Welcome to our very first episode of Blu Thread Conversations, the podcast designed for transformational leaders who are reshaping their organizations with game changing people, culture and employer brand strategies. Crafted for passionate CHROs, along with HR brand and communications leaders, Blu Thread Conversations offers real world examples of creating organizational impact by designing, communicating, and activating winning employer brand strategies and culture initiatives.
Each Blu Thread Conversation features industry leaders who will share insights on how your employer brand strategy and employee value proposition can drive measurable business impact by elevating employee experience, accelerating and integrating diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and reducing organizational risk by ensuring a robust pipeline of top talent.
And now join us for a transcript from our very first episode where we weave a powerful narrative at the intersection of people, culture and performance.
S01E01 – Mattamy Homes
Today I’m thrilled to be joined with two exceptional guests from one of North America’s top employers, Mattamy Homes. Mattamy Homes is one of the largest privately owned builders and developers in North America and is Canada’s largest residential home builder. Mattamy consistently wins top employer awards, including best Workplace culture, best Managed Workplace and, best employer brand.
Our first guest is Brent Carey, Vice President of Communications for Mattamy Asset Management. Brent is dynamic and he’s an award-winning corporate storyteller who has worked to align the way that Mattamy thinks about culture, internal employee experience and performance.
Joining Brent today is Kaitlyn Anderson, Senior Manager of Communications for Mattamy Asset Management. Kaitlyn is a trailblazer renowned for creating, launching, and activating Mattamy’s employer brand across North America.
After more than 15 years of working on global employer brands, my observation is that the companies that have the biggest impact and the greatest long-term success, with this work, it’s often traced to one’s ability to influence and inspire internal stakeholders at all levels in the organization. That’s why we wanted to talk with Brent and Kaitlyn. They have been pivotal change agents for the employer brand transformation within Mattamy. I’m excited to have them here to share their insights, experiences, and the secrets behind their success.
Leading Change Through Internal Influence
Stacy Parker: Brent and Kaitlyn. Hello, and welcome to Blu Thread Conversations.
Brent Carey: Thanks Stacy. We’re excited to be here today.
Stacy Parker: Kaitlyn, can I start by asking you to briefly introduce yourself and tell our listeners a little bit about the role that you play within Mattamy?
Kaitlyn Anderson: I have been with Mattamy for coming up to seven years and I’ve played a variety of different roles, but it’s always been on our communications team. Currently, as Senior Manager of Communications, I lead our internal communications function in addition to external communications for our Western divisions. And then on top of that, and why we’re here today, is leading our recruitment, marketing, and employer branding initiative for the entire company both across Canada and the United States.
Stacy Parker: That’s not a small role! Like many communications leaders that I talk to today, it seems like it is just a plethora of change that you’re trying to create for the organization with your communications. I’m excited to talk a little bit about that. Brent, can you share the pivotal role that you’ve had?
Brent Carey: Sure. I’ve been at Mattamy coming up on 13 years now, seen a lot of change over that time, and been privileged to play a small role, perhaps, in, making that successful. In terms of the communications team, I lead a small but mighty group who are responsible for corporate communications, which includes internal comms, external communications, proven marketing, as Kaitlyn mentioned, government relations, and, frankly, a host of other, programs and small initiatives that might not fall into any one of those buckets. But as we do, we step up and do what we need to do.
Stacy Parker: Incredible.
How do you integrate employer brand and culture into the workplace?
Stacy Parker: My observation over the years that I’ve had the privilege of knowing you is that the two of you have been a real powerhouse team on, employer brand strategy, and quite exemplary as communications leaders bringing employer brand into the organization. Maybe we could talk a little bit about that, how you’ve approached employer brand and culture and integrating the employer brand, experience at Mattamy?
Brent Carey: I would say that we don’t actually view those things as separate. They’re all pieces of the same puzzle, or spokes of the same wheel, or chapters in the same story, to mix a few metaphors. We approach employer brand, culture, employee experience, very holistically as necessarily integrated with, one another. Brand is culture, culture is experience, experience is brand. Because they’re effectively the same thing, what it strategically means for us is that we’re able to have focus and simplicity and practically speaking, that everyone speaks the common language, and we’re able to thread that through everything. It really lessens confusion around what do you mean by culture, what do you mean by experience, and what do you mean by brand?
Stacy Parker: You’ve done such a good job of that. Kaitlyn, when you think of how you’ve had to integrate the employer brand and weave that story through the organization, how have you specifically tried to approach that?
