Category Archives: establishing culture

Brandemix Bonus Reel: How to Become an Employer of Choice

Director of Interactive Branding, Jason Ginsburg, explains how an organization can get started on the path to becoming an employer of choice.

To learn more, please email us at employerofchoice@brandemix.com

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Gamification for Recruiting

Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg explains what gamification is and how HR professionals can use it for recruiting, onboarding, training, and employee referral programs.



Register for Jason’s FREE webinar, Socialize Your Talent Strategy, presented Monday, April 29, at HR.com.

Why Bridgepoint Education Careers is a Social Media Superstar

I recently discovered Bridgepoint Education’s clever use of Twitter and Pinterest to hire for its campuses and offices in San Diego, Denver, and Clinton, Iowa. I then had the chance to speak with Christina Hastings, Director of Talent Acquisition and Development, about her philosophy, her strategy, and her success.

Christina runs a personal Twitter, @aRecruitersPOV, as well as @BPEdCareers. Like many organizations, however, social media is no single worker’s full-time job. An associate, KelliAnn Holly, contributes to the Bridgepoint accounts.

On Twitter, Christina and KelliAnn create themes for each month: January’s was #NewYearNewYou. February’s was #WhatDoYouLove. March’s is #GiveBack, which emphasizes charity and volunteering. The duo also came up with themes for each day of the week:

Monday – #HotJobs
Tuesday – #JobAdvice, tips for resumes, interviewing, and the job search)
Wednesday – #Development, as in “How do you become a better you?”
Thursday – Throwback Thursday, as in “What was your recruiter’s first job?
Friday – What to do around town, highlighting shops and restaurants near Bridgepoint’s locations in San Diego, Denver, and Iowa.

aRecruitersPOV on Twitter

“It’s important to speak on behalf of the brand and as a member of the brand,” she told me. She believes in “profersonalism,” a combination of individual personality and corporate culture that conveys a personal yet professional message. “People would rather connect with a person than a company,” Christina said.

Christina has three expectations for anyone contributing to her department’s social media: Be yourself, support the brand, and drive everything back to the brand.

Bridgepoint’s TAD department is responsible not only for hiring, but also developing, training, and engaging employees. Christina uses the hashtag #TADculture to give an inside look at the employee experience. Her goal is to tweet three to five times a day, with at least one photo. When she and KelliAnn recently ran out of images, they spent their lunch break roaming their San Diego office, taking photos.

For inspiration, Christina looks to @FordCareers and @GenMillsCareers, who communicate their culture “without being one giant billboard.”

Christina and KelliAnn also manage Bridgepoint Education Careers’ 11 boards and more than 400 images on Pinterest. “We visually showcase what the culture looks like on the inside,” she told me. “It lets candidates peek behind the curtain. If someone’s cousin says, ‘this company looks cool and my cousin should work there,’ then we did our job.”

One board features photos of the Bridgepoint recruiters, complete with Twitter handles (and the #TADculture hashtag for good measure). Another is devoted to inspirational quotes. Christina is planning “Behind the Bridge,” a board that will serve as a tour of Bridgepoint’s San Diego workplace. “We’ll show you where you’ll park on your first day, and pin photos of our gym – and even the best time to use it!”

Bridgepoint Education Careers on Pinterest

Christina says she models her efforts after the Pinterest boards of Intuit Careers, Target Careers, and a Brandemix Social Media Superstar, Taco Bell Careers.

She plans to expand to YouTube, but is waiting for a bigger content library. “If we can’t produce videos on a consistent basis, is it worth it to be on YouTube? I want to have 20 videos before I feel like I can create a YouTube channel.”

Social media recruiting efforts can be difficult to measure, but Christina says she increased social hires from 4% to 7% of all hires last year. Most companies peak at 10%, but Christina would like to eventually reach 20%. With goals that bold, it’s obvious why Bridgepoint Education Careers, and Christina Hastings, are Social Media Recruiting Superstars.

Sometimes It’s All Hands On Deck

Telecommuting has been all over the news this week. First, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer changed the company’s policy that allowed employees to work (sometimes entirely) from home. Yahoo tried to put the story in perspective with a press release that said, “This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home. This is about what is right for Yahoo right now.”

Just a few days later, Best Buy announced that it would eliminate its renowned Results-Only Work Environment, a program that allowed corporate employees to work when and were they chose, as long as the quality of the work met the company’s standards. Like Yahoo’s change, it’s not a total ban, but corporate employees are now expected to work 40 hours a week and to come into the office “as much as possible.” Best Buy spokesperson Matt Furman said, “Bottom line, it’s ‘all hands on deck’ at Best Buy and that means having employees in the office as much as possible to collaborate and connect on ways to improve our business.”

So, are Yahoo and Best Buy doing the right thing? As a consultant to major brands on culture and employer branding, I think they are.

Working from home -- a lost luxury?

Working from home — a lost luxury?

Both these companies are engaged in turnarounds. Smart companies react to changing situations with their own changes, so I see these moves as responsive to business needs. It’s also reflective of the companies’ faith in their talent to help them steer the ship out of the storm.

Mayer and Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly know that they need the collective brainpower of their employees to come up with great and wonderful ideas. It takes a village, after all. In fact, Marissa Mayer was brought to Yahoo to make the company more like Google – and neither Google nor Facebook, both of whom have made it so easy for us to connect with people virtually, allows unlimited telecommuting.

