How Does Your Employer Brand Stack Up?
I’ve had a career in Human Resources for more than 20 years, and for half of that career I’ve been a mother. And while there are many ways to describe my identity as a mom – biological mom, step mom, PTA mom, soccer mom – one of the most important descriptions to me is “working mom.” I’ve found that being a working mom has its challenges and its fair share of guilt, but above all it’s rewarding and fulfilling and makes me a better mom. Not to say that work and home life aren’t often at odds, but luckily my employer gets that.
I have a supportive work environment, a flexible schedule, and a CEO who understands what it takes to be a spouse, a parent, and a professional. And as I approached my maternity leave, and my insecurity mounted over being out of the office for 4 months, he told me that there would be days (even weeks, maybe months) where I’d only nail one or two of those roles well. And that’s OK. That two-minute conversation was the greatest gift he could have given me as a working mom. It was permission to fail at work when the demands at home were overwhelming.
So why should this matter to marketers? Because your “employer brand” benefits more than just your workforce. How you treat employees can influence your brand perception, and affect your bottom line. A survey of millennial customers by The Intelligence Group reported that 59 percent of respondents said a company’s ethics and practices are important factors in deciding which brand they should buy. Clearly, values-based shopping is important to consumers, especially the more than 16 million millennial moms who hold a massive amount of purchasing power.
Starbucks has seen the upside of being a top-notch employer. It was reported by ADWEEK that they attribute 87 percent of the company’s brand affinity to how they treat employees. They’ve implemented a long history of employee-friendly policies, like offering health insurance to part-time employees and paying for college tuition for full- and part-time employees.
Practices like these and many others are increasingly becoming part of a company’s brand marketing strategy as CEOs and CMOs recognize the power of their employer brand perception. What makes a “gold standard” benefits package has evolved light years over the last few decades, with companies including paid parental leave, flexible schedules, and comprehensive health insurance. According to a study by LinkedIn and Lippencott, brands with a positive employer brand showed an increase in shareholder growth of 36 percent over 5 years.
But it doesn’t stop with benefits, especially for mothers. Employers can do much more to ensure a supportive environment throughout all stages of parenthood. An environment that doesn’t guilt moms for walking out the door at 5 p.m., but rather trusts that when needed, this same mom will log on to finish up the day from home, after she’s made time for her family. They can support women as equally as they do men with mentorship programs, opportunities for promotions, and succession planning for positions of leadership. And let’s not forget about the basics for a new mom, providing her a clean and comfortable place to pump and store her milk during the day.
So, if you’re looking for the next move to increase your bottom line, engage in a conversation with your HR leadership and discuss the connection between your employer brand and your customer brand. Think about why a mom would want to work for you, would want to buy your company’s products, and would choose to be a brand loyalist. Give moms credit for doing some research on whether you’re walking the talk. And give them reasons to continue to walk right along with you.