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Ep23: How to Build a Killer Employer Brand, with HubSpot Director Kyle Denhoff

This week on the podcast, we’re flipping our attention back to organisations and what they can do to find, engage and nurture great people in 2023.

This week on the podcast, we’re flipping our attention back to organisations and what they can do to find, engage and nurture great people in 2023.

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We’re joined by Kyle Denhoff, the Director of Marketing, HubSpot, and we nerd out about employer brand, workplace culture & how HubSpot are managing it all.

Things we cover are:

  • What is an employer brand?
  • Why vision and values are important
  • The 7 foundations of a great workplace culture
  • The importance of great managers/mentors
  • Rolling out an employer brand
  • Boosting collaboration between HR, Marketing and Comms teams

Our 7 Foundations of a great workplace culture:

This is what we call The Rx7:

  1. Reason
  2. Role
  3. Recognition
  4. Resources
  5. Relationships
  6. Resilience
  7. Remote

Book a call HERE with Leanne to discuss the Rx7.


All the links mentioned in the show.

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Kyle  0:00  
That was the only way this was gonna work, right? We can do all our research, we can talk to the whole team, but unless you have a strong leader that can execute against that vision and bring people together

Al Elliott  0:15  
Hello, and welcome to the truth lies and workplace culture podcast, where we simplify the science of people. My name is Al and I’m a business owner.

Leanne Elliott  0:23  
My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist, and hello,

Al Elliott  0:26  
welcome. Welcome. And welcome to anyone who’s joined us, we looked at our stats with a little bit of a bump recently. So if you’re quite new to us, then hello. And hopefully you’ve been going through our back catalogue. There’s some decent stuff in there. I think

Leanne Elliott  0:38  
there is welcome new listener was so pleased to have you. And yes, this week, the gang is back together out. Yeah. So if you listened to our last episode, you’ll know we did it a little bit differently. If you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m not gonna spoil the surprise. Go back. Take a listen. We’ve had an incredible response to the last three episodes on burnout and men’s mental health. So thank you, thank you so much very important conversations. So it’s really great to know they’ve been so well received, especially at this time of year. And we’ll keep the conversation going on LinkedIn and other socials.

Al Elliott  1:13  
Huh, yeah, if you don’t follow them follow Leanne. She is the one who in LinkedIn, such as going to LinkedIn tapping Leanne Elliott, she’s there might be plenty come up. There’s only one original business psychologist amazing person, which is Leanne. So you’ll see her lovely little face popping up with a brick background. Okay, Leanne, what are we talking about this this episode?

Leanne Elliott  1:32  
Well, this week on the podcast, we’re flipping our attention back to organisations, and importantly, what they can do define engage and nurture great people in 2023.

Al Elliott  1:42  
So what you’ve probably regular listeners are probably realised that what what tends to happen is that lianza scientists, the expert and people, and so whenever she says something, I’m always thinking, Okay, how could we implement this in our business? Because I own businesses? So I always, if there’s something which a little bit not sure, for the layman, then our question, we’re gonna go, what does that mean? And how can we implement it. However, we’re talking practically this week, because we’re talking who we talking to?

Leanne Elliott  2:06  
Well, this week, we’re talking about employer brand.

Al Elliott  2:10  
Now, we’ll come on to that guest in a second, just building a suspense them. employer brand, you’ve probably heard of this, there’s been a bit of a buzzword for a few years, it gained traction recently, given this fight for talent, if you’ve not heard of the fight for talent. Basically, if you’ve tried to recruit in the last 18 months, you’ve found that it’s been very different to how it used to be. So it’s a lot more difficult to get talent these days. So it’s shifting how people look at work. So one of the things that that came out of that was people talking about doing an employer brand or creating this employer brand. The idea being that if you just the same as your brand for your business, you know, your brand for your business has certain values, it’s got certain sort of, you might have a logo, you might have your strap line, you might have all the bits and pieces that you put together to tell people about that about what your business does. So the employer brand is doing the same. To borrow a quote, quote from Jeff Bezos, which is probably probably the first time someone’s talked about workplace good workplace culture and Amazon in the same breath. But sorry, Jeff, if you’re listening, but if you’re but to take it, taking his quote, Our brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. So we’ve known that as business owners for years talking about our own brands, and now we’re talking about employers. So what do your employees say about you when you’re not in the room? So to help us explore the topic of employer brand, we’ve had a very special guest joining us today. Kyle den off is the director of marketing and media at HubSpot. He’s a big, he’s a big deal, Big Cheese, cheese. He leads teams and building a portfolio of content brands that help businesses grow. So let’s meet Kyle and he more about his background.

Kyle  3:45  
Yeah, that’s right. So I played lacrosse professionally for seven years. So I had graduated college and got an opportunity to try out for the team in my area and made it and made a career out of it. So it was there was a blast while I was doing it. But it was a tough balance between the marketing gig and the professional sports. I was I started my career in the agency world. So I did a couple years agency side working with client portfolio 20 to 30 clients helping them with inbound and content marketing. And after that, I wanted to see how a big brand operated and I’m originally from Rochester, New York, which is the city where Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb were founded. So these were the large global companies and brands that I grew up seeing downtown. So took an opportunity to go run social media for Xerox for a couple years. And enjoyed that. That was really, really interesting to see how a global cmo and a global marketing and comms organisation operate.

Al Elliott  4:47  
Now we’ve mentioned there about lacrosse and that’s going to come back into it in a second. The original question or reason why he’s answering about that is because I was interested to see whether there was a crossover between athleticism or being great at athletics and being great in business. because it seems to be quite a few people who are good at that. Anyway, so as we mentioned, Kyle is now a HubSpot and currently focused on our podcast network amongst other projects. And he’s got he’s in charge of the YouTube is in charge the creators programme he’s in charge, he basically is in charge of everything is is is the big daddy. So let’s hear from Kyle as he talks a little bit more about integrating the hustle newsletter, which was formerly owned by Semper into HubSpot.

