How your employees can become your biggest reputational asset

In times of change, pay close attention to your employee experience and your employees will take care of your reputation.

From the moment you enter an organisation, the experience you have shapes your opinion, whether you rate that organisation as a great place to work and what you are likely to say about the organisation to your colleagues, friends and family. At every stage of the employee lifecycle, employee experience is paramount to company reputation, especially with social media prevalence both in and out of the workplace. So, with the current unprecedented levels of change, looking after employee experience has never been more critical.

We only need to look at the headlines to see how we are all living and working differently. This has been influenced by key macro-factors, accelerating the pace of change:

Geopolitical uncertainty:

The current geopolitical climate is forcing many companies to choose offshore capability to reduce costs and ensure service provision. With the prolonged uncertainty around Brexit, there is potential for this to continue for a long time to come. This means workforces will continue moving overseas and organisations will transition to a global operating model.

Technological disruption:

Technology is constantly changing and providing intuitive business and personal solutions. Artificial Intelligence has recently taken centre stage and whether deemed a fad or the new necessity, organisations are having to stay ahead of the change curve where technology is concerned. It is not only customers and clients who expect the latest, but also prospective and existing employees. Technology has also disrupted how we work; remote working capability has improved, and employees have access to better tools meaning the typical nine to five working day in the office is no longer the norm. With less face to face contact, employees are staying in touch through technology.

The demographic of working population:

With a split between older generations wanting security from their job, versus millennials and Gen-Z craving excitement and opportunity, organisations are having to think differently as to how they are structured, which benefits are available to employees and what HR policies and processes support both individual differences and the wider workforce.

With so many variables driven by these macro-factors, it is not surprising that organisations are being forced to make difficult decisions to continue turning a profit and maintaining a competitive advantage. These difficult decisions can be hugely unsettling for employees at every level and can have a massive impact on employee experience. Whether an alteration to a pensions policy, an office re-location, an IT software update or the possibility of redundancies; all these changes can be complex for an organisation to navigate.

However, when planned carefully and executed well, change can provide new beginnings, refresh entire organisations and provide a chance to move forward. When an organisation is facing change, there is no better opportunity to place the spotlight firmly on employee experience.

Employee experience is what people encounter in their day to day role.  Culture and leadership that are aligned to the organisation’s values are key influencers of a positive employee experience. When paired with a clear change and transformation plan and methodology, as well as a world-class communications strategy, very little is left to chance, and the employee experience remains consistent.

There are many examples of where poorly managed change has negatively impacted on business reputation, even down to individual leaders named and shamed in the media, especially where leaders think of lining their own pockets before their employees’ wellbeing (the BHS pensions scandal immediately springs to mind).

There are also examples of where employees have publicly thanked their organisation for their consideration, professionalism and great change management during difficult times. When plastered over social media, this is the best form of reputation management an organisation can deliver. Employees of Ford Motors publicly rate their company’s commitment to maintaining work-life balance during such difficult times in the motor industry.

Employee experience is not about the free coffee, the dress-down Fridays or the dog in the office, (although all these things can help make change easier to deal with). Employee experience is managing change and transformation with people in mind, with a strategy that supports them and communications that are people centric.  In times of change, pay close attention to your employee experience and your employees will take care of your reputation.