A good reputation is costly and essential to an employer’s brand. How the HR-Management can play their part.

Reputation begins with the application process. As is well known, just as much can go right as it can go wrong in recruiting. You probably also know someone who, full of anticipation, applied to a (supposedly) brilliant company and experienced a bitter disappointment. It was the same with a friend of mine. She applied to a start-up whose products convinced her. After the second personal interview and the feedback that they would get in touch again within the next few days, nothing happened.

Even after she asked a few weeks later whether someone else had been chosen: “radio silence”. Suddenly the friend found the products of this company no longer so appealing. The company is anything but attractive.

Finally she told her story among friends and acquaintances. A super disaster for the company’s reputation: Nobody bought the products of this company from their friends and acquaintances anymore.

What do we learn from this? It is a decisive advantage to know about reputation and the connection with your own employer brand. This not only means keeping an eye on employer reviews on Kununu and Co, but also proactively strengthening the employer brand before a Shitstorm sweeps over you. A strong reputation is long-term and very valuable. It is a competitive advantage when it comes to winning over employees, customers and stakeholders. A good reputation is oxygen for an employer’s brand: it breathes life into it.

Reputation is “contract-relevant”

A good reputation includes the company’s purpose, clear structures and goals, as well as reliability and integrity. These key elements should also be reflected in the employer brand. The employer branding must deliver what the reputation promises. Candidates cannot be lured away with empty promises in the long run. Transparency, credibility and relevance, on the other hand, help employees and customers as well as all other stakeholders conclude a long-term psychological contract with a company.

Value of a consistent employee experience

If the reputation and the employer brand match, tasks become personal concerns. Then the commitment of the employees has a positive effect on the productivity and earnings of a company. A consistent employee experience therefore plays an important role in consolidating reputation and strengthening the company’s commercial success. The focus lies on three questions:

  • As an employer, can I match my customer promise to the employee promise and make it inspiring and relevant for the employees to experience in everyday life?
  • Which leadership behavior is necessary for this?
  • Which employees fit our corporate philosophy?

Today, potential employees do not just choose an employer because of the product brand. Rather, they evaluate the company’s overall reputation. They can no longer be blinded by glossy brochures. Participation and financing strategies as well as stakeholders and the image of the individual managers are also put through their paces. Younger people in particular now want to know how and where a potential employer is investing their money, and by whom, in turn, it is being financed. Recently, your expectations for sustainable and fair products have often been disappointed. Some companies made a name for themselves with the involvement of dubious donors.

Reputation – A collective responsibility

Reputation is a long-term project in which as many different company areas and their possible representatives should be involved. COVID-19 has demonstrated in an impressive way how this can be achieved: Within a very short time, companies formed so-called crisis teams made up of knowledge carriers from all over the company in order to find solutions together. The virus made the seemingly impossible possible by shifting decision-making from top to bottom. Such committees should transform themselves into permanent «advisory boards» after the crisis in order to continue to deal with the various needs and requirements from inside and outside in the best possible way.

An efficient alternative to this is to establish the role of a reputation officer, also known as a Chief Reputation Officer (CRO). Its task is to make the management aware of possible reputational risks and opportunities. The CRO keeps an eye on what’s going on around the company. The CRO analyzes, anticipates and acts in an interdisciplinary manner in order to shape the company’s reputation positively and to avert what could harm it.

“Reputation is a long-term project in which as many different areas of the company as possible should be involved.”

Reputation officer as a role model

A CRO or reputation officer is not necessarily a separate or additional position. This task could, for example, be filled in an SME on a rotation basis: Qualified job holders from HR, communication, PR, risk management or other trustworthy persons and storytellers take on this role for a year, for example, and then pass the staff on.

The advantages of the rotation principle:

  • Several function holders take on responsibility for the company’s reputation in alternation and thus shape the company’s positive reputation from different perspectives.
  • The role model allows a person to focus on the overall reputation of the company.
  • The temporary takeover allows role bearers to set new impulses and to follow their own development.
  • The role model prevents the role bearers from being overly restricted and criticized, since other managers also wear this «hat» alternately (check & balance).
  • The alternating role model represents an effective personnel development tool for the respective role bearers and can be used to promote talent at management level.

Conclusion

Companies today can afford a bad reputation or a tarnished employer brand less than ever. Companies should not only worry about their reputation when their reputation is threatened, but rather consciously and consistently cultivate it for a higher corporate value.

Here HR can make a valuable contribution with valuable inputs and its own professional service. If a body or a legal person is held responsible for a business misconduct, your name is inevitably linked to the company’s reputation. It is therefore advisable to slip into the shoes of potential employees and customers on a regular basis. What are their expectations? Do you act accordingly as a company and as an HR manager? This will answer many questions by themselves.

Author
Susanne Mosbacher is HR interim manager, project manager, coach and trainer. Her heart beats for the reputation of companies because it lays the foundation for long-term relationships with employees and customers as well as sustainable corporate success.

Actively GmbH

www.actively.ch

susanne@actively.ch