The importance of employer branding

Terms of references
This report highlights the rising awareness for the development of Employer Branding concept and its benefits for the organisations in present competitive labour market. The conflict between effective employer branding and employees’ rights and satisfaction toward organization has been examined in this report with specific focus on the unethical and controlling effect.
Introduction:
Employer branding is the perception of employees’ about an organization as a place to work. It’s designed for motivating and securing employee’s alignment with the vision and values of the organizations. From the HR perspective the concept was subsumed the older term INTERNAL BRANDING that was essentially the process of communicating an organization’s brand value to its employee.
Employer branding
The concept of EMPLOYER BRANDING was created in the 1990s by Simon Barrow, who founded People in Business (now part of TMP Worldwide) and was the co-author of The Employer Brand. 1 In the past, Barrow had been a consumer goods brand manager and headed up an advertising agency in London, but later became the chief executive of a recruitment agency. He was immediately struck by the similarities between the challenges faced in promoting consumer goods and in publicising the strengths of an organisation’s employee proposition. Both, he recognised, required a strong brand, and so the concept of employer branding was conceived. He defined employer branding as a set of attributes which make the employees feel more close to the company and take pride of being associated with the company they work for. Employer branding is in essence the mental setup of an employee where he or she receives mental satisfaction in the same manner as when he or she uses a product of a preferred brand.
Employer branding is therefore a set of attitudes, as well as an array of activities and features enabling the process of branding to be more effective. They could be psychological (behaviour of superiors), economic (compensation package, benefits) or functional (potential to grow, job assigned according to capability).
These definitions indicate that employer branding means promoting and building an identity and a clear view of what makes an organization different and desirable as an employer. It has similarities with product and corporate branding but the key difference is its’ more employment specific.
Recruitment and employer branding
Developing an employer brand is a combination of adopting vision, values, and behaviours, and delivering a service that shows commitment to best practice and service excellence. It begins with the recruitment process that offers number of tools that can be used to create perceptions of an employing organization, these tools are:

Job advertisement and description
Interview process
Offer letters
Information pack for new recruiters
Employee handbooks
Induction and training.

The recruitment process is an important way to build a positive relationship between the organization and employee. Throughout the procedure, the organization can create a strong and positive view about them; even it can be extended to unsuccessful candidates as well. When employees have accepted the sincerity and accuracy of the employer brand, they will carry it forward, actively promoting the brand to colleagues and customers. However, employer branding which is basically untruthful will not work and is likely to be counter-productive.
Benefits of Employer Branding

Long-term impact: Successful employer brand can have a positive impact on recruiting for a considerable amount of time while considering any Major PR issues.

Increased volume of spontaneous candidates: The number of applicants tends to increase each year as the employer branding gets stronger. Cases of a 500% increase of applications have also been observed.

Increase in quality of the applicants: The quality of candidates will also improve dramatically; individuals who never would have considered in the past will start applying.

Higher offer-acceptance rates: The rate of acceptance increase proportionately with the increase of image and goodwill of the company.

Higher Employee Motivation: Employees can be easily motivated, or will stay motivated longer in the company because of the perceived pride in working for the company, and better management practices (generally) that is tied-in with the company’s brand image, thus making it a company people work for because they chose.

A stronger corporate culture: Employment branding can help strengthen firm’s corporate culture because of the inertia it gains from the very essence of employer branding; making a company desirable to work for.

Diminished negative publicity and image: Effective branding can pinpoint problems by dealing with negative comments and preparing effective counter measurers.

Increased manager satisfaction: As a direct result of increased interest from more able and proficient applicants, the managers will have more time for managerial functions as the demand to devote more time to recruitment process will decrease with the quality of the applicant group.

Healthy competition: Employer branding is similar to product branding. Hence to keep a company desirable, it has to update its UPS and keep up with its promise of delivery. This increases healthy competition and also makes the companies better by the minute.

Increased shareholder value: The ripple effect of the company’s goodwill via employer branding can also positively impact a firm’s stock price.

Support for the product brand: If a company has a brilliant brand image, it is more likely that its product will reap the benefits of it and be branded automatically. This helps especially when the company launches a new product.

The brand essence should summarize what the brand stands for, becoming the nucleus for product development, all communications and even HR initiatives for employees. Its definition should also be consistent with the corporate vision/mission and values.
For example, Volvo is a good example of a brand description is Volvo – “Style, driving pleasure and superior ownership experience while celebrating human values and respecting the environment.” Volvo’s values and associations reflecting this brand identity are what are considered to be typically Scandinavian – e.g. “nature, security and health, human values, elegant simplicity, creative engineeringand the spirit of stylish/innovative functionality”.

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For Volvo, this description not only mirrors the psycho-graphic profile of the ideal customer for their cars, but also summarizes what Volvo as a company means to all its workers — its employer brand. These are intrinsic values that Volvo workers can relate to, what they believe in and why they feel comfortable making a commitment to their jobs. One can easily visualize the types of HR programs that would inspire a sense of pride and re-enforce these intangibles – e.g. nature, health, security and other meaningful human values.
‘Living the brand’
LIVING THE BRAND is identifying with an organizations brand value to such an extent that employees’ behaviours fit exactly to the image that the business is trying to portray to its customers (Alan Price 2007). The alignment between employees’ behaviour and value of organization’s brand image is very important. It is suggested that organisations need to ensure that there is no gap between what the organisation is saying in the outside world and what people believe inside the business. The employees should be perceived as Brand ambassador and brand marketing would only be successful if they LIVE THE BRAND.
From this perspective:

Organizations have encouraged employees to “buy in” to the business vision and values.
They have to ensure that everyone in the organization clearly understand the purpose of the common set of values.

According to Ind (2004), the themes discussed are likely to be of interest to HR and marketing practitioners as well as those involved in internal communications within organisations. Employees themselves are expected to internalise features and aspects of the organisation’s brand to ensure that they become brand champions, thus helping to represent to organisation’s brand to the outside customers. Such an approach immediately raises some interesting problems relating to equality and diversity as it expects each employee to share a particular set of values and act in accordance with these values.
The employee branding approach being recommended by Ind raises a number of challenges for those interested in an equality and diversity agenda. An organisation that aims to ensure that employees are living the brand will specifically aim to attract and recruit employees who already share the values of the corporate brand. Furthermore, those already employed within the organisation will be encouraged to internalise the values of the organisation. Clearly, there are problems for encouraging diversity here, with one of the principles of diversity management being an acceptance and recognition that people are different and individual differences (especially of values) should be welcomed. Inherently, a living the brand focus is likely to go against such a principle. Ind makes the point that encouraging employee identification and commitment to the organisation’s brand values might deny an expression of individuality. However, Ind suggests that internal branding combined with allowing employees to be empowered will enable freedom with order.
Denial of individuality (dress code policy)
When it comes to “professional image”, many employers are realising that Standards of dress and personal presentation are essential thus having a policy on dress code can be important.
Where the employees meet customers, they act as the shop window for the company and the benefits of presentable appearance are obvious. However, even where the employee’s work is internal, there are less tangible benefits such as:

Creating a team atmosphere,
Engendering standards of professionalism, and
Creating a corporate image.

As employers are realising this, they are paying more attention to the appearance of their employees and the image and perception of the business – dress, grooming and personal hygiene are all part and parcel of this.
However, the issue of work place dress codes can be highly controversial. It is vital that employers are aware of the discrimination issues that dress codes can create.
Issues with work place dress codes
In organisations with uniforms, the issues can be more wide ranging. For instance, at the Greater Manchester Police Force, bureaucracy and unwillingness to accept change has hampered the introduction of hijabs for Muslim women.
At Inchcape Fleet Solutions – where all 140 non-senior staffs are provided with polo shirts or blouses branded with the company logo – the style of the uniform does not suit all staff and most “do not like wearing it”. This would affect their moods at work and consequently affect their performance.
Complaints of discrimination
Furthermore, a complaint was raised informally by the staff forum of child trust fund provider Family Investments and relates to the fact that women can wear trousers that are not full length, while men cannot. Employees have requested that the company allows shorts to be worn, as long as they are below the knee
Also, in September 2006, a British Airways worker has been suspended and attended an appeal over wearing a cross at work at Heathrow Airport. She claims the suspension is discriminatory, especially since the airline allows Sikh employees to wear traditional iron bangles and Muslim workers to wear headscarves.BA has said it will review its uniform policy in light of the media storm the story has provoked.Employer branding and discrimination law
There are three areas of discrimination relevant to dress code policy:

Sex Discrimination Act 1975
Religious or Belief Regulations 2003
Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Sex discrimination and dress codes
There is the obvious potential for sex discrimination in any dress code, which sets different requirements for men and women. Past claims have challenged policies that:

women must wear skirts
men should not have long hair
Men must wear a collar and tie.

