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Top talent can afford to be choosy:

How to create an employment brand to become an employer of choice

I attended a conference some time ago where the workshop speaker said something remarkable.- and I was not the only one who thought so. When the session was over, owners formed a line to the right of the platform to talk with him.

During the workshop he crafted a word picture of what it is like to work in his agency. One of their core values was “Respect” and this value was so important that if anyone in the agency lost their temper with a coworker or spoke to the in a disrespectful manner, they would immediately be terminated. So important was this value that it applies to everyone, even their top producers.

The people in line asked the same question, “Where can we sign up to work at your agency?”

This speaker gave his audience a glimpse at his agency’s “employment brand”; and they loved it!

Definition of an “employment brand”

Effective talent management begins with an inspiring employment brand that attracts the talent who want to get on your bus. Unfortunately, many owners don’t understand what it means to create a unique employment brand.

An employment brand is different than a marketing brand or unique value proposition. Your employment brand sparks the imagination of potential applicants with a compellingstory of why you are in the insurance business, what employees have to say about working for your agency and why top talent should invest their time, abilities and loyalty in your agency.

Here are examples of three companies that leveraged their employment brand as a magnet to attract the right talent to their organization.

Google: Google donates $50 for every five hours an employee volunteers

Southwest Airlines: Customers are not number one. Employees always come first then customers a respected second. Southwest expects staff to extend this same respect to their customers as they receive from the company.

Zappos: According to a recent blog posting on Workopolis, “Zappos builds its online following by showing off its playful-verging-on-wacky vibe. Pictures and videos show off outdoor spin classes, elaborate costume contests, hot dog eating competitions and receive numerous comments such as “I want to work here so badly! Where do I apply?”!

Creating a relevant employment brand is challenging because owners tend to rely on thirty year old hiring strategies. If you wouldn’t spend money on Yellow Page ads or electric brochure websites then what makes you think you will attract 21st century top talent by offering an outdated work experience? Top talent doesn’t have to settle for an agency that changes how it does business with each new employee or the demands of the next customer.

Assemble these 7 building blocks to create a compelling employment brand leading top talent to stand in line for the opportunity of working at your agency.

  1. Define your culture

When I ask agency owners and staff, “What makes your agency unique?” the most common answer is, “Our customer service.” The truth is that every agency offers above average customer service; if not, they probably wouldn’t be in business.

Culture is the personality of your agency that isformed by the beliefs, expectations, values and attitudes defining how employees and management treat one another, work together and their customers. For example, some agencies have a strong team-based culture with staff participation on all levels, while other agencies may have a more traditional and formal management style. There is no one right culture for every agency but every agency needs a culture that is right for them. Ask the following questions to identify and create your culture:

  • What makes you proud to work at our agency?

  • How does management support your professional development and career growth?

  • Is taking risks encouraged and what happens when people fail?

  • What role do agency’s values play in hiring and performance reviews?

  • Would staff turn down an offer to receive $4,000 to quit your agency?
    NOTE: Zappos offers to pay new hires $4,000 to quit.

  1. Know your target market for top talent

Identifying the target market for talent is just as important as knowing the customer you target for your agency. Don’t hire the person who can do the job. Hire the person who fits your agency culture then train them to do their job.

“If you hire people just because they do the job, they will work for the money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe they will work for you with blood, sweat and tears.” Simon Sinek

In order to become and remain relevant to the next generation you need top talent capable of growing a 21st century agency.That person is much more likely to be a millennial rather than a boomer. I’m not suggesting you don’t hire folks with thirty years of experience. I am suggesting the average age of your customer will fall somewhere close to the average age of your employees.

  1. Establish clear core values

A Core Value is a belief or principle that forms the foundation for how your agency conducts business, relates with coworkers and inspires the community.Investing time and energy to identify core values shapes the vision and culture everyone in your agency is committed to live by regardless who they are with and what is happening each day. These values impact how decisions are made, who joins the team and how the community views your agency.

  1. Tell an inspiring story

Telling an inspiring story engages top talent much more than the nuts and bolts elements of traditional interviews.Recent advances in neuroscience reveal that hearing facts light up a small part of our brain.Tell a compelling story and the entire brain sparks to life. Facts tell. Stories sell.

George Bradt, contributor for Forbes magazine, makes a great point saying “Tell a story that attracts the talent you seek”.Winners like winners. If you want to attract rock stars you must tell a strong story about your organization that makes the market’s most skilled free agents want to join the team

For example, an employee at Zappos tells the story when she paid for a purchase and received too much money back. She said, “I am a better person for having worked at Zappos”. She continued with her story adding that, “Before working at Zappos I probably would have given the money back, but keeping the money is against our core values so I had to give it back.”

  1. Make fun is a primary ingredient every day

It’s better to have fun than to have the lowest price.

Fun in the workplace doesn’t mean staff skips out to the parking lot and plays a game.Fun in the workplace means implementing enjoyable types of activities (some of which may be non-work related) that are spontaneous and personally beneficial.

Physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “We don’t quit playing because we grow older; we grow older because we quit playing.” The Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle is a great example.  Every day, thousands of people come from all over the world to watch employees have fun throwing fish.

  1. Maximize social media and agency website

Social media empowers your agency to reach top talent where they live.Social media is a social culture where participants live in “packs”.The trusted advisor for the online world is dozens to thousands of people who like and comment on questions such as, “Should I go to work for [agency name]? Here are some suggestions to create your unique employment brand through social media.

  • Update your agency website with staff photos showing them having fun with family, hobbies and community interests.

  • Create a landing page with videos of staff telling their story of why your agency is a great place to work and showing people having fun at work.

  • Update Facebook and other social media sites regularly with videos, quotes, causes and activities that clearly show why you are in business and what it looks like to be a part of your agency team.

  • Commit to volunteering in the community then share the experiences through social media.

  • Encourage customers to share stories how their lifestyle has been protected because your agency is a committed risk management team.

  1. Become an employer of choice:

Top talent knows what they are looking for and look for employment opportunities aligned with their values and abilities.Here are suggestions for what you can offer Top Talent:

  • Become an employer with a cause: According to the Delotte 2015 Millennial Survey, 60 percent of millennials chose to join the current employer in part because of the organizations sense of purpose.

  • Offer flexible hours: Flexible hours are an excellent way to stand out offering tangible benefits for both agency and staff.

  • Offer flexible workplace: According to Forbes magazine, 68 percent of workers expect to work from home in the future. As many as 33 percent are able to currently work from home part-time, and 53 percent say they expect to become independent, freelance workers in the next five years.

  • Offer clear goals and expectations: Create clear job descriptions defining how your agency does business.Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the most effective way to provide  objective results that can be celebrated and challenged for each person.

  • Inspire growth personally as well as professionally: Today’s top talent look for a balance between their life at work and home, and an important part of that balance is the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

  • Provide real-time feedback and communication: According to Elance-oDesk and Millennial Branding, 80 percent of millennials surveyed want feedback in real time. Feedback and recognition includes individual coaching, reviews and frequent recognition of achievements.

  • Give direction, not directions:Simon Sinek makes the distinction, “Directions are instructions given to explain how. Direction is a vision offered to explain why.” Giving staff the opportunity to figure things out for themselves gives them a sense of accomplishment when they succeed.

Creating your unique employment brand is the only true competitive advantage in your market.Top talent never has to settle for where they work.Create a place where top talent wants to work and top talent will form a line asking where they can apply for a job.


 

Catalyst is a software company providing technology, training and resources to the insurance industry/strong>

3301 Bucknel  Rowlett, TX     972-961-4798     tbaker@catalystinsurancesystems.com