How about putting People First in 2013?

Running a company is about creating stakeholder value. All the CEO’s in the world know that. But there are many stakeholders and is there any order? I believe in the following order:

  1. Happy employees believing in the company
  2. Produce awesome customer experiences, through great suppliers, that generate profit
  3. Of which part should be given back to society
  4. And all this will eventually create shareholder value in the long run

O yeah, before the Unions become fans of my blog post or you think I’m some kind of anti-globalist: YOU NEED ALL 4, not only the happy employees…

I’ve been in many businesses, profit and non-profit, in many sectors and I can’t find examples where the order should be different. If you do, let me know!

I’m even convinced that changing the order won’t create ANY value.

  1. Customers first? Of course listening to customers is crucial, but they are not always right and they definitely don’t have all the info at hand to give the right feedback. It needs to be interpreted by employees. Customers come second, because without them, it’s impossible to make any money.
  2. Society first? Without profit, you shouldn’t give back. It would be ridiculous and very short-term. 
  3. Shareholders first? I guess we all saw the effect of that in the past years. However, shareholders are crucial. I’ve been in business with good ones and bad ones. The good ones invest for the long run and help to push the company forward. The good ones believe in the order above.

Through my work at Special Olympics I’m even more convinced that people and volunteers come first. You first need a great team that believes in the project, you then need “customers” buying into the project and then you can start giving back to people with an Intellectual Disability. And that’s what will make the Board very happy.

Here’s an inspiring video on the volunteers, the employees, of the Olympic Games 2012 in London.

Every company will probably say they put their people first. But do they actually? We have a great barometer for you: the Hercules Trophy. It’s all about Employer Branding and if you don’t understand that, you probably don’t understand the order above. On one day we can easily tell which ones care and which ones don’t.

Employer Branding is the new black

Improving your Employer Branding is one of the key benefits of Hercules Trophy. Hercules Trophy is not just another teambuilding. It’s an inter-company team competition. Emotional connection, the first crucial phase to start building a team is only one of the many results of Hercules Trophy.

A strong employer brand = more highly engaged employees = better service to clients = more satisfied clients = more business and more referrals = bigger bottom line.

For the past 14 years I can easily say which companies have a strong employer brand and which haven’t. Just observe the teams at a Hercules Trophy and you’ll know. Some employees are proud to represent their brand, others really don’t want to go the extra mile. By the way, these things can change year after year.

I like the Performance-Happiness Matrix of Charles D. Kerms.

I also bumped into this very interesting blogpost by SocialTalent on the LinkedIn Talent Connect Conference of last month. What’s emerging over the last 12 months (no surprise here, really) is that the employer brand is equally as important to the hiring organisation as their consumer brand. “Employer branding is the new black”, said LinkedIn. When they analysed the goals and marketing spend of 3,028 companies from around the world, the evidence was clearly pointing to a shift in priorities and results-based marketing decisions in branding their companies for hiring, not just selling.

Your performance is only as good as your people. You need to attract the right ones, and then the brand develops from the inside out. Building the company’s reputation as a great place to work serves both your talent acquisition strategy and your client sales strategy.

In Belgium we have closed a partnership with Vacature|Référence to become Title Sponsor. Why? Because they totally get the Employer Branding power of Hercules Trophy. HR Magazine and Federgon are also proud partners. Our customers get it too. That’s why 200 teams subscribed in only 4 days time and we haven’t even started yet. Seen these brand new reference cases of Adecco, Deloitte or DHL?