The case of Matthew Thompson who objected to the dress code imposed by the Department for Work & Pensions at his place of work, a job centre in Stockport, can also be a good example. Mr Thompson claimed that the dress code discriminated against male employees as they were forced to wear a collar and tie whereas female employees could wear T-shirts to work. The Employment Tribunal found in favour of Mr Thompson stating that the dress code was discriminatory as the requirement to wear a collar and tie was gender based and there were no items of clothing that were imposed on women in the same office.
From the Thompson case, it became clear that employers should be careful in the way that they draft their dress codes. Employers are not prevented from imposing dress codes that require employees to wear specified items of clothing as long as the code is drafted in such a way as to be even-handed between men and women.
For example, jobs in the City, the current convention is for both men and women to wear suits. The convention is that a man should wear a tie with a suit but the same does not apply to a woman. A dress code requiring a “smart suit” could apply to both sexes but be enforced in a non-discriminatory manner appropriate for each sex.
Religion/belief discrimination and dress codes
A dress code that requires employees to act in a way contrary to their religious beliefs, risks being indirectly discriminatory. Thus, a dress code forbidding headgear will be discriminatory to male Sikhs, who must wear a turban.
The best way to avoid these problems is to be as non-specific as possible. A widely worded dress code requiring smart appearance, with non-binding examples of suitable dress, cannot fall foul of specific clothing-related beliefs.
To cross-check your dress code against the main religions’ clothing beliefs, refer to Acas’ Guide on Religion and Belief which has a useful chart at Appendix 2 (pages 40-50).
It may be possible for employers to objectively justify a dress code contrary to any of these beliefs, if it can be done so objectively. For example, employees at a chocolate factory were successfully prohibited from having beards for health and safety reasons. However, employers should be very wary of relying on objective justification as the courts are reluctant to accept it.
There may be a question mark in some cases whether a person’s views are beliefs. According to Acas, Rastafarianism (which requires the wearing of a hat) is a belief system. Certain political beliefs or powerful sentiments such as patriotism (the wearing of an American flag badge) may or may not be regarded as beliefs. Employers should respect beliefs that are strongly held whether or not they are religious in nature.
Disability discrimination and dress codes
Disabled employees may not be able to comply with a dress code, for example, an employee with a neck injury unable to wear a tie. However, by and large, this need not affect the way the code is drafted; instead, employers should be sensitive in the enforcement of the dress code.
In summary, employers should be quite a bit flexible when writing a policy on employee dress or appearance. Reasonable flexibility and sensitivity to the employees’ racial differences should be allowed in the dress code to make employees comfortable and any conflict and law suits, while meeting the Trust standard of Dress code.
This view is echoed by organisations such as Broker Network, which believes that employees should be able to make their own judgments on what is best to wear.
Many companies are now turning their backs on the concept of ‘dress-down Fridays’, opting instead to ditch smart business-wear every day of the week. A survey of 560 organisations has found that four out of five employers believe a more relaxed dress code leads to greater productivity. Nine out of 10 organisations that replied to the poll by the Peninsula employment law consultancy had declared ties an unnecessary part of their dress code.
Conclusion
The issues discussed above create a challenge for HR professionals involved in employee focused branding projects, especially those where employees are expected to share a specific set of values. That is that such initiatives will undoubtedly create a tension and potentially conflict with principles underlying an equality and diversity agenda. Ind’s suggestion that inside-out branding allows freedom and order remains unconvincing even when the employees are involved in constructing the brand values. An organisation that dictates a set of values for employees to internalise is still a homogenising force. Organisation’s that genuinely take diversity programmes seriously will have to tackle this tension. One possible way out of this conundrum is to include equality and diversity awareness as a key value included in the internal brand proposition.
Recommendations
Any guidelines should be carefully drafted, and employers are advised to treat any requests to dress contrary to the company code for religious or racial reasons with respect.
Employers should consult the employee in question and discuss how to accommodate reasonable requests, and try to find a favourable solution. A tribunal will be more likely to be sympathetic to the employer where a policy is required for health and safety purposes, rather than simply to maintain a corporate image.
Decide what restrictions on employees’ appearance are necessary and why. For example, teachers are expected to wear sensible footwear, suitable for the activities their job involves. Restrictions should not be excessive or unreasonable, for instance insisting on suits or ties in the office when employees are not customer-facing.
Set out the guidelines clearly, and include the rationale behind any restrictions.
Explain why restrictions may be placed on some employees but not others (for example, no body piercing for those operating heavy machinery for health and safety purposes, and those working within a café of a supermarket may have stricter codes enforced on them than those who work in the same store, but don’t come into direct contact with food).
Give employees notice of when the policy will come into force.
Allow employees a grace period before disciplining for non-compliance.
Explain what will happen if employees are found to be in persistent breach of the policy (disciplinary action and, potentially, dismissal).
Give the name of an individual that employees can talk to if they feel they cannot comply with the policy.
Current legislation on issues that could lead to discrimination should be reviewed from time to time, and staff handbook should be read by employment lawyers to ensure compliance. Guidelines should also be updated to accommodate the legislation.
Base the policy on business-related reasons. Explain your reasons in the policy so employees understand the rationale behind the restrictions. Common business-related reasons include maintaining the organization’s public image, promoting a productive work environment, or complying with health and safety standards.
Require employees to have an appropriate, well-groomed appearance. Even casual dress policies should specify what clothing is inappropriate (such as sweat suits, shorts, and jeans) and any special requirements for employees who deal with the public.
Communicate the policy. Use employee handbooks or memos to alert employees to the new policy, any revisions, and the penalties for noncompliance. In addition, explain the policy to job candidates.Apply the dress code policy uniformly to all employees. This can prevent claims that the policy adversely affects women or minorities. However, you may have to make exceptions if required by law. (See next suggestion.)
Make reasonable accommodation when the situation requires an exception. Be prepared to accommodate requests for religious practices and disabilities, such as head coverings and facial hair.Apply consistent discipline for dress code violations. When disciplining violators, point out why their attire does not comply with the code and what they can do to comply
REFERENCES:
Edwards, M. R. (2008) Employees as a Focus of Branding Activities: A Review of Recent Contributions to the Literature and the Implications for Workplace Diversity, Equal opportunities international. Vol 27(5) pp. 447-481 [online] Available from: www.emerald.com [Accessed 1 April 2009]
Carrington, L (2007) EMPLOYER BRANDING [Online] Available from: http://globaltalentmetrics.com/articles/EB_2007_Brandempl.pdf [Accessed 26 March 2009]
Wolff, C. (2007) EMPLOYERS USE DRESS CODES TO ENHANCE CORPORATE IMAGE, IRS. Issue 878. Available from: http://www.xperthr.co.uk [Accessed 26 March 2009]
Downes, J. (2007) POLICY CLINIC: DRESS CODES, [online] Available from: http://0-www.xperthr.co.uk.lispac.lsbu.ac.uk/article/81919/policy-clinic–dress-codes.aspx?searchwords=Policy+clinic%3a+Dress+codes [Accessed 26 March 2009]
Millar, M (2006) EMPLOYERS RELAXING WORK DRESS CODE CAN HELP IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY, [online] Available from: http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2006/07/26/36558/employers-relaxing-work-dress-code-can-help-improve.html [Accessed 26 March 2009]
Dr. Sullivan, J (2008) EMPLOYMENT BRANDING: THE ONLY LONG-TERM RECRUITING STRATEGY, [online] Available from: http://www.drjohnsullivan.com/content/view/183/27/ [Accessed 26 March 2009]Stephen Morrall, S & Urquhart, C (2003) SEX DISCRIMINATION – ARE DRESS CODES DISCRIMINATORY? [online] Available from: http://www.drjohnsullivan.com/content/view/183/27/ [Accessed 26 March 2009]Gronlund, J K (2008) HOW EMPLOYER BRANDINGCAN FOSTER TRUSTS AND LOYALTY? [Online] Available from: http://www.employerbrand.com/Points_pathf.html [Accessed 26 March 2009]
 

Importance of Employer Branding Concepts

Terms of references
This report highlights the rising awareness for the development of Employer Branding concept and its benefits for the organisations in present competitive labour market. The conflict between effective employer branding and employees’ rights and satisfaction toward organization has been examined in this report with specific focus on the unethical and controlling effect.
Introduction
Employer branding is the perception of employees’ about an organization as a place to work. It’s designed for motivating and securing employee’s alignment with the vision and values of the organizations. From the HR perspective the concept was subsumed the older term INTERNAL BRANDING that was essentially the process of communicating an organization’s brand value to its employee.
Employer branding
The concept of EMPLOYER BRANDING was created in the 1990s by Simon Barrow, who founded People in Business (now part of TMP Worldwide) and was the co-author of The Employer Brand. 1 In the past, Barrow had been a consumer goods brand manager and headed up an advertising agency in London, but later became the chief executive of a recruitment agency. He was immediately struck by the similarities between the challenges faced in promoting consumer goods and in publicising the strengths of an organisation’s employee proposition. Both, he recognised, required a strong brand, and so the concept of employer branding was conceived.

