As of this writing, there are nine million open jobs in this country. Employers are kvetching about not being able to fill them. At the same time, there are nine million job seekers actively looking for work. Somehow, these two groups can’t seem to find each other. Or, rather, they do find each other but the match can’t be made because there’s always some ridiculous excuse for disqualifying the candidate. Employers and their screening algorithms set impossible standards that eliminate brilliant prospects before the process even starts. Some potential hires don’t even bother sending in their résumés. They read the job description and rightly surmise that no mere mortal could ever be expert at all that. It reminds me of the team that could have drafted Michael Jordan but passed on him because they wanted a center and he was a guard. Sure, they filled the spot but they missed out on perhaps the greatest player who ever lived. They would have benefitted from a little flexibility. Add to this dysfunctional scene the fact that now, during the pandemic, millions of gainfully employed people are walking away from their jobs. Why?
The pandemic has given American workers, blue collar and white, cause to reexamine their relationship to their jobs. Actually, they’re reassessing everything about their lives, how they want to live them, and how they want work to fit in to them. It’s as if the national shutdown turned everyone into a job seeker, even those who knew they had a job waiting for them post-emergency – even those who remained employed but worked from home. Suddenly, everyone is asking questions. “If I’m more productive working from home, why do I have to tolerate this toxic corporate culture?” “If I’m always late picking my kids up from school, wouldn’t it be better to take a little less salary but work closer to home?” Every working American is asking these questions now, especially the big one: “What does it all mean?”
As we noted in the past, the employer brand is just the overall brand but as seen from the vantage of the employee and prospective employee. We also know that, depending on which study you believe, between 50 and 68 percent of prospective hires who decline a job offer do so because they don’t like the employer’s brand. Clearly, there’s no doubt anymore that branding is key to attracting a superior workforce. But keep in mind that the employer brand can’t be separated from the overall brand.
We also know that people don’t work for money alone. A decent wage and benefits package is just table stakes now. Everybody offers that. But employees look at four additional metrics* before determining whether to accept a job offer.
– They look at the mission and purpose of the work.
– They look at the meaningfulness of the work.
– They look at the quality of their prospective coworkers.
– They look at the company culture.
The word to focus on is “meaningful”. Employees will move heaven and earth to work for you if they see their employment as meaningful. We’re defining it here in its broadest sense. Of course, employees want their jobs to mean something in their own lives. At the end of their career, they want to feel like it was all worth something, that it mattered. But before they can asses that, they have to see that their work means something in their customers’ lives. They want to know that what they do actually helps people. That’s why the staff at the Apple Store is so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They’re supremely confident in the knowledge that they’re helping customers.
And it’s a funny thing. That’s what customers want too. Markets know they can count of good brands to consistently delight them. But the best brands do more than that. The best brands actually mean something to their customers. See sidebar for mblm’s recent COVID-adjusted ranking of top 100 “intimate” brands. (Spoiler: Apple tops the list.)
So businesses need to find a way to be truly meaningful to their customers. And employers, to attract top performing employees and hold onto them once they’re on board, need to seek out ways to make the work meaningful to them.The good news is once your products and services are meaningful to your customers, it’s not hard to demonstrate how working for you will also be meaningful. If, like Apple, you actively endeavor to solve for these outcomes you will achieve the ultimate goal: The one brand promise that offers meaning to your entire market.
*Source: The National Center for the Middle Market
BEST BRANDING READS – WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 13, 2021
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