Brands should learn from how John Lewis conducts internal comms

John Lewis has been voted the brand Brits would be proudest to work for despite a recent dip in profits, but what makes some employer brands consistently attractive and how can companies best use communications to promote theirs?

Can brands like Tesla learn from John Lewis when it comes to internal comms? asks Huw Morgan
Can brands like Tesla learn from John Lewis when it comes to internal comms? asks Huw Morgan

Your employer brand is essentially your reputation as a place to work and it has a huge influence on how effectively your company attracts and retains talent.

If you could leave your current job to work for any brand in the world; which would it be and what makes it so attractive?

Is it Apple or Tesla for their covetable products? Maybe Amazon or Netflix for their reputation for disrupting markets? Perhaps it’s Salesforce or Google for their wellness, travel and education benefits?

According to YouGov’s 2019 Worker’s Choice Brand Rankings, John Lewis is the brand that we Brits would be proudest to work for, despite cuts to employee bonuses after a recent profit dip.

Part of John Lewis’ enduring appeal can be attributed to its long-term focus on the happiness of its employee ‘partners’ who co-own the business.

They share in the profits, have a say in the strategic direction of the business and can even vote on whether to continue to support the chairman’s leadership.

While few companies are employee-owned, the universal lesson to be gleaned from the John Lewis example is that involving and empowering employees in business decisions is a sure way to inspire brand advocates. And it applies as much to communications as strategy.

Your people will start to build an affinity for the brand when they are involved in shaping the values and developing the narrative to ensure both are authentic and relevant.

The most effective employer brand narratives should articulate a clear message about the organisation and what its stands for, and also neatly promote the employee value proposition (EVP); what a brand expects from employees and what it provides in return.

Once defined, your brand narrative should be consistently and creatively promoted across internal and external channels, from your job ads to your website, the intranet and social channels.

And comms and HR needs to work together to ensure the view of the brand that candidates glean from the job ad is consistent with the experience they get during on-boarding and when they first log on to the intranet.

An inspiring brand narrative on paper is one thing. But to really buy into the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of what you do, employees need to see leaders living up to the organisation’s purpose and values.

When Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO, told the NY Times that he regularly works 120-hour weeks, it will only have reinforced the company’s intense work culture reputation.

To ensure its employer brand remains as sustainably successful as John Lewis’s, Tesla will arguably need to consider how it can introduce a more employee-focused element to its brand narrative to ensure it retains the talent it attracts.

Huw Morgan is director of Good Relations' internal communications practice

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