Article: If you have a toxic work culture, fix it—don’t paint over it: Cielo’s Andy Curlewis

Employer Branding

If you have a toxic work culture, fix it—don’t paint over it: Cielo’s Andy Curlewis

Andy Curlewis, Managing Director, Brand and Digital, Cielo, in an exclusive interview with us, shares top three top factors that a company needs in its employer brand today.
If you have a toxic work culture, fix it—don’t paint over it: Cielo’s Andy Curlewis

Extrinsic variables were more prevalent in the recruiting process in the past, whereas intrinsic drivers were more closely related to engagement and retention. However, we increasingly see culture, lifestyle, and nature/opportunity of work being key characteristics and focus in the talent acquisition phase. These become central when considered as a part of the strategic talent blueprint – as much as talent strategy and employer branding, says Andy Curlewis, Managing Director, Brand and Digital, Cielo. In an exclusive interview with us, Andy shares insights on the increasing importance of employee value proposition and employer branding.

Andy leads a global practice that partners with organisations to help them achieve the people results they need to deliver the business outcomes they are aiming for.  Andy has over 20 years of brand consulting experience spanning corporate, BPO and marketing agencies including 9 years at Cielo where he set up the global employer brand division.  Cielo is a  provider of global talent acquisition and management solutions. 

Here are edited excerpts:

Globally, businesses are working to improve their value offerings in an effort to entice and keep talent. How do you see this trend and the rise of the candidate-driven labour market?

Whilst we always thought the change and disruption of the last few years would see a rise in reputation management and digital experiences, it is unprecedented how many companies are now refreshing their employee value proposition (EVP) through significant transformation programs. We believe we are moving far more into the reputation economy, with the amplification of the company’s culture at the forefront. A recent study by Indeed suggests that at least 21% of candidates have accepted jobs based on the company’s culture, and without a robust EVP, there isn’t a suitable vehicle to deliver that to an already overstimulated market. Companies will need to leverage the power of influence and PR, both internal and external if they are to succeed. This can be done by investing in your reputation with comprehensive social media management, employee advocacy, as well as working hand in glove with the external and internal communications team to ensure that the most important part of any company, its talent, is at the top of the PR agenda. 

It appears that there is often a gap between what prospective hires want and what HR prioritise. What do you think about this?

During the last couple of years, there has been a significant disparity in what HR leaders think, hire, and drive away talent vs what talent are actually leaving and joining companies for. A recent study by Personio and Opinium suggests that whilst 28% of HR leaders accredited a pay freeze or cut as a reason to leave, only 22% of employees felt the same. However, when looking at the effects of a poor culture, 12% of HR leaders thought this was a reason they were losing talent vs 21% of talent. This clearly shows that there is a need to address fundamental aspects such as culture and the working environment.

What, in your opinion, are the most important components of a company's employer brand today?

Accurate interpretation of the company culture and values: This is where it starts. If you have a toxic culture, fix it. Don’t try and paint over it as it will cost you dearly in the long run (cost of new hire vs retaining talent). In APAC, the resignation rate is 15.2% vs 6.6% in western Europe, with one in five employees leaving within a year. Making sure the cover reflects the book can help you reduce these figures.

Authentic storytelling: Your employees telling your story rather than a corporate narrative can give a much more authentic lens on what it's actually like to work for your company. APAC-based tech firm Videomyjob, suggests that having your employees showcased can create up to a 300% increase in time spent on your career site, further engaging potential talent with your brand and authentic narrative. 

Candidate Experience (Your tech platform):  At the base of everything (and arguably as important as the other two points) is how you enable talent to engage with you, and most importantly, how easy you make it to engage with your brand, apply for opportunities and the stay engaged during the onboarding process. With over 4000 tech platforms to choose from, this can be a daunting prospect to understand what works for you. However, with initiatives such as future state planning and vendor assessment workshops (both available with Cielo’s consulting practice), this can make it a lot easier to undertake. 

In your opinion, what are the top-of-mind characteristics of your company's employee value proposition? What led them to become central?

Previously, extrinsic drivers used to be more prevalent in the recruitment phase and intrinsic more associated with engagement and retention. However, we increasingly see culture, lifestyle, and nature/opportunity of work being key characteristics and focus in the talent acquisition phase. These become central when considered as a part of the strategic talent blueprint – as much as talent strategy and employer branding. 

What outreach method works best when conveying your value propositions to talent outside the company? Is it necessary to develop strategies based on demographics?

Absolutely, as not all candidate engagement is born equal! At the heart of a robust EVP is the appropriate segmentation that takes into account geography, career state, demographics, and of course job type/role. Furthermore, when curating your communications strategy, we need to consider the awareness potential candidates will have of your brand. This can be broken down simply into unaware, aware, and engaged. Depending on where a candidate is on that spectrum, this will determine how and what you engage them with. For example, if you are a tech company in Singapore, you would want to speak to unaware candidates about what you are doing as a company in the tech space, moving them to awareness. You then may want to talk to them about what they can do at your company that’s unique via authentic storytelling, bringing them engaged. From there you will be looking to convert them via your tech stack, recruiters and hiring managers – this is where you would really want to push your culture.

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Topics: Employer Branding, #HRCommunity

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