Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our new blog

Hello blog readers

After three years of writing for Heywood Innovation's four blogs – branding, employer branding, M&A branding and annual report - I have decided to combine them all into one 'visual' blog that celebrates a new affiliation with our good friends the Taylor & Taylor creative team in Melbourne, and the sensational strategic and creative work that is driving our growth into 2011. The blog features work our teams are producing in the Sydney, Melbourne, London and Birmingham markets. Our new blog can be accessed here.

Best regards

Tony Heywood

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Accountability rules OK?

So you've applied your strategic and creative genius to launch new employer branding activities, but then the CEO asks you to report on the ROI! How do you do this? How do you go about measuring ROI? It's not easy to measure. You can for example engage a talented copy writer to improve your job ads and measure the number of responses, but this has little to do with building a strong and sustainable employer brand. Most metrics are likely to be linked to tactics or one-off campaign activities, not real employer branding. So what is involved? Here are a few pointers to start you on your journey...

Employee engagement
A good measure of ROI are the levels of employee engagement before and after the employer branding activities kicked in. By surveying the workforce before and after the activities you will be able to identify how effective they were, which ones hit the mark and which ones didn't, and refine them accordingly.

Length of service/retention

This cannot be calculated in the short term. If length of service figures are increasing then it's fair to say that the new EB activities may be driving higher levels of engagement and that employees have a new found higher regard for their employer and the employment experience.

Customer service
Are customer surveys highlighting new levels of satisfaction with the sales experience, the purchasing experience, the order processing experience, the delivery experience and the after sales experience? Were they greeted with a new found smile and a thank you? Are sales figures increasing?

Ideas and recommendations from employees
Are employees suddenly forthcoming with new ideas on how they can do their job better, save on production times, increase team performance and satisfaction, or ways to enhance the customer experience?

Cost per hire
Are you receiving more speculative applications from job seekers? Is this allowing you to reduce your reliance on advertising and external recruiters?

Job applications

Are applicants better empowered with information and an understanding of the job for which they are applying and the career opportunity? Is it because you now have a more compelling and informative Careers section on your website or are other improvements responsible? Are more job seekers visiting the website and, if so, are they the right ones? Are your job ads better written, more informative and more inspiring?

Higher productivity
Are production figures rising without additional resources? Do employees in the production area seem happier with their work and are they putting in a bigger effort?

Referral rates
Are you receiving more 'better fit' job applications from people who have been referred by your employees?

Internal engagement
Are present employees more engaged with their work, their colleagues and with managers? Do they have a smile on their face? Has their behaviour shifted to one where collaboration is the norm?

Living the brand
How well is the organisation's brand being emotionally received and lived by employees? Are they willing to defend and promote it to customers, colleagues, friends and new job applicants? Do they do this 'from the heart'? Are they ambassadors for the brand, who instill a positive perception in the minds of customers?

Moving forward
Are employees keen to engage with personal development programmes, training programmes and do so willingly? Do they perceive the benefits flow through on personal, work, career and organisational levels?

Offer:accept ratio

Has this improved? If you previously had a 4:1 offer:accept rate, but now have a 3:1 rate, then you can reasonably say the EB activities are taking effect.

Recruitment campaign effectiveness

Are more people responding to your recruitment campaigns? Are they perceiving a more compelling offer? Does the campaign look more attractive and have stronger messages? Is it achieving more 'cut-through'?

Employer of choice
Have employees since achieved greater clarity on what the organisation is, what it does, what it stands for... and how the employment experience it provides can benefit their career, job satisfaction and lifestyle requirements?

So do you think after your investigations you'll be armed with sufficient data and feedback to look your boss in the eyes and tell him/her with great conviction that the organisation's investment in building a strong employer brand has paid off? I hope so.

Tony Heywood is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, founder of Heywood Innovation in Sydney and London with affiliates in Melbourne, Gold Coast, Singapore and Mumbai.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It happens so frequently

If your employees are not living the organisation’s brand values internally then it’s going to be next to impossible to build the brand externally.

