Brand, Reputation and Communication: Their Connection to HR and the Bottom Line

Brand and reputation have a huge impact on relationships.  In a recent interview, Matthew McConaughey talked about falling in love with his wife, Camila Alves. For him, it was love-at-first-sight … but what truly convinced him she was “the one” was how his friends accepted her. Peer attitudes ultimately cemented McConaughey’s relationship to his future spouse.  Are employee/employer relationships any different?



shutterstock_235733602 (1)According to a study from Corporate Responsibility Magazine and talent acquisition firm Alexander Mann Solutions, company reputation has a significant impact on staff recruitment and retention.  Another study from online recruitment giant Indeed says, 83% of Job Seekers Make Applying Decisions Influenced by Reviews, and 46% say a company’s reputation has a significant impact on their job offer decision.  Seventy-five percent of Americans would prefer to stay unemployed rather than work for a company with a bad reputation, while 87% of currently employed workers would consider leaving their current job to take on a role with a company that has an excellent corporate reputation. They’d even do it for a minimal 1 to 10 percent salary increase.  My own research found that employees would actually take a lower paying job to work for a company with a better reputation.



And if there’s any doubt retaining employees helps the bottom line, consider:


  • The cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5–2x the employee’s annual salary (Source: Josh Bersin, Deloitte).
  • The average economic cost to a company of turning over a highly skilled job is 213% of the cost of one year’s compensation for that role (Source: A paper from the Center for American Progress).
  • Retaining a sales person for three years instead of two, along with better onboarding and management practices, yields a difference of $1.3 million in net value to the company in a three year period. (Source: Maia Josebachvili, VP of of People at Greenhouse, case study).


Sixty-five percent of operating expenses come from human resource costs, so keeping these down can immediately make you more profitable.  Consider as well that a quarter of U.S. businesses are experiencing a marked increase in talent raids at the C-suite level, yet most are unprepared to combat this “poaching” of their most capable people (Source: Marlin Hawk).



Millennials now represent the largest generation in the work force (35 percent). Ultimately, these Millennials are consumers of the workplace who evaluate employers in the same manner they evaluate those they purchase from. Male millennials in particular prioritize a number of external factors  linked to an organization’s reputation such as the reputation of its leaders and it’s standing in the community as an admired company.  Several studies show Millennials also place high value on a company’s impact on local economies and society at large.




Brand drives familiarity and awareness, while reputation builds trust. Both are shaped by informal sources (peers and friends), or professional sources, including experts, rating agencies, and the media. The ongoing experience, dependability, predictability, accessibility, affability and media environment all shape the stability of the relationships, as well as prospects for future business and referral.


Reputation is a simple formula:  Expectation + Credibility + Authenticity  + Communication  = Reputation


Corporate behavior – doing good things – is the bedrock, but communicating, storytelling and sharing company values and successes is paramount.  Consumers – including employees — demand a seamless, frictionless communication environment, yet too often we see a divide between HR and PR. Communicating in silos will obstruct outreach and outcomes. Integrating multiple communication channels demands that an organization listens intently, embraces what Gini Dietrich called the P.E.S.O. communication model (be open to all forms of paid, earned, shared, and owned media), and is agnostic to channel.


Beyond the failure to listen and share across media channels, disciplines, and departments, many organizations remain shortsighted. They focus on the stepping stones of brand and reputation, rather than sought-after relationships. It’s essential that employees and consumers know who you are and what you stand for. Even more importantly, are they willing to engage with you? It’s not enough to be noticed – it’s essential they want to dance, and then keep on dancing.


Organizations wishing to engage with employees and consumers, impact behaviors, and spark action, must develop and share messaging that’s compelling, contextual, meaningful, authentic, and story-rich.  In the end, it comes down to a simple reality – to be truly effective in communicating, you must listen, develop heartfelt messages, and be open to multiple media forms, shared appropriately across the entire media spectrum.

Also published on Medium.