As more millennials enter the workforce -- with a whole different set of values and expectations -- companies should capitalize on the opportunity to recruit them and use them as brand ambassadors, according to a new study by the CMO Council.
However, many companies are failing to do this, starting with defining a formal brand platform at the highest level to providing opportunities for collaboration and open communications in the workplace.
The study, "Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space," was based on interviews with 230 senior marketing and HR leaders during the second quarter, and was conducted by the CMO Council, Executive Networks and CultureSphere. More than half of the respondents were from b-to-b companies.
The study found that while 90% of respondents said having a brand persona was valuable in attracting new hires and building a lasting relationship with customers, only 62% of respondents said they have a formal brand platform that defines shared values, ethics and collective buy-in to a singular value proposition.
"There is an overwhelming conviction that organizational branding is essential and critical, yet the formalization of what the brand stands for, the essence of the brand and the cultural vibe of the brand -- which is a very important thing today with the millennial workforce -- not many companies get that," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.
The study also found that only 37% of respondents said their companies have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization.
"This is an area a lot of companies tend to overlook," Mr. Neale-May said. "The opportunity to define and shape their brand has an impact on their ability to recruit a millennial workforce. Millennials have a different set of values and motivators -- they are far more collaborative and oriented toward sharing."
Companies are beginning to cater to the millennial workforce by providing more collaborative work environments and developing corporate social responsibility programs, but these efforts have a long way to go, the study found.
The top five ways companies are responding to the needs of the millennial workforce are by providing informal dress codes and work styles (33%); evidencing a corporate social responsibility agenda (32%); redesigning the work environment (31%); providing flexible work hours (29%); and providing more open and collegial communications (28%).
The study also found that 52% of companies are using social media heavily or on a growing basis for employee engagement; 47% use social media selectively or on a limited basis for employee engagement; and 1% of companies forbid the use of social media engagement.
Mr. Neale May said companies that don't use social media for employee engagement are missing a big opportunity to extend their brand persona.
"Millennials want to be empowered and given permission in playing a part in radiating the ethical side of the brand and the personal side of the brand," he said. "All these millennials come with personal networks -- so when you consider the multiplier effect, it can be quite significant."