Kyle  5:22  
At the time, the announcement was made that we were acquiring a media company. And with that, obviously, people were coming into the organisation. And we had new media products to operate, couple podcasts, couple newsletters and a private community. I was in a role at the time working for our SVP of acquisition, Karen Flanagan, and my role was in strategy and operations. So I had 12 months to help him build an operating model for this new department. We had I think, 25 or 30 people coming from the hustle into HubSpot. And then we had 20 to 25 people on our content team at HubSpot and bringing people together from very, very different backgrounds, very, very different cultures all over the country have this challenge. And so what I worked on with Kieran was how do we define what HubSpot media is and what its objectives are? How are we going to build teams that are going to help us achieve those objectives? And then how do we make sure that the team feels that they’re they’re part of something new and exciting and something we’re building together? And so it was a it was a long year of just talking to people understanding what’s working, what’s not working, how they want to operate, what is their ideal team to be a part of, and then we started to put those pieces together, my role was more on the operation side where I was going out talking to the team members coming back with strategic recommendations around goals and teams, and programmes within those teams. So where should we be investing our money? After I was able to do that, towards the end of that Jordan came on board. And that was the only way this was going to work? Right? We can do all our research, we can talk to the whole team. But unless you have a strong leader that can execute against that vision and bring people together, that that work, will will go last. So I was the one building kind of the operating model and then handing that to Jordan. He made a tonne of adjustments as you can imagine coming in as a senior leader. But I think I think overall, we’ve done a really nice job and our teams have hit the hit their goals and 2022. There’s a lot of energy right now, this year, and it’s only our second year as a team. So I’m proud of that. I think we did I think we did a good job.

Leanne Elliott  7:59  
Yeah. So I think was interesting about about hearing more about Carl’s experience is that he he’s been there and he’s done it, you know, there is no greater threat to culture, employer brand, then an acquisition or significant growth. So hearing her talk about how to manage it, how he structured and motivate his team, so that the now smashing it performance wise just demonstrates that he not only knows what he’s talking about, but he knows what he’s doing as well. So yes, Carol is helping us to explore employer brand, and how HR people and culture marketing and internal comms teams can work together to find engage and motivate great talent in this current economy and the current landscape of work, it takes a village. So yes, that’s where we’re starting from. We’re going to cover everything you need to know about employer brand, what it is, how it’ll impact performance of your people and your business, and most importantly, the steps you can take to implement or improve your employer.

Al Elliott  8:56  
So in this episode, we as well as talking to Kyle, we’re going to be talking about the seven foundations of a great workplace culture, which is based on the research that Leanne has done and come up with seven of these which we’ll begin with our which is, which pleases my marketing mind. So as we go through, we’ll be relating all of the things that Carl says to these seven foundations. So bear that in mind,

Leanne Elliott  9:16  
so let’s start at the beginning, shall we? out you are the marketing expert here. If we talk more generally than employer brand, what is a business brand and why should people care? Well, I

Al Elliott  9:27  
mean, a business brand I think everyone knows a business brand is it’s like Coke is a brand. Nike is a brand you know, Amazon’s a brand so they stand for things. So that can be as simple as a logo which is really recognisable, the golden arches, you immediately know what it is what you’re gonna get their mobile VR changing things I think we read we saw a message from what our friends saying they got a knife and fork and a plate when they last went to McDonald’s in the UK. So clearly, brands can evolve. So that’s what the brand is. And as I mentioned before, the Bezos quote brand is what your cut what people say about you when you’re not in the room. So what does that mean for you in terms of employer brand, if you’ve got a really good employer brand, then not only will your employees start talking about you behind your back in a good way, and start recruiting for you, but when someone hears about a position of meaning in your actual business, then your brand precedes you. So people go, Yeah, I do want to work. Let me think of some of the big ones like I know buffer. Hello, fell from nudge podcast, another one of our podcasts, and our network who works for Buffer boss has gotten in fantastic employer brand. You know, people are clamouring to work for Buffer, I’d imagine that for every one position, they probably get 500 or 600 applicants for him. Obviously, I don’t know that. But I’m guessing that and that’s down to the employer brand. It’s down to the values that people believe this company have about their people. And that’s exactly the same as the values that your brand communicates about your business and about and about the things you sell. For example, Ryan as brand. Rhinos brand is not the same as Singapore airline or Etihad airlines. You don’t choose Ryanair, because you want to have a comfort experience. You choose it because it’s cheap. It gets you there is basically a boss in the sky.

Leanne Elliott  11:10  
For Yes, it can be very different types of brands targeting very different types of customers. And with that employer brand is a way of you targeting specific kinds of people that you want within your business. So as a term employer brand was defined by Simon Barrow and Tim Ambler, back in 1996, can you believe and since then, a few definitions have popped up in the literature. Couple that I like Backhouse and ticker great names from 2004. If you’re interested, I can leave you can leave the references if you are. But they defined it as a concept of an organisation that differentiates itself from its competitors by using employer brand. Martin 2011. gave a really nice definition as well saying it’s a generalised recognition for being known among key stakeholders for providing high quality employment experience. And again, a distinctive organisational identity that employees value, engage with and feel confident and happy to promote others. So I think there’s a lot of promotion and advocacy that sounds an employer brand surrounds employer brand as well, as I mentioned, I think as well, what an employer brand offers is, is an assurance to its people in the future the company, how it’s going to evolve and how it’s going to evolve with its people. It’s about how people experience the organisation and how they fit into their organisation.

Al Elliott  12:33  
Or just like creating a brand for your business. If your brand is all about quality and amazing work. For example, let’s say your digital agency, amazing work quality, great experiences, also probably quite expensive, then clearly everyone needs to be delivering, though the things that you’re promising with your brand. So it’s really, really important. Now what I think that some people look at employer brand, go, oh, well, it’s just a half a day to create a website for my business. Like maybe I’ll use some a recruiter or something I’ll do so I’ll say some nice things. I record some fancy videos, boom, there’s my employer brand. Well, if the people in your organisation are not backing up that brand, if someone says for example, your brand is we help everyone to achieve the best they possibly can. And half the people in the organisation are still in the same job they did five years ago and are so frustrated and looking for the jobs. Then you’ve got this brand sort of dissonance dissonance the right word. Yeah. So I think that I think that’s the issue. So you need the symmetry is only gonna be possible if HR marketing and comms team work together and collaborate. So we asked Kyle, for his view on this.

