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Achieve true brand authenticity by embracing it in your workplace

Jun. 27, 2016 ⋅ Categories: Workplace Strategy

“I urge you to transform our headquarters into a place where our brand and culture of teamwork and fun truly lives and breathes,” reads the employee orientation booklet for Coast Capital Credit Union.

This $17 billion credit union in British Columbia embodies their people oriented brand in every aspect of their organization, including their corporate culture and workplace. And not without reason, they are so happy with the results of their efforts that they continue to seek out new ways to support the people both within their organization and in the community.

Authenticity Matters

Your brand is a great asset for attracting both new members and great employees, and it’s important that it is authentic.

We live in an age of instant digital communication, and most are connected to the collective conscience of Facebook, Twitter, and that camera everyone carries in their pocket. No matter what kind of façade a company puts up, peeking behind the curtain is a Google search away.

For a brand to be truly embraced, it has to be actually authentic. It needs to be embodied by every part of an organization, from the storefront to the mail room.

The credit union movement has an excellent mission of “people helping people.” This really resonates with today’s expectations of transparency and social responsibility. The great services that credit unions offer their members is a key part of the brand, but let’s look at a few ways that you can embrace this idea in both your workplace culture and the physical workplace itself.

Invest in purpose

The most recent Gallup Employee Engagement survey puts American employee engagement at only 32%. The 50% who are not engaged are not as effective as they could be, and the 17% who are actively disengaged could even be a drag on productivity. 

So what does this have to do with your brand?

Today’s employees have different needs than in the past. As our society evolves, workers are striving to have purpose and meaning in their work. Today’s workers aren’t just looking for a job, they are looking for socially responsible companies and working environments that support them.

Three Rivers Federal Credit Union came up with an excellent policy to inspire staff to best serve their members: no quotas and no product goals. It changes the focus of employees from selling products and servicing accounts to finding out what each member really needs and coming up with a solution that works uniquely for them. Their employees aren’t doing a job every day, they’re helping people take control of their financial life.

Many credit unions embrace social responsibility by encouraging volunteering, closing for the day to give employees a chance to donate their time or matching staff volunteer hours with donations. It’s one thing to talk about people helping people and offer great service, but when your staff is out physically doing work to improve the community people take notice.

Investing in culture actually has a measurable effect on your bottom line. Glassdoor did a study on the correlation between company performance and employee satisfaction, and their stock portfolio of “Best Places to Work” beat the overall market by 116%!

Provide a great working environment

People spend nearly a third of their life at work, even more time than they spend at home if you don’t count sleep. To be truly supportive, the workplace must help employees feel connected and engaged with their work and also nurture a social environment of collaboration, learning, and genuine relationships with coworkers.

A great workplace is achieved through thoughtful design that combines brand, culture, and data about your staff and the work they do.

Leesman, our workplace data partner, is leading the effort to use data to quantify how well a workplace supports its workers. Their survey even uncovers the impact of the workplace on culture, image, sustainability, and the sense of community that employees feel at work.

Taking the time and effort to find out what works best for your employees before creating a workplace strategy allows you to tailor it specifically to their needs and inspire them to be creative, engaged, and happy at work.

The New Standard

A truly authentic brand identity is becoming the new standard today. It’s no longer something you do to go above and beyond, it’s required to bring the best talent to your workforce and attract savvy consumers who want relationships over products. A joint study with Millennial Branding and Beyond.com showed that for nearly half of candidates and HR professionals, cultural fit was the single most important factor for new hiring and even more important than having a college degree.

Progressive workplaces were once the hallmark of the tech and online industries. With a high demand for a specialized workforce, companies like Google and Zappos had to make brand and culture a priority in the workplace. With a shift towards more integrated, technology based work, integrating brand and culture into the workplace is now a priority of credit unions as well.

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