It’s surprising how much money and effort organisations put into building and promoting external brands when things just aren’t right on the inside. When culture is fragmented across different areas of the business. When employees just don’t have a clear view of the road ahead or who’s driving the organisation. When employee disengagement starts to spread because the organisation forgot how to challenge or reward them. When recruitment campaigns fail to get a result. When sales volumes start to dip because enthusiasm and belief for the organisation’s products and services just aren’t there any more. When change moves employees out of their traditional comfort zones and brings on stress and discomfort. When efforts to communicate with employees fall on deaf ears.

Organisations are switched on these days to identifying the warning signs but tend to experience significant difficulty when it comes to finding solutions.

Most branding consultants are inexperienced when it comes to thinking strategically and creatively to identify employee-related issues and finding ways to prescribe solutions – ones which, in many cases, significantly affect the future wellbeing of the organisation. Consulting firms tend to focus on business processes and the bottom line. Employer branding consultants like Heywood Innovation however, focus on employee-related issues and opportunities and how the organisation is perceived as a competent and attractive employer from both the inside and the outside.

Which one did you go for?

Tony Heywood is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, founder of Heywood Innovation in Sydney and London with affiliates in Melbourne, Gold Coast, Singapore and Mumbai.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

There’s nothing like a disengaged Australian workforce to cause post traumatic stress

Employees come in all shapes and sizes but mainly fall into three categories when it comes to their levels of engagement with their employer and their job.

You have the engaged ones who are just what an employer needs – co-operative, committed, loyal and hopefully don’t ask for too high a salary. They’re just a delight to have around – they tend to be innovative, and confident enough to make decisions on their own, are creative and just love their boss. Their fellow workers tend to be stimulated by their enthusiasm which leads to higher productivity. They have a profound connection to their employer and understand the value of the company brand and all it stands for. They value the experience they are gaining from being employed.

Then you have the somewhat disengaged ones who are only in it for the money and are biding their time until a better opportunity comes their way. Often semi-comatose, they do what they’re told but not much more. They don’t smile or laugh much and tend to go home on the dot. They put in minimal effort, keep quiet most of the time, even with their fellow employees, and don’t go out of their way to do a better job. They can have a chip on their shoulder, believing they are in the wrong job or in the wrong industry.

Then at the bottom of the pile are the actively disengaged employees. These are the ones you wish weren’t your employees. They represent the ‘cancer spreading through the organisation’ or the ‘one bad apple’. They tend to display a negative attitude to most things, cause internal rifts and disrupt harmony. These employees undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish. They are keen to complain and criticise and take delight when others follow suit. Fellow employees tend to go out of their way to avoid them.

A typical breakdown of a workforce would comprise:

  • 25 - 30% engaged employees
  • 55 - 60% somewhat disengaged employees
  • 15% or less actively disengaged employees

Even though it has been calculated that most organisations only experience ‘active disengagement’ in around 15% or less of their workforces, the effects can be very disproportionate and go beyond workforce disruption right to the bottom line.

Gallup’s five year study of employee beliefs and actions determined that disengaged employees were costing US businesses US$300 billion annually in lower productivity and performance.

The Gallup Management Journal’s semi-annual Employee Engagement Index reports that 29% of US employees are ‘actively engaged’, 54% ‘not engaged’, while 17% ‘are ‘actively disengaged’.

Actively disengaged employees are often the most difficult problems to fix or eliminate. They rarely want to change and tend to sabotage management’s efforts to confront the situation. This is where the superstar from HR comes to the rescue. Sometimes, however, they go willingly, feeling relieved that ‘finally it’s all over’ and they have been released.

There is no getting away from the fact that workplace relationships are personal. Employees need to relate well with others to foster an harmonious working environment. Any disruption to the dynamics that support these relationships will have far-reaching consequences. Disengagement must be identified quickly before it has time to take hold and multiply. When was the last time you engaged an employee engagement survey?

Tony Heywood is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, founder of Heywood Innovation in Sydney Australia with affiliates in Melbourne, Gold Coast, London, Singapore and Mumbai.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What is flexible working, what’s in it for the employer and who’s doing it?

Organisations must adapt to economic and cultural change by embracing more flexible working practices or risk losing the new war for talent. Fifty percent of employers surveyed who had flexible practices in place admitted these were borne out of the GFC where flexibility in terms of shortened working week and other necessary trade-offs with employees were implemented as a survival strategy to retain employees whilst necessarily reducing their salary levels.