Kyle  13:41  
I think what’s really interesting, I’ve been in a couple of companies where the HR, the marketing and brand teams aren’t there, they’re not connected, they’re disconnected. I’ve been in some where they’re very connected. After Xerox, I spent some time at present as medical care, it’s a large dialysis services provider and the communications team in the HR team operated as one. And I think the reason the brand matters important, more importantly, the employer brand is the values and messaging that you have to your customers into the market should align with the values and messaging that you’re sending to your employees, because they are the ones who are interacting with customers and bringing your product to market. And so I think it’s critically important to almost have the same branding. I know that when it comes to the employer brand, sometimes larger companies will do a recruitment campaign that has some different messaging, or brand and creative elements. But at the core of it, I think you’re talking about what is the brand for our company, and then from there, how do we adjust that and pivot that to speak to potential talent that we want to bring into the company and how do we use those values to dictate our messaging for onboarding new employees. What do we stand for? What are we doing here as a company, and then ultimately, when it comes to just growing your employee base, we want to make sure that in our trainings and in our development programmes that we’re bringing those values in, as well. So I do think just the core brand for your company, can go both ways, as long as you tailor it to the audience that you’re trying to serve.

Al Elliott  15:29  
So now we know what employer brand is. What’s the business case for investing in employer brand, Lian?

Leanne Elliott  15:34  
Well, I mean, as a growing business, particularly small to midsize businesses, attracting and hiring great people, and your business is just fundamental to ensuring its success now and into the future. And the impact of an a great employer brand is real, you know, I like some statistics Oh, would you like me to give you some hope me. So when making a decision on where to apply for a job 84% of job seekers say that the reputation of a company as an employer is important. So this is on the agenda of people applying for jobs. 50% of candidates said they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even for a pay increase.

Al Elliott  16:12  
That seems to be a bit of a change from possibly 1015 years ago, where you could offer a decent salary and people go, Well, it’s shit work in there, but at least I’m getting, you know, decent bit of money for it. So this is interesting.

Leanne Elliott  16:24  
86% of women and 67% of men in the US wouldn’t join a company with a bad reputation. And 92% of people will consider changing jobs if after roll with a company with an excellent corporate reputation thing. That’s

Al Elliott  16:38  
the other part of employer brand that maybe we’ve not necessarily touched on yet is that if if you if your internal employer brand is not good, then you run the risk of losing great people, to companies who do have great employer brands.

Leanne Elliott  16:54  
Yep. And statistics show that as well. So in terms of recruitment, yes, it does reduce our recruitment costs, it does increase our qualified applicants, and it does shorten our time to hire by about two times. But yeah, in terms of existing people within your business, those organisations that invest in their employer brand experience at 28% reduction in turnover. And I think as well, you know, if you’re if you’re recruiting people into a business with an employer brand that isn’t reflective of your brand, internally, and how your people experience where they work, then as you said before, this incongruence in the evidence shows that this time and time again, and particularly more with the generations coming through in congruence, our brains don’t like it, it puts us in this threat state. And yeah, people, people jump ship people are, are more uncomfortable within Congress. And there would be somebody saying, Yeah, we’re we’re still working on things in terms of our brand and culture. But this is where we’re currently out. This is where we want to go, what do you think they’re probably much more likely to stay than creating this fantasy world of how great it is to work in your business when the reality is not the same.

Al Elliott  18:04  
And this is so important that just say we this is a work in progress allows people to collaborate on building this employer brand, rather than we have a few clients who say, I want to create an employer brand, okay, go off and create what we want and come back with it. And we’re like, we can’t do that. Because it’s got to be a collaborative process, both with the client and all on their team as well. Otherwise, it’s like going out and taking a weekend out, as as a leader writing the mission statement coming back and putting it on the wall. No one’s going to read it, no one’s going to remember it and no one’s going to believe it.

Unknown Speaker  18:33  
Yes, and I think I think that the thing with employer brand is there’s a bit of a misunderstanding around exactly what it is and how it’s how it’s created, or how it’s it’s most effective, to the point where looking at it back at the data again, 49% of employers believe that they don’t have the tools to effectively enhance their employer brand. Now, I find this really interesting, because if we’re the truth and lies, that’s it, that’s a lie, you do have the tools, and I want to try and break some of that down with you. So employer brands start with employee value proposition and employee value proposition is a set of offerings provided by you as a business in return for the skills, capabilities and experience that the employee brings into the organisation. So it’s usually based on things like compensation benefits, career development, and what the work environments are whether like hybrid work is probably the main factor to think about in terms of that one right now. And culture. All businesses who already have employees in place, have these five things, they will have salary, they will have benefit, they will probably be thinking somehow about their career development or professional development, if not, certainly their performance management. They have a work environment and they have a culture. So you do have the tools. And I think when we look at employee value proposition culture really does lie at the heart of this. And with that, as well at the heart of employer brand. If you have a culture You do, you might not know where it is, but you have a culture. And if you take the time to assess it and evaluate it, then you have the tools you need to enhance employer brand. So with that in mind, we asked Kyle a bit more about the culture at HubSpot, and the work they’re doing to feed culture into their employer brand, and employee value proposition

Kyle  20:19  
when it comes to culture. It really is, the principles and values that you stand behind. And those those guiding principles and values then make their way into the entire organisation. And if they’re documented, if they’re clear, if there community communicated frequently, you’ll start to see them come through the work itself. So I think at HubSpot, for example, we talk a lot about heart and you can find our culture code on HubSpot website. It’s a document I think it was created over 10 years ago, but continually updated and referenced and mentioned within employee trainings and on boardings, and these are the values that that we we stand behind as a company. And I think what’s great about that, as you start to think about, okay, how can these values be brought into my work? If it’s our marketing department, we believe in offering free education and value before ever asking anyone to check out our software, we just believe that if we can help people, we will achieve our goals in the long term. If it’s our sales organisation, use find people who are very relatable in that organisation build trust quickly, very empathetic when they’re talking to small businesses that are trying to grow. And we have better deal to close rates because we just have great people in sales who live up to these values. And then when it comes to your HR team, I think it comes through in the recruiting and hiring. So who are the type of people that we’re bringing into the organisation. So whether you’re a small business or a very large brand, like Xerox, or HubSpot, I think you want to take the time as a founder or a leadership team member and say, what are the values we stand for as a business? Let’s write them down. And then let’s make sure we bring those to every team member within the business and make sure we live up to them.

