What’s your dream at work?

RedBalloon and InSync Surveys recently launched the second Dream Employer survey. We ask the public to comment on who is Australia and also New Zealand’s dream employer. There are quite a number of ‘Best Employer’ and ‘Employer of Choice’ surveys which are voted by people within organizations, but we want to know who people wish they worked for – who is perceived as having the best ‘employer brand.’

Last year’s results were interesting, and I am pleased to say that many homegrown businesses made the list, though there was still a strong representation by global brands. I’m keen to see what the 2011 survey will discover, so I encourage you to have your say – not least because there are some RedBalloon experiences up for grabs if you do so!

Most notably, in 2010 it was clear that Australians and New Zealanders want to have fun at work and they want to work in a fun working environment. Eight in ten of the organizations nominated last year as Dream Employers promoted mixing work with play.

It all comes down to the brand story. A company’s reputation/brand is the number one attribute that drives interest for job seekers. Negative work culture is voted most likely to tarnish an employer brand. Given that a third of people will decide in the first month of employment when they are planning to leave that job, it is imperative that employers really set expectations and manage them before people commit to a role.

Organizations simply cannot over-promise and under-deliver. People want to believe in the business they are joining. Transparency and authenticity are critical to that. The first days and weeks of someone’s new role are critical in fulfilling what they believe the brand promise is. Managing those expectations on the way in is important.

The Dream Employer voted number one by the public last year was Google. Now, many people might not know what Google employees actually do all day, but they still want to do it, based on the brand story.

I had a similar experience when learning about a recent intake of new inductees at the Apple Store in Sydney. As their arrival was announced, everyone in the store stopped and cheered: high expectations have been set about what it is like to work for Apple. Yet I remember from my days as an Apple employee, it is not all peaches; forecasts, stock management, compliance, etc. all still have to be done. Being starry-eyed about the brand might be great on the way in. However, it is still a business and hard work needs to be done to achieve objectives.

This begs the question of perception meeting reality. I know years ago when I worked at Ansett Airlines – it was considered such a ‘glamorous’ thing to work for an airline – but with early starts and a tough schedule after a very short time it did not seem that glamorous – there was a lot of hard work involved.

The 2010 Dream Employer research found the key attributes that attract potential employees regardless of industry were the image and reputation of the organization. While the image may be everything, the challenge is to make sure that image and reality align. Ultimately, it is up to the employer as they bring people into an organization to manage those employee expectations and clearly set their own as an employer. Transparency is vital.

Naomi Simson, CEO, and Founder of RedBalloon left a serious corporate career in marketing to set up RedBalloon in 2001. Now Australia and New Zealand’s most awarded gift retailer, the company has been listed in the BRW fast lists for the past seven years.

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