Will you attract top candidates to your organization this year? Plenty of competitors offer flexible work hours and a solid benefits package. If you can’t differentiate your company and what it offers potential hires, the effects can ripple through your business.
In the age of social media, a company’s employment brand is out for the whole world to see, whether you like it or not. But the same technology affords the opportunity to share unique and inspiring stories about employees and how your firm finds ways to meet their needs in ways far more innovative than free lunch.
In my nine years at Dell, I’ve witnessed so many stories that demonstrate what makes our employment brand distinctive and makes it such a pleasure to lead our global efforts in communicating them. Here are a few things I’ve learned about differentiating your employment brand:
Encourage your employees to incorporate their greatest (and most off-beat) passions into their work.
Let’s start with Oliver Campbell, our Director of Worldwide Packaging. For years I’d hear co-workers refer to him as the “mushroom guy.” He and his wife grew mushrooms in their spare time and sold them at a local farmer’s market on the weekends. After Dell began using bamboo packaging, Oliver told us about a firm that was making packaging forms using mushroom spores. Now Oliver’s passion is a compostable packing material for shipping Dell servers, and he has partnered closely with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to turn Dell into a leader in alternative sustainable packaging materials including bamboo, recycled paper and, in the future, wheat chaff.
Oliver says that his unusual idea gained traction because Dell’s culture is especially responsive to ideas that resonate with customers. Customers had expressed their environmental concerns to Oliver, so he sent his mushroom packaging request all the way up to the CEO. Once Michael Dell signed on, there was no looking back. Oliver says there was another factor at Dell that emboldened him:
Help your employees to pursue their personal goals.
Richard Allen, who is a member of our sales team, has dreamed of competing in the 400 meter dash in the Olympics ever since he was young. But let’s get real. How can Richard pursue his ultimate goal of competing in the Olympics while working at a traditional job?
By getting the support of his manager, that’s how. Richard has competed all over the world while successfully managing his career. He credits Dell’s Connected Workforce initiative, which has allowed him to log into the network from eight different countries with all their attendant time zones. He also calls Dell family: “I have received hundreds of communications from Dell colleagues encouraging and supporting me in my journey. It has been amazing to have the CEO actually sharing time with me face to face, encouraging my personal goals.” Later this year, Richard will head back to Europe to train and compete against the very best in his field at the European Circuit.
Assist your employees in assisting others.
Colleen Ryan was searching for ways to use Dell’s social media presence to make a difference during times of tragedy. What better way than having Dell partner with the American Red Cross to provide real-time social media support? “In just a year’s time, the American Red Cross-Dell project went from one person’s idea to a launch led by two of America’s most prominent CEOs – the Red Cross’s Gail McGovern and Michael Dell, along with members of the press and elected officials. That’s pretty incredible and, from my perspective as an employee, quite inspirational,” she said.
Even in employment branding, it’s about innovation.
Studies show that new hires are looking not just for a new job but for a new opportunity. They want to stretch their skills on a career path that takes varied and intriguing turns. Andy Valenzuela, Executive Director of HR Technology Solutions, has spent his entire career at Dell yet has held positions in departments as diverse as IT, Sales Operations, Marketing and HR. “These opportunities have helped me build a unique resume and given me the ability to adapt to any role or assignment and be successful. Not every company would take so many risks with an employee.”
Michael Dell says that employers who attract innovative thinkers must embrace the notion of a successful failure. “When you are in the zone of doing things that no one has ever done before but you are only succeeding, you’re not taking enough risk.”
Truly boundary-busting ventures suffer failures along the way, and the employees who participate in them have levels of judgment and critical thinking that can transform them into effective leaders later in their careers.
If you use social media to convey to job seekers that this is the culture they’d join, you will attract the stars you seek in 2013.
Jennifer Newbill has been in the recruitment field for over 15 years and with Dell Inc. in various HR, recruiting and project management roles for almost 10 years. You can learn more about what it is like to work at Dell at www.dell.com/careers.