Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s Hospitality in the News topic: what can affect brand reputation.  

What is brand reputation? 

Simply put, your brand reputation is the perception people have of your brand. What comes to mind when your business is mentioned? Are there phrases, colors, or items commonly associated with your brand? These things can all be considered part of your brand reputation.  

Something that often impacts your brand reputation is whether you’re viewed positively or negatively by your audience. Your audience includes employees, customers, competitors, and stakeholders – past or present. Yes, even people who are no longer associated with your brand can still impact its reputation. That’s why it’s so important to end relationships as positively as possible.  

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to manage every professional relationship you have, especially with people you don’t interact with one-on-one. Focusing on creating a positive experience in the relationships you interact with often is crucial for maintaining a positive brand image.  

It’s commonplace for businesses to focus on their relationships with customers. They are, of course, the source of their revenue. But there’s another group that deserves as much attention – the employees. Your employee’s perception of you can impact recruiting, hiring, and retention long into the future. We all know about the challenges we’ve faced over the last few years with hiring and the labor shortage. The best way to combat that is by making your business someplace people want to work. And brand reputation plays a big part in that.  

What can affect brand reputation? 

Just like everyone else, employees talk. To their friends, to their family, to their entire network. And coincidentally, one of the best ways to recruit candidates is through word-of-mouth referrals from employees. But there’s a caveat; if candidates or employees have a negative perception of you, they can use word-of-mouth to share that information as well. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a positive brand image. 

If your hotel or restaurant is known as a place where people don’t want to work or even apply, finding candidates and retaining workers is going to be challenging. Something that seems small, like not responding to applicants in a timely manner or not prioritizing work life balance for your current team, can lead to a negative brand reputation.  

What can I do to create a positive brand reputation with employees and candidates? 

If you know what can affect brand reputation, then you know what steps to take to create a positive brand reputation. The best way to do that is by being mindful throughout every step of the employment process (including pre- and post-employment). Here are a few ways to do that: 

Streamline your application and onboarding documents. One thing that can cause candidates to fall off the hiring process is by making it take longer than it needs to. Efficiency is key. Review your processes and remove any questions or requirements that are unnecessary. This will help create a faster, more streamlined process. 

Respond to every candidate in a timely manner. If you’re getting an influx of applications, it’s tempting to not respond to the applicants you’re not interested in. But those candidates are still waiting to hear back. Not responding to them could generate a negative perception of your business which they may pass on to other job seekers. Plus if your hiring needs change in the future and you want to reach out to these applicants, maintaining a good relationship will make a difference in whether they respond or not.  

Ask for feedback from current employees and take it seriously. You want to create an environment where workers feel comfortable going to you with questions or concerns. Not only that, but you also need to take it seriously and implement change when necessary. If employees don’t feel supported by management, it’ll likely encourage them to look for an employer than does.  

Honor time-off requests (as best you can). Helping workers maintain a healthy work life balance aids retention efforts which in turn improves your brand reputation. It can also help with recruitment seeing that studies show up to 97% “of employees valued having some control over their schedules.” 

Consider how you part ways with employees. You need to have a plan in place for employees who are let go or terminated. If you’re at a place where you need to let multiple employees go, do your best to suggest how/where they can find another job. Regardless of the reason you’re parting ways, you should do everything you can to leave them with (at least) a neutral perception of your business.  

Now that you know what can affect brand reputation, you can create a plan to manage your audiences perception of your business. By prioritizing the above, you’ll illustrate to employees that you’re mindful of their time and invested in their success. Putting in that effort will undoubtedly lead to creating a positive brand reputation that will lead you to success in the future.