Jan 7, 2012

Have you got an attractive and engaging people promise?

I picked up few interesting reads from Waterstone in Manchester over New Year's. "Purple Your People" is a book by Jane Sunley and it pretty much focuses on attracting the right people that can make the business very succesful. You do know that it's people who will or won't make your business great?
Can you pick up the talent from the crowd?
We all agree on great ideas, innovations and capital being critical to a succesful people, but so are people. Yet we don't tend to think too much about the people, what kind of people we really need and why would anyone want to work for us, much else give their best for us. What are you willing to give back? 

The importance of people has been clear for me obviously for a long time, after all, I've made a pretty successful career out of dealing with people - talents and otherwise. But it really striked me when my company went through our first financing round last year. I spoke with many investors then (and since) and each one of them highlighted the critical importance of team (i.e people) when making an investment. Someone said in these words: "Even a wonderful idea can suck if the wrong people attempt to make it. Yet an average idea can become a success with a great team." So my word of advice for all those companies who aim to make it successful: invest in your employer brand and keep your hands tightly on the talents you find. It's the people who make your brand.

5 tips on starting the job of becoming an acknowledged great place to work
  1. Place the same importance on getting your company known as a superior place of work as you would do on getting your customers know about your excellent products or services
  2. Investigate, understand and clarify your "People Promise" (as Jane Sunley calls it) = Your employees' experience about your company as a workplace
  3. Your People Promise must be a clearly articulated offer, that is continuously communicated and delivered within the organization
  4. This job can not be an HR start up and initiative, it's an internal movement inhaled and exhaled by all managers
  5. Once you got it straight, your employees will start to act as your marketing department communicating your distinctive People Promise outside the organization
So how do we do this?
  1. Ask your most long term employees what has made them stick with your company for all those years
  2. Ask all of your people what are the things that make them proud working for your company
  3. Ask what are the top 3 things they would change if they were the CEO
  4. Analyze your strenghts and weaknesses as an employer
  5. Make a combined decision and effort to start working on your great place of work -strategy
  6. Set up 2-3 initial goals and work on those
  7. Communicate plans, actions and results. Like on and on until everyone working for your company tells you they already know. 
  8. Measure results, get feedback, set up new goals together with the staff. 
From a long term experience I can assure what a difference great employer brand does for finding and keeping the talents, and thereafter building on a success of an enterprise. Building such a reputation takes a solid plan and time. It will not happen over a night and for it to actually materialize, it has to be someone's priority in the company. That someone has to understand people, leadership, communication and marketing.

We at HR 2.0 are currently working on an exciting project in which one of our customer's is going to find such a person with our help. This is a project that started with a question: What kind of people promise are we offering? We've figured out what actions and activities supporting the people promise already exist, who is responsible for those, what kind of actions are required to meet the goal of getting a great employer brand, what kind of person we need to fulfill the goal and what will his or hers job be about. Next step: recruitment. I hope I will be able to share this exciting story with you one day! Until that, have a great place to work as your new year's resolution.

If you're interested in picking up few ideas on employer branding, check another article we wrote about the topic.

Kind regards, Susanna


  1. Great post! Also, I really like the "People Promise" concept because it sounds more human and relevant to what's need to be done.

    Talking about "Employer Value Proposition" could sound a bit too marketing and be dodgy to share it internally.

  2. Thanks Lilian,

    I also liked the term and prefer it to the same-ol' same ol' EVP.


  3. Also, it could be interesting to cross views about our respective local markets. How's the employer brand concept seen in Finland?

    Over here, in France, very few companies went for a more important use of social media (like two years ago). Those same companies gained a lot of recognition for their practices and developed a very segmented approach of their employer branding efforts (different audiences, different content).

    Now, there's a need for an upskilling in HR. And we start to explore how HR and marcomms could merge and/or collaborate.

  4. The concept of EB has started to gain interest in Finland. The bigger organizations, especially global are naturally on the forefront on this but Finnish organizations seem to be only now taking an interest on the topic. And of course, it depends very much on the industry as well. Where there are the biggest challenges in finding talents, there are more effort into building a good employer brand.

    Social media, which is what we are very interested in and work with, is also being explored in terms of how to use it for employer branding and recruitment. Still most efforts with SoMe are focused on the business and sales side. However, we at HR 2.0 have started to introduce the use of social media to recruitment and EB as it is very cost effective and HR often has minimal budgets for marketing. The cases we've done on the recruitment side (linking EB marketing to recruitment) have been very successful. But it seems there are sort of 50-50 fronts on this. Some are eager and interested to try it out, some cannot see the point at all. I guess with everything new, some people are opposed to change and need more evidence the change is going to be ok. As like you said, to make most of it definitely needs an upskilling in HR and a collaboration between marcomms and HR.