’ve all seen this happen to company initiatives. Management makes a big
announcement, holds a splashy launch event, and then…nothing. No reminders, no
follow-ups, no mention of a deadline. No one announces the winners – if there
are any. Eventually, the program dies a quiet death. To avoid this pitfall,
give the program a catchy name with a slogan that reflects your employer brand
(like we did for Kaplan, below). Announce winners and new hires as soon as
possible, and give regular reminders to employees. Some workers respond to
scorecards and leaderboards, which can be real or virtual.
Kaplan ERP image

Don’t help employees.
It’s not enough to just tell your workers, “Go talk to your friends!” You have to give them support. Create badges they can post on their Facebook pages, provide short links to use on Twitter, and give them YouTube videos they can send in an email. You can even give them actual cards or certificates to hand out; they’ll feel like Santa Claus. Guarantee interviews for all referrals, so employees know their friends will make the first cut. And if your careers site is boring or complicated, create a
microsite just for the program

Make it complicated.
You’re asking employees to spend their free time helping you, so why make it
complicated? Strict or obscure rules – like “the referral should not have worked
for a competitor in the last three years” – discourage employees. Some
organizations forbid managers or the entire HR department from participating,
which just creates envy and dissent. And don’t make employees wait too long for
their reward; how excited would you be if you had won $100…which you’ll get after the new hire has worked for 90 days and then two pay periods later?
Party blowers

Give pathetic rewards.
You’re saving potentially thousands of dollars on a hire, so you can give more than a
$25 gift card to the employee who went and above and beyond to improve the
team. Publicize the winners to through every internal channel so that other
employees will want to double their efforts. If you can’t award large payouts
or flashy prizes, there are plenty of low-cost alternatives, such as a premium
parking space, lunch with the CEO, or extra/preferential vacation time. No
matter what the prize, make the employee feel special and appreciated, which
helps not only the ERP but your organization’s morale as well.
 
And don’t forget to promote the ERP externally, to all your brand’s fans, customers, and applicants. Also, give feedback to employees whose referrals didn’t get hired, so they’ll know what to look for in the future.
 
Employee referral programs turn your employees into brand ambassadors externally and generate team spirit internally. They’re cost-effective and increase the odds
of creating the culture you want in your workplace. Avoid these mistakes and
you’ll be well on your way – but if you need additional help, we at Brandemix
are experts.
And we’d love to hear from you.

Employer Branding Numbers Everyone Should Know!

As experts in employer branding, we’re constantly researching the latest innovations and trends, and I’ve come across some recent recruiting studies that have some eye-opening findings. Think you don’t need an employer branding strategy? Read on.

88%
The percent of employees, out of 19,000 surveys and exit interviews, who leave an organization for reasons other than money. In that same survey, 89% of employers said they believed that employees left only because of money! (The Saratoga Institute)

What this means for you: You can compete even if you can’t offer top dollar. Generations X and Y consider many other factors, including culture, perks, flexibility, and corporate responsibility. If offering average pay and benefits is scaring you from reaching out to prospects, rest assured that your organization probably has one or more other strengths that will impress them.

60%
The percent of employees who would recommend jobs at their company to a close friend or family member — but employers say that only 23% of their employees participate in employee referral programs! (Bernard Hodes Group)

What this means for you: Organizations must do more to encourage their employees to refer talent. More than half your employees want to refer friends; they either don’t know how or don’t think about it when the opportunity comes. If you don’t have a referral program, you should create one. And if you have one, you should explore ways of getting information to your employees in a continuous, memorable way.

An employee referral program that Brandemix created for Kaplan


55%
Percent of employees, from more than 1,700 organizations worldwide, who believe “it’s important that other people want to work for my employer.” (Employer Brand International)

What this means for you: Employer branding isn’t just for recruiting; it can help retain talent, too. Just as employees leave for reasons other than money, they also stay for reasons like reputation and pride in work. Even if your recruiting is going somewhat smoothly, employer branding can help keep your current employees satisfied and productive, lowering your overall hiring costs.

51%
The percent of global employers, out of 632 surveyed, who believe that not having the right people had some effect on their companies’ losing business. (Universum EB Insights 2011)

What this means for you: Talent can be an unappreciated, overlooked, and under-funded resource. Some CEOs are familiar with cost-per-hire, but what about quality of hire? The wrong hire can cost more money than not hiring at all. In this economy, it may be easy to fill certain positions with warm bodies, but finding top talent who will lead the next generation of your company requires a compelling, differentiated message.

Image from Universum Employer Branding Insights 2011

3%
The percent of employers, out of a survey of 175 HR, communications, and marketing professionals, who said they had no employer branding strategy. 51% had an established strategy and most of the others were in the process of developing or refining theirs.(Bernard Hodes Group)

What this means for you: You must have an employer branding strategy. Presuming that you are an “employer of choice” with no need to engage job-seekers is no longer an option. Ninety-seven percent of your competitors are communicating their mission, vision, values, culture, and benefits to your talent pool; you have to get in the game or you’ll give away the victory.

Interesting information, no? And here’s one more number: 33%. It’s the percent of companies that plan to increase their investment in employer branding. Are you one of them? Contact Brandemix for a free employer branding consultation.