Bloomberg, a hugely successful digital company, was a pioneer in seeing the value of instant, in-office, business exchanges in real-time. Their buildings famously have no offices, only shared spaces. It’s even part of their employer branding: “Our wide-open workspaces encourage collaboration.”

Bloomberg's share workspaces. Photo by Willie Jeung

Bloomberg’s share workspaces. Photo by Willie Jeung

Many other companies limit or ban working from home. In fact, 15 of Forbes 100 Best Companies to Work For have no telecommuting program. 

Talent management professionals have long known that it’s a business imperative to have the right talent for the right jobs at the right time. Now we coming to recognize that they need to be in the right place too.

Need help changing your culture? Email me and we’ll talk.

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Making Great Employer Videos




Job-seekers don’t want to see another “Harlem Shake” video; they want to learn about your workplace, your culture, and your employees. Here are some tips for creating a compelling employer video.

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. 

The Week’s Most Important HR Tweets

I follow lots of influential HR, recruiting, and employer branding professionals on Twitter. They’re a great daily resource of developments in talent acquisition and retention. I retweet as many of these insights as I can, but it’s impossible to keep up with the constant stream of news. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of this week’s most important HR tweets.

Tom Boltthe popular and prolific CEO of Leute Management Services, joined a number of other HR professionals in tweeting about the article, “Five Ways to Get The Most From LinkedIn in 2013.” The article, written by Certified Professional Resume Writer Kelly Donovan reminds job-seekers to use LinkedIn’s newest features, such as endorsements, projects, and videos and slide shows. Most intriguing was the idea of sending a follow-up letter after an interview via LinkedIn mail instead of email; it’s an idea being touted as “the new cover letter.” With this piece, Kelly highlights another way that LinkedIn is changing the entire job search experience.

I noticed lots of tweets about another “top five” article – this one by Meghan Casserly in Forbes, titled “The Top Five Reasons Employees Will Quit in 2013.” Meghan cites a survey from executive advisory firm CEB that named “stability” as the most important thing workers are looking for in a new employer: “It’s about going to a place that has its act together and can offer both long-term potential and stability. The next four things employees look for are compensation, respect, health benefits, and work-life balance.

Lastly, professionals from many different business fields were tweeting Fast Company’s piece, “Secrets of America’s Happiest Companies.” In this fascinating article, Lydia Dishman points out something we at Brandemix know all too
well: that disengaged employees cost their companies money – in fact, a total
of $350 billion a year. The article is based on CareerBliss’
50 Happiest Companies List, which offers some surprises. “Fun” companies like Disney and Google didn’t even make the top ten. #1 was Pfizer, followed by NASA, the Department of Defense,
KBR, and Cisco.

Why? Lydia lists the “5 rules of employee happiness,” which include role mobility
and having a meaningful impact on the world. The third rule focuses on employee
recognition, which I always tell brands is important to workplace happiness. The
fourth and fifth rules involve work-life balance and common-sense policies that
make workers’ lives easier, not harder. If your company isn’t following at
least a few of these rules, you may be hurting your bottom line more than you
think.

 

For more thought-provoking HR tweets, be sure to follow Tom, Kelly, Meghan, and Lydia – along with Brandemix and my personal Twitter, of course. And if you know of more HR Twitters worth following, drop me a line.

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.

Why I Love the Wendy’s “Hot Drinks” Video

As a specialist in employer branding and HR communications, I’m always looking for hiring, onboarding, and training samples and ideas. Here’s one I recently came across. It’s a training video, produced by Wendy’s, instructing employees on how to prepare hot beverages. The video seems to have been produced in the late 80s or early 90s.

Here’s why I love it:

It’s actually informative.
I work just a block away from the Wendy’s on Fifth Avenue but rarely have a reason to go inside. Watching the video, however, I learned that Wendy’s sells not just coffee and decaf but also hot tea and cocoa. I honestly had no idea that I could get hot chocolate at Wendy’s. And who wouldn’t want their drink served with a “juicy slice” of lemon?

It wasn’t posted by Wendy’s.
At least, as far as I can tell. The video is posted on a personal YouTube account with no affiliation to the restaurant. The video is so entertaining (or so kitschy) that someone decided to post it for the world to see – and more than 225,000 people have viewed it. Rather than trumpeting this video to the public, Wendy’s was simply trying to educate and amuse their employees; the fact that it’s going viral without their help makes its success completely authentic.

It didn’t have to be fun.
The training video for preparing four hot drinks could have been straightforward. A smiling Wendy’s employee could have conveyed the information in two minutes, at little cost. But Wendy’s took this video to a whole new level, writing an original song, adding effects, and turning a simple one-shot setup into a production with multiple cuts and angles. I’m sure that employees watching the video would go from smiling to laughing to tapping their feet. Even if they’re laughing for the wrong reasons, they’d at least know they’re joining a company that values fun.

This video is proof that it’s possible to be cheesy, fun, and informative all at the same time.

The next time you’re about to create training materials, remember “Hot Drinks” and ask yourself: Is this as fun as it could be? Will it keep the employees’ attention? And if an employee posts it online – a real possibility in the digital age – how will our brand look?

If you have training or onboarding content this compelling and engaging, send it my way. If you don’t, let’s get together