Our recent survey of business leaders in Australia and New Zealand, conducted with The Rubicor Group also sought to uncover the current extent of flexible working practices already in place across the business communities of both Australia and New Zealand. We were interested in understanding the perceived benefits and challenges that flexibility brings into the workplace and whether flexible arrangements are now an integral part of the employee value proposition employers are presenting to the external candidate market as well as their internal employee audience.

Does successful flexible working really mean boosted productivity and improved staff morale, as many claim?

The findings below reveal a powerful argument in support of this.
The findings below seem to support this notion.
The sentiment observed in our survey responses seems to say so.
  • Only 2% of the surveyed audience felt that there were no positive business benefits gained from introducing flexible work practices
  • 86% of the businesses surveyed now provide some form of flexible working initiatives
  • 84% felt flexibility would create higher levels of retention
  • 75% of respondents agreed that flexible work practices would have a positive benefit in attracting quality staff
  • 74% also felt employee morale would increase
  • 70% of all respondents believed that employee engagement would improve
  • 64% felt they would reduce absenteeism in the workplace

It seems then that flexible working can deliver significant benefits for both employer and employee. There appears however to be little awareness of how to fully harness this via the EVP and employer brand, with 57% of respondents admitting that these benefits were NOT regularly discussed with applying candidates.

We know that work-life balance is increasingly on the radar for employees and candidates. We also know work-life balance is a key driver of job satisfaction for generations X and Y, and increasingly the Boomers. We can then suggest with confidence that flexibility and work-life balance then are an integral part of the EVP and as such represent a significant element of any employer brand. It is not without reason that the adoption of flexible practices is widely supported by HR practitioners.

Work-life balance keeps individuals healthy, stimulated in all areas of their life, and more likely to stay and contribute productively to their employer’s vision.

It is getting harder for employers to ignore that there are more flexible working models and more technology to support them than ever before. Employers must mind-shift away from needing to see an employee in a seat to fostering a ‘results-oriented’ environment.

The key words here are ‘trust’ and ‘empowerment’. If you don’t trust your employees and are not a manager who works hard to empower employees, then you will struggle to make such a scenario work and will likely be left behind. We are witnessing more remote and flexible working than ever before. Business sectors that have fiercely resisted the model, such as the legal sector are finally succumbing to employee pressure in order to retain and attract in a very competitive field – they are not alone.

Many office policies relating to Flexibility are not formalised (statistic) which could represent a ticking-time-bomb for employers. Employers beware – when rules and favours are not applied with equity across a workforce – if this occurs then previously settled employees may well become disengaged or even move on.

Healthy Internal Communications
  • Over 43% of managers surveyed said their teams were unaware or only partly aware of the current flexible benefits available to them

There is a clear communications gap here between having the benefits available and making employees aware of them, even when these benefits have been specifically designed to keep them in the business! – this communication gap is hurting many employers who do not have a robust EVP, have poor internal communications and no effective employer brand to recruit to.

The most desired flexible practices suggested by survey participants included: Childcare support, Sabbatical, Job share/Flexi-time and Technology support.

The strongest perceived or expected problems/difficulties outlined by survey participants included: Supply and support resourcing, No trust from leaders and managers, Potential fragmentation of teams and Expense.

Sample response (see below)

To access the Flexible Workplace Survey – March 2010  report document click here.

Tony Heywood is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, founder of Heywood Innovation in Sydney Australia with affiliates in Melbourne, Gold Coast, London, Singapore and Mumbai.

Are disengaged employees holding you back?

The GFC and its resulting job losses have, on one hand released an array of available talent to the market, and on the other hand have fostered many cases of disengagement within the workplace. Shaken by the dismissal of their colleagues, disillusioned by their own frozen-careers or exhausted through delivering ‘more for less’, many employees are fed up with worry and sleepless nights - many blame their leaders and expect them to ‘put it right’.