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Barrow defined the employer brand as ‘the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company’. Sullivan (2004) defines employer branding as “a targeted, long-term strategy to manage the awareness and perceptions of employees, potential employees, and related stakeholders with regards to a particular firm.” Ambler and Barrow (1996) define employer brand in terms of the benefits it conveys on employees. In other words, the employer brand represents the array of economic, functional and psychological benefits that an employee might receive because of joining an organization. Just as product brands convey an image to customers, an employer brand conveys an organizational image to potential and current employees. In that regard, the employer brand presents a “value proposition” about what people might receive as a result of working for a particular employer (Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004). These definitions indicate that employer branding means promoting and building an identity and a clear view of what makes an organization different and desirable as an employer. It has similarities with product and corporate branding but the key difference is its’ more employment specific.
Recruitment and employer branding
Developing an employer brand is a combination of adopting vision, values, and behaviours, and delivering a service that shows commitment to best practice and service excellence. It begins with the recruitment process that offers number of tools that can be used to create perceptions of an employing organization, these tools are: 1. Job advertisement and description 2. Interview process 3. Offer letters 4. Information pack for new recruiters 5. Employee handbooks 6. Induction and training.
The recruitment process is an important way to build a positive relationship between the organization and employee. Throughout the procedure, the organization can create a strong and positive view about them; even it can be extended to unsuccessful candidates as well. When employees have accepted the sincerity and accuracy of the employer brand, they will carry it forward, actively promoting the brand to colleagues and customers. However, employer branding which is basically untruthful will not work and is likely to be counter-productive.
 
Benefits of Employer Branding

Long-term impact: Successful employer brand can have positive impacts on recruiting for at least five years baring any major PR issues surrounding the company.
Increased volume of spontaneous candidates: The number of applicants will increase each year. In some cases, applications will increase by 500%.
Higher quality candidates: Not only the quantity but the quality of candidates will improve dramatically, individuals who never would have considered in the past will start applying.
Higher offer-acceptance rates: As employment image becomes better known and more powerful, firm’s offer acceptance rates will improve dramatically.
Increased employee motivation: Employee motivation will be easier to maintain because of employees’ increased pride in the firm and the better management practices that are required to maintain an employer-of-choice status.
A stronger corporate culture: Because one of the goals of employment branding is to develop a consistent message about what it’s like to work and what it feel to be a part of the organization, employment branding can help strengthen firm’s corporate culture.
Decreased corporate negatives: Effective branding programs identify and counter negative comments about the organisation.
Increased manager satisfaction: The resulting higher quality of candidates and higher offer-acceptance rate means that hiring managers will have to devote less time to interviews, and they will be more satisfied with the recruiting function.
A competitive advantage: Because employment branding efforts include extensive metrics and side-by-side comparisons with talent competitors, firm’s can ensure that their talent-management approaches are differentiated and continually superior.
Increased shareholder value: The effective and improved employer image can positively impact a firm’s stock price.
Support for the product brand: An employment brand can support the corporate brand and related product brands because many consumers mentally make the link between attracting quality employees and producing a quality product. The brand essence should summarize what the brand stands for, becoming the nucleus for product development, all communications and even HR initiatives for employees. Its definition should also be consistent with the corporate vision/mission and values.
For example, Volvo is a good example of a brand description is Volvo – “Style, driving pleasure and superior ownership experience while celebrating human values and respecting the environment.” Volvo’s values and associations reflecting this brand identity are what are considered to be typically Scandinavian – e.g. “nature, security and health, human values, elegant simplicity, creative engineering and the spirit of stylish/innovative functionality”.

For Volvo, this description not only mirrors the psycho-graphic profile of the ideal customer for their cars, but also summarizes what Volvo as a company means to all its workers — its employer brand. These are intrinsic values that Volvo workers can relate to, what they believe in and why they feel comfortable making a commitment to their jobs. One can easily visualize the types of HR programs that would inspire a sense of pride and re-enforce these intangibles – e.g. nature, health, security and other meaningful human values.