Al Elliott  22:21  
So clearly, there’s a case for employer brand and employee value proposition Leanne’s already pointed out you do have the tools to enhance it, you might not know exactly where to start. But hopefully by the end of this episode, you well, but if we can enhance this our culture and our workplace, then we are going to feed directly into this employer brand. And more importantly, we’re going to be able to find and retain and empower top talent really, really easily.

Leanne Elliott  22:48  
I think we start with what we know. So we know that workplace culture is one of the most important areas for development, if you want to successfully grow your business and see it thrive. Employees normally, I guess, through the lens of employer brand, though, they’ll see culture is an organization’s personality. So it is gonna play a really important role in building this positive view of the organisation. And as we said before, both to prospective talent onto existing employees, culture can feel intangible at times. But it doesn’t have to be. I mean, a famous definition of culture is culture is how we do things around here. I prefer to look at culture at what we as business leaders do around here. So not how we do things. But what we do to create an environment in which people can thrive.

Al Elliott  23:41  
So now we’re going to hear from Carlos, he’s going to take you through the steps of how to create a compelling employer brand. And the Ann’s gonna help us link that to the workplace culture in a second. So we started by asking Carl, where should businesses start? What’s the first step in building an employee, but

Kyle  23:55  
I’m one for simple briefs. So for me, being a marketer, one of the things that we try to do is distil down our goals and our objectives and our messaging into you know, one or two page documents that can be read and understood by everyone. And I think that’s just a practice that works well for any company. So for me, I would probably start out by defining what is the vision? Where do we want to take the company? What’s the mission of our company? Like, Why do we exist in the world? What are the values that we look for in our people and that we stand for when we serve our customers, and document those and like, take the time to do that? The best way to do it, to be honest with you is to talk to your current employee base and to talk to your customers and ask them why did you choose us? What do you like about working here? Ask those thoughtful questions to get a better understanding of who your company is today. And hopefully that aligns with the values you want to set as a founder leader, but I’m sure it’ll also So uncover some things that you didn’t know about your company. And so I think, ask your employee base, ask your your customer base, and then take the time to truly draft one or two, or a one or two page document that outlines what you stand for and what your values are. I love

Leanne Elliott  25:17  
what Kyle said that and from a workplace culture perspective, he’s talking about reason. So reason is about providing leadership that’s engaging a clear mission, and importantly, helping employees connect with that mission. Personally, I guess, if you’re following along with this, and maybe want to try and assess where you are, and these various aspects of culture, for reason, the types of questions you want to reflect on are things like, are, am I communicating my vision? Is it clear? Am I passionate about it? You know, do I have that sense of direction in my work? Because it has to start with you as the business leader? What are your values? Are they aligned with the organization’s values? And similarly, how do they fit in with the overall mission of the business? And from a commercial perspective, you might be wondering why I care? Well, the research shows us that having reason in our work translates to our employees feeling a sense of belonging and feeling more motivated in general. And all of that is connected with higher levels of well being. Businesses that tend to do well in defining and communicating reason, usually, as well have much lower turnover rates, much higher customer and employee referrals, in that people are willing to advocate for the organization’s they want to work for it, they want their friends to work for it, and they want to help generate customers as well. So are your that the marketing expert of a business knows that they have strong reason? How does that feed into an employer brand or a marketing campaign?

Al Elliott  26:50  
So I think reason is really, really important for both an employer brand and if we just translate it to marketing for a second, then the reason is why someone buys an Audi as opposed to a Skoda. For example. Skoda is the same car made by the same people, it’s just got a different badge on it, it looks slightly different. But what’s the reason is because they want to be seen to be doing something or want to be seen to be aligned with their own values. I’m the kind of person who drives an Audi or I’m the kind of person who drives a Shkoder is to say, you know, is there down to the values. So let’s take that back into the employer brand. What we’re saying there is, if everyone knows the reason why they’re doing something, then kind of you can cope, you can put up with everything else. If you’re, for example, on a health kick, and you’re doing dry January, for example, like we’re recording this in January, it’s not dry for us. But if it was, then we have a reason for doing that. It’s a very specific reason. And you can put it with all kinds of things, if you know what the reason is. So that step one vision and values have been defined what’s next.

Kyle  27:49  
And something I actually talk about fairly often with folks who are managers on my team. I think within sports, there’s a lot of clarity around your goals as a team, like what are we trying to accomplish together. And then everyone plays a very specific role in accomplishing that goal, right? If if a coach puts you in a position where you’re not strong, the team won’t achieve its goal. Or if the coach asks you to do something, you’re great and ask someone else to go in that position, and there’s not alignment, then you’re you fail as well. So I think the best thing about athletics is clear goals and objectives and finding how you contribute to a team to leverage your strengths. So when we talk about it on the business side of things, there’s that clarity piece, I always try to go to my teams with, what is your core objective? What numbers are you trying to move every month? And then from there, when we talk about operating models? Who’s on the team? What are their roles and responsibilities? What are the deliverables that we’re asking of them, and you start to build teams that have complementary skill sets. And the better you get as a leader in business, you start to understand, if I put this person on this team, they’ll actually gel well and be able to achieve that goal faster and probably at a higher quality than another team that didn’t have that skill set. So I think there’s a tonne of similarities between athletics and business. And certainly things that I learned on the athletic field that that transfer over

Al Elliott  29:23  
so we said at the beginning, we’re going to come back to this whole idea of business leadership and athleticism and how they connect. You can see there what Kyle’s basically saying is that everything that makes you a good leader in business and in organisations also makes you a good leader in sports, and everyone who makes you and if you’re a good team player in sports, then you’re naturally gonna be a good team player in an organisation. So that’s how these two things connect. Yeah. And

