Social media is intertwining the customer and talent brand in such a way that SaaS organisations need to think more holistically about the way they manage their reputation across all brand touch points.
Richard Branson is often quoted as saying ‘look after your people and they will look after your customers.’ Branson is one of the CEO’s who truly understands the impact that employer brand reputation has on the bottom line.
As talent becomes harder to find, many SaaS organisations are concerned about their ability to attract the skills they need to deliver on their core mission. As a result, in recent years employer branding has gained more importance, budget and resources even within the start up landscape. It has also meant that organisations have had to ensure that their workplace culture is aligned with their brand promise, reinforcing the behaviours they want associated with their product delivery.
When a SaaS organisation is small or in start up phase, communicating the company vision and mission is one of the most powerful messages a founder can use to attract and retain talent. Why? Well partly because it is the CEO doing the communicating, and in many cases face to face. When an organisation is small, the CEO can use his or her’s own persuasive powers to communicate ‘the dream’ on a very personable level. And as we all know, an enigmatic CEO can be very persuasive.
When SaaS organisations grow, and HR/Marcom teams are introduced, direct communication from employee to board is often one of the first things to go. Employees can feel out of the loop, despondent and even distressed. We all love unfiltered and direct communication with CEO right? As a SaaS organisation scales, it’s board members need to consider that their physical contact with employees will reduce, and with it the ability to impact the culture directly. So the organisation needs to find a delivery mechanism that enables them to drip feed communications into the workforce, and from the workforce back into the board. It’s two way right! This is an important point, because creating an environment where your employees feel listened to is a vital step to becoming a people led organisation. Sharing feedback, good and bad. Furthermore, if you want your employees to demonstrate social behaviours like sharing, it is important to gestate and encourage these behaviours, not just on social but physically, peer to peer.
As X and Y generations begin to impact the workplace, taking board seats and management roles, the importance of articulating a well defined and robust employee value proposition has never been so important. X and Y Gen need to feel valued, and put a lot of emphasis on work life balance, corporate social responsibilities and flexibility. As board members we need to spend more time inflecting, asking ourselves what is in it for our employees? If we look at the modern workplace, there are now 4 generations we need to accommodate, each with its own needs and wants from a career. Never before has it been so important to understand your workforce and what motivates them.
How are you communicating with your employees? Consider the tools you are currently using, are they fit for purpose? What I hear from a lot of SaaS companies when we first engage is, “We have Slack, we do all our comms on there.” Now don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of Slack, we are all on it. But one of the observations we had with Slack, is that we tend to just post quick fire text messages about…well..getting sh*t done. It’s incredibly rare that we upload photos or videos or cultural content to reinforce our mission, vision, values or behaviours. I know having spoken to other SaaS companies, that some do use it for this, but for most it is a collaboration and project management tool. The other point about communication tools like Slack, WhatsAPP etc. is that they are purely internal. As SaaS companies are beginning to realise, their greatest Marketing asset is their employees, and most internal employee generated content makes even better external brand Marketing content. For this reason it’s incredibly important to use a communication platform that has the ability to turn internal conversations into external communications.
The need for defined and tailored messaging, two way communication, and removal of physical and mental barriers is imperative for SaaS companies hoping to capitalise on marketing their employee voice for more authentic brand communications.