Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Assessing the Employee Brand: A Census of One Company

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Assessing the Employee Brand: A Census of One Company

Article excerpt

Business and brand reputations are often made, or broken, at the point at which employees and their customers come into contact (Bernoff and Schadler, 2010). Thus, organizations are able to enhance their financial performance and gain a sustainable competitive advantage by defining the brand image their employees are to project, and then motivating and empowering them to deliver the desired brand image to others (King and Grace, 2009; Miles and Mangold, 2004). Hence, the employee branding process appears to be even further reaching than originally proposed by Miles and Mangold (2004). Given the unfolding widespread theoretical impact of the employee brand on tangible organizational outcomes, empirical analysis of this conceptual framework is both necessary and appropriate.

Miles and Mangold's (2005) contextual analysis of the employee branding process contributed to its further development as a theoretical construct. Their 2007 case study of employee branding at AS1 was intended to be used as a teaching tool and to provide guidance for managers wanting to help their organizations grow their employee brands (Miles and Mangold, 2007). However, its scope was limited to the organization's internal constituents, i.e., employees. Thus, the employee branding framework has yet to be empirically tested in its entirety. The purpose of this manuscript is to present the results of an empirical study which encompasses both an internal assessment of the employee brand image as perceived by employees and an assessment of whether external constituents perceive that the desired brand image is being adequately reflected by the organization's employees. Specifically, do employees know and understand the desired brand image and, if so, are they motivated to deliver it to the organization's constituents? If so, do those constituents, in turn, perceive that they experience the desired brand image? Hence, the purpose of this study is to empirically validate the framework proposed by Miles and Mangold (2004, 2005) in the context of one firm in the professional services industry.

Literature Review and Development of Hypotheses

The employee brand has been defined as "the image presented to an organization's customers and other stakeholders through its employees" (Mangold and Miles, 2007: 77). This image can be either negative or positive, and is contingent on the extent to which employees know and understand the desired brand image and are motivated to project that image to organizational constituents. The process by which this comes about is referred to as the employee branding process. While the employee branding process is a relatively new field of interest, its significance is fast coming to light. Evidence suggests that delivery of the employee brand image to constituents impacts the organizational outcomes of employee satisfaction and turnover. It is also linked to customer satisfaction, loyalty, and reputation as well as the position the organization and its offerings hold in the mind of consumers (Miles and Mangold, 2005). Most recently, King and Grace (2009) introduced the idea of employee-based brand equity and postulated that it impacts consumer-based brand equity and, ultimately, financial-based brand equity. Consequently, companies that can consistently deliver the promised offering to their customers and other organizational constituents should be able to enjoy a much coveted competitive advantage.

Two critical elements are necessary in order to glean the competitive advantage an employee brand can offer (Miles and Mangold, 2005). First, employees must know and understand the desired brand image. Second, they must be motivated to engage in the behaviors that are necessary to deliver the desired brand image to others.

Employees are likely to know and understand the desired brand image when it is clearly defined in light of the organization's mission and values. The values communicated through the message system articulate what is important to the organization and form the basis for the desired brand image organizations want employees to reflect to their customers and constituents. …

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