The art of storytelling, vital for employee retention

Last updated on 31 January 2024

Employers who can share their stories and connect with employees are more likely to keep their workforce engaged. [Source: Shutterstock]

As an employer, it’s worth considering how your organisation’s overall identity and workplace culture align with employee recruitment and retention efforts. Not only is your brand crucial for appealing to new aged care consumers, but it’s also essential for enticing new employees and keeping existing ones engaged and happy. 

Storytelling is an emerging feature that improves employee retention as employers who can visibly and meaningfully connect with their employees are being rewarded with reduced turnover and workforce growth.

Hello leaders spoke with Mark Puncher, Chief Executive Officer of Employer Branding Australia, to learn more about employer branding and storytelling.

Storytelling as part of the employer branding strategy

  • An employee value proposition (EVP) that resonates with your staff is the foundation for success. It needs to include benefits and incentives modern employees seek so they know you care about their employment and career.
  • Strategy has to be involved as you need to have a clear understanding of the workforce you want, the objectives you want to achieve and the required steps.
  • Storytelling should be prominent in employer branding. Your ability to create and share content that showcases your EVP, culture and brand is paramount to success as it provides an authentic voice for your company. 
  • While strategy is important, so too are the processes, systems and habits you establish. With them, your branding strategy is embedded within the workplace. 

Mr Puncher told hello leaders many aged care providers are not playing their best hand when it comes to branding, despite having the potential to better engage with their workforce. He said it’s a tool – and journey – more employers should embrace. 

“Employer branding is about attracting and retaining the right people and ensuring they are engaged, connected and performing for you. It is the way you tell your story and showcase why the people you want to join you, should do so, and why the people you want to stay should do so,” Mr Puncher told hello leaders.

“You must embrace the journey you’re on and the work in progress. You shouldn’t be pretending to people who don’t work in aged care that it’s easy. You should be telling them it’s really hard but you should be showing them why your people still do it and still keep coming back.”

Mark Puncher, Chief Executive Officer of Employer Branding Australia. [Source: Supplied]

Recognising purpose and impact

The care sector often sees staff leaving for new opportunities, more money or because they’re burnt out. Workforce longevity can be hard to come by, yet those who stick around, do so because they love the job and their purpose. 

“Most people go into aged care because they want to help people. But that purpose and impact can be affected by how someone feels about the managers and team around them,” Mr Puncher explained. 

“We hear people saying ‘I really care about my residents, I do extra work not for my employer but for them’ or ‘My employer doesn’t care about me, they don’t care about the residents.’ That’s a poor situation.”

Yet Mr Puncher said many employees are also reluctant to leave because they are connected to residents and there is guilt attached to leaving. This is when an employee’s purpose and impact can be enhanced through authentic leadership and actions that show just how much you care. 

He highlighted Perth-based provider SwanCare as one example where he witnessed notable improvement in employee recruitment and retention levels as they focused on their workplace culture. One campaign, Letters Week, saw staff receive thousands of letters from teammates and residents expressing gratitude and thanks. 

SwanCare has continued to shine a light on its staff, visibly and vocally recognising and rewarding their efforts across social media and its website. 

Leaders enabling culture

Another great example is that of Adventist Senior Living CEO David Knight. Mr Puncher explained that Mr Knight completed the relevant coursework so he could work the floor alongside staff when needed as he would never ask them to do something if he’s not willing to do it himself. 

Leaders at all levels play a part in workplace culture, which in turn, promotes employee longevity. But consistency is key, and both executives and managers have to show compassion, empathy and willingness to work alongside their employees. 

“You can improve leadership skills but before we get to leadership capability do you have the will to truly lead, to turn up day in and day out and be there with people [through good and bad]? Your job is to enable, inspire and support those around you,” said Mr Puncher.

“Leaders don’t create culture. What happens when leaders aren’t in the room? What leaders do is they enable it, they inspire it and they support it. When you drive a culture where your employees advocate for the culture, they are grateful to be employed and to work with you, are proud to have the hard conversations and keep guiding people,” he added.

workforce retention
workplace culture
human resources
employee engagement
employer branding
employer branding australia
mark puncher