Don’t Ask For This When Leaving a Company

 In News

Imagine your boss is leaving their job. They’ve been there 28 years, but you’ve never seen or spoken to them directly.

Now imagine you have been asked to contribute towards a surprise leaving present for this boss. A bit out of touch, perhaps?

By the way – that leaving present is a sailing boat.

Internationally recognised British art gallery institution, The Tate, made a significant employer branding blunder recently by displaying notices asking employees to dig deep for a gift for director Nicholas Serota, suggesting the money be put towards a sailing boat.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

There are so many issues with this request for staff donations. Aside from asking employees to donate towards a gift for someone who they haven’t even met, the request came as the gallery and unions were involved in ongoing discussions over low pay and outsourced jobs. In fact, staff had their canteen discount taken away only one week earlier!

Tracy Edwards, PCS representative for The Tate staff said she received a number of complaints about the request. “The staff at Tate are underpaid and overworked, and haven’t had appropriate pay rises, and this just demonstrates how divorced from reality the management at Tate are…They’ve made a big error of judgment,” she said.

A Damaged Employer Brand

From an Employer Branding perspective, The Tate completely missed the mark. They failed to understand their employees and demonstrated how such misjudgements can damage an organisation’s reputation as an employer of choice.

News of the incident spread around the world as social media exploded. #Tate #Boat and #Serota were trending hashtags as disgruntled employees, friends and family of employees and the general public expressed their anger, dragging down The Tate’s employer brand one post at a time.

According to Glassdoor, 69% of people would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. Recruiters who represent a strong employer brand are twice as likely to receive responses from candidates they contact. So, it is absolutely vital to develop and nurture your Employer Brand.

Here are the top 3 learnings you can take away from this embarrassing error in judgement about Employer Branding:

Know your staff and be on the ground

Great employer branding starts with knowing your staff and your current culture. The c-suite can no longer be a group who hide behind executive boardroom doors. They must encourage an open-door policy and be on the ground with employees, encouraging an open, genuine dialogue in the workplace. This can go a long way to improving the way staff feel about you.

The best way to know your staff and where your employer brand currently stands (and where you’d like it to be) is by gaining insights via Employer Branding specialists who are independent to your workplace. We can help with this.

Deal with your employees’ problems head on, as they arise

This directly links with knowing your staff. If you don’t know them, how can you understand their problems? As mentioned The Tate and staff unions were involved in continuous, unresolved discussions about low pay, long hours and inappropriate pay rises. Combine this with the insensitive request for donations and you’ve got yourself a disaster.

By dealing with staff issues, you are showing them you are a connected, understanding and forward-thinking employer, which goes a long way in improving your employer brand. Keep in mind that resolving employees’ problems must be approached in a genuine way – if your employees don’t feel you’re genuine, this can harm your employer brand.

Your people are the most important part of your employer brand

Don’t underestimate the power of your employees in making or breaking your employer brand. It is too easy today for staff to write about a negative experience anonymously, then publish it for all potential candidates to read. Not to mention sharing their negative experiences with their industry peers – your talent pool! This is something you have no control over. But what you do have control over is making your staff feel valued, and demonstrating their value to a wider audience.

As people are the most important part of your employer brand, you need to showcase them and their stories. Share their journeys and successes, and how they demonstrate the values your employer brand stands for.

Video is a powerful way to do this – below is a video we made about sales roles at Employment Office. 95% of shortlisted candidates had seen the video and said it influenced their decision to apply.

Our Employer Branding experts can help position your organisation as an employer of choice through powerful insights, a personalised Employee Value Proposition and content that helps tell your unique story.

Click here to find out more or contact our Head of Employer Branding, Mark Puncher, on 07 3330 2555 or

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