Leanne Elliott  29:47  
I think what from a culture perspective what Kyle’s talking about there is, is the importance of role and the importance of role, clarity. You know, providing clear roles and responsibilities might see and really obvious, but when was the last time you checked in with your people to see if their job descriptions to actually match what they were doing on a day to day basis, or you gave them that clarity in terms of how their role might have changed or the stretch activities you’ve given them, providing a clear role and responsibilities can really make a big difference for for employees in terms of their focus, their motivation and their well being. So from an evidence perspective, we know that having these clear responsibilities are also linked to the overall mission of the team increases our motivation, it’s also likely to mean that we put extra effort into our roles are going above and beyond. And it means we’ll be more agile to change. As we have the day to day stability in our roles. When that ambiguity does come along, we’re probably gonna have a lot more energy to deal with that change. So in assessing how well your organisation might be doing with role in terms of organisational culture, ask yourself things like, Do I have clearly defined roles in my business? Do the job descriptions match? Are people able to apply their own ideas to their work? How frequent is change? How often am I asking my people to work differently or pick up new tasks. If it’s very often, then there’s maybe putting people at risk as we’re just requiring a bit a bit too much energy from them a bit too often. So from a culture perspective, role also encompasses trust. So trust in this context is really about creating relationships based on on respect and understanding. We said it for those adult to adult relationships, Kyle also feels that trust is an important part of a compelling employee value proposition and employer brand, and offered some excellent insights into how leaders and managers can build trust with their employees using as what we love an example

Kyle  31:46  
one from the lacrosse world was my coach Tim Sudan. For for my team in Rochester. He was someone I looked up to, he actually played professional lacrosse in my hometown when I was growing up. So I watched him play. And I played for many, many coaches over the years on different teams. And the one thing that I respected about are two things I respected about him was one, he knew he had a team of professionals. And so he allowed us to be very creative and operate. In more of an open system. He said, here’s the goal, here’s the alignment, go do your thing, your pros, and if you don’t do your thing, you’re not going to see the field. But if you do, we’ll get some more playing time. And so I always respected his ability to build trust with his players, and just be open and transparent. The other thing he taught me is he genuinely cared about every single person in that locker room, every single person in that locker room. And the way he looked at things weren’t to some arbitrary statement about winning and trying to be a better team. He’d asked you about your birthdays, your girlfriends, your wives, your dogs, your how things were going at work, he knew everything about everyone in that room. And he was able to build trust that way. And I think anyone, anyone would happily play for him and work extremely hard to win for him.

Leanne Elliott  33:13  
So beyond creating an environment where we have positive relationships and that warm, fuzzy feeling when we’re connecting with somebody else, what’s the commercial case for building trust? Well, trust in leaders and the decisions that they make help us to experience positive wellbeing. We know this from the evidence from the literature. It also translates to higher levels of performance and more commitment to the organisation. So we’re less likely to leave or experience things like quiet quitting out how would you market role as part of an employer brand?

Al Elliott  33:43  
Well, I think it’s a little bit more nuanced when you’re talking about the employer brand. But if you are my if you’re basically got an opening for a role, and then the person I saw something on on Reddit this morning, I think where their story where this woman turned up, she was on minimum wage, for the first day of her job, she quit at the end of the day, because they gave her keys to five stores. They said she had to cash up the you know, there was and the role the idea of the role that she was going for was very specific, she was a salesperson, she was supposed to be on the floor selling stuff. And then when she got there, they swapped it and changed it oh, by the way, you need to catch up, by the way, you can’t have lunch because there’s no one else here to cover for you, etcetera, etcetera. So, when you get when you part of the employer brand is having very defined roles that you’re advertising for. And those roles need to be very clearly defined the and talks all the time about job descriptions, something which when I was recruiting for people, I didn’t do any of that and we’re going back 1015 years, I didn’t really do anything because didn’t really understand how important it was. Now I’ve seen what Leanne does. It’s so so clear, it’s so important to me to be really clear about what the role is that the person is going to be performing. Okay, so we’ve got step one, which is the reason or the vision, we’ve got step two, which is the role which helps free engagement, whilst the third aspect of the culture feeds directly into the employer brand.

Leanne Elliott  34:56  
For me, I think once organisations have have You know, assess this reasoning role, my advice would be to look at something called recognition. So, recognition encompasses a few things. First of all, it’s providing a psychologically safe environment. And we do that through fairness, representation and appreciation. We’ve talked about psychological safety quite a lot before in the podcast. And for good reason. It really, really is important. One of the main reasons important is because it facilitates employee voice, which is another main aspect of recognition within culture, providing opportunities for employees to express their views or opinions or ideas or concerns. And using all of that, to inform organisational decision making is so empowering for our people. I

Al Elliott  35:45  
mean, one of the things I discovered I was researching Kyle was he met someone called Sir Ken Robinson, if you’ve ever watched any TED talk, then you’ll know that he is he was at one point and possibly still is the most watched TED talk ever. And he talked, he talks a lot about education, but in in much more of a sort of a very creative way. Suddenly, I think he’s passed away. But I’m very, very jealous of that car met him because this guy was just such an amazing speaker. And then one of the ideas that came out from the conversation with Sir Ken Robinson, was he said that good ideas can come from surprising places. So I asked Kyle, bearing in mind that we’ve just been talking about psychological safety and recognition. How do you create a culture where people feel safe enough to be able to come up with ideas that might be a little bit outside the box,

Kyle  36:30  
I think there is a real skill and being able to pull ideas out of teams. And there’s a balance between having team members provide you all the ideas that they can come up with. And then you have this laundry list of ideas that you can’t really execute. And then being a leader who provides direction and kind of dictates where you want the group to go. And there’s a place in the middle. And where I’ve found success is being able to almost develop a problem statement for my team, put some constraints around that, and then allow them to come back with thoughtful ideas that meet that objective. So more just tangible advice there is, if I was if I was working with a team of mine on a project, our core objective may be, how are we going to increase our YouTube subscribers by 500 subscribers by the end of the quarter, like a very specific goal and objective we’re trying to accomplish? Then from there, I’ll say you only have $10,000 and our current team? How would you go about doing this? Right? And so that’s where the constraints come in. So what’s your budget? What are the resources you have? And then from there, maybe you add one more layer of information around the core messaging that HubSpot is trying to put into the market during that given period of time. And you give your team that brief and you say, I’d like you to go away for a week or two weeks and come back to me with a plan? How, what ideas do you have, that not only are great ideas, but you think you can execute within these constraints to hit that objective, we have aligned around. And I think whether you’re a small business or a large business, that’s just a great practice to be able to bring super talented people together, align them to an objective, and then give them the ability to bring those great ideas because at least one thing I’ve learned as a as a manager and someone working inside some larger companies is there will be better ideas from your team working collectively towards a common goal than anything, you can come up with your higher self. And so I think it’s just an important practice.

