Author Archives: Grace Eadie

Why Bother with Employment Branding?

If you were to ask a child which organisation they would most like to work for when they “grow-up” chances are you would get an answer along the lines of “Coke” or “McDonald’s”. However, it’s unlikely that they are cognisant of what has influenced their choice.  As we go through our working lives, it’s not surprising that when we are looking at a potential employer or ask someone what their ideal organisation is, they may still not be fully aware about what has influenced their choice. We will often make a decision based upon an organisation’s reputation, a role/organisation which matches our personal characteristics and organisational values. Ever-increasingly decisions are influenced by an organisation’s employment brand.

Recently I read an article that proposed when an organisation incorporates Sustainable Human Resource Management (Sustainable HRM) with their employment brand, they can differentiate themselves from their competitors and enhance their attractiveness to employees.

Sustainable HRM is described as “the pattern of planned or emerging human resource strategies and practices intended to enable organisational goal achievement while simultaneously reproducing the HR base over a long-lasting calendar time”.   

Now admittedly research around employment branding and Sustainable HRM is relatively new, and at this stage fairly limited.  Nevertheless it made for interesting reading and had some points which resonated with me.

Traditionally an organisation’s employment brand has been a combination of their corporate brand (based upon values and culture) and corporate social responsibility policies.  Many organisations have an employment brand to attract potential employees and then assist the organisation in remaining attractive to, and thereby retaining, current employees.

In order to tie in an organisation’s current employment brand to Sustainable HRM the authors have looked back at existing theory:

  • Signalling theory suggests all communications with an organisation during the recruitment process send out signals, by which a candidate uses to form their opinions of an organisation.  They have suggested that by incorporating Sustainable HRM within the employment brand this sends a positive signal of preparedness to invest in the candidate/employee and an understanding of the employment relationship.
  • Social identity theory suggests that an individual’s self-concept depends on their membership in different social organisations and that an individual’s self-concept is strongly influenced by the reputation of an organisation.  They have proposed that by integrating Sustainable HRM within the employment brand this enhances the self-concept of current employees and candidates.
  • Person-organisation fit suggests that job seekers match their personal characteristics and values with the organisation’s culture and identity. The article has suggested that the perceived fit between employee’s and candidate’s values and Sustainable HRM moderates the relationship between Sustainable HRM and organisation attractiveness i.e. higher fit may mean a stronger positive impact of the Sustainable HRM.

From here they have suggested that integrating Sustainable HRM practices into the employee value proposition enables an organisation to address employees and candidates in different life and career stages.  Additionally the different needs and expectations of its workforce are addressed without compromising its consistent employment brand.

 An organisation’s employment brand and how it’s created varies vastly from organisation to organisation. What is your organisation’s employment brand?

App, S., Merk, J., Büttgen, M. (2012) Employer Branding: Sustainable HRM as a Competitive Advantage in the Market for High-Quality.  Management Revue, 23(3), 262-278


Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Employees

I think it’s safe to say that over the past 5 years or so, our beloved generation X and Y’ers have generated a fair amount of discussion across most sectors.  Often receiving mixed reviews, they are renowned for being determined, task orientated, frivolous, and money hungry.  Unfortunately, they’re also known for short tenures.  On top of this issue, we are also faced with the issue of the Baby Boomer Generation approaching retirement and often taking with them decade’s worth of company knowledge. 

From here, the questions businesses are ultimately faced with are:

  • What are Generation X and Y really looking for in a role?
  • How do we attract and retain younger generation workers?
  •  How can we minimise the loss of company knowledge?

By and large Generation X and Y are devoted and career driven, however don’t tend to feel a strong sense affinity to any one company.  They instead appear driven by the more individualistic desire to build their own professional profile and marketability.  Many also argue that they have a strong desire to utilize a variety of technological devices at work and place a strong emphasis on socialising.  As employers there are multitudes of ways in which we can accommodate these generational desires and adjust our succession planning to meet these requirements. 

It is important that transparent career progression plans are in place, employees are offered a range of professional experiences and are provided with the opportunity to intellectually stretch themselves and grow their industry profile.  And of course, it goes without saying that the extent to which these are utilized depends largely on individual differences.  It is also important to gauge from the outset what sort of career progression a candidate is after, so that plans can be clearly laid out from day one.

It also goes without saying that when employees retire or move on it is not only a hit to the company’s bottom line, but also a loss to the company’s strategic resources.  This said, it is imperative that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that knowledge is openly and effectively shared between employees.  As well as ensuring that knowledge is kept in the business, it has been suggested that this can be useful for retention.  By establishing a knowledge sharing culture, younger generations are engaged in learning from senior employees and, in turn, by imparting their knowledge to junior employees, senior employee’s engagement is increased. It has been suggested that knowledge transfer can be achieved through induction, counselling, employee rotation, training and development and group learning. 

