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Enriching the Employee Experience with Branding and Purpose

By Jennifer Dickey


There once was a time not too long ago when the market was flooded by talented, hard-working job seekers that were desperately happy with nearly any job they could find. In 2017, those days are mostly over and, at least in the United States, we are once again seeing a healthy competition for skilled employees. Millennials, whether just starting out or moving into senior roles, have brought a frank attitude to the office that encompasses their working philosophy: “Keep us happy, and we’ll stay. Show us a purpose, and we’ll be driven.”

Of course, it’s not just millennials, even though they are currently the largest working cohort, beating out Gen X and Baby Boomers. More than ever, HR professionals are focusing on improving the employee experience, which ultimately impacts recruiting and retaining talent. In recent years experts have increasingly reinforced branding and purpose as the top areas to focus on.


Branding can be a valuable tool in HR that is often underestimated, especially by smaller companies. A recent academic study in conjunction with Glassdoor found that companies with strong branding strategies received more resumes and lower salary requests from candidates. Additionally, the survey found that job seekers care more about reviews of the company from former employees than any rewards or accolades that the organization may have received. This is not surprising, especially since the first move many candidates take in researching a company is to look up its profile on Glassdoor or a similar employer review website. Comments and ratings from former employees can have a great impact on potential recruits, and it could mean the difference in securing top talent or losing them to your competitors.

Welcome to Yelp for HR. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and certainly not company reputations. While employers no longer control the conversation when it comes to their esteem, there are things they can do to help them stand out.

Purpose-driven cultures

Building a strategy for a purpose-driven organization did not crop up yesterday, but adoption is still slow for financial institutions. Aligning your practices for a purpose-driven culture is not something restricted to the HR office, but must be a company-wide effort. Similarly, aligning an organization with purpose is not just a project or goal, it is in the DNA of how you do business. 

According to PwC, 79% of business leaders say that purpose is central to an organization’s existence, but only 29% have changed or plan to change their recruitment strategy to align with purpose. 32% of survey respondents say they have or will change how they evaluate employees to better suit a purpose-driven culture. 35% say they reward employees who demonstrate adherence to core values.


Reward innovation and dedication to purpose.

Having purpose in the office is all very well and good, but sometimes employees need to be reminded of exemplary work. On one hand, it’s telling an individual employee that their efforts are appreciated, and on the other, it’s a reminder to others that certain values are encouraged.

According to the 2016 Workforce Purpose Index, financial services is one of the industries where purpose is a top differentiator in job satisfaction, however, it also happens to be one of the industries where the fewest number of people claim to be purposeful. Some credit unions have been trying to reverse the trend and are leading the pack with their employee recognition programs. Simple things such as hiring for culture first, newsletters from HR recognizing employee achievements, or special monthly events celebrating company values can mean all the difference.

NYU and Imperative recently produced a study of the U.S. workforce and found that purpose-oriented employees have a 20 percent longer tenure and are 47 percent more likely to be promoters of their employers than peers.



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