6 December 2017

Is employer brand the catalyst for organisational change?

With organisational change becoming BAU, how do businesses stay competitive? Maybe employer brand is the answer…


Organisational change, business transformation, change planning; chances are one or more of these terms is being floated about in your business. Changes in regulation, new technology, industry disruptors, political uncertainty and sometimes just plain old ‘keeping up with the competition’ means that, for most businesses, change is the new BAU. As a result, organisations are having to make changes in a bid to continue to grow, or even just stay relevant. It’s a strategic and operational headache that’s undoubtedly causing business leaders to wake up in a cold sweat.

It’s keeping internal comms and HR pros awake too. As we all know, change can cause fear, uncertainty and panic in the workplace. Microsoft recently found that 61% of businesses said their change programmes caused anxiety amongst employees. And in a recent survey of members of the Institute of Internal Communications, the two biggest IC challenges highlighted were the need to keep employees engaged during periods of organisational change, and the challenge of sustaining and developing an employer brand.


At Synergy, we believe that both of these challenges are intrinsically linked, and whilst change often conjures up negative connotations first, in reality it often provides opportunities for employees and subsequently organisations, to benefit.

When we look at organisations that thrive during times of change, contributing success factors include; collaboration and co-creation, strong leadership, clear aspirations and engaged employees. And during times of change their employees seek involvement, take ownership, feel empowered, pursue opportunities and collaborate. The thing that binds the two is culture. Getting employees on-board and excited about change can be achieved by sustaining and developing your employer brand and culture.

Culture matters more than ever. As well as managing talent throughout the employee lifecycle, culture plays a vital role in delivering your strategy and objectives, particularly in times of transformation. What’s the cost of not having culture nailed? Gallup’s State Of The Workplace report estimates the cost to the UK of disengaged employees is up to £87 billion in lost productivity. Gallup attributes much of this to companies’ lack of ability to keep employees engaged in the face of an ever-increasing pace of change.

So what’s the solution? To succeed you need to bring your people with you, attracting and retaining the best talent to drive your business forward and become the stakeholders of change. For this to happen, the organisation needs an employer brand which is strong enough to cope with change, yet flexible enough to adapt as needed.

It’s about defining exactly who you are as an employer and delivering on that promise. It’s the set of attributes and qualities that set you apart from others. It’s the entire experience an employee has with your company. It’s your company DNA. This means creating an EVP for employees and potential recruits to believe in, with a vision and set of values that encapsulate the behaviours required by both the employee and the employer to enable success.

McKinsey’s organisational change model outlines how leaders need to develop a change story that helps all employees understand why this change is important to them. This helps remove uncertainty by giving clarity on the role the individual can play in managing the change and a purpose to buy in to. So everything comes back to culture. It’s so important to remember that you can have the best change programme mapped out on paper, but without the required behaviours and culture consistently delivered by everyone across the organisation, successful change is going to be tough, really tough. After all, as Peter Drucker once said, culture eats strategy for breakfast.

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