Leanne Elliott  38:46  
There’s some great advice there from HIO in terms of creating environments that are psychologically safe, and giving people the permission to use their voice. And what I liked about what Kyle said there as well is is using any way that you’re also setting boundaries. employee voice isn’t about asking people what they want, and just giving it to them, regardless of how that fits in with your business. It’s about giving people the time and encouraging collaboration to come up with, as Carl said, solutions that you wouldn’t otherwise have done so we know that. So we know that employee voice combined with positive and constructive feedback, fosters innovation and creativity in teams. And it also builds capability, it gives people a chance to learn from each other knowledge, share and potential stretch their current capability from a business perspective. I mean, I think it’s fairly straightforward to you know, to think with more innovation and creativity, we get better problem solving, and that’s going to result in more efficient change and faster growth. And the good news is for employees, they typically by feeling this extra psychological, psychological safety, enjoy their jobs, more higher job satisfaction, higher organisational commitment, in terms of workplace culture. recognition also brings in two other dimensions of employer brand. That’s compensation and benefits, how satisfied people are with their salary and benefits. So benefits being things like holiday allowance, training allowance, support programmes health insurance, the satisfaction of the whole system as a whole, including how these decisions are made. And if they’re made fairly and transparently, can have a huge impact not only on employee wellbeing, but also in terms of their engagement and the performance within your business. As Carl

Al Elliott  40:31  
mentioned, we can encourage the employee voice, we can encourage this innovation, we encourage creativity, but it is important to put some clear constraints on it. Otherwise, you might end up with lots and lots of great ideas that you just got no way of implementing however, you have to give them some time.

Kyle  40:47  
If put the constraints, you’ve actually given them the time to set aside and think about the problem they’re solving when you give them a week or two weeks. And then when those ideas come back, they’re that much stronger, because they’ve already tested their 10 ideas, and they brought you their three best. And so that’s why I just consistently whether that’s a marketing team, whether that’s like a cross functional team between marketing and sales, whether it’s a cross functional team, with managers who are working on like, how do we improve onboarding for new marketers coming into the organisation? Just that that consistent process of clear goals, constraints and timelines? It sounds a little strict, but it’s, I think it’s just strict enough, it gives you the the borders to operate within. And then you’d be you’d be very surprised with how creative the teams can be

Leanne Elliott  41:38  
Kylie’s hit on another really important foundation of workplace culture here. And that’s resources, resources about providing a manageable workload, can consistent working patterns and achievable demands, do people have realistic time pressures? Or do they have to ignore some tasks like innovating and problem solving, because they have too much to do. The other side of the resources coin is around training and development. So are people given the opportunities to use their strengths and the opportunities to develop them, the chance to progress and develop is also a key element of employee value proposition. And what we’re finding in the research we’re currently conducting is that with the Gen Zed generation, training and development is increasingly popular and increasingly something that they’re looking for in organisations when they decide if they want to work for them. The final element of resources encompasses a work environment. So are you as a leader providing a positive work environment that supports productivity, physical and mental health? The evidence shows us that resources as the foundation of culture has a really, really broad impact on people, they feel more motivated, they feel a greater sense of belonging, they have higher job satisfaction, and they’re more motivated to go above and beyond go the extra mile. And overall, because of this experience, high well being. And for business, this translates into high performance, more satisfied customers, higher revenue and profitability. The great

Al Elliott  43:11  
thing about Kyle is that he’s a great leader and also a great marketer. So I was curious, so I asked him if he was a natural leader, who happens to be a marketer, or a natural marketer, who happens to be a leader,

Kyle  43:23  
I think, natural marketer that became a leader. So I, at least for me, in athletics, and in my marketing career, I was always someone who’s a little more reserved and quiet, I’m probably the last person to speak in a meeting. But I think over time, as I seen success, and been able to build a portfolio of work that I’m very proud of that confidence is has come out. And so building my career, I was able to develop all of the skills that a marketer should have, whether that’s working in web strategy, acquisition, brand and communications. And so I have the tool set. But after I’ve been able to work across multiple brands, multiple business models, multiple different projects, I’ve built my confidence up, I think I have a pretty good understanding of how to operate. And at that point, I think I got put in positions of management and leadership. And what I tried to do was bring over the things I saw from my favourite leaders and managers that I’ve worked with in the workplace. And in lacrosse, you know, I think there are many folks that I worked with in the lacrosse world, coaches GMs, captains of teams that I envy and looked up to and I tried to grab some of their attributes and bring that into my day. And so I think I’ve come into my own as a leader over the last couple of years. It’s still something I’m constantly working on.

Leanne Elliott  45:00  
The research and data on how managers impact our teams and our businesses is abundant. We know that managers have the biggest impact on employee engagement and wellbeing. And as such, they’re going to have the biggest impact on our business’s performance. And its growth, striking the balance between building a professional relationship yet being personable is really, really tricky. But you know, the impact on employees can be huge. And it as Carl said in that, that earlier clip, we often learn lessons and take tips and advice from great leaders and managers that we’ve experienced. And Cal talks a little bit more now about a leader that really influenced his practice.

