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Brand Recognition is its Own Reward

When HR professionals talk about rewards and recognition in the workplace, it’s easy to hit the default button that leads directly to bonuses or  “attaboys.” After all, every employee appreciates a nice check or a public pat on the back for a job well done, right? Incentivizing workers this way definitely has a long-standing place in generating goodwill and improving morale with employees.

by Mark Lanfear
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But as the world of providing critical human capital to organizations grows ever more competitive, it’s important to think beyond traditional forms of tangible, albeit occasional, rewards. What I’m referring to here are the career development rewards that come from working for a company with a brand that stands out and above its competition. Brands that fit this profile not only lift their workers’ pride quotient on a daily basis, but also win the battle for talent every day as well. Is yours one of those brands?

Think about companies amidst the most highly touted, most recognizable brands and reputations. Google, Apple, Amazon, and many of the Fortune 100 biopharmaceutical firms like Johnson & Johnson quickly come to mind. What do they all have in common? They all do an outstanding job of demonstrating the high value they place on their partnership with the talent who make up both their internal and external workforces. And I would bet you that nine out of 10 times, when asked, people would name the companies I listed among the best places to work.

Why? Because these are all companies that can tie worker recognition directly back to their own brand cachet. The products they offer are well designed, interesting, and even sexy. The services they perform are meaningful and impactful globally. And as a result, they are also the brands most likely to successfully attract innovative talent who want to be part of something bigger, like a future-changing drug-development discovery.

Brand perception and reputation are what drive every external business or buying activity that you have with customers, service providers, and talent. An organization like Apple has an abundance of eager applicants due to its brand recognition of being innovative and a leader in the tech industry. I would go so far to say that an organization’s brand is the primary factor in the ability to attract and acquire the human capital required for successful business outcomes.

Corporate success is based on operationalizing your strategies, and for that you need the right talent. Sure, you can always pay more up front or offer incentives like valuable shares of stock (i.e., reward). But even more important, prospective candidates will be able to take external and internal pride in where they’re working (i.e., recognition), benefit from a more attractive resume, and be considered more valuable than before. These pluses, my friend, are worth more than a few dollars in salary.

It’s easy to see where this is done effectively in the life sciences world. The efforts to find cures for diseases like Ebola have to make everyone at Johnson & Johnson stand a little taller, as at Quintiles, where they have dedicated resources for data collection in the NFL Injury Surveillance System to track injuries and trends … the list goes on. Essentially, your brand thrives on the good work you do, and in this very tight economy of human capital, it’s a worthwhile investment.

At Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group (KellyOCG), which is where I work, finding, attracting, and managing the best-in-class workforce solutions that meet the business imperatives for our clients are what we do. There’s no question that human capital is the most important capital a company has, and brand cachet is the most important thing that drives and leads to long-term employee engagement and retention, whether we’re talking about contract, freelance, or full-time talent.

So what’s the takeaway? Every organization, global, national, or local, should be the best at creating and delivering products and services to its customers and finding ways to let the talent community know about it. Because when a company’s positive brand recognition achieves high levels, the reward is almost certainly going to be manifested by attracting talented employees who absolutely, positively want to be part of that company.

The bottom line is that if you want to hire the best global talent, either as a boutique lab, specialty CRO (contract research organization), or a mega pharma firm, the way you go about rewarding and recognizing those interactions is your greatest measure of results and impacts. So utilize your brand by turning your reward and recognition strategy into a driver of your human capital engagement strategy across your organization. When you do that, it will drive those profits and the shareholder value that will make your company’s brand the top in its sector—the ultimate accolade.