Linking HPO and employer branding
Employer branding is often associated with primarily large employers. But smaller employers can use it to their advantage as well. Every company has an employer brand. As an organisation you only have discover and activate it. It's hidden within your corporate culture, often without you even knowing what sets you apart from others.
A good example of this is the company Euramax Coated Products. A company known worldwide as a leader in coating and machining of aluminium coils. With multiple companies in the United States, it also has a large production site in Roermond, the Netherlands. I was fortunate enough to have a conversation about their employer brand with Mr. André Vossen, Training and Education manager at Euramax.
Euramax video on the culture at the organisation (in Dutch)
We discussed how the company deals with its employees, why they choose Euramax and where the distinctive ability lies as an employer. In short, how does Euramax use its employer brand? André told me that the entire organisation is based on HPO: High Performance Organisation. Ok, good to know, but what is HPO exactly?
André: "An HPO Performance organisation is an organization that achieves significantly better results than comparable organisations over a period of at least 5 years by focusing in a disciplined way on what is really important to the organisation." Beautiful words of course, but is Euramax really able to realise this year by year? And more importantly: how?
André indicates that this is indeed the case. "And not in the last place by our people! Often it is thought that optimizing the production process is the key to financial success, but that is only part of the solution. All technical processes are nothing without our motivated people. We are proud that as long as this company exists - for more than 40 years - within Operations almost no employee has chosen to leave it in his career. The secret to all of this is our corporate culture and the way we’re able to explain it to our employees. This is based on our core values that we connect to KPIs that every employee needs to achieve, but it’s the combination with soft factors such as behaviour and motivation that truly sets us apart. And we'll start with them right away during the job interviews. They’re simply part of our company dna. We use visualisations of our brand values and make our values as specific as possible. For instance: we do not only communicate that transparency between all employees is important, but as a Euramax employee you greet a fellow employee with a simple 'hello' every time you meet. Whether you're working in the plant or are the CEO, you greet each other. And if you forget, anyone can tell you about it. Even the employee of the plant can tell the CEO that that's not the Euramax way we treat each other, if the latter forgets."
Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
Coated Finish by Euramax
The selection for new personnel at Euramax is strict, but the way the conversations take place are relax. Potential employees are being tested whether they recognize themselves in the values has Euramax offers. If during the conversations, this is not the case, no problem whatsoever, but it’s easier for both parties not to start a livelong match.
This market leader never had to put any effort in recruitment. Its culture was truly felt among its employees and word-to-mouth did the rest. The labour market is getting tighter, so currently it is necessary to recruit, even for a company like Euramax. I then asked André the following question: "Does Euramax have no recruitment problems?". The answer was a short no. Recently, Euramax has to start looking for the right staff, partly due to the suction of talent by large companies such as VDL and ASML located near Roermond.
In 2017 Euramax launched its new career site (werkenbijeuramax.nl), a first good step in online recruitment. It shows the different available job openings and an online video from their YouTube channel, but from an employer brand point of view it’s lacking a thing or two. It doesn’t show the true soul of the company: a description of its Employer Value Proposition integrated into this communication channel is still missing. The great thing about Euramax is though that is does have an extensive description of its culture. Better yet, their current employees live by a solid set of behavioral principles and core values that displays its great working environment.
Based on Ken Blanchard’s Gung Ho, Euramax uses the metaphors of the squirrel (honorable work), beaver (determine yourself how your goal is reached) and duck (give compliments) to describe their company culture. These metaphors are combined with their core values (with the Dutch acronym OVER):
- Ondernemerschap (Entrepreneurship), for example not just thinking about why things can’t be done, but how they can be done.
- Verantwoordelijkheid (Responsibility), for example keeping your promise.
- Eenheid (Unity), for example looking at what I as an employee can improve, not badmouthing others.
- Respect (Respect), for example greeting each other.
Building a strong employer brand starts from the inside-out, but Euramax shouldn’t have to many problems with this challenge: the culture is there, written down and breathed by its employees every single day. Next up is implementing its input into the career site to attract new employees that fit their company culture.