Through providing younger generations with transparent career progression, a range of professional experiences within an organisation, and ensuring mechanisms are put in place for knowledge to be shared across generations, it seems that we may be able to increase the tenure of Generation X and Y and reduce the loss of knowledge with Baby Boomers leaving the workforce. 

So what is your organisation currently doing to attract and retain generation X and Y employees?

What could your organisation do to increase the sharing of knowledge from between generations?

Hokanson, C., Sosa-Fey, J., and Vinaja, R. (2011) Mitigating the loss of knowledge resulting from the attrition of younger generation employees. International Journal of Business and Public Administration, Volume 8, Number 2, 138 -151.

Change, It’s Inevitable.

Change, it’s inevitable.  Some thrive off it, while others cringe at the mere though.  Fortunately, one thing most of us are happy to change on a daily basis is our clothes!   However, for organisations, and as HR professionals, change is a necessity and there really are no two ways about it. 

Implementing change within organisations, whether it be small process changes or larger strategic changes, often brings with it resistance and backlash from employees. As far as resistance goes there are predominately two types; active and passive. Active resistance is broadly categorised as being openly critical, deliberately misconstruing information and really just sabotaging the change.  On the other hand passive resistance is when employees publicly support the change, however when it comes down to it they don’t follow through or only adopt parts of the change.

Resistance to change ultimately comes down to a number of factors.  These include;

  • Personal – a general lack of openness to change, fear of failure or current personal factors. 
  • Organisational – the company’s track record of implementing change and level of trust in the organisation’s leaders.
  • Change specific reasons – whether or not the change is perceived as being right for the organisation and the level of planning which has gone into the change.

So . . what can we do to ensure that we encounter the least possible resistance when implementing change?

Fortunately resistance to change can be reduced by careful forward planning.  Research suggests that employees’ willingness to adopt change in organisations is influenced by the information that is provided by leaders.  It sounds simple, but all too often change is implemented with little explanation behind the driving factors and subsequently leaders are met with opposition.  This highlights the importance of communicating the reasons for implementing the change and the reasons behind why the given change is the right one for the organisation. 

Another critical factor in the implementation of change is that of buy-in from the organisation’s wider management team.   As often happens when change is implemented, employees will raise concerns/questions with their immediate manager.  If these are not addressed effectively by an individual’s manager and concerns alleviated it can decrease the perception of commitment to the changes and ability to follow through and effectively implement them.

Furthermore, it needs to be proven to employees that the given change can effectively be implemented.  This means that it is clear to the employees that they will be given the support and necessary training required to make the change within the organisation. Last but not least, it is important to convey what is in it for the organisation/employee when this change is successfully implemented.  If it means their bonuses will increase, communicate this!

When it comes to organisational change, there are a number of factors which can inhibit the successful implementation of change.  That said, if time is put into planning, educating and communicating with employees change can successfully be implemented.

Emotional Intelligence – Is It Possible To Have Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Recently I have developed a keen interest in Emotional Intelligence (EI) and the impact EI has on individuals and teams. Now EI is by no means a new feat, it can be tracked all the way back to Darwin and his early work around the significance of emotional expression and survival.  In more recent times it has been used as an integral part of employee development and as a means to increase leadership effectiveness.  However is there such a thing as too much EI? Does there come a point where EI can be detrimental in the workplace?

Contemporary research suggests that overall EI relates to both leaders and subordinates well-being and performance at work.  I read an interesting article published in the Journal of Applied Psychology: ‘A multi-level analysis of relationships between leaders EI and subordinates emotion and work attitudes, and between leaders and subordinates’. The findings from this research showed that leaders use of emotion was positively related to subordinates work EI and attitudes.  In contrast, leaders emotional regulation and self emotion appraisal were negatively related to subordinates EI and work attitudes.  Finally, the leaders and subordinates personal EI was positively related to their job satisfaction.

An interesting finding from this research was that the EI skills of some managers appeared to influence employees work effectiveness and job satisfaction adversely.   Employees noted that greater control of emotions by managers often led to feelings of depersonalisation and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. This may in part be due to the fact that leaders with high EI and self-awareness may be seen as manipulative, insincere or less genuine.

This poses the question, is there such a thing as too much EI in the workplace?   When coaching emerging leaders do we need to teach the art of reaching the right balance of EI in the workplace?

Kafetsios, K. , Nezlek, J & Vassiou, A. (2011). A Multilevel Analysis of Relationships Between Leaders’ and Subordinates’ Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Outcomes.  Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41 (5), 1121 – 1144.