 
‘Living the brand’
LIVING THE BRAND is identifying with an organizations brand value to such an extent that employees’ behaviours fit exactly to the image that the business is trying to portray to its customers (Alan Price 2007). The alignment between employees’ behaviour and value of organization’s brand image is very important. It is suggested that organisations need to ensure that there is no gap between what the organisation is saying in the outside world and what people believe inside the business. The employees should be perceived as Brand ambassador and brand marketing would only be successful if they LIVE THE BRAND. From this perspective:
1. Organizations have encouraged employees to “buy in” to the business vision and values. 2. They have to ensure that everyone in the organization clearly understand the purpose of the common set of values. According to Ind (2004), the themes discussed are likely to be of interest to HR and marketing practitioners as well as those involved in internal communications within organisations. Employees themselves are expected to internalise features and aspects of the organisation’s brand to ensure that they become brand champions, thus helping to represent to organisation’s brand to the outside customers. Such an approach immediately raises some interesting problems relating to equality and diversity as it expects each employee to share a particular set of values and act in accordance with these values. The employee branding approach being recommended by Ind raises a number of challenges for those interested in an equality and diversity agenda. An organisation that aims to ensure that employees are living the brand will specifically aim to attract and recruit employees who already share the values of the corporate brand. Furthermore, those already employed within the organisation will be encouraged to internalise the values of the organisation. Clearly, there are problems for encouraging diversity here, with one of the principles of diversity management being an acceptance and recognition that people are different and individual differences (especially of values) should be welcomed. Inherently, a living the brand focus is likely to go against such a principle. Ind makes the point that encouraging employee identification and commitment to the organisation’s brand values might deny an expression of individuality. However, Ind suggests that internal branding combined with allowing employees to be empowered will enable freedom with order.
Denial of individuality (dress code policy)
When it comes to “professional image”, many employers are realising that Standards of dress and personal presentation are essential thus having a policy on dress code can be important. Where the employees meet customers, they act as the shop window for the company and the benefits of presentable appearance are obvious. However, even where the employee’s work is internal, there are less tangible benefits such as:
Creating a team atmosphere, Engendering standards of professionalism, and Creating a corporate image.As employers are realising this, they are paying more attention to the appearance of their employees and the image and perception of the business – dress, grooming and personal hygiene are all part and parcel of this.
However, the issue of work place dress codes can be highly controversial. It is vital that employers are aware of the discrimination issues that dress codes can create.
Issues with work place dress codes
In organisations with uniforms, the issues can be more wide ranging. For instance, at the Greater Manchester Police Force, bureaucracy and unwillingness to accept change has hampered the introduction of hijabs for Muslim women. At Inchcape Fleet Solutions – where all 140 non-senior staffs are provided with polo shirts or blouses branded with the company logo – the style of the uniform does not suit all staff and most “do not like wearing it”. This would affect their moods at work and consequently affect their performance.
Complaints of discrimination
Furthermore, a complaint was raised informally by the staff forum of child trust fund provider Family Investments and relates to the fact that women can wear trousers that are not full length, while men cannot. Employees have requested that the company allows shorts to be worn, as long as they are below the knee
Also, in September 2006, a British Airways worker has been suspended and attended an appeal over wearing a cross at work at Heathrow Airport. She claims the suspension is discriminatory, especially since the airline allows Sikh employees to wear traditional iron bangles and Muslim workers to wear headscarves.BA has said it will review its uniform policy in light of the media storm the story has provoked.
Employer branding and discrimination law
There are three areas of discrimination relevant to dress code policy:
1. Sex Discrimination Act 19752. Religious or Belief Regulations 20033. Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Sex discrimination and dress codes
There is the obvious potential for sex discrimination in any dress code, which sets different requirements for men and women. Past claims have challenged policies that:
women must wear skirts men should not have long hair Men must wear a collar and tie.
The case of Matthew Thompson who objected to the dress code imposed by the Department for Work & Pensions at his place of work, a job centre in Stockport, can also be a good example. Mr Thompson claimed that the dress code discriminated against male employees as they were forced to wear a collar and tie whereas female employees could wear T-shirts to work. The Employment Tribunal found in favour of Mr Thompson stating that the dress code was discriminatory as the requirement to wear a collar and tie was gender based and there were no items of clothing that were imposed on women in the same office.
From the Thompson case, it became clear that employers should be careful in the way that they draft their dress codes. Employers are not prevented from imposing dress codes that require employees to wear specified items of clothing as long as the code is drafted in such a way as to be even-handed between men and women.
For example, jobs in the City, the current convention is for both men and women to wear suits. The convention is that a man should wear a tie with a suit but the same does not apply to a woman. A dress code requiring a “smart suit” could apply to both sexes but be enforced in a non-discriminatory manner appropriate for each sex.
Religion/belief discrimination and dress codes
A dress code that requires employees to act in a way contrary to their religious beliefs, risks being indirectly discriminatory. Thus, a dress code forbidding headgear will be discriminatory to male Sikhs, who must wear a turban. The best way to avoid these problems is to be as non-specific as possible. A widely worded dress code requiring smart appearance, with non-binding examples of suitable dress, cannot fall foul of specific clothing-related beliefs. To cross-check your dress code against the main religions’ clothing beliefs, refer to Acas’ Guide on Religion and Belief which has a useful chart at Appendix 2 (pages 40-50). It may be possible for employers to objectively justify a dress code contrary to any of these beliefs, if it can be done so objectively. For example, employees at a chocolate factory were successfully prohibited from having beards for health and safety reasons. However, employers should be very wary of relying on objective justification as the courts are reluctant to accept it. There may be a question mark in some cases whether a person’s views are beliefs. According to Acas, Rastafarianism (which requires the wearing of a hat) is a belief system. Certain political beliefs or powerful sentiments such as patriotism (the wearing of an American flag badge) may or may not be regarded as beliefs. Employers should respect beliefs that are strongly held whether or not they are religious in nature.
Disability discrimination and dress codes
Disabled employees may not be able to comply with a dress code, for example, an employee with a neck injury unable to wear a tie. However, by and large, this need not affect the way the code is drafted; instead, employers should be sensitive in the enforcement of the dress code. In summary, employers should be quite a bit flexible when writing a policy on employee dress or appearance. Reasonable flexibility and sensitivity to the employees’ racial differences should be allowed in the dress code to make employees comfortable and any conflict and law suits, while meeting the Trust standard of Dress code. This view is echoed by organisations such as Broker Network, which believes that employees should be able to make their own judgments on what is best to wear. Many companies are now turning their backs on the concept of ‘dress-down Fridays’, opting instead to ditch smart business-wear every day of the week. A survey of 560 organisations has found that four out of five employers believe a more relaxed dress code leads to greater productivity. Nine out of 10 organisations that replied to the poll by the Peninsula employment law consultancy had declared ties an unnecessary part of their dress code.
Conclusion
The issues discussed above create a challenge for HR professionals involved in employee focused branding projects, especially those where employees are expected to share a specific set of values. That is that such initiatives will undoubtedly create a tension and potentially conflict with principles underlying an equality and diversity agenda. Ind’s suggestion that inside-out branding allows freedom and order remains unconvincing even when the employees are involved in constructing the brand values. An organisation that dictates a set of values for employees to internalise is still a homogenising force. Organisation’s that genuinely take diversity programmes seriously will have to tackle this tension. One possible way out of this conundrum is to include equality and diversity awareness as a key value included in the internal brand proposition.
Recommendations
Any guidelines should be carefully drafted, and employers are advised to treat any requests to dress contrary to the company code for religious or racial reasons with respect. Employers should consult the employee in question and discuss how to accommodate reasonable requests, and try to find a favourable solution. A tribunal will be more likely to be sympathetic to the employer where a policy is required for health and safety purposes, rather than simply to maintain a corporate image.
Decide what restrictions on employees’ appearance are necessary and why. For example, teachers are expected to wear sensible footwear, suitable for the activities their job involves. Restrictions should not be excessive or unreasonable, for instance insisting on suits or ties in the office when employees are not customer-facing.
Set out the guidelines clearly, and include the rationale behind any restrictions. Explain why restrictions may be placed on some employees but not others (for example, no body piercing for those operating heavy machinery for health and safety purposes, and those working within a café of a supermarket may have stricter codes enforced on them than those who work in the same store, but don’t come into direct contact with food).
Give employees notice of when the policy will come into force. Allow employees a grace period before disciplining for non-compliance. Explain what will happen if employees are found to be in persistent breach of the policy (disciplinary action and, potentially, dismissal). Give the name of an individual that employees can talk to if they feel they cannot comply with the policy. Current legislation on issues that could lead to discrimination should be reviewed from time to time, and staff handbook should be read by employment lawyers to ensure compliance. Guidelines should also be updated to accommodate the legislation. Base the policy on business-related reasons. Explain your reasons in the policy so employees understand the rationale behind the restrictions. Common business-related reasons include maintaining the organization’s public image, promoting a productive work environment, or complying with health and safety standards. Require employees to have an appropriate, well-groomed appearance. Even casual dress policies should specify what clothing is inappropriate (such as sweat suits, shorts, and jeans) and any special requirements for employees who deal with the public. Communicate the policy. Use employee handbooks or memos to alert employees to the new policy, any revisions, and the penalties for noncompliance. In addition, explain the policy to job candidates. Apply the dress code policy uniformly to all employees. This can prevent claims that the policy adversely affects women or minorities. However, you may have to make exceptions if required by law. (See next suggestion.)
Make reasonable accommodation when the situation requires an exception. Be prepared to accommodate requests for religious practices and disabilities, such as head coverings and facial hair. Apply consistent discipline for dress code violations. When disciplining violators, point out why their attire does not comply with the code and what they can do to comply
 
REFERENCES:

Edwards, M. R. (2008) Employees as a Focus of Branding Activities: A Review of Recent Contributions to the Literature and the Implications for Workplace Diversity, Equal opportunities international. Vol 27(5) pp. 447-481 [online] Available from: www.emerald.com [Accessed 1 April 2009]

Carrington, L (2007) EMPLOYER BRANDING [Online] Available from: http://globaltalentmetrics.com/articles/EB_2007_Brandempl.pdf [Accessed 26 March 2009]
Wolff, C. (2007) EMPLOYERS USE DRESS CODES TO ENHANCE CORPORATE IMAGE, IRS. Issue 878. Available from: http://www.xperthr.co.uk [Accessed 26 March 2009]

Downes, J. (2007) POLICY CLINIC: DRESS CODES, [online] Available from: http://0-www.xperthr.co.uk.lispac.lsbu.ac.uk/article/81919/policy-clinic–dress-codes.aspx?searchwords=Policy+clinic%3a+Dress+codes [Accessed 26 March 2009]

Millar, M (2006) EMPLOYERS RELAXING WORK DRESS CODE CAN HELP IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY, [online] Available from: http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2006/07/26/36558/employers-relaxing-work-dress-code-can-help-improve.html [Accessed 26 March 2009]

Dr. Sullivan, J (2008) EMPLOYMENT BRANDING: THE ONLY LONG-TERM RECRUITING STRATEGY, [online] Available from: http://www.drjohnsullivan.com/content/view/183/27/ [Accessed 26 March 2009]
Stephen Morrall, S & Urquhart, C (2003) SEX DISCRIMINATION – ARE DRESS CODES DISCRIMINATORY? [online] Available from: http://www.drjohnsullivan.com/content/view/183/27/ [Accessed 26 March 2009]
Gronlund, J K (2008) HOW EMPLOYER BRANDINGCAN FOSTER TRUSTS AND LOYALTY? [Online] Available from: http://www.employerbrand.com/Points_pathf.html [Accessed 26 March 2009]

 

Employer Obligations Under The Equality Act 2010

Gavin Moore
PO4 Question 1
The employer’s main obligations under the Employment Equality Act are to:

Provide a safe, healthy work environment with the required facilities.
When hiring employees they must abide by the nine grounds and must not discriminate based on:

Race
The employer cannot say no to hiring someone based on the fact they are Chinese, Indian, African or even white.
Gender
An employer cannot base his decision on whether the candidate is a man or a woman when recruiting as this can be sexist and discrimination.
Marital status
Just because the person looking for work is married or not the employer can’t say no based on this status.
Family status
The employer can’t look at whether the person is a family man with a wife and kids or if he has no wife and kids and lives alone when hiring.
Sexual orientation
If the candidate is gay, bisexual or even a lesbian the employer can’t base his decision on this.
Disability
If a person has a disability they should not feel that they will not get the job because of this unless it involves something which requires skill that they don’t have, otherwise, the employer must treat them equal.
Religion
The employees should not be treated differently based on their religious beliefs.
Age
The position should be available for anyone who is between the age of 18 to 65 as long as they are well able to complete the tasks which have to be done.
Member of the travelling community.
If a member of the travelling community is looking for work and is fully qualified he should not be discriminated against just because of his background.
The two main legal acts which underpin it are:

The Employment Equality Act 1998 (amended 2004)

This covers advertising, equal pay, access to employment, promotion or demotion and dismissal and other issues. This also promotes equality, prohibits discrimination and sexual harassment or harassment, and gives access to people with disabilities participation and training. The Act gives protection to employees in the public and private sector.

