The Employer Brand Verdict Is In

“You can twist perceptions
Reality won’t budge
You can raise objections
I will be the judge
And the jury…”

Rush, Show Don’t Tell


He held his right hand out toward prosecutor, defense attorney and the defendant first.

“They are evidence.”

Then he put his hand on his chest.

“I represent the law.”

And then he held his hand out toward the jury box where 18 prospective jurors sat.

“And you ultimately will be the verdict.”

The judge articulated the jury selection process clearly and methodically. For me, it was the first time I had gone through one where I actually had to report to the courtroom and witness the jury questioning, waiting in the wings in case my name was called to the jury box.

In the end I was released, the jury selected before the court assistant called my name. As jurors were dismissed and new jurors called up for questioning, the judge emphasized over and over again how the jury must only evaluate the evidence presented and decide on a verdict in accordance with the law. Period. Everything else including beliefs, biases and backgrounds needed to be left at the door if at all possible.

Easier said than done of course, but this is how the U.S. criminal justice system works and it moved me to hear how objectively passionate the judge felt about the jury process and the trial itself. He also had a sense of humor about the selection process.

“I understand you good people sitting out there are really pulling for thirteen of these eighteen up here to get selected for this trial so you can be released. That’s very supportive of you. Thank you for your service.”

It struck me that this is how we deal with the world of work and our brands, but in a much more skewed way. We being leadership – the law as judge and jury – and we want business decisions made via a very filtered data set, one that includes our personal beliefs, biases and backgrounds but not the entire workforce’s, not the whole workforce.

And we keep holding court through those filters, especially when we’re an established company trying desperately, or not so, to rethink culture and rebrand the business. In doing so, are we bleeding out the good folk that work and make cultures that rock?

It’s tough to resolve the brand debt, those rehashed value propositions that haven’t meant much to the greater workforce since the company was an entrepreneurial gleam in the founder’s eye. We aren’t willing or unaware how to look at more data than how others perceive the business and the brand. All too often within our workplace we’re making important people decisions based on assumptions of the leaders, instead of the employees, which includes:

  • What we think the culture is
  • What was valuable to us at a previous age or stage in our careers
  • What matters to us in a workplace

This according to TalentCulture #TChat Show guest Susan LaMotte, SPHR, founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy. Susan emphasizes how important it is not to assume, and not just because of the colloquial reason and of what it makes us all when we do ass-u-me.

We should gather new data regularly from our employees through surveys, interviews, focus groups and ethnographic studies and not base business brand and culture decisions based on data from years ago or what we think it should be. Not only that we should let someone else gather the data, an objective third party if possible, so we can set our beliefs, biases and backgrounds aside while gleaning the whole of everyone else.

Because whether our business was a terrible place to work for or not, how do we tell the story now? How do we get rid of our brand debt and tell the realistic story now? Because you can bet the majority of your employees and candidates are already telling it, good or bad, and the Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards data verifies this.

A recent PeopleFluent Millennial Survey shows revealed that over one-third of the respondents value culture as the biggest factor when recommending their place of work to a friend. And over 40 percent value culture as the most important factor when choosing a job.

Asking our current employees about what our company does and doesn’t do well as an employer helps us to tell that realistic story now, and HR can and should drive this initiative. Then we can build a real employer brand foundation to better extend that brand in the market.

The jury has spoken and the verdict is in. It’s the evidence of the whole that makes the employer brand.

This article was inspired by the TalentCulture #TChat Show. Don’t forget to check out the TalentCulture #TChat Show every Wednesday at our new time from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT). Join us! And subscribe to the podcast!