Kaitlyn Anderson: For us, it’s all about using our employer brand to share the authentic and real stories direct from our employees about what it’s actually like to work here at Mattamy Homes. We don’t hire models for our photos. We’re not putting words into people’s mouths. We want our prospective candidates to truly understand our culture and the employee experience at Mattamy before they even step foot into an interview setting. We see our employer brand not only as a recruitment tool, but also a recognition tool featuring real people, real stories, getting them to participate in our videos and in photo shoots that then they can take that and use it for their LinkedIn profile photos and really have that engagement mechanism built into our brand.
Stacy Parker: I love that you called out the recognition tool. What kind of feedback do you get from employees about participating and how they feel recognized by doing this storytelling?
Kaitlyn Anderson: They absolutely love it, particularly when it comes to the photo shoots that we do. For example, when we did a shoot back in February, it was a combination of photography as well as interviews. Every single individual that got selected for the photo shoot sat down and had an opportunity to tell their story and share information about their career experiences at Mattamy. What makes working at Mattamy special. And then got to participate with some colleagues that maybe they don’t get to meet every day or spend time with every day and, get their photos taken. And I could just tell that they were all beaming and loving it. It was so impactful and wonderful to see that whole connection happen. And we got to show what it’s like in a real office of Mattamy, what it’s like on a real site of Mattamy, which really goes a long way to showcase that to prospective talent.
Stacy Parker: Yeah, those are such palpable moments.
Brent Carey: I think it’s really, important when you’re embarking on this kind of work to not discount the internal audience. You think of employer brand as being an attraction tool, but we view it, as Kaitlyn said, a recognition tool as well as retention. The internal audience is equally as important as the external audience.
Mattamy uses employer branding to shape the employee experience
Stacy Parker: One of the things that’s always been to me a real beacon about how you and Mattamy has approached employer branding is the way you’ve thought about embedding it into the employee experience. Can you talk a little bit about how you used the employer brand, which is called ‘For those who want to build a better world’, rolled that out to shape the employee experience?
Kaitlyn Anderson: We really built our employer brand on a foundation of research, that was absolutely pivotal. And number one, and that included research from our leaders. Interviews with our executive leaders on where they’re going, where they want to be, what does the future look like for Mattamy, and then also getting feedback from real employees.
We did focus groups to really understand what makes working at Mattamy special, what has their experience been like working at Mattamy. This listening was foundational to then building our employer brand. When it comes to the rollout of the brand, it was really, first and foremost, making sure our HR teams were on board, because they are our partners in all of this. If they’re not on board, this will not go anywhere. The second piece was making sure that our leadership teams were on board as well.
The biggest thing for us was rolling this out to our leaders through our Leadership Forum, which happens every couple of years. And so not only was there a big presentation there that got them excited about the brand, but we also did some fun activations at the Leadership Forum, as well, to get them on board, to get them excited about it, and to see the impact that this is going to have within the organization. And for us, one of the biggest things was that anecdotal feedback that came out of there and people were just buzzing with excitement and energy. After hearing about the new brand and how much it resonated with them, and knowing that it resonated with leaders, we then felt confident that this was then going to turn and resonate with employees, which it did, and created this great support for this new brand and this new direction for Mattamy.
Stacy Parker: You really took the approach of launching it with leaders first, getting leaders really aware and excited by the employee value proposition, got them working on some exercises how they can really live this employer value proposition promise, commitment to talent. What did leaders tell you about what that meant to them?
Brent Carey: If I can stick with the event, one of the amazing things that’s always great to hear, our founder and chairman, Peter Gilgan got up in the middle and said, you’ve nailed it! Which was really great feedback to hear and validation that the work had reflected the reality of situation at Mattamy. That was great. We didn’t actually have to prod our leaders a lot, to become engaged. The work spoke for itself. The energy in the room when we introduced it and played the teaser video was palpable and was great to be a part of. Leadership was on board right from the get go, which of course is necessary because leaders set the tone from the top and it’s important to walk the talk, and they certainly have at the event.
There’s long been this debate in HR who should own employer branding
Stacy Parker: There’s long been this debate in the community of HR who should own employer branding, should it be marketing that owns employer branding? Should it be HR that owns employer branding? But here are the two of you, two communications executives that really have been the instrumental and driving force of employer brands at Mattamy. Coming from the communications side of the business, how do you work with some of the other stakeholders, like the leaders, like the chairman, like your HR divisions, to make sure that they’re all taking a part in shaping the employee experience and bringing those employee value proposition pillars to life?
Kaitlyn Anderson: It’s a real true partnership with some of these internal teams that you mentioned, particularly HR and Talent. We work really closely with our HR teams in Canada and the US. To understand the areas where they need the most support, the kinds of roles that we should showcase based on hiring trends, as well as the feedback that they get during the interview and the recruitment process, so that we can continually improve and embed our employer brand into our culture and into the entire employee experience.
