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Hello to the SAAS NORTH Community,
You have big growth plans for 2022, and you’re hiring to fill key roles. What does your employer brand say to future hires about what it’s like to work at your company?
A good employer brand is an elusive thing. You can often feel when you have it (or not), but building one is another story. Joshua Siegal, the VP of Organizational Effectiveness at Wave, learned about this challenge as he maintained, nurtured, and evolved Wave’s employer branding. Speaking with SAAS NORTH NOW, Josh shared the three levels of Wave’s employer branding.
- Paying fairly and offering generally expected benefits are the foundation of employer branding, but not enough on their own.
- The second tier of employer branding at Wave is caring about people as humans and building a work environment to support that.
- The final tier is giving people an opportunity to do meaningful work and build their career in a way they couldn’t elsewhere.
Check out the full interview below. In this highly-competitive talent market, you will want to start thinking long term about your employer brand.
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When Joshua Siegal joined Wave as the VP of Organizational Effectiveness in 2019, the company was in the middle of a transformation from being predominantly a SaaS accounting platform to offering a suite of financial services to empower micro and small business owners. Speaking with SAAS NORTH, Josh shared the three levels of employer branding at Wave and how each one feeds into the next.
DEFINING EMPLOYER BRANDING
Josh defines employer branding as: How you articulate your culture to people who don’t live and breathe it on a daily basis so they get a sense of what it is and what they might step into if they join your company.
From there, employer branding extends to employee branding, which is reminding employees of the resources available for them to tap into and sharing what to expect in the present and the future.
Josh said these two halves of the employer brand – candidate-facing and employee-facing – should overlap as much as possible, but employees will (and should) always know more about the inner workings of the company than candidates.
Within this definition of employer branding at Wave, Josh approached it in a structure inspired by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Fellow is the meeting productivity software that helps teams collaborate on agendas, track action items, and turn chaotic meetings into productive work sessions.
1. FOUNDATION AND TABLE STAKES
Wave pays fairly (and competitively). From there, the company gives people time off and provides health benefits to ensure everyone can take care of themselves.
To Josh, these are not meant to garner applause. Instead, it’s the basics of what every company should offer their employees.
“This is a ‘check the box’ kind of thing,” said Josh.
2. CARING FOR HEART AND SOUL
In short, Josh defines this step as “treat you like a human being.”
Job empowerment: Ensuring individuals have the tools and resources they need to do their job, whether that’s specific technologies, support teams, or accommodations.
Work environment: Creating a space where you are respected as a person and are given the space you need to do good work and grow, including a physical office space and flexible remote work options.
The initiatives in this step also form the company’s culture, which Josh said are regularly checked against mission, vision, and values – then adjusted as needed to ensure alignment.
3. THE QUEST FOR “CAREER ROCKET FUEL”
Josh explains this step as “career advancement in a way you can’t do at other organizations.”
At over 300 people, Josh said Wave is large enough to have serious impact but not so large that people get lost in the machine. Within that context, employees get to touch the product fairly regularly and interact with customers frequently. Further, the projects they work on directly impact thousands of small business owners’ ability to make an income.
Once work impact is identified, then it becomes about helping individuals figure out their own personal career journey. While Wave can’t do all of this work for someone, the company empowers it through supporting employees to attend seminars, try new things, and engage with new ideas both in their work and outside of it.
These elements will be unique to every company based on size, industry, customer touch points, and more. Josh said this is what it looks like for Wave, but another company will be entirely different (and that’s a good thing).
EMPLOYER BRANDING NATURALLY EVOLVES
As Wave continues to grow, their brand could change again as it already has. If that happens, the company will head back to first principles, ensuring they are offering a good foundation, caring for people, and going deeper than simply doing work each day.
“We’ve been testing and iterating over the years,” said Josh. “Like any part of a startup, fast-growing organization, it’s about learning as you go then communicating it as authentically as you can. And when things change, being honest about it.”