People make profits

Thursday 29th August 2019, 11:00am

Your employer brand could do more for your bottom line than you might think.

Mary Portas isnít just a retail consultant and broadcaster, sheís also an author. Her most recent book, Work Like A Woman, asks an interesting question. Why, given the accepted connection between happy employees and happy customers, do so many businesses leave happiness values outside the office door?

Portas throws out a challenge to business leaders to make the world of work a happier and more productive place by putting qualities like empathy, collaboration, flexibility, compassion, courage and trust at the heart of the system.  These qualities are not always directly associated with leadership or winning, but they do make people feel good.  If people feel good they are more likely to stay with you. Thatís a fact.

But how do you recruit Ė and, crucially, keep Ė the kind of people who would respond best to this culture and thereby add value to your company, and that of your clients?

Easy: by building those same qualities into your employer brand.

A graduateís decision to stick and not twist is no longer a simple box-ticking exercise on things like salary, pension schemes and the occasional bonus. Employees are now demanding greater fulfilment in the workplace. Not only do they want to feel good about the day ahead, they also want to be part of a business where culture and business values are aligned.  Airily hoping to generate some nebulous state of job satisfaction by smiling at your staff every now and then isnít enough. Savvy employers actively invest in their brand to attract, engage and retain the talent they need in their business. 

An employer brand describes an employerís reputation as a place to work, and integral to this is your brand promise.  At Optima we promise that every client will always get the Optima ĎA teamí for every project. Thereís no such thing as a second-string team that canít hit a deadline or a quality target with quite the same accuracy as prime personnel. Everyone at Optima is prime.

Unsurprisingly, Optimaís graduate recruitment process (thereís one running right now) is pretty exacting. Even excellent candidates donít always make the grade. The ones who do make it get to enjoy the tangible benefits that underpin a strong employer brand. In the case of Optima, that means a highly visible career ladder, personal development plans for all, peer mentoring, engagingly documented work practices, company-bespoke ĎCRISPí standards of service, Lunch & Learn knowledge-sharing sessions, and now the Coding Club Ė which was actually suggested by a graduate. It also means bespoke work stations. Not just a different mouse mat or tea mug coaster, but properly bespoke. One monitor or two? A laptop? Standing or sitting? Chair, kneeler, or stability ball? Itís all your choice.

Add to that a well-stuffed (and growing) benefits bundle which, on top of a pension and life assurance package, includes training and study time for professional qualifications, a cycle to work scheme, social events, 5th and 10th anniversary awards, an extra dayís holiday to celebrate your birthday, spontaneous lunchtime BBQs (weíre growing our own tomatoes!), bake-off challenges and an office pool table, and you start to see not only why Optimaís employee value proposition draws in the best people but also why Optima graduates stay with the company longer. As Mary suggested, we want people to feel good.

Assuming that youíre keen to retain the services of your best (and expensively recruited) people, itís very much in your interest to find out what factors are influencing that choice. For Optima graduates itís the friendly, nurturing and inclusive atmosphere in a place where your opinion matters and where collaboration trumps competition. Itís the challenging and rewarding work, and itís the opportunity to work alongside other talented people to make a real difference.

Business culture might not be as easily measurable as business success, but allowing that inconvenient truth to mask its growing importance could be an expensive mistake.