How IBM’s Intranet Improves Employee Development and Retention

At  HR/NY’s fabulous social media recruiting panel (which I moderated,) the audience and I were wowed as Nabeel Ahmad, Learning Developer at IBM, rocked the New York Times Building. 

He showed how IBM, the conservative corporate giant, has been letting its hair down and opening its intranet to new ideas. The results have been greater collaboration, better retention, and more advancement opportunities. Here’s how IBM did it, and how you can too:

Employees Thank Each Other
Instead of a top-down rewards program, IBM allows its employees to recognize each other with “Blue Thx.” These can be sent to any colleague anywhere in the world. And it’s not a private interaction; a leaderboard shows who’s received the most “Thx” in the last 30 days. Kind, simple gestures like these help unite IBM’s global workforce of 400,000. 

Employees Shadow Each OtheIBM’s ShadowMe program connects employees with senior executives based on department and location. A search for “social learning,” for example, brings up more than 800 IBMers across the entire company. Employees can physically shadow their mentors at the same office, or virtually follow mentors anywhere in the world. An employee never has to miss a learning or development opportunity because the expert in their field is in a different building, city, or country.

Employees Learn From Each Other
IBMers have access to a crowdsourcing resource, allowing them to ask their colleagues questions about any topic. An HR question posted here, for example, yields much faster results than an email submitted to HR…and it cuts down on HR’s workload. While there’s a danger that employees might give each other wrong answers, I’ve found that, like Yelp restaurant reviews, the truth usually rises the top. 

 

Employees Don’t Have to Email Each Other
Nabeel asked us if we agreed with the statement “I live in my email.” That attitude is a problem at IBM, so senior leaders look for any way to keep employees’ inboxes clean. When new CEO Ginni Rometty took over in January, she didn’t send an email announcement; she put her speech on video and made it available only on internal channels. This showed everyone at IBM how serious she was about cultivating the intranet.


IBM’s collaborative spirit even extends to live events. Before a recent technology panel, employees were asked to submit questions ahead of time. But instead of picking his favorites, the moderator made all the submissions public and allowed employees to vote for the best ones. This ensured that the panel addressed the issues most pressing to the largest group of people. If you’ve been to an event where someone asks a question that’s relevant only to them, you know how important this is.

Nabeel showed us that IBM’s conservative image doesn’t really reflect the true nature of its employees’ creativity, resourcefulness, or satisfaction. If your business is large enough for an intranet, we’d love to put the lessons of IBM and other corporate superstars to work for you. Contact me for more details

The Hidden Information Inside Fortune’s 2012 Best Companies To Work For

Fortune magazine just released its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. But while many news outlets and job boards are covering the main list, the magazine’s researchers compiled some very detailed and segmented data. And I found some patterns emerging on why certain companies have created authentic employer brands as great places to work.

Keeping Employees Healthy Keeps Them Happy
Fourteen companies on the Fortune list pay 100% of their employees’ health care costs. Sure, that’s easy for giants like Microsoft, but a number of small firms do it, too, including Boston Consulting Group, NuStar Energy, the Everett Clinic, and Perkins Cole, which all have around 2,000 workers. As health insurance costs climb and the Affordable Care Act’s future becomes cloudy, health care should be part of every organization’s employer value proposition. How do you handle your employees’ health benefits?

Diversity Counts
Forty-four of the 100 companies have a workforce of at least 50% women. Twenty-three of the companies have a workforce of at least 40% minorities. Eighty-nine of the companies offer domestic partner benefits. We’ve long known that diversity brings fresh, new perspectives to an organization. Now we have the hard numbers to back it up. And don’t forget that “diversity” includes people with disabilities and older workers.

It’s Not Just About Money
Amazingly, 27 of the companies give hourly workers an average annual pay of under $40,000. That includes Men’s Wearhouse, CarMax, Aflac, and Starbucks. Five of the companies, including Nordstrom and General Mills, pay annual salaries of less than $50,000. And yet they beat out hundreds of other, better-paying firms to make Fortune’s list. Obviously these companies have great employer branding and are attracting and engaging employees in other ways. Which brings us to…

Uniting Employees in Unique Ways
One of the lists on the Fortune site is called Unusual Perks, naming some clever benefits that improve employee satisfaction. Among them is NetApp, which offers a basketball court, volleyball court, and massage rooms. Alston & Bird provides free Spanish classes. The Southern Ohio Medical Center features an employee-run vegetable garden. FactSet Research brings local food trucks to its offices, along with free lunches and weekly summer barbecues. And Pricewaterhouse Coopers offers a Mentor Moms program, pairing up expectant mothers with other moms at the company.

What do these top-10 perks have in common? For one, they all bring employees together. Whether they’re eating, learning, planting, or playing, all these perks have a communal aspect that helps build teamwork and camaraderie. Compare that to #4 Wegmans’ free holiday coupon books, which employees use to buy products on their own. Nice, but how does that improve the workplace?

