When Olympus Corporation of the Americas (OCA) decided to go down the path of a corporate brand overhaul, leaders in the Human Resources department saw an opportunity to discover who they are as a company. As the corporate brand began to take shape, so did the Olympus employer value proposition (EVP).
Recently, the exaqueo team had the opportunity to partner with Therese Beck, Olympus’ director of employee experience. Together, we worked to connect the company’s new EVP to both the employee and candidate experience, thereby, helping Olympus to stay true to who they are as a company and to their employees. I had the pleasure of talking with Therese about the journey the company is on.
Shannon (SS): What does it mean to be the ‘director of employee experience’ at Olympus?
Therese (TB): The role is a new one at Olympus. Its purpose is to help align our teams, to ensure we have a more consistent experience for our employees, and to involve the right groups at the right time to successfully launch programs for employees. My role is about creating more collaboration across functions, and more cohesive and effective experiences for our people.
SS: What is driving the EVP work at Olympus?
TB: Ultimately, what drove us to create our EVP was the rebranding of the corporate brand. There is a whole rebirth of the Olympus brand, so this was the perfect time to discover who we are as a company—and as an employer. As an organization that has gone through acquisitions, we’ve experienced first-hand what it’s like integrating other companies, people, and cultures. We came to a point where our organization has grown so much, that we needed to truly understand and define who we are.
SS: Why was developing an EVP important?
TB: It’s hard to attract top talent across the Americas and we realized we needed to take our company story more seriously. To attract candidates to Olympus, we needed to first find out what our employees were thinking and feeling. This would ensure the story we put in front of job seekers is credible and authentic. There is also a part of our EVP that is aspirational. We want people to know that if they choose to work here, they will be part of this aspiration and help us on our journey. They will be a part of our story.
SS: Who was a part of your EVP project team?
TB: There were several people in HR who wanted to be part of the journey and we knew data was going to be important in helping us through the EVP work. So, we included colleagues from Corporate Marketing Communications and Marketing Business Intelligence. This was the right team with the right skill set and a passion for working at Olympus.
SS: How did HR get buy-in from Corporate Marketing Communications?
TB: Our senior-most leader in HR sits on the OCA Executive Committee. She was vital in starting the conversations to say, ‘now is the right time.’ With the corporate rebrand happening, the EVP idea was now sticky enough to get off the ground. Once the Corporate Marketing Communications team knew that HR wanted more than just a tagline and logo, and that we wanted to align to the corporate brand, our two departments were able establish a foundation for working together. And, now over the past two years, we’ve bonded over all the work we’ve done.
SS: What was the Olympus EVP development journey like?
TB: First, we needed to know who we are to our employees and what is important to them in their work. So, we deployed a quantitative survey to which approximately 50% of our employees across the Americas responded. This gave our Marketing Business Intelligence team the representative data they needed to analyze. From there, we conducted focus groups to gather qualitative data and level set the quantitative survey data. We then had all this information and knew we needed to create an actionable plan. We then partnered with the agency that was supporting the corporate rebrand, and that’s how our three pillars — True to Your Life, True to Your Company and True to Your Career — were created.
SS: How are you activating the EVP across the business?
TB: This is an ongoing evolution for us. First, we presented the EVP at an internal leadership conference. We wanted to do more than just showcase our new work. We wanted employees to really begin to feel it in the fabric of our DNA. We engaged exaqueo to build out our EVP messaging so we can start to weave it into our employee communications, and connect it to initiatives and programs. Along with integration our EVP into our employee communications, we are also working on incorporating it into more of our aspirational areas. For example, under ‘True to Your Life,’ we’re focusing on wellness and health programs, and we’re now working with a recognition vendor to align to ‘True to Your Career.’
SS: What were some lessons you learned along the way?
TB: To make sure the employee experience isn’t diluted, we need to have balance of simple and easy wins. At same time, we can’t lose sight of really big issues that employees face every day, and that we heard about in the survey and during focus groups. There is a strategic side of the EVP. These other tactics are fun, but we have a responsibility to our employees.
SS: What advice would you give to someone just starting this journey?
TB: Persevere because there is a lot that needs to be accomplished. Be sure to include people outside of HR on the journey; get feedback from senior leadership and talk to employees. The EVP work can’t be something that just sits in HR.
If you want to learn more about how Olympus stays ‘true,’ visit their True to Life website.
Shannon Smedstad (@shannonsmedstad) is the Engagement Director and Principal Employer Brand Strategist for exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting, and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.