Just employees ?
“Nathalie Vermassen, HR Manager, Möbius”… Every time someone pins a badge on my jacket (or rather sticks a label on it, as is the custom these days), I start to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I just can’t help it. I entered the job market fifteen years ago, although I didn’t have an “HR degree”. But I educated myself on the subject of HR, I took courses, I learned from people whose prestigious titles indicated that they knew so much more about it than I did, I studied and obtained certificates, drew competence charts and built databases. I think my descendents can be proud of all the HR publications I wrote…
… but over time I’ve also learned and have come to think differently. Because that’s not all what constitutes a company’s HR. The university of life (I’m older so I have the right to use the term) has taught me a lot of other things. So when our new marketing manager asked me what we do in terms of “employer branding” (and in the current war for talent I’ve already been asked this question many times) my answer was not quite what she expected, as I could deduce from the way she looked at me.
Sure we participate in the social media rat race. And we absolutely ensure that we appear in the “right” media with our logo. And needless to say that the baselines on our company cars were designed with the idea of attracting new employees. But it’s not that this doesn’t work. These are all just little stimuli, things that you can use and if you want you can easily stop using them or replace them with even more expensive things, which will also last their time.
What I’ve noticed is that the only thing that works, unconditionally, and which is simply priceless is what “our people” convey to the outside world. I’m referring of course to the delight they take in their job which they exude when they walk in somewhere, and with which they infect other people, eliciting their admiration and their astonishment. I’m talking about the passion that our people bring to projects, which makes other people curious about our profession. I’m talking about the answers to students’ questions at job fairs, answers that come straight from the heart and which underline that the values that Möbius promotes are not empty words but words we live by, on a daily basis. I’m talking about the stories they share with their friends, neighbours, former fellow students, which make people listen in fascination to what makes a consultant’s life so rich and amazing. I’m not just speaking in the present tense. I’m also talking about people who have since left the Möbius ship but who still feel affection for our organisation. They will be true ‘Möbians’ forever, they are our ambassadors and have fond memories of their time with us, during which they learnt so much and were given so many opportunities, for which they are still grateful today.
So yes, if people ask me if we engage in “employer branding”, I always answer that for our organisation only one channel really matters. It involves focussing on people, on our employees and our former employees, who are out there every day, and are passionate about our company. People who stir the imagination of others, who inspire enthusiasm in others, convincing them to join Möbius because it’s a good company to work for. And I firmly believe that the voice of these people extends much further than the voice of any marketing or HR effort, if you dare to trust it, if you embrace it.
I fear that they won’t be asking me any time soon for a case testimonial at the next conference on HR analytics and the ROI of investment channels… But I don’t care because I have other things on my plate. So if you don’t mind I’m now going to sit down for a coffee with my colleagues, with the “remarkable ambassadors” of the amazing company that I’m privileged to be a part of.