Brent Carey: And I would add to that to say that I wouldn’t say, except for Kaitlyn, no one really owns the employer brand. Little shout out to Kaitlyn there. It is well understood that we all at Mattamy own the brand. It is ours. It is the authentic stories of our employees. It is the culture that we live and breathe every day. It has been a true sort of collective partnership in developing this. And it couldn’t be done without, all levels of employees.
Now, having said that, the communications team is on the leading edge of this for a couple of reasons. We have the expertise in storytelling and how to manage the various channels, internal and external, that we use to share those stories. A big channel, obviously, is LinkedIn externally. A big channel internally is our corporate internet called Our House. Those are the key channels that we use to get the word out. And HR is, of course, the experts in talent acquisition and talent management programs and are close to the business and what their needs are in terms of talent. Bringing those sets of expertise together is extremely powerful.
Stacy Parker: Yeah, it is. And the storytelling strategy that you use is, I think, part of why it’s so deeply integrated into the entire culture. I wanted to pick up on something, Brent, that you just highlighted, which was, that you use the intranet as part of the internal communications and you actually branded it Our House, which, if I’m not mistaken, was your first employer brand tagline several years ago.
Brent Carey: Yes! It’s an example of how integrated this body of work can become. Years ago, with the help of Blu Ivy, we had developed our original employer brand. One of the taglines was this is our house. At the time we were going through an exercise to completely overhaul our corporate intranet, looking for a name, and it just popped one day, the light bulb moment. Why wouldn’t we call our intranet Our House to link it so fundamentally to the employer brand?
Stacy Parker: Yeah, so powerful to have that internal communication align. Why did you do a rebrand and go through a new EVP process in the past year?
Kaitlyn Anderson: For us, what really it was about was a bit of a validation exercise. We first launched Our employer brand in partnership with Blu Ivy in 2017. And 2022 rolls around and 2023 and so much has changed in the employee experience in the world with COVID. It was an opportunity for us to take a step back and validate.
Does your employer brand still resonate with your people and with talent?
Originally, we were going to pursue just down that route and do the research to check and validate. Does this still resonate?
Spoiler, it did not fully resonate with our employees and with talent, because the work world had changed so much. We needed to evolve and change our employer brand to match where we were as an organization, what our priorities are as an organization as well as what our employees are experiencing every day and what they’re also looking for from an employer.
For us it just made a lot of sense to reignite and refresh our employer brand so that it was still very relevant and effective in the ways that we wanted to communicate to both employees and to prospective talent.
Did you feel a palpable shift in employee engagement with your new EVP pillars?
Stacy Parker: Did you have any real business impact when you launched it this time? Did you feel a palpable shift in the employee experience, engagement with the rollout of the new pillars?
Kaitlyn Anderson: We did. And a couple of anecdotal examples is after we launched it to our employee base, we started getting requests from division marketing teams, divisional leaders, office managers saying that they loved the brand so much that they wanted window clings created and wallpaper created out of the brand because they wanted to see it up in their offices each and every single day. And also, just the embedment in it and the excitement. I feel like we could just see kind of a chapter opening for the organization, and this was a new chapter for the business, and everyone felt that energy and excitement and that it was a perfect timed launch, knowing that Mattamy was focusing a lot more on sustainability efforts and that was ingrained into the employer brand as well. So that it was very true and authentic to the organization’s goals and objectives as well.
Standing still with your employer brand is not an option
Brent Carey: The organization evolved and is going to continue to evolve as will its people, as will the people we need to bring on our future employees. Standing still with something, whether it’s an employer brand or a business strategy, is not going to get you where you want to be in the future. Strategically, we have a plan to update, or at least relook at our employer brand every couple of years and are more than willing and able to do the type of refresh and if needed, and a complete overhaul depending on what the needs of the business are in the future. It’s definitely part of our plan to have an ongoing process of updating the employer brand.
Stacy Parker: I have a question that I want to ask, and it relates to the listening that you do to get at the EVP. A lot of organizations, they just want to get that employee value proposition, up because they need it on their career site, they need it in their job postings. What do you think beyond getting to your pillars. What is so important for the business and what learning have you’ve garnered by conducting that?
Kaitlyn Anderson: OOH, that is a loaded question, Stacy, coming in with the hard ones, I think one that has come out of this is certainly diversity inclusion and continuing to invest in DEI efforts within our organization. One that I can think of right off the top of my head is a mentorship program and hearing more from people on not just focusing on women, like we had been in the previous iterations with our Win at Mattamy program, but instead expanding that out to more inclusive audiences. And so having more of, that embedded investment into our people through mentorship within the organization, that’s one that kind of comes to mind for me.
