Recently, while exploring the rabbit hole of the HR blog world, I encountered a post that hit close to home in a number of ways. The blog, posted by Fistful of Talent (one of our faves) was entitled “Why do so many companies think their own employees are ugly?”. If the title isn’t enough to make you laugh out loud, the rest of the article probably is as it delves into the question of why so many companies use stock photography on their websites rather than actual photos of their employees.
This is an issue we (your friendly Awards Network team) attempt to tackle on a couple different fronts; both as designers and maintainers of our own company website as well as in our roles as Account Managers. The way I see it, the reason people use stock photos is simple…it’s easy and gives a nice, clean look to the materials you’re creating. Plus, you don’t have to take the time to schedule a photo shoot for all your employees and/or wrestle with the camera shy employees who’d prefer to avoid the limelight.
Unfortunately, the result is a much less relevant, unique and memorable – especially when you see the same photos you carefully selected plastered around the stores and websites you visit (one of the “stock” people we used on our company site consistently mocks from a poster each time I stop by my local Goodwill store).
Now, I’m not saying I’m sold on the idea of completely structuring our company website around our own smiling faces, but our clients’ program sites are a different matter. The employee recognition programs we customize are for employees and about employees. They’re not marketing the company to the world, they’re sharing internal recognition and praise and the last thing that makes sense is to design your site around a bunch of “fake” photos…especially if you’re a small enough company that all the employees KNOW none of these people are their coworkers.
So even though we still run into companies that want to use the stock photo look, we encourage everyone to try to include as many of their own employee photos as possible. They warm the program; make it more relevant, accessible and interesting to your employees. Some of the most successful programs we’ve seen have worked their own employee photos in throughout the site or at least included a spotlight page where they can feature pictures of employees at work, at play and proudly brandishing their recognition awards. Remember, your employee recognition program is about your employees and your culture…make sure it makes that obvious in every way you can and your program will be all the more successful because of it!