First of all, my apologies for not publishing in a while. I’ve been on the road with the folks from the Human Capital Institute and Best Places to Work®, spreading the word about the employer brand to millions in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, and Dallas. It was a great experience and one I hope to repeat again soon.
Anyway, since its inception way back in February, this blog has focused exclusively on the employer brand (although focus is too strong – perhaps “flitted about in an occasionally deliberate manner” is more appropriate). Oh, the topics we have covered – from how to build an employer brand to job marketing to some people’s obsession with certain movie starlets (wait – that’s a different blog that I’m not supposed to talk about – you know, court order and all).
What we haven’t discussed is the antithesis of the employer brand, which is the employer as a commodity.
What’s the difference between a commodity and a brand? A commodity is undifferentiated and lacking in any psychological or self-expressive attributes. A commodity serves a desired function and it competes in the market almost exclusively on price.
Often commodities are bought and sold based on speculation. Gold is a commodity. But so is tin. Oil is a commodity. But so are hogs.
A commodity is not what you want to be if you are an employer.
Commodity employers have no identity in the marketplace. They compete entirely on price-point and functional attributes. Candidates who consider commodity employers want to know: What is the compensation? What are the benefits? How far is the commute? What are the hours?
Candidates who consider commodity employers are not concerned with engaging in the organization’s mission because the organization does little to create an atmosphere conducive to engagement.
The frightening thing is that the market is still dominated by commodity employers. In fact, included in this undifferentiated group are some organizations that believe they have an employer brand. That is primarily because they have paid no attention to developing a branded experience.
Commodity employers have little interest in culture. In these organizations, there is no shared purpose. There are only tasks to be completed.
Commodity employers have even less interest in their environment. They feature little of distinction, punctuated by the occasional motivational poster framed in polished aluminum (another commodity, by the way – oh, the irony abounds).
What could be worse than being a commodity employer? Being a commodity employee. But we’ll save that discussion until the next time.
The U.S. national soccer team did not under-perform in 2006. They overachieved in 2002. The expectations for this team were ridiculously high, and made worse by absurd FIFA rankings that had the U.S. as #5 in the world. 5?!? Are you kidding me? Does anyone really believe that our national team is better than Argentina, Italy, and England? The only thing more ridiculous than the expectations for this World Cup was the officiating. My prediction for the finals: Argentina 2, Spain 1.