Why Heineken Understands the Importance of Employee Culture

When you look at a lot of the talk on the social web around brands, much of it centers on a few core mindsets:

Be your customer; listen to your customer; be there for your customer; be where your customer is.

Wise words, and definitely core for any business to succeed, not just on social. Yet as important as customers are to the longevity of a business, there’s another very core component – the employee.

The Internal Customer

I’ve written before about the value of your employees, and the very smart Leon Noone has shared his thoughts on the value of looking after your employees by creating the right culture and expectations from the start, as well as continuing to live by them.

Yet so many businesses miss this, and instead talk a good talk about customers while missing the walk when it comes to internal customers – your employees.

They’re the folks that represent your brand in public; they’re the folks that determine the customer experience; they’re the folks that keep the wheels turning. The importance of having the right culture and making sure there’s a good fit on both sides – brand/employee and employee/brand – is evident, as highlighted in this article from Forbes:

  • Companies that acknowledge employee value can see three times as much return on brand equity than those that don’t;
  • Aluminum producer Alcoa saw income growth of 500% over 10 years when employee safety was made the #1 priority;
  • A study by Bright Horizons showed 89% of employees who felt appreciated were more productive.

This should be common sense, but unfortunately it’s not, as seen by the high amount of employee churn at many businesses and corporations. Which is why the video at the end of this post from Dutch beer manufacturer Heineken made me smile.

The Right People for the Right Culture

The video follows the hiring process for a new intern position at Heineken. It opens with something we’ll all recognize – the canned answers to interview questions that candidates hope will be what the hiring company wants to hear.

For Heineken, though, getting the right person for their culture is much more important than being spoon-fed answers that may be complimentary, but don’t really show the personality of the potential employee, and whether they’d be a good fit or not.

While the video itself may be part of a marketing campaign on showing what Heineken is all about, the actual company culture speaks for itself – Heineken’s core brand values are Respect, Quality and Enjoyment.

These have seen Heineken receive numerous employee-centric awards and features, including Britain’s Top Employers 2012, features in People Management, shortlisting for the Employee Benefits Awards 2012 and much more.

As I mentioned at the start of the post, it’s key to appreciate your customers, especially in this fast marketing world we live in today where the smallest dissatisfaction can become the biggest online buzz.

Just remember the equally important internal employees, too – get that part right and your customers will automatically benefit.


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