The Equal Status Act 2000 (as amended by the equality act 2004)

The Equal Status Act promotes equality, prohibits certain kinds of discrimination (with some exceptions), prohibits sexual harassment and harassment (on the discriminatory grounds). This covers people who buy goods, use services and facilities and attend educational establishments. The Act also prohibits victimisation and provides that clubs which discriminate may lose their licence to sell alcohol. (www.asti.ie)
PO4 Question 2
The employee’s main obligations under the employment equality act are to:

Be available for work and provide a good service.

you must be willing to do the work given to you at any time and you must do it to the best of your ability.

Obey orders from employers

Whatever tasks your employer gives to you must be completed and you must do what they tell you to do without any negativity

Maintain confidentiality regarding company information

Any information given to you about clients or the business must not be shared outside the workplace as it is company policy that everything remains private.

Be willing to compensate the employer for any damage caused or wrongful act committed.

If you manage to break something or do something wrong you must confront the manager as soon as possible because if you don’t tell the manager you will come across as being unreliable and not honest which can give you a bad reputation within the workplace.
The two main legal acts which underpin this is:

The Employment Equality Act 1998 (amended 2004)

This covers advertising, equal pay, access to employment, promotion or demotion and dismissal and other issues. This also promotes equality, prohibits discrimination and sexual harassment or harassment, and gives access to people with disabilities participation and training. The Act gives protection to employees in the public and private sector.

The Equal Status Act 2000 (as amended by the equality act 2004).

The Equal Status Act promotes equality, prohibits certain kinds of discrimination (with some exceptions), prohibits sexual harassment and harassment (on the discriminatory grounds). This covers people who buy goods, use services and facilities and attend educational establishments. The Act also prohibits victimisation and provides that clubs which discriminate may lose their licence to sell alcohol. (www.asti.ie)
PO4 Question 3
An example of workplace discrimination would be racial discrimination. This can take place when an employee of a certain race is paid less than the other employees or if they receive unfavourable treatment within the workplace. The problem can be noticed through unfair policies and dismissal without a certain reason. The employer can take positive action by coming to the person who is being discriminated against and find the people responsible for this and fire them immediately. These acts should be discussed with candidates before hiring them and let them know that their company will not tolerate any discrimination of any kind. Another example would be if a woman was being harassed by the men within the workplace to a serious extent. The manager would be in the hot seat if he didn’t get to the bottom of it. He would have to arrange a meeting with the woman in being harassed and find out who is behind it and fire them immediately. This would be one of the major problems that the employer would face within the workplace and if not dealt with immediately could result in them losing their job.
PO4 Question 4
Five pieces of current legislation relating to employment to cover the following issues are:

Health, safety and welfare at work (Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005)

This Act clarifies and enhances the responsibilities of employer‘s, the self-employed, employees and various other parties in relation to safety and health at work. The Act also details the role and functions of the Health and Safety Authority, provides for a range of enforcement measures that may be applied and specifies penalties that may be applied for breach of occupational safety and health (www.hsa.ie)
Equality (Equality Act 2004 and Employment Equality Act 1998)
Their main aim is to promote equality by forbidding discrimination within employment. (www.ahead.ie)

Union Representation (Industrial Relations Act 1990)

The definition of “trade dispute” no longer includes “worker v. worker” disputes, disputes about an individual’s employment must first go through statutory or collectively agreed resolution procedures, private residences can no longer be picketed, secondary action is restricted, and trade unions must have rules providing for secret ballots before industrial action is taken. On the other hand, the ability of employers to get labour injunctions is restricted where there has been a secret ballot and strike notice has been given. (www.eurofound.europa.eu)

Regulations Relating to Pay:

National Minimum Wage Act 2000
The National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 provides that the minimum wage rate for an experienced adult employee from 1 May, 2005 is 7.65 euro per hour. Before then, the minimum wage rate was 7 euro per hour. The national minimum wage is reviewed at regular intervals (www.disability.ie)
And the Payment Of Wage Act 1991
The employer is obliged to provide a written statement of wages and deductions at the time of payment. It is worth noting that in the case of schools in Ireland for the purposes of the Payment of Wages act, 1991 the Department of Education and Skills is deemed to the employer. (www.employmentrightsinireland.com)
References

 

Employer and Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Almost one in four employees do claim that they have been under workplace harassment in France, this is according to the research done by the International Labor Organization. The bullying is said to be originating from their race, sexual orientation, health status, religion, and disability. However, this does not mean that it is only in France where people undergo such mistreatment, cases of workplace harassment are present in almost every part of the world. Did you know that workplace harassment is the fourth causes of death among employees? The case is even worse among women in the workplace. Like school gun violence which has been as a result of stress among students, workplace violence has also been as a result of employees’ mistreatment which in most cases makes them become stressful and end up causing violence because of conflicts with the employer. The main aim of this paper is to examine various cases where employees’ rights and responsibilities have been undermined.

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There are various rights and responsibilities which both the employer and employee should perform to their level best to avoid cases of conflict and misunderstanding between the two parties. First, let us look at various rights and responsibilities that an employee should adhere to, it is the responsibility of an employee to be loyal to his work and employer. This brings about trust which is critical in any job. It makes your employer believe in you and also respect your services and personality at the end.

Employees should be ready to personally do the work they were hired to do without fail. Also, you as an employee, you should hold your work’s ethics and be ready to play your role without keeping other in any danger. For instance, a civil engineer will do his or her construction work without risking the lives of his or her clients. Failure by the employees to play their role effectively, the employer may decide whether to fire them or take them to court. On the other hand, employers do have their responsibilities that they should also play.

The reason for employees’ mistreatment and harassment has always been the failure of an employer to perform their function efficiently. As an employer one should understand the responsibilities that he or she needs to play to provide a good environment for their employees. The primary responsibilities include the following. First, employers should provide their employees with good environment, a place a place of work and ensure that the employees have access to that place. This is through delivering equipment, tools, training all other things they require to do their job.

Secondly, employers should make sure that the working conditions are safe. Observing occupational health and safety measures is vital in any workplace. Workplace hazards have been one of the leading death causes among employees. Besides, employers should provide with their employees with enough salary and allowances they agreed to when signing the contract. The salary should include vacation and holiday fee. Although the employers do understand the existence of these responsibilities, they have been assumed hence leading to employees mistreatment. There are some cases which have been reported over the same issue.

Abercrombie and Fitch store v. Samantha Elauf.

In this case, Samantha Elauf claimed that the Abercrombie and Fitch store had refused to offer her employment even though she had qualifications to secure a position because of his headscarf. This was more of a religious matter. Elauf was a Muslim lady. Therefore, it is there culture and norms to wear the hijab. On the case, the district court sided with Elauf, and she was awarded $20000 as compensation. However, Abercrombie then fined an appeal at the Supreme Court. According to those who were siding with Elauf including The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964 protects anyone from being disqualified at any jobs position because of their religion. The issue of discrimination at workplace due to faith has been common in various parts, and it is not only in the United States of America but also in different parts of the world where a given religion is not appreciated.

Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean (January 21, 2015)

This case involved MacLean and the federal security. McLean was an employee of Transportation Security Administration based at Las Vegas. McLean had revealed security secret about the cancelation of overnight shift for air marshals. According to him, McLean thought that this move by the federal security was wrong and could place people in danger. He, therefore, called the media and reported about this issue. On realizing this, his employers terminated his contract claiming that he did not obey the laws of the country’s security. However, MacLean went forward to challenge his termination basing on the whistleblower protection law.

MacLean won the court case. According to the court judgment, an employee has the right to whistleblow any activity or utterances by his employer that the employee personally thinks may be wrong to be implemented. MacLean knew that canceling overnight shift at the time where there could be hijacked in the city, could cause a lot of damages. In this case, the employer fails to respect the responsibilities and opinions of their employee. These two court cases are among many cases involving employers and their employees that have been reported in the country over the years. It is evident that the employees have suffered a lot in the workplace, however, in most cases, this always remains unsaid due to fear that they will lose their jobs. The way the employees are treated is still different depending on the type of workplace. The rights and responsibilities of workers at the private organization are still different from that of the public sector.

Private Sector vs. Public Sector Employee Rights

Private sector employees are the one who is hired to fulfill the goals of given private business and non-profit organizations. On the other hand, public employees are the one who is offered jobs by the government, either national or state to fulfill the roles of law enforcement, peace building, health, public education and safety among many more. Compared to private workers, federal workers have a certain level of protection. Nevertheless, the in-depth investigation will only show that their employers have undermined the rights of both the two types of employees.

