Get Ahead in the Great Reprioritization
The best employer brands appeal to the heart and the head, with a clear purpose and distinct values.
For years, the workforce has accepted the dichotomy known as “work/life balance”: A fiction that these were two separate domains, compartmentalized from one another. Over the past two years, this illusion has been shattered. The pandemic collapsed domains of work, family, school, relaxation and wellness into a single reality. Knowledge workers were no longer able to easily compartmentalize their feelings about their work environments when there was no longer a physical separation for them to draw an imaginary line.
Naturally, something had to give. For front-line “essential” workers, it was jobs that didn’t pay enough to compensate for the risk they assumed. For knowledge workers, it was employers who were inflexible; who were misaligned with their personal beliefs or values; or whose purpose no longer felt meaningful enough. Subsequently, large portions of the workforce recognized the illusion of work/life balance for what it was. And they recognized the truth hiding behind it: It’s ALL life.
With that newfound clarity, a collective re-prioritization has been shifting the relationship and expectations people have with their jobs and their life. This has been variously named the Great Resignation, the Great Retirement and, perhaps most accurately in our view, the Great Reprioritization. Because in the end, that’s what is happening. The workforce is re-examining their priorities in relation to work and to employers. Now more than ever, there is a deep need to integrate personal values into the professional aspects of one’s life. But what is it that employees want?
“We find that relentlessly relevant brands appeal to consumers simultaneously in the head and the heart—these brands, their products and experiences are pragmatic and innovative, personal and inspired.”
Prophet’s 2022 Brand Relevance Index® (BRI) and annual Organization & Culture research series, Catalysts, reveal a compelling story at the intersection of consumer brands and employee experiences. We find that relentlessly relevant brands appeal to consumers simultaneously in the head and the heart—these brands, their products and experiences are pragmatic and innovative, personal and inspired.
We also find that the best employer brands are those that appeal to the heart and the head. These are organizations that have a clear purpose and values, and the ways of working, operating model, and training help employees accomplish their personal purposes. And it is the organizations appealing to employees’ hearts and heads that are coming out ahead in the face of the Great Reprioritization.
The Head, Heart and Human-Centered Transformation Model™
At Prophet, we describe the organization as a macrocosm of the individual. Its DNA includes its brand purpose and values; its Mind is comprised of its talent; its Body is the operating model that creates value; and its Soul arises out of the mindsets, behaviors, stories and symbols that generate belief in its DNA. Whether you wish to forge a heart or a head brand, you must think holistically about how best to align your firm’s DNA, Body, Mind and Soul to achieve the desired outcome. The greater the misalignments, the more room for a competitor to win and you to lose your customers…and your talent.
Take USAA, for example, a Top 10 brand in this year’s BRI. USAA has relative strengths in the heart and head—namely in trust and dependability, meeting an important need and upholding beliefs and values that align with those of its consumers. In looking through the lens of Prophet’s Human-Centered Transformation Model™ we see USAA appeals to the heart and head by aligning the core elements of the organization.
For 99 years, USAA has been singularly focused on helping military families build financial security. Many employees seek out working for USAA to fulfill their desire to serve those who have served. Across sources such as Glassdoor, Indeed and Niche, employees remark how the company mission permeates operations and that employees are well taken care of “to encourage them to do the same for members.” As a result, 82% of employees at USAA say it is a great place to work compared to 57% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company according to Great Place to Work.
USAA has been a leader in digital member experience and was able to leverage such capabilities to keep members and employees safe throughout the pandemic. While doing so it also improved the efficacy of training. One example of this is USAA’s piloting the use of augmented reality-enabled glasses with field adjusters. This technology allows adjusters’ managers to see the damage without physically being present, thus eliminating dozens of hours of travel time for adjusters and enabling more efficient, practical training for new employees.
More widely known might be the extensive and immersive training USAA employees go through which covers not only the fundamentals of their position but also helps employees understand the military culture. Prior to the pandemic, employees embarked on a boot camp-like training that simulates challenges military personnel experience regularly—such as eating meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) for lunch. The training is intended to give employees a better understanding of members’ perspectives and help them deliver more empathetic and effective service on the job.
USAA has famously realigned the customer-facing components of the organization intuitively along the journey of its members. This effectively reduced the complexity and distraction of the full product portfolio to ensure that members are exposed to the products and bundles most relevant to their immediate needs.
Internally, USAA is committed to leveraging technology to free up capacity for employees so they’re able to focus on service, not paperwork. For instance, USAA has deployed machine learning to digitize paper medical records and create materials for life insurance underwriting. The previous manual approach could take up to five days, whereas machine learning has reduced the time to just one day and has improved accuracy and capacity.
USAA’s commitment to immersing employees in the member experience is also embedded in the mindsets, behaviors, stories and rituals of the organization. One particular ritual is referred to as a “Mission Moment.” At the start of a meeting, an employee will share a story about a member. This story can be anything from their background, service, or interaction with USAA in moments that mattered along their journey. This seemingly simple story frames the rest of the meeting in a more member-centric mindset.
More than ever, organizations need to understand what matters to consumers and employees in order to create experiences, products/services and jobs that appeal to and satisfy the head and the heart of their respective audiences. And doing so authentically will require a holistic approach across the core components of an organization’s ecosystem. So, what are you waiting for?
Are you interested in better aligning the core elements of your organization to be more authentic for both your consumers and employees? Our brand and culture experts can help, reach out today and hear how we are helping clients just like you.