More Perks That Employees Love
Not every company can put a basketball court in their office. Some of the more conventional benefits that the top companies offer include: an on-site child care center (31 companies), an on-site gym (69 companies) or off-site gym discounts (61 companies), telecommuting (85 companies), and the option for a year-round compressed workweek (80 companies).

The Secrets of the Top 100
My takeaway? These successful companies have brought in a broad array of workers with different backgrounds. They pay their employees well or offer substantial benefits, or both. They offer unique perks that allow workers to interact across departmental lines and to socialize before and after business hours. They also provide options for the busy 21st-century employees, such as telecommuting, child care, and a compressed workweek.

It doesn’t matter how large these companies are, how old they are, or what field they’re in. All these elements add to their employer brand as a destination of choice, building success at attracting, engaging, and retaining top talent.

But what if your organization has already received honors as a great workplace or offers unique benefits, but your employees don’t know about them? Our corporate communications experts can help.

Extending Your Brand Through Your Careers Site

After years spent years studying how brands communicate their mission, vision, and values through messaging and design, here’s the Golden Rule:  Whether speaking to shareholders, management, employees, new hires, or job applicants, a brand must be consistent and compelling to be effective.

You’ve seen how I’ve highlighted companies that make great use of branding. In contrast, here are two brands that might be missing great opportunities to extend their brand within their Career’s Site:

NBC Universal

 NBCU is a media powerhouse with a century of history. Universal produced the classic 1930s horror films and has created some of most beloved film franchises of all time: JawsBack to the FutureJurassic Park, and the Bourne movies. NBC’s contribution to television includes Friends, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, ER, and Law & Order – not counting the shows from its cable channels USA, SyFy, and Bravo. The combined company also includes five theme parks that feature attractions based on Harry Potter and Shrek.

With all that entertainment history, what might they show on their careers site? Are you thinking movie stars, rides, aliens, dinosaurs, or monsters?  Nope.
Just plain text.

Compare that to CBS, which provides five images of its entertainment properties.


Condé Nast
This publishing house brings you a wide array of magazines: Vogue, Glamour, GQ, Architectural Digest, Wired, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker, to name a few. In all, Condé Nast publishes two dozen magazines that feature amazing photography, beautiful locations, and cutting-edge fashion. The titles cover architecture, food, and travel. The company must have millions of visual assets from almost 30 years of publishing.

So what images does Condé Nast show prospective employees on its careers site?

A single window of ten rotating images, which are supposed to evoke passion. I’ll let you decide. 

What about your brand? Are you showcasing your brand’s assets on your careers site? Are you displaying your products, exhibiting your office space, presenting your history, or showing off your employees? What do applicants see when they first encounter your brand?

If not, we’d be happy to help. At Brandemix, we love branding.

5 Secrets of a Great Intranet

What’s an intranet? A site where employees can read their about their benefits? A list of departmental phone numbers? A place where press releases go to die?

You’ve got it all wrong. A good intranet allows a company not just to inform and educate employees, but also to engage and inspire them. In a large enterprise, it might be the only way that employees connect with each other and the senior leaders. If you’re not using your intranet to build brand equity, you’re missing a crucial opportunity to improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and performance.

As the internet has evolved, the important characteristics of an intranet have changed. In fact, intranets don’t have to be accessible only on office computers – how about an intranet app that employees can access on their mobile phones?

To insure that you have an engaging and compelling intranet, make sure it has these five important elements:

Interactive
Intranets should allow communication from employees, not just to them. A weekly poll on the front page is a an easy, no-pressure way to get insights from your staff. A simple question like “How can we best improve our sales channel?” can lead to all sorts of interesting ideas.

Multimedia
It’s almost 2012 – is your intranet still just text? Employees can only look at copy for so long. You should include photos of the senior leadership team, audio of the CEO’s speeches, and videos of company events. You might even allow employees to post their own photos and videos of company parties or field trips. Facebook’s own bloggers have said that sharing pictures is one of the most popular activities on the social network.

Effective intranets engage employees.

Timely
Nothing turns employees off like old news. No matter what exciting content the site has, if an employee sees “Get ready for Election Day 2008!” they won’t take the intranet seriously. Update the site at least once a month; once a week would be preferable. “Breaking news,” such as an employee getting a major reward through the recognition program, can keep employees checking the site frequently.

Organized
You’re going to archive a lot of information on an intranet: benefits information, press releases, company directory, HR documents. But if the employees can’t find the information, the intranet is useless. Have a robust search system that lets users quickly get what they need. Place navigation at both the top and the bottom, with clear and simple drop-down menus. Use the front-page poll to ask employees what information they’re having trouble finding and rearrange the navigation accordingly.

Customizable
All our favorite sites are personalized, from Yahoo homepages that show local weather to sports sites that feature our favorite teams. Make sure that one section of your intranet home screen has a section that employees can personalize with their preferred links. Someone may want to see the company’s stock price while another might want to see how many sick days they have left. A “quick links” section not only saves the employees time; it also gives them a sense of ownership for the page.

Time to "reconstruct" your intranet?

At BRANDEMiX, we apply the principles of branding to employer branding, which covers the entire experience. If you’d like to learn how we can create or improve your intranet, visit our website or call 212-947-1001.

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