I have the opportunity to work with a really amazing team within Mindscape. Our team focuses on helping our clients use the power of the web to further their businesses. A part of this is online branding, making sure the content present in the digital realms drives customers to the right places. In the world of HR and Contributing Team Members (CTM’s), we can take this same basic concept and apply it differently.

I’m talking about employment branding. There are two perspectives to employment branding: how current CTM’s view/value what their employer provides them and how prospective CTM’s view/value the possibilities of working for an employer. Both of them play a significant role in the ability of employers to first attract and recruit great team members and secondly to create an environment that retains and keeps the team members motivated to be great.

Employers are contributing to this concept all of the time, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. Some employers want to continue the reputation they have for being difficult to work for or having a high turnover rate. More realistically, they probably don’t want to put in the work it takes to do things differently. Other employers really make it a goal (and it needs to be) to do things well and focus on the importance of who they work with. This is our Mindscape team. I’d like to give you a brief glimpse into what we do to create an employment brand that symbolizes….innovation, continuous growth and adaptability.

First, we approach recruiting differently than other companies. We seek out individuals in a more proactive manner. Rather than waiting for a vacancy or a gap we begin conversations with people to understand their talents. Sometimes, this leads to an immediate employment relationship and sometimes it doesn’t. But in this search, we often find people who have new skills to add to the team. And if we add them to the team, we add new ways to serve our clients.

Second, we create a culture of learning. It’s expected. The technologies and tools in our industry are always changing as are the clients we work with, so we need to always be engaged in developing our knowledge. And with all of the online tools at our disposal, learning is quite easy. More specifically, we ask individuals to read books and highlight them in staff meetings, we send people to training opportunities and encourage e-learning and we challenge each other to learn every day. You’ll never hear the words in our environment, “I don’t know how to do that.” You’ll hear instead…”I don’t know how to today, but I’ll figure it out by next week.” The key to this factor is the main reason people stay at their jobs today. High performing employees want growth opportunities.

Third, we do things differently. Whether it’s in the office or on the deck of the cruise ship during our annual company trip, we share our ideas and challenge each other to be better. We also work flexible schedules (many of our staff work 4 (10 hr) days/week; have no specific dress code (T-shirts, jeans and flip-flops are common)and we celebrate individual and team successes (encouragement goes a long way). We’re not so caught up in how the work gets done, but more focused on the results. Individuals get to meet their specific needs (isn’t this the core of being human?), while keeping their focus on the larger team. And it’s really not that difficult to manage both if you have the right individuals.

So, does positive employment branding lead to better results….in one word, yes! In a very challenging economy, we’ve grown…tripling the number of CTM’s in four years. And we’ve been recognized as one of the 101 Best And Brightest Companies to Work for in West Michigan.

Focusing on your employment branding isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Begin with your strategy, just like you would your business.

We want to be known as an employer who……

Then take that strategy and play it out.

Develop three tactics that your current/prospective employees recognize what you’re trying to accomplish with them and for them.

And follow through. Keep asking for your employees’ input and then make needed changes. You don’t always have to say “yes”, but you do need to listen and communicate. Benchmarking what others are doing is also a helpful tool. It’s ok to copy what others are doing as long as it works with your team. Think about the brand you have created for your customers. Now, how can this brand play out for your employees?