To examine the rights of employees in these two sectors, it is vital if we look at the following areas.

First Amendment

This is an advantage to the public employees. Under the constitution of the United States, public employees have rights and are protected by the law to make a speech without being interfered with their employers. There is freedom of expression among public employees. The case is never the same when you are to look at the private sector. Employees in private sectors are discouraged from making a certain speech that may not impress their employers. This may lead to firing, suspension or any other punishment to cover for the same. These show that in the public sector, the freedom of speech is highly respected compared to the private sector.

Job Security

Employees who are under private employment are “at will,” and therefore they are at the risk of being fired anytime they cause a mistake. Firing may also be out of discrimination by the employers such that people are chosen based on their race, sexuality, and class. However, this is not always the case among the public employees. The constitution protects public workers, therefore, firing them might be a process. For instance, a lawsuit should be filed over the same, and only the final judgment will allow if the employee has to be fired or not. This clearly shows that job security is favorable among the public sector than the private sector. ‘

Labor Unions

The right to join labor unions among the employees also creates a difference between private sector workers and public sector workers. The law to allow the employees in the private sector to create or join labor unions for the collective action. It is through the unions where the employees can debate for their grievances and ensure their rights as workers are respected. Although public employees are also allowed to join various unions, it is always challenging for such union to be against the government, who are the employers of public workers.

The concept of employees’ rights and responsibilities is understood differently at various level. However, both of them target to protect human rights. The main body dealing with labor rights is the International Labor Organization.

International Labor Organization

Created after the First World War, ILO has been pushing for labor reforms, majorly creating labor standards that each employer or trader should adhere to in protection of human rights. Although these standards are designed to meet international, each country is required to implement them differently. There are dozens of laws that work to protect the employee rights. However, of the many, some counties and states have only met a few of the standards which show that there is still a big step which should be followed to achieve employees’ justice. For instance, Washington State has only ratified two laws, one targeting to bring an end of forced labor and the second one about child labor. Other ILO labor standards include matters to deal with wages, welfare, health, and safety.

Employees’ rights and responsibilities are not only a matter of international laws or federal. However, the issue is also well represented in various states. This paper will closely explore how the law protects the employees in Texas State.

Texas Employment Laws

Both the federal and states laws protect any worker in Texas. Discrimination and harassment of employees in Texas is not a matter of discussion. It is a crime for an employer to harass his workers. Perception is also prohibited whether it is at the interview, job listing, discipline, promotions, terminations, and layoffs. Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers should make any decision depending on the race, sex, religion or nationality of any person. Texas State also bans such kind of discrimination at all level as mentioned in the Texas Workforce Commission.

Wages and salaries are also covered in the Texas labor laws. The State sets a minimum wage at $7.25 an hour same as the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. An employer is also subjected to overpayment wage in Texas. Besides, time work of in Texas in a must to any employee that requires it, and an employer will not fire an employee because they have taken their leave. Some of the holidays which an employee can be offered in Texas include, Family and Medical leave, military leave, military family leave, jury duty, and voting. Other vital rights that the state closely follow is the issue of occupational health and safety. An employee in Texas should work in a good environment that will not cause any injuries or health issues. Besides, employees are also subjected to unemployment and insurance benefits.

High-Performance Work Force

Aston and Sung (2002) define high-performance workforce as the practices of employers to improve the welfare and environmental conditions of their employees to gain the best results from them. The matter of high-performance workforce is not a new debate in Human Resource Management since the issue has been there for long.  Various studies done by scholars and practitioners in this sector argue out that, employees will only perform at their best is their rights and responsibilities and not overlooked. Thang et al. (2010) assert that there is no any best practice which the employers could increase the organization’s performance. Many researchers of the same subject supported this. According to Thang, the best practice by an employer if he or she wants to attain high performance is to carry out practices depending on the organization’s culture, norms, technology, and other external factors.

To achieve a more productive workforce human resource manager ought to invest more in their employees’ capabilities through training than ever before (Timiyo 2014). Apart from the performance of employees being improved by effective organization’s policy, their motivation, encouragement, and knowledge is core (CPID 2012). In this globalized and industrialized world, it has become complicated for the managers to train their workers on various practices and this has been the main reason why the employees fail to perform their work effectively.

Conclusion

In general, human resource managers should be ready to provide their employees with enough training, motivation, and encouragement. This is the only one of the best practices that will see the performance of the employees improve. Employees’ wages, allowances, working conditions, and leave should be favorable in any given organization.  As an employer, you should not take any advantage of your position and treat your employees poorly. Besides the policies and laws that work to tackle this problem should be reformed for the better. Even though there is an increase in technological development and innovations, employees are critical in achieving the organization’s achievement, and therefore they should never be undermined in any way.

References

A.J Timiyo. 2014. High Perfomance Work Practice: One best way or no best-way. Journal of business and Management. www.iosrjournals.org.

Adida, C. L., Laitin, D. D., & Valfort, M.-A. (2017). Why Muslim integration fails in Christian-heritage societies. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

CIPD, History of HR and the CIPD, 2012. Available: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/history-hr-cipd.aspx.

J. Sung, D.N. Ashton, and G. Britain. 2005. High Performance Work Practices: linking strategy and skills to performance outcomes. Department of Trade and Industry, https://www.longwoods.com/articles/images/High%20Performance%20Work%20Practices_UKReport2011.pdf.

N.N. Thang, T. Quang and D. Buyens. 2010. The relationship between training and firm performance: a literature review, Research and Practice in Human Resource Management. 

The International Labor Organisation. https://www.ilo.org/global/lang–en/index.htm.

 

It Is the Employer or Employee’s Responsibility to Maintain a Work-life Balance?

Who should we assume primary responsibilities for maintaining a healthy work-life balance, the employer or the employee?

 Work-related stress in this current industrialised world is becoming one of the root causes that are reducing productivity and performance. The increase in workloads over the past decades has been a major factor in stress phenomenon. Stress is a serious issue which eventually leads to serious consequences in the business environment. Recent studies indicate that almost 60% of all lost-working days are related to occupational stress (Leka, Griffiths and Cox, 2003). Nowadays, more and more organisations are becoming aware of how the work-related stress should be managed carefully in order to obtain a competitive advantage over other businesses. Several factors such as reward imbalance, work pressure and unrealistic demands, ineffective workplace management, minor illness and mental health issues are the most contributed factors that has caused Britain 15.8 million working days in 2016 and 15.4 million working days in 2018 (HSE, 2018). Work-related stress directly affects the employees’ life and the causes can be minimised by the employers through several methods and implementations. In addition to that, employers hold the legal responsibilities to take care of their employees ensuring their health, safety and wellbeing (HSE, 2018).

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 According to HSE, in the year 2015 and 2016, over 480,000 people in UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill and not only that, reports show that there were 1,320 cases per 100,000 workers that are found to be suffering from stress, depression and anxiety in this time period. Psychological hazards are no doubt one of the causes to work-related stress in fact there is a strong evidence showing a link between work-related stress and psychological hazards (Cox, Griffiths & Rial-Gonzalez, 2000). In addition to that, statistics are showing those who are at professional occupational level have higher rate to suffer from work-related stress, depression and anxiety comparing to other types of occupations. As described in HSE annual statistics, the rate of workers suffering from those symptoms mentioned above are 2,760 cases per 100,000 workers in nursery and midwifery occupations and 3,020 cases per 100,000 workers in teaching professions and 4,080 cases for Welfare professions. Professional occupations are almost two times higher comparing to other occupational groups such as skilled trades and Elementary occupations (HSE,2018).

 There are several major causes to work-related stress such as long working hours, work overload and pressure, lack of control over work and lack of participation in decision making, poor social support, unclear management, work role and poor management style. Because of the imbalance in demand, many individuals have brought demands to their homes and social lives. “Long uncertain or unsocial hours, working away from home, taking work home, high levels of responsibility, job insecurity, and job relocation all may adversely affect family responsibilities and leisure activities” (Michie, 2002).

 One thing to note is that when employees are having to worry about their childcare responsibilities, financial worries and housing problems, these may potentially affect their performance at workplace. Employees become stressed out because they cannot cope with both social life and workplace demands at the same time thus leading to a circle where there is no balance.  Women are most likely to experience these types of stress because the domestic responsibilities they carry. Men working in the service sector, low skilled manual jobs, private sector or in large or very large firms and temporary contractors are at higher risk of work-life imbalance (Lunau, Bambra, Eikemo, Van der wel & Dragano, 2014).

