By Max Clarke

Too many of Britain’s leading businesses are failing to engage effectively with their staff — leading to either reduced consumer confidence in their services, declining industrial relations, or both.

According to employer branding specialists, Evviva Brands, organisations like British Airways, London Underground and Royal Mail have yet to learn from successful multinational businesses the importance of investing in their ‘people brands’ in addition to their external marketing.

“By failing to first understand, then involve employees in the success of the business in a meaningful way, companies continue to impose a class system that is no longer tolerable in other markets” says Evviva’s CEO, Dr. David Kippen.

“The train driver who walks off because his seat is damp, leaving passengers stranded, is a symptom of a company that puts staff at the bottom of its business priorities.

“Similarly, why does British Airways think customers will book onto its flights when there’s a fair chance of being served by disgruntled cabin crew, let alone the possibility of strike action?”

Kippen, an acknowledged authority and frequent lecturer on brand strategy, says that companies that put engagement of front line staff at the centre of their business strategy are generally more successful in the short and long term. Those that have adopted the ‘staff first’ model are at the top of every sector.

He references Ritz-Carlton whose employees are ‘ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen’ - both a service promise to guests of the hotel but also underscoring the dignity in service of the hotel’s ‘ladies and gentlemen’.

In a different vein, Google’s employees observe the company’s vaunted ‘20% rule’ where one day in every five can be devoted to pet projects that drive the company’s business. The consequences include Gmail, Google News and a host of others as well as a number four ranking on Fortune’s list of the best companies to work for.

“If more British companies started putting staff at the centre of their business strategy, by adopting a brand strategy that drives change from the inside out, the commercial consequences would be radical and permanent” says Evviva Brands’ David Kippen.

“The benefits include improved staff retention, happiness and productivity; closer management and employee integration; enhanced recruitment and, most importantly, a growing customer reputation that boosts the bottom line.

“Absent this connection, only pay and the occasional personal sense of duty hold people to their seats. And when these proverbial seats become damp, the temptation to shove off too easily overwhelms.”