Ashley Carr, Founder and Managing Director, Neo PR
We’re all aware this Brexit business has caused quite a mess, leaving much uncertainty for all and tough economic times for many. What’s typical in these situations, particularly for those feeling a financial pinch, is to batten down the hatches, grit teeth and wait for it to pass, hoping a way forward will be easier when there is more certainty on the horizon.
The challenge with this strategy, however, is that when the dust settles, people WILL move and if organisations haven’t invested in making their company sticky for current employees, they will lose them when it picks up. If that doesn’t cause concern, remember that unlike in any other time of economic uncertainty in the past 20 years, there is no latent potential workforce on the market ready to replace the people you lose. There is no one on the bench.
In the coming months, there are going to be a lot of surprised and failing employers that can’t scale and will have to downsize as a result of losing people. While everyone is busy focussing on ROI, it will be those that focus on COI, the cost of inaction, that will come out on top after this dull trading period.
Consider your COI
In difficult periods, considering COI, rather than ROI will help businesses to gain a deeper understanding of what is at stake when standing still. Doing nothing will cost a business dearly. People will leave, and unless quick actions are made, organisations may not be able to recover anyone to replace them. What would that cost be to your business? Could you survive?
The cost of inaction may not be felt today, but at the point in which the economy rotates, it will be felt then. There will come a perfect storm of suddenly having new orders, tenders and requests for services coming through the door just as employees start walking out.
Given the background of the economy at the moment and the unsettling times that we are in, regardless of what the conclusion is over Brexit, businesses are going to fail if they don’t get this right. If they don’t act fast enough, it will be too late, there will already be an entrenched atmosphere where employees feel that they have had enough, the sun has come out, and they want to go elsewhere. So what can organisations do to stay afloat and come out of the other side?
Many companies think about marketing and PR as external and as activities reserved for gaining awareness in new markets or launching a product to prospects. While there is currently a trend toward marketing to new employees, it seems like no one thinks about targetting those they currently have. However, using this powerful messaging machine to market externally, while forgetting to leverage it internally, robs the employees of the message you’re sharing to the world.
To create a sticky organisation, businesses need to make sure their employees, workforce, colleagues, understand just how good the business is. Sharing the external message internally generates excitement, making current employees inspired to be part of the dream and growth of the company. When done correctly, employees will feel this success and develop a desire to share that success with potential prospects.
What is required to achieve maximum stickiness will vary widely from business to business. But it starts with an identity. If an organisation truly knows what it stands for and what makes it unique, who they have on board, and who they want to get on board, then the initiatives should come quite naturally. Companies that wish to keep their current talent need to think about how they can keep them engaged, excited and bought into the dream of the business — ensuring it’s a place that employees will stick with when other organisations come out, in full kit, on the hunt for talent.
Developing culture inside and out
There is too often a disparity between what companies put on their website and what is actually happening inside; this works both for those that have a poor external image and great internal culture, and those with the inverse imbalance.
The culture that an organisation projects on its website, social media and any other channel should be the culture that a prospective client or prospective candidate meets when they come into the building. This happens naturally when the message that is dispersed externally is the same as what is spread internally.
If an organisation’s culture is real and embodied throughout the organisation, then employees will be living and breathing it anyway. This should be seen through all of the marketing activities, all the way through to any interaction with the employees of that organisation.
PR is not just an outbound strategy for prospects. It is about attracting talent and keeping talent in your organisation. Those who understand this, as well as their COI, may just have a chance of coming of this mess on top.
If it is not you, it will be your competitors. What’s your next move?