 Many employees are suffering from work-related stress although more and more employers are becoming aware of this issue. Causes such as workplace overload, demands and capability imbalance are the major issues that can be minimised by implementing a better workplace management and standards. Statistics from HSE (2018) indicates that workload has the highest contribution to work-related stress in Great Britain followed by Lack of support, violence, threat or bullying, changes at work, role of uncertainty and lack of control. Employers should be aware of the process and states of employees at the workplace to ensure workers are not being assigned tasks that are not matched with their capabilities as they become lack in ability and productivity when they are stressed. Research findings shows that employees suffer stress the most when they are not capable of performing the task because of the lack of knowledge and experience (Leka, Griffiths & Cox, 2013).  This too can be clearly minimised by implementing a better workplace management. Certainly, some of the causes cannot be corrected or minimised by the employers such as when the imbalance in workplace and social life started, employee may hold the liability to maintain work-life balance. However, work-life balance can be maintained by the employee to an extent.

 As described by HSE (2009) in How to Tackle Work-related Stress, there are six areas of work that need to be balanced in order to maintain healthy work environment such as Demands, Control, Support, Role, Change and Relationships. Demands as in how much works must be done by the employees, control as in how much an employee has in the way they do their work. Support is one of the key issues why employees are suffering from work-related stress. In order to make changes to make more flexible working environment, employees have to speak out when they are struggling and when they are not able to or in some cases where there is no effect even when they do, lack of support or encouragement or resources supported by the organisation become a major factor to work-related stress. Lack of job security can also be the reason why several employees are stressed. Therefore, health of workplace environment must be up to date with the standard. For example – employees must be able to cope with the demands of their jobs and they should be able to communicate to the support team for any concerns.

 Job designs also play a crucial part relating to stress at workplace. They can be designed to ensure employees’ skills and abilities are matched to the job demands. From the workplace perspective, introducing policies relating to reducing stress and initiatives which provides options for the employees for any aftereffects from work-related stress can be effective. For example – there are existing employee assistance programmes options such as on-site childcare, flexible working arrangement or compressed hours and on-site fitness facilities.

 All employers have legal responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation (Northern Ireland) 2000 to ensure stress at workplace is kept minimum. Board members, directors and CEOs are the main group to steer to reduce work-related stress (HSENI, 2019). Directors can monitor the rate of absenteeism, staff turnover rate, performance and conflict between staff and make sure these issues are settled. Depending on the structure of the organisation, HR and health and safety managers can enforce best practises relating to work-related stress, make sure employees are getting support from workplace. Human resources managers and Health and Safety managers should be able to work together to tackle work-related stress for example – health and safety managers should be able to support line managers in preventing and managing individuals with work-related stress and to identify new policies that may help reduce work-related stress. Furthermore, employees should inform their managers if there are any concerns that are limiting their performance on workplace such as any medical condition that happens to be long term and affecting their ability. Trade union representatives are the first call for staff that are in need of help as they will be able to work with the organisation to develop new policies  to reduce stress, make solutions, encourage employees to inform their managers about the problem and tackle the issue.

 In conclusion, work-related stress, depression and anxiety is a significant ill health condition in Great Britain. In 2017 and 2018 alone, these issues have caused Britain more than 50% of the working days. It would be argued that in some cases, employees carry the responsibility to maintain work-life balance. However, major issues such as workplace overloads can be overwhelming and impossible to be corrected by the employees unless the responsible individuals in the workplace make changes about it. Furthermore, by implementing such polices as mentioned above, work-related stress can be minimised, and output will be maximised.

Bibliography

Affinityhealthhub.co.uk. (2019). [online] Available at: http://affinityhealthhub.co.uk/storage/app/attachments/health-impact-of-psychosocial-hazards-at-work-an-overview-1476975602.pdf [Accessed 11 Jun. 2019].

Anon, (2019). How to tackle work-related stress. [online] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg430.pdf [Accessed 11 Jun. 2019].

Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland. (2019). Roles and responsibilities for mental well-being – who should take action? [online] Available at: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/roles-and-responsibilities-mental-well-being-who-should-take-action [Accessed 13 Jun. 2019].

Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland. (2019). What is work-related stress? [online] Available at: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/what-work-related-stress [Accessed 13 Jun. 2019].

Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland. (2019). Work-life balance – Good Practice. [online] Available at: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/work-life-balance-good-practice [Accessed 14 Jun. 2019].

Hse.gov.uk. (2019). [online] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf [Accessed 14 Jun. 2019].

Hse.gov.uk. (2019). Employer’s responsibilities: Workers’ health and safety. [online] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workers/employers.htm [Accessed 15 Jun. 2019].

Leka, S., Griffiths, A. and Cox, T. (2003). WORK ORGANISATION & STRESS. WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION, pp.5-21

Michie S. Cause and Management of stress at work. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (2002), pp.67-72.

 

The Impact Of Employer Brand On Recruitment

The human resource is a key resource available to an organisation and as such, recruitment and selection of the right candidates to join the organisation is a key factor in the success of the organisation. All possible strategies should therefore be applied to ensure that the organisation attracts, recruits and retains quality human resource. One strategy that employers can use is effective branding. This research proposal focuses on the perception of employer brand and the extent to which it can be used to enhance the recruitment and selection process. The important factors identified are the identification of “perception of employer brand”, the evaluation of the Impact on prospective employees of the organisation, and the extent to which the “brand” can be used to enhance the recruitment and of the right candidates to join the organisation.
Research Objectives
The general objective of the study is to determine the effect that employer branding has on recruitment and selection of employees.
The specific objectives are;

To establish the perception of Employer Brand among Employees and Potential Recruits.
To determine the effect of employer brand on employees and potential recruits.
To establish the strategies that employers can use to ensure that their brand enhances recruitment and selection.

Literature Review
Employer Brand
Armstrong (2008) defines employer branding as the creation of a brand image of the organization for prospective employees. Armstrong (2008) thus suggests that employer branding implies employer’s reputation, image of the organization, employer value proposition and internal marketing. On their part, Barrow and Mosley (2005) view employer branding as the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company. The main role of the employer brand therefore is to provide a coherent framework for management to simplify and focus priorities, increase productivity and improve recruitment, retention and commitment. Barrow and Mosley (2005) list the constituents of the employer brand as; the need for recognition of individual talents and capabilities, work-life balance, remuneration inequalities and inclusive culture.
According to Martin et al., (2005) the employer brand is the image of the company seen through the eyes of its associates and potential hires, and is intimately linked to the “employment experience” of what it is like to work for the said organisations. The employment experience is a combination of tangible factors like remuneration and benefits and intangible factors like company values and culture (Martin et al., 2005). A complementary perspective to employer branding is documented in Pinkess (2008) as an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda. From this perspective, organisations seen to engage in environment degrading activities, or dealing in products that are known to be harmful such as cigarette manufacturers face challenges of ethical concerns from potential recruits.

