Samantha Reynolds (@sr_helpsidehr) has a passion for helping small businesses find the answers to their payroll, employment law, HR, employee benefits, and risk management challenges. She was kind enough to be a guest on Prime Time PR chat and help me to understand why the disconnect between HR & PR (an umbrella for all marketing) exists. She has worked in HR outsourcing for nearly 13 years, both as an HR consultant and currently in a marketing role, so she has a unique perspective on the place these worlds collide.

The way your employees and prospective employees view your company is undeniably linked to the way consumers view your company as well. Internal HR issues will always bleed into the public’s perception of your company. here are two sides to HR: compliance with laws and employee experience. Many companies are so focused on compliance, they forget about employee experience. Only when good employees leave do they consider employer branding. I think it is important for marketing and HR to work together on the employer branding piece. Collaboration is key. If there is an HR issue going on, involve marketing so they are prepared in there is public backlash. Even poor recruiting practices (ghosting applicants, poor interviews, no feedback, etc) impact the public view of your company. Making sure everyone is on the same page with messaging and internal practices is important.

What steps can companies take in different areas of their business to improve this HR/PR disconnect?

If your company values include life-long learning, make sure you are providing professional development opportunities. If having a family-friendly work environment is important, look at your policies on flexibility and parental leave.

How does language in employer policies, benefits offerings, leadership practices, etc. play a role?

Look at the language in your employee policy guide. Does it sound like your brand? Of course, policy guides must include all of the employer compliance pieces but adding brand-specific language can make it feel more like it belongs to your company. Encourage leaders to model the behaviors you want to see from your employees. Employees decide how to behave based on what their leaders are doing. How do leaders speak about the company? What language and tone do they use?

Tell us your thoughts on employees as brand advocates.

Employees can either be brand advocates or brand adversaries. Happy employees can be a great marketing tool. They will speak positively about your company to their peers. They will evangelize your brand and take good care of your customers. An unhappy employee will do just the opposite. Not sure if your employees are brand advocates or brand adversaries? Check Glassdoor or other online sources and then simply ask them. Conduct surveys and/or stay interviews with current employees.

Where are we on ageism, low pay, and burnout since we can guess that these affect the brand?

Often recruiters are just trying to get in front of the maximum number of people possible. They aren’t thinking about where they can find the best employees. In short, it is lazy. We encourage an approach for job ads similar to what PR would follow. Where will my target audience be? What types of media, job boards, networking groups, etc. are the types of employees I am looking for a part of? This requires more thought. Regularly audit your compensation. Look for potential bias due to age, gender, etc. You don’t want to be known as the company that pays the least in your industry. If you do pay below market, explain to employees why. PR can help with this language. When looking at your benefits, consider offering options that appeal to a wide variety of age groups. The benefits you offer tell a story to employees and prospective employees about the types of people you want working for you. To minimize burnout, encourage employees to take time off. It isn’t just about offering a certain number of paid days off. Make it possible for employees to step away 100%. Don’t email or call employees when they are on vacation or on evenings/weekends.

What stories, experiences, and trends can you share with us?

Retaining good employees is a marketing tool. And attracting and retaining employees is not about flashy benefits and perks. It is about taking care of employees, treating them like you would like to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes. Give employees the benefit of the doubt. Err on the side of trusting them. This almost always serves you well. It is when you treat employees like children that they begin to behave like children. Know your company values and teach them to employees. Know what is most important to you. Go in with an open mind and a clear idea of what you are willing to compromise on, and what you are not. Don’t rely only on job ads. Reach out to your network and let them know what you are looking for.