We now live in a world where consumers are more connected than ever before, and a small customer complaint can go viral. As a result, companies need to be just as connected to not only their customers, but also to their own employees to stay ahead. This is the basis of a book I recently read, “The Connected Company.” A part of the book that really struck me comes from this exerpt:

“Since 1960, services have dominated US employment. Today’s services sector makes up about 80% of the US economy. Services are integrated into everything we buy and use…companies like GE and IBM, which started in manufacturing , have made the transition, and now make the majority of their money in services.”

To me, “services” means people. You can’t deliver a service without a human being, so in a sense, your people are your product. This means there is an inextricable link between the consumer brand and the employer brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are, or need to be, the exact same. It means they should be aligned. If your people are delivering your service, they need to be connected to the service - feel like they are part of something bigger and have a purpose.

GE has a new ad campaign – “What My Mom Does at GE.” The ad is narrated by a young girl describing what her mom does for GE.  She doesn’t just say my mom builds computers, she connects it to something greater (“my mom makes hospitals you can hold in your hand”). The products and services produced by GE would not be in existence without its people who are dedicated to innovation – and what a way to show pride in the work of its employees!

Another example is UPS’ I [heart] logistics campaign from a few years ago featuring its employees delivering logistics services. The opening line – delivered by an apparent UPS employee - “logistics makes the world work better.” Boxes and shipments don’t show up at your door without a human being behind it (I know Amazon Prime Air is on the horizon, but you still need employees to design the drones!). People can see themselves being a part of something greater, and that contributes to what makes a company a great place to work.

Not every job is glamorous. Who wants to answer phones all day or drive a truck for hours? But what if you were answering 911 calls to save people’s lives? Or what if you were transporting Christmas gifts to homeless children? Those would be reasons to feel pride in what could be construed as mundane tasks described in a job description.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Ted Talks. Simon Sinek delivers a talk on how great leaders inspire action. He says it comes down to the “why.” What makes people get behind a product is the emotional connection (Google’s “Parisian Love” is one of my tear-jerking favorites). That same emotional connection is what gets people behind working for your company. If they connect to the work they are doing and feel pride, loyalty (i.e. retention) will follow.

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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