Kyle  45:39  
I’ll pick one I’m working for right now. Jordan DPH Oh, He’s the VP of marketing and media HubSpot. He was the chief growth officer at The Motley Fool the stock and finance newsletter. He came over to HubSpot. And he had a very challenging job ahead of them, which was we’re going to build the HubSpot media division, we’ve acquired the hustle newsletter. We have a content marketing team at HubSpot, and we need to bring these teams together. And I I remember, when he was asked to take on that role and build this team, and I was like that is a tall task. And there’s a couple things that I take away from Jordan, one, similar to my coach, he genuinely cares about his team. He talks to everyone about their concerts, their birthdays, their vacations, their families, he wants to know who you are as a person and how he can help you grow in your career. The other thing that I think he taught me more about is how to get the most out of people. I think it’s tough when you work in a big company, and you want to be empathetic and help people along and grow. But there’s also a job to be done. Right? We’re expected to hit numbers. And it’s a it’s a business at the end of the day. And he’s just strikes this balance between getting to know you as a person being very understanding and trusting and then saying, okay, as a team, we need to come together and achieve these goals. And he pushes his team in a thoughtful way to think differently to hit their goals. And so I constantly try to learn from him and how to direct my team and lead my team. I think he’s a very strong leader. And I’ve enjoyed working for him. I

Al Elliott  47:25  
think obviously, you can see the respect that Kyle’s got for his manager. But also, I mean, let’s be honest, the manager has also got little bit of history and credibility by coming from Motley Fool, I’m sure you’ve heard of Motley Fool, huge company, major media company that has been going for I think about 20 years now on the internet. So clearly there’s there’s a lot of respect there, but also the manager who demands a respect by having this sort of CV or resume. That is very impressive. Now what’s really interesting about HubSpot is that they have become a remote first company. Now, what this basically means is that you are in theory, able to work wherever you want, as long as you get the work done. Having some kind of remote element to your to your roles may be one of the most impactful ways to improve your employer brand. Yeah. So

Kyle  48:14  
within HubSpot, we rolled out a policy after the the COVID challenges that we faced, which was we want our employees to be able to choose how they want to work. And so employees can work in office and many of our locations, folks can choose to be what we call flex, which is they want to be in the office two to three days a week, but work from home the remainder of the week. And we have folks who are fully remote, but at the beginning of the year, you get to choose how you’d like to work. And I think it’s extremely helpful, because it allows people to pick the best working style for them. If you’re someone who needs structure and wants to get up early and do the commute and go to the office and you know, you’ll be productive when you’re there. You have that option. If you’re someone who is able to focus in a flexible work environment and work from home, you have that option. So I think that was one thing I was really impressed with with HubSpot that they rolled out not only for helping people identify their working style, it helps with retention, right is like I am excited about the job I’m doing and the way I’m able to do it. The other way it’s helpful is in the recruitment phase. And so we’re no longer limited to a certain talent pool. So if there is a job that needs to be done, we want to find the best person for that job. And previously you used to have to recruit people in your region or your state or your city. You no longer have to do that if you’re able to find people all over the country all over For the world, we have some cross functional teams between Dublin and Boston and Bogota. And there’s incredible talent everywhere. And so you’re able to then find new people bring them in, and then you’re picking the best person for the job. And I can say, since we’ve gone this route of allowing people to choose the way they’d like to work, and opening up our jobs remotely in multiple locations, we’ve been able to hire quickly, and we’ve been able to find better talent.

Al Elliott  50:28  
So clearly, there’s a case for remote work in finding great talent. There’s cardio said, but as a leader, what are the challenges of remote work and the remote work policy?

Kyle  50:38  
The culture piece is hard. HubSpot has a fantastic culture. It’s the company’s been, I think it’s been founded 15 years ago, I may have that may have that wrong, but culture was baked in. It was something that founders really believed in and communicated and constantly revisited and brought forward to the employee base as the company grew. But now that you’re fully remote, I have team members all over the country. I have folks in Wisconsin and Los Angeles and Boston and Austin, Texas and New York, it is incredibly hard to be able to build camaraderie within a team, especially someone who came from athletics. I’m used to being with my team and you know, working together towards a common goal. And we’ve had to change the way we operate and communicate with our teams in regards to how do we make sure everyone knows what their goals are? And objectives? How do we make sure that we create alignment across these teams while they’re all remote, there’s no more coffee chats, there’s no more work lunches, there’s no more after work, dinner and drinks to be able to, obviously create the trust and relationships. So I would say I don’t think we’ve cracked it. We’ve tried many, many different tactics, whether that be remote events, remote birthday lunches, get togethers at the end of the day, just to catch up on how life is going, whether it’s a vacation or a birthday party. But it’s hard. I would say that one thing we’re starting to think about is how do we bring the team together, at least a few times a year, to make sure we have that that touch point in person if we can.

Leanne Elliott  52:22  
Well, that is really interesting foundation of workplace culture. Right now, pre pandemic remote working was very much a driver of employee engagement and a key aspect of employer brand. Those organisations that facilitated remote work, either all or part of the time, definitely experience more competitiveness in the fight for talent. And I know that as somebody who is recruited for a remote company, so what that basically means is that the stronger your culture is, the more likely remote or hybrid working will work for you. So as an organisation, you’ve really, really struggled to remote or hybrid working, chances are, there might be something within your culture, one of those seven foundations of workplace culture, where we’ve got some some challenges. So I’d encourage you to look at that first remote is also having much more interplay with resilience, which is a final foundation of workplace culture. So resilience is about providing opportunities for employees to build resilience, and importantly, emotionally and physically recover from work, particularly in fast changing environments. There’s different aspects to resilience, some of them are driven by the individual others by the organisation, helping people build a positive mindset can be a really effective way to build resilience, providing stability within the business. And again, allowing opportunities for employees to engage within question changes within the workplace. And as I mentioned there as well recovery, how are employees encouraged to detach and recover during off work periods, if you’re seeing your team sending emails all through the night, then there might be a case that to consider how you’re communicating how employees should detach from work.

Al Elliott  54:03  
So So we’ve covered the seven foundations of workplace culture, and these all feed into a compelling employee value proposition, which essentially helps you to create an attractive employer brand. Let’s just go through these again. So first, we have reason reason

Leanne Elliott  54:18  
is having a clear vision, clear values and helping your team connect personally to that vision. So they’re invested in that mission delivery. Then secondly, that role, the role is having clear roles and responsibilities within your business and allowing people the opportunity to work where possible in their own way. Thirdly, we had recognition recognition encompasses a few different things, but the most important one is employee voice. Are people feeling psychological safety so they can speak up with their concerns their ideas and positively impact the organisation.

