HR Directors Club at The Brewery

HR Directors Club members recently gathered together at a networking event at The Brewery, London. The event, organised and hosted by the HR Directors Club and HR consultancy Hays, heard HR leaders share their experiences of becoming an employer of choice.

Becoming an employer of choice feedback

What is the employer brand and what impact does outsourcing have on the brand? These were among the issues members debated at a recent HR Directors Club workshop on becoming an employer of choice, supported by Hays.

In his talk about attracting talent and the right people to work for your organisation, Andy McGuire, Director, HR Service Centre, Merrill Lynch said: “Brand differentiation is very important and the Web is essential – not just for applications but for emphasising our principles, as so many candidates now use the web for researching the company and there’s more evidence of self-sifting on the Web. We’re asking for candidates who are ‘exceptional without exception’. It’s saying, ‘do you think you’re hot?’ They won’t apply otherwise.”

McGuire stressed the importance of providing a positive experience for candidates: “It’s as much about selling the organisation to candidates as them selling themselves to us – managers don’t always get this. Give candidates a flavour of what the organisation is really like. It all sounds like simple stuff but it can be hard to execute.”

So what is the employer brand? “Brand is every interaction between every member of staff – you don’t forget a stroppy waitress in a restaurant,” said Angela O’Connor, Director of HR at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Philomena Gray, HR Director at Clear Channel said: “If we want staff to be ambassadors for our organisations, rather than assassins, we need to accept that some people have peaked and help them out of door.”

In Angela O’Connor’s talk about becoming an employer of choice, she said: “It’s all about reputation. You need to know the truth about what people think about your organisation – it can be scary finding out but it’s worth it. If there’s a gap between your brand and reality it won’t get you through to becoming an employer of choice.”

And it’s the lack of correlation between staff and managers that needs to be addressed: “Staff surveys don’t get under the skin. We wanted to know what they really thought about the organisation”, she said. “So we asked: ‘If the CPS were a shop who would we be and why?’ Managers thought we were like Waitrose and front line staff said Poundstretchers.”

She warned: “If you don’t get management right you can’t get anything right. Your reputation depends on the quality of your managers.”

On rebuilding a tarnished reputation, Angela O’Connor said: “Kill bad news. Deal with basics then cut away at perceptions. Build loyalty and then get the message out.” Focusing on organisational loyalty and trust, investing in 360 degree feedback, showcasing female black talent and winning awards to build confidence are among the initiatives that helped to change the culture of the CPS.

But O’Connor insisted that you don’t need big budgets to make a difference: “I have no new money – it’s all about recycling money and transferability of costs – by achieving cost savings through efficiencies in other parts of business.”

Andy McGuire said: “Employee referral schemes are the cheapest way you can get candidates to apply for jobs.” He also talked positively about working in partnership with consultancies: “Get them to work alongside you as if they are your own team. Have the belief that you can develop that relationship. You must be willing to give and take.”

To read about how Angela O’Connor helped to transform the reputation of the CPS, click here

Positive thinking at the CPS

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