Disengaged employees are not good for business. Consider some of the ways they can negatively impact your organisation’s bottom line:
  • a lack of focus – not delivering close to 100% effort
  • distracted – product and service deficiencies result
  • bad influence – a negative effect on co-workers
  • undermine – leader’s vision and authority
  • leave – or cause others to leave
  • inappropriate uses of company time – job seeking, time wasting, clock-watching
  • lack of focus – company initiatives don’t gain traction
  • increased absenteeism
  • employee morale falls across the organisation
  • employee productivity falls
  • no creative or innovative input
  • no real drive or incentive to go the extra mile
What causes employee disengagement?
  • burnout due to long working hours and lack of recognition in return
  • inadequate training, career mentoring, feedback and support
  • broken promises
  • lack of empowerment
  • favouritism/inconsistency
  • ineffective leadership
  • inflexibility
  • an inappropriate environment
  • a brand with which no one wishes to be associated
  • mis-trust and or micro-management
  • career opportunities absent or minimal
  • individual contributions not acknowledged
  • poor team spirit
  • poor internal communication particularly during the GFC when redundancies, changes in work patterns and budget cutbacks were occurring
  • Inability to compete with remuneration levels offered by alternative employers (talent competition)
Actively disengaged employees can cost employers thousands, if not millions of dollars. Gallup estimates that the decreased productivity and performance fostered by actively disengaged employees’ costs U.S. businesses around $300 BILLION annually!

Ignore disengaged and actively disengaged employees at your peril!

Employers should make every attempt to find out who’s motivated and who’s not, who’s engaged and behind the leader’s vision and who’s going through the motions. Who’s there for the long-term and what keeps them bound to the company. Who’s contributing, who’s a passenger and who’s a company assassin?

Discover what people most ‘like’ about working for your organisation, what they actively ‘dislike’ and what you need to do to engage, motivate and retain them.

Online employee survey – why you need one now…

Looking at the employee profiles below – doesn’t it make sense to understand the prevailing employee sentiment and levels of engagement within your organisation?

HI offers:
  • Free Employer Branding presentation (EmployerBrandGuidanceSystem 2010)
  • Free Brand clinic – find out how your brand is performing

Our all-staff surveys probe general levels of engagement and employee perceptions of the value proposition across 12 key areas which comprise the employee experience.

Our surveys will:
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses within your existing employment framework
  • Indicate ways in which improvements might be made
  • Solicit anonymous quantitative input from employees
  • Allow comparison/alignment between employee groups
  • Provide insight into the levels of sentiment within the workforce

Tony Heywood is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, founder of Heywood Innovation in Sydney Australia with affiliates in Melbourne, Gold Coast, London, Singapore and Mumbai.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vale recruitment advertising

Australian recruiters and employer branding companies like Heywood Innovation were shocked at the news this week that national recruitment advertising firm TMP Worldwide has collapsed into administration with the closure of five offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, despite winning four gongs at Fairfax’s Employment Marketing Awards only a few months ago.

This presents sobering insight to the state of the recruitment sector throughout 2009. Despite a seemingly dramatic pick up for many recruiting firms in the opening months of 2010, the strain of prolonged low advertising activity throughout 2009 proved too much. Previously Monster Inc before its purchase in 2006 and subsequent renaming, TMP Worldwide was a major supplier of recruitment advertising services to governments around Australia.

Most of us will appreciate that if there are only a few job vacancies available there isn’t much call for recruitment advertising. It makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is that here in Australia our experience has been that the downturn also caused companies to clamp down on their employer branding activities. This in my estimation has contributed significantly to the rapid turnaround in recruitment activities in these last few months. Employee engagement has fallen off the radar for more than 12 months. Consequently the ‘itchy feet’ syndrome is affecting many employees, causing their employers to start feeling the pain of departing talent. This ‘knock on’ effect with employers is predicted to become one of the key contributors to the SWD ‘Second Wave Downturn’ the doomsayers are preaching will hit us at the end of the year and continue into 2011. We sincerely hope not.

More sobering is the realisation that the future prospects for print media are, like the Australian drought, looking pretty dry. “I’ll have $10 for online media to win, and a cold beer mate”.

Tony Heywood is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, founder of Heywood Innovation in Sydney Australia with affiliates in Melbourne, Gold Coast, London, Singapore and Mumbai.