Al Elliott  54:55  
Number four, we had resources,

Leanne Elliott  54:57  
resources create creating an environment where People have the tools that they need to do their job, the skills that they need to do their job and the time they need to do their job. Number five was relationships. This is relationships with peers and managers. But as you narrow listener, manager relationships are the most important thing we can do to impact wellbeing and engagement within our business. Number six was resilience, finding ways to help individuals build their own resilience. And creating an environment which builds resilience in your teams has a massive impact not only on wellbeing, but on performance in general. And finally, there was remote. So remote, as we’ve said, as a moderator, it’s likely that if you are struggling with remote or hybrid work, one of those other six, we might have a have a little challenge there. So look at those are the six first, because if they’re all working right, chances are remote work will work even better for you. As we all know, in terms of employer value proposition. And employer brand, people still want to work remotely or hybrid as a vast majority.

Al Elliott  56:03  
So now we have the seven foundations of a great workplace culture, we can use those to create a great employer brand. But of course, is not just a question of creating, you’re writing it down, you learn how to actually execute it properly. Here’s what kinds of things

Kyle  56:18  
one thing just to go a layer deeper for for smaller mid sized businesses like the tactical execution of that. And we talked about the briefs and how to operate your team. But one thing I’ve really found valuable, especially at a company like HubSpot are presenting is where I was before is HR and marketing, you know, worked on that core branding and values together, defined what that the visual identity of that brand, the logo, the colour palettes, the fonts, the shapes, the icons. And then from there rolling it out, it’s very difficult the actual execution of it for the marketing team to use those materials and all the content they develop, for the sales team to use those materials in the sales decks they developed for the customer success teams to use those materials in the outreach emails and the decks and reports they’re providing. And then finally, those internal teams, the internal enablement teams, and the HR teams to use that messaging and branding. I think that’s difficult. So I for me, I would tell folks who are listening to really understand what the assets are, and then work on a communication plan to roll it out. And what you’ll start to see is teams within the organisation picking up on that messaging almost iterating on it themselves and kind of making it their own. But then when you talk to your whole team, all of a sudden, that message does make its way into the whole company. And you’re going to the website, and the marketing team is executing against that that vision and that messaging you’ve created, the sales team is doing the same as soon as they do the outreach email or have that first call the customer success team is incredibly empathetic and understanding and helpful. That’s all rooted in the brand and the culture. And so I think, tactically, that’s one thing I would mention is it’s hard work to define it, it may be even harder to roll it out. And make sure that everyone’s aligned and executing as as your vision comes to comes to life.

Al Elliott  58:31  
Because of these difficult well, he said it may be harder to roll out. But the fact is that this challenge is worth the time and the effort to do it. Do all these right and you have this most amazing employer brand where not only do you attract and retain amazing people, but also you can beat your competitors quite easily because people want to come and work for you. They hear about you, they hear great things about working for you. My final question to Kyle was about how you make the internal employer brand I what happens inside your business and the external employer brand A what people say about you, how you make them congruent and how you make them work together.

Kyle  59:08  
Yeah, there’s places where I’ve worked where they’ve had the most success is on the marketing and communications team. They had at least one person for internal communications. And that person, at least where I’ve worked, sat within the marketing team. But they were extremely close, extremely close with your HR and people teams. And so that bridge was was extremely helpful. And then from there, the questions if you’re, you know, the head of HR is, you know, what does our internal communications plan look like? How do we reach our employee base? What content matters most to them? How do we not overwhelm them with training and internal communications? How do we make sure that we have a communications plan And similar to the way the marketing team develops one to reach potential customers? How do we develop an internal communications plan, where folks understand what our goals are as a company? Critical news makes its way throughout the organisation. We’re sharing things that our personnel about the people that work for us that reinforce the values we’ve set. So I think that’s probably if I’m the head of HR, I’m talking to the head of marketing and comms and saying, How can we get a resource for this? And then how can we work together on developing a comms plan?

Leanne Elliott  1:00:35  
What has been very clear on there is that your employer brand externally and internally need to be the same thing? Yes, employer brand, that is a tool that we hear about in terms of how to attract more talent or, or market or business to candidates. But the reality is employer brand is a reflection of our culture, our ways of working and how our people currently think and feel about their business. Those two things don’t match doesn’t matter how many great people that you recruit into your business chances are they won’t stay too long. So I think there’s a really great case there not only for looking at employer brand through the lens of culture, but also bringing these teams together as you said out marketing comms and people in culture

Al Elliott  1:01:18  
Okay, so we’ve this has been another chunky episode where thing we’ve got to thank Kyle so much for for the interview for all his insights, absolutely amazing. All his links will be in the show notes, I think for his LinkedIn and et cetera, et cetera.

Leanne Elliott  1:01:33  
Yes, it will leave Kyle’s LinkedIn and Twitter handles in the show notes will also pop in there some HubSpot blog posts that have caught our eye on this topic, and will also put in there a link to a blog HQ which is our website. If you would like to find out more about the arc seven, our tool that measures culture and in turn well being an employee engagement, then get in touch we offer a free booking service and consultation. We have an amazing episode for you next week as well. We’re talking to the organisation behind and the winners of Britain’s healthiest workplaces. It’s a next week, you’ll get to see how the seven foundations of culture can help you create an environment in which people can thrive. And having a word like that not as bad for your employer. Brandao

Al Elliott  1:02:18  
definitely somebody that is going to be amazing for you. So we’ll see you next time. If we’d gone on a bit too much, or is something you want us to cover or maybe you’re going to be a good guest. Let us know those emails come through to me. We’ll see you next time.

Leanne Elliott  1:02:29  
And while you’re there, you might as well leave us a review all that would be nice. Not

Al Elliott  1:02:33  
there that we’ll go we’ll go on to Apple podcasts.

Leanne Elliott  1:02:35  
Why are you on the theme of podcasts? No, really just help other people find the show and help us to simplify the science of people. So yeah, please do consider subscribing and leaving a review. If you want to this no pressure.

Al Elliott  1:02:49  
See you next week then. Bye bye

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