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Effect of employer brand on employees and potential recruits
In the highly connected Global Village that is today’s marketplace, people join brands and leave managers. Rosethorn and Mensink, 2007 argue that a brand offers a promise, and a customer buys that promise and if satisfied, continues to buy the product and speaks well about it. A good Brand delivers distinctively and consistently on this promise and the same would extend to Employer Brand; in this case the “customer” is the Employee or Potential Recruit (Rosethorn and Mensink, 2007). The customers of Employer Brand will therefore buy the promise as portrayed by the Employer Brand and choose to work for the Employer, and if satisfied continue to buy more by choosing to remain with the organisation, and speak well about the Employer Brand.
Strategies to ensure employer brand enhances recruitment and selection of employees
The future of Human Resources lies in increased awareness of Employer Brand as the War for Talent intensifies. The advent of the Web and easy access to considerable amount of information at, literally speaking our fingertips, has fundamentally changed how people seek insights and answers of where to work. This according to Saratin and Schumann (2006) defines how an organisation communicates to its current and future talent, the experience it offers as a workplace.
The differentiator for many an organisation is not the mode of communication it chooses to depict itself, but the actual experience it conveys to Employees and Potential Recruits, and this reinforces that Employer Brand should be firmly rooted at the centre of the recruitment and selection process. Martin et al. (2005) expound that to attract the best talent, the organisation needs to ask itself, “What is the compelling and novel story that we can tell people about working here? How do we tell the story to potential and existing employees in a way that convinces them of the reality of what we have to offer?” (Martin et al., 2005).
In identifying Strategies to ensure Employer Brand enhances Recruitment and Selection, Pinkess (2008) contends that there are four major steps or approaches undertaken to enhance the Employees’ and Potential Recruits view of the organisation’s Employer Brand. The first step, which is largely non-existent now, is the “Do Nothing” stage; in this case the organisations do nothing or the bare minimum in terms of CSR and Employer Brand Enhancement. The next stage “Don’t feel bad”, in this the organisation is self-critical about its CSR, and has taken steps to address the concerns. This is followed by “Feel Good” stage, where CSR is sufficiently ingrained in an organisation resulting in pride and positive orientation of prospective recruits. At the peak of Employer Brand enhancement is the “It’s what we do” stage, where the CSR agenda is fully integrated in the business model and employees accept it as part and parcel of their daily lives.
Research Methodology
The Research Objectives make it unpractical to categorically select either Qualitative or Quantitative method and as such, a hybrid approach will be adopted. This approach is explained by Saunders et al (2009) as Pragmatism – “that mixed methods, both qualitative and quantitative, are possible, and highly appropriate within one study” (Saunders et al, 2009). Again given the nature of the Research Objectives, the research approach is necessarily hybrid, combining deductive and inductive approaches as is elaborated further in this section.
Data will be collected by use of a questionnaire, where the first objective will be addressed by use of open ended questions. The second objective will make use of a likert scale and the third objective by a combination of open ended followed by scaled questions. This strategy of designing the questionnaire is based on the purpose of research as outlined by Saunders et al., (2009); that is largely explanatory, as opposed to exploratory. The Literature review has outlined the major factors in Employer Brand perception, this adds to the weight of choosing questionnaires as the preferred method of data collection.
The population of the Study comprises of Employees and Potential Recruits. Given that the identification of those potential recruits who chose not to engage with the organisation as a result of their perception of the Employer Brand Communicated is not practically possible, the target population will be the Employees and Potential Recruits who have chosen to engage.
The Data Collection Exercise is expected to be carried out by administering the Research Questionnaire to a random sample of Employees who have been recruited in the last twenty four months. The sample will be representative of Employees and Potential Recruits, by using Stratified Sampling of various Departments and Physical Locations.
The time frame of twenty four months is selected to enable the Research address the extent of influence of Employer Brand on these recruits, in addition to considering the memory of the said recruits fading over time, and other factors clouding the recruits’ judgement having worked in the organisation for longer. A shorter time frame may not provide a sufficient sized sample to make the Research Meaningful.
Objective 1: To establish the perception of Employer Brand among Employees and Potential Recruits.
This Objective requires an Inductive approach to qualitative analysis, as expounded by Saunders et al., 2009. In this approach the research commences without a clearly conceived theory defining “Employer Brand”. The purpose of the Research objective is to establish the “perception” of Employer Brand. The theory is expected to emerge in the process of data collection and analysis.
The Data thus collected will be analysed using Content Analysis. This process as explained by Adams et al. 2007 includes the identification and counting of Key Words and Phrases which are found in response to the perception of Employer Brand. The frequency of these is then tabulated for analysis.
The data thus collected will be categorised into key emerging themes that define the employees’ perception of Employer Brand. This data will then be pictorially represented in a Histogram or Bar chart to identify the Key factors that identify the Employees Perception of Employer Brand.
The process outlined above will have established the perception of Employer Brand among Employees
Objective 2: To determine the effect of employer brand on employees and potential recruits.
This Objective is addressed by means of scaled questions used to ascertain the impact of Employer Brand on Employees and Potential Recruits.
The data collected is classified as Categorical Ranked (Ordinal) Data as described in Saunders et al. 2009. Since the relative position of each case is known, but the gap between consecutive ranks cannot be numerically precise.
The Data collected will be pictorially presented in the form of Pie Charts to depict the distribution of each rank for easier visual representation.
The Data collected under this Objective being non-numerical, would not be suited to the determination of the mean value, however the mode, median and percentiles would prove useful in summarising this type of data as proffered by Tharenou et al. 2007.
The Data thus collected would then be tested for association between the Independent Variable (Employer Brand) and the Dependent Variable (Impact on Recruitment and Selection) by subjecting the values to a chi-square test. This test calculates the probability that the data could occur by chance alone (Saunders et al. 2009). Should the data collected, as expected, have a very low probability of occurring by chance, it would now be appropriate to test for Correlation.
Correlation coefficients range from +1 denoting a perfect positive correlation to -1 denoting a perfect negative correlation. A coefficient of ZERO would denote absolute independence. (Saunders et al. 2009) However, in real life these values are seldom obtained. Values reflecting weak or strong, positive or negative correlations are obtained and the appropriate conclusion drawn therefrom.
Given that the data collected under this section is Categorical Ranked (Ordinal) the appropriate test for correlation is the Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient (Spearman’s rho) would be applied to determine the correlation coefficient.
The results of this test will have addressed the Objective of determining the extent of Impact of Employer Brand on Employees and potential Recruits.
Objective 3: To establish the strategies that employers can use to ensure that their brand enhances recruitment and selection.
This objective can be assessed only if the results of the Correlation testing of Objective 2 yields a reasonably strong Positive Coefficient. In the unlikely case that the analysis of the Data collected under Objective 2 yields either a Negative Correlation or Very weak correlation bordering on Independence then this Objective will be rendered redundant. There will remain no value in attempting to identify how (the perception of) Employer Brand may be used to enhance Recruitment and Selection, as the research will have intimated that Employer Brand has no positive Impact on Employees and Potential Recruits.
However, under the Hypothesis that there is a correlation and the extent of this correlation is significant, the Research Questionnaire will be designed with a combination of open ended questions addressing the “How” and scaled questions to address the relative importance of each factor in the Recruitment and Selection process.
The Data thus collected under this Objective will be subjected to Content Analysis for identification of the “How” as explained under Objective 1, and the scaled questions analysed in line with the Categorical Ranked (Nominal) Data Analysis steps outlined under Objective 2.
This process will have addressed the Objective of identifying how (the perception of) Employer Brand may be used to enhance Recruitment and Selection.
Ethical Issues
As outlined by Saunders et al. 2009, ethical issues will arise across all stages of the Research Project and will affect all parties i.e. The Researcher, the Sponsor, the Gatekeeper and the Participants.
The Sponsor has a right to useful Research, in this case the Sponsor will find use of the Strategies identified as part of Objective 3, that will enable the Organisation ensure the Employer Brand enhances Recruitment and Selection. In the context of this Assignment the Gatekeeper who controls access to the Participants is expected to be an integral part of the Sponsoring Organisation, and the rights are mutually served.
The Researcher should not be subject to undue influence by the Sponsor at the Research formulation and design stages, where the Sponsor may have a predetermined conclusion to the research. The researcher also deserves unhindered access to Participants, without coercion from the Gatekeeper or Sponsor during the Data Collection Exercise. The access to participants as identified in the Research Design should not be restricted nor altered to include “favourable” participants, in order to produce unbiased results. Finally, in the Data Analysis and findings, the Researcher must be shielded from any sort of influence to interpret the perception of Employer Brand, the Effect of Employer Brand on Employees and the Strategies to enhance Recruitment and Selection. The Researcher correspondingly is obliged to analyse the Data and Report the findings without any bias and preference, and objectively present the findings i.e. let the Data collected speak for itself.
Of overwhelming concerns are Ethical issues affecting the Research Participants, key among the issues are Privacy, Voluntary Participation, Consent, Confidentiality, Reactions, Effects and Objectivity. The Participants have a right to Privacy and non- intrusion in their participation. The participation in the Research has to be totally voluntary, with no coercion or influence for the Researcher or the Sponsor, and the option to withdraw from the Research remains at the jurisdiction of the Participant.
The Participants also need to be assured of the anonymity of their participation, as the primary Data Collection Instrument is a Questionnaire. This ensures confidentiality of responses, and protection from any repercussion including but not limited to harm, embarrassment, discomfort or pain, for a response that may be deemed “unsuitable”. Finally, the Participants deserve to be treated with Respect, and with impartiality and objectivity by the Researcher, to ensure no bias or influence is experienced in the responses.
Limitations
The key limitation expected in this Research proposal is the access to those candidates who are not employed by the Organisation. The assumption is that the population of new employees will be representative of the total population of unselected recruits.
A precautionary note needs to be made that the above assumption is countered by the fact that the Potential Recruits who choose not to engage with the Organisation will necessarily have a different perception of the organisation’s Employer Brand, and this data if captured will in likelihood have a considerable effect on the Final Results.
Conclusion
The Perception of Employer Brand, as observed in the various contributions of HR practitioners and Management Experts, plays an important role in the Recruitment and Selection of talent for an organisation. This Research is expected to produce a thorough and well documented analysis of the Perception of Employer Brand among Employees, the Impact of Employer Brand on Recruitment and Selection and the derivation of Appropriate Strategies to ensure that the Employer Brand enhances Recruitment and Selection.
The Data collected and analysed as explained above will objectively enable the Organisation to draw appropriate and relevant conclusions.