Last night, despite the tube strike and stormy weather, we met at RADA Studios for the fourth event in thefuturestory series -  'What role for the employer brand?'. We were joined by a panel of experts each with a different story and opinions to share: Tina Vale - Head of Employee Engagement at Neopost Ltd. Andrew Thomas - founder of Cravenhill Publishing, and publisher of Communicate magazine, the monthly market leading publication for corporate communication professionals. Stuart Murdoch - CEO and Founder of Surevine; an SME that delivers trusted collaboration technology for clients with the most demanding security requirements.

Mediated by Stuart Rock - multiple award-winning business editor and event chairman - we kicked off the panel discussion talking about what makes a good employer, and what the main challenges are that shape the outlook and expectations of young generations entering the workplace. The discussion developed to explore the recipe for individual success: the importance of building transferable skills, building a strong network and personal reputation.

What became clear throughout the discussion was that the idea of 'brand me' isn't anything new but because so much is now public, people have to be more aware of it. Some of the comments I found especially interesting from the panel were:

  • Stuart Murdoch: 'Reputation is important in the high tech culture, people know the way they get selected is based on their public reputation.'
  • Tina Vale: 'Although I used my reputation to get to where I am today, what's more important to me is that my personal values connect with my organisation's values.'
  • Andrew Thomas: 'It doesn't matter how great to your staff you are by attracting them with high tech stuff, if you don't treat them well, they won't stay.'
  • Stuart Murdoch: 'Talent attracts more talent'
  • Tina Vale: 'It's essential to use as many different routes out of your company to find out what people are doing in different sectors that would be useful inside your company.'
  • Andrew Thomas: ' When companies get it right it isn't when they're focusing on employee branding, it's when they're focusing on good communications.'

After the panel discussion the group divided into two. Workshop one debated how to maintain brand consistency internally and externally, and the challenge of aligning company goals and employee expectations in order to attract talent and establish brand ambassadors. Workshop two talked about sector specific influences on employee brands and how companies can attract and retain employees. In addition, following an example of 'naming and shaming' employees in the panel discussion, the issue of dealing with complaints against customer-facing staff was discussed. John and I will be writing up the key points that came out of those two workshops over the next couple of days.

To end - Stuart Rock concluded that what seemed to be important to all was public recognition at work. It doesn't matter who you are, public recognition is an incredible motivator. He left us with a thought: are companies delivering on their promises of work/life balance and personal development? There seems to be a fear sitting within businesses at the moment which is a big challenge for HR and Communications - younger generations have a completely different way of operating and their expectations are ever-changing. And so it was to the bar to discuss....

A big thank you to everyone who made the effort to join us last night, we really enjoyed ourselves and hope to see you at our next event on May 7th. Watch this space for more info!