People will remember the “actions and deeds” not the “words” of organisations as we continue to work through the impact of Covid-19. This is an important statement. As consumers and employees, our views and expectations have changed considerably over the last 5 to 10 years. The growth and penetration of consumerisation and social media have materially changed the fabric of how we live our lives. We are always on, we have more access than ever before, we process more information and all of this continues to inform and shape what is important to us.

We know this is especially true to the Millennial and Gen Z population. Last year Unilever made a public pledge to dramatically reduce their use of plastics and directly attributed this commitment to this generational group who are known to hold strong values and beliefs on a range of topics, but particularly the environment. The realisation for an organisation like Unilever was very clear, this generational group will form their future workforce and customer base.

So what has the Unilever example taught us? Firstly, our expectations, views and values are now becoming so well pronounced, it is starting to drive change, probably in a way we haven’t seen before. It is forcing organisations to truly evaluate what kind of organisation they aspire to be and in some cases need to be, to survive and prosper in a massively disruptive world. More than ever, organisations must ensure they are relevant to their customers, their employees and their future employees.

If we look at this from an employee perspective, it has become a very complex puzzle to solve. The perennial challenge of getting the right people with the right skills has become harder and will only get harder. A dear colleague said to me last year “its no longer a war for talent, it is now a talent jungle – we have to find the talent, we have to be creative in how we search and attract, but to be successful, we have to be clear on our organisational purpose, we must have a compelling proposition and an environment that enables all individuals to be their best every day. Our brand reputation for being a great place to work, is absolutely crucial”.

It was an enlightening point of view. It highlighted how complex and challenging it has become to successfully attract people to our organisations. In the next decade, there will be skills shortages, we won’t have a plentiful supply of talent and with an increasing desire for mobility/working globally, the ability of an organisation to successfully curate a proposition that carries a real purpose and promises a thriving environment where a person can grow is going to become essential.

So why is purpose so important and how does it relate to the brand? As human beings, we care about being part of something and making a difference. It is a big part of our DNA. There have been so many examples during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the human spirit has come together around a common purpose. Therefore, more and more we will aspire to work with organisations and associate with organisations who are clear about their purpose and strive to achieve the things that are important to us, seek to make a difference (social responsibility) and are committed to creating a great employee experience that has both style and substance. Individuals will think “Does it align with my values” and what has become abundantly clear, is that purpose now intertwines with the perception and relevancy of the brand. It’s what the brand becomes known for.

So if we look at the rise in relevance of platforms like Glassdoor and other similar sites, the credence of employee feedback is only continuing to grow. Brands are coming under more scrutiny, there is a greater expectation that organisations will have a clear purpose, a strategy to execute it and a proposition that connects and aligns all employees to that purpose – above all, a belief that the organisation is committed to delivering on it. As we said at the beginning it is “the deeds and actions” that people remember – not just the words.

This post was written by Michael Esau of SAP SuccessFactors on the HR Grapevine website here. They are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 HCM and Employee Engagement floors.