Kaitlyn Anderson: Brent, anything else that you would think of?
Metrics that track Employer Brand
Brent Carey: I might take a bit of a different slant to that answer and point to the real business impacts that we’ve seen through the launch of the EVP in the past few years. I think of two sort of really important metrics that we continuously track. One is retention or voluntary turnover, super important for a variety of reasons. It’s really expensive to replace people, and we have seen a continuous decline in the ratio of our voluntary turnover. So that rate that number, our industry has got a certain percentage of natural turnover. That just happens that we have seen a decline over the past couple of years in voluntary turnover, both in Canada and the US. From where we sit, might be directly aligned to or directly a result of the launch of the EVP. The timing is maybe not a coincidence, and so it’s a way for us to point to the impact that it can have. And the other one is the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) that we measure every year. It is simply amazing, world class, in fact, and it’s something we’re very proud of. It’s sort of a symbiotic thing with the EVP. We believe that sharing those stories helps to show for employees what the work experience at Mattamy is. And of course, their happiness and engagement at work helps fuel what the EVP looks like for them and for external clients. It really has a real business impact that we’ve been able to track over time.
Stacy Parker: Yeah, really powerful, and Kaitlyn, it’s interesting you highlighted the diversity equity inclusion element, because we are seeing that almost consistently now is one of the biggest shifts that’s starting to happen with employer brand strategy. Employer branding is really starting to lift, and story tell how the employee value proposition relates to the diversity value proposition (DVP) for talent.
What have been your biggest learnings about employer brand strategy
What would be what your biggest learnings as it relates to employer brand strategy? And maybe I’ll start with you, Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn Anderson: I’ve now been part of two employer brand projects, the one we had in 2017 and the one we just did. And I think the biggest learning for me is that the company is going to, continuously evolve and what matters most to our employees is going to change alongside that. Our employer brand has to match that authentic employee experience and so always staying in touch with the employer brand and that it doesn’t have to stay stagnant, that it’s going to continuously grow and change and evolve alongside our company and our people.
Brent Carey: I would say that in the early days of when we first started out on this work with Blu Ivy years ago, we were going to drive what the EVP was, we’re going to figure out what the messaging is and then we’re going to embed that into everything. I think we quickly realized that the EVP is not about what we think it is. As a communications team or an HR team or a marketing team, the EVP is not what we say it is. It’s what our employees say it is, and it’s what they live every day. And so that’s why we used research to drive all of this and why we are so big on authenticity as, the key element of our employer brand. Involving of our employees in that journey is absolutely critical and I think has been a huge factor in the success of this work at Mattamy.
What’s next for the employer brand at Mattamy?
Stacy Parker: Do you have a vision of where you want to take it in the next couple of years?
Kaitlyn Anderson: In the immediate term, it’s really short form video content. We’re currently working on creating some new recruitment videos and shorter form content to go up on social media. We know attention spans are small right now, and so making sure that we have content that can support that in a multimedia fashion. And then aside from that, I also see a lot of opportunity for us to encourage more employee advocacy surrounding the brand. We’ve recently started down this path by sending out a roundup of our company’s LinkedIn content on a monthly basis to encourage our employees to like and share the content. But there is so much more to unpack here and there’s so much more that we can do to have our employees represent and advocate for the brand each and every day.
We see an opportunity to strategically embed the employer brand throughout employee lifecycle
Brent Carey: I would say that we still see an opportunity to strategically embed the employer brand throughout all phases of the employee lifecycle. We’ve done a fabulous job of getting some of that work done, like we see it in job postings, and our recruitment material externally and bringing forward the voices and stories of our employees. But as we think about the entire lifecycle, from the job posting to onboarding to learning and development and all the way through to the exit conversation, there’s a real opportunity for us to embed the EVP deep within those processes and the overall employee experience. So we’re going to continue to do that.
Stacy Parker: Fantastic. Is there something you wish you could measure as it relates to the impact of this work?
Brent Carey: That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure is the right answer. Internally, we do a fabulous job of staying connected to our employees through surveys and various listening approaches. I guess if there’s one thing to point to, I might say that it’d be great to have a tool that we could effectively and more regularly get feedback or perspectives from the external talent that we deal with. Some of that’s fairly anecdotal at the moment, and as part of our various employer brand refreshes, we do reach out and survey external talent, but if there was a way to do that more regularly, I think that might be of interest.
Stacy Parker: Thank you both for what felt to me like a really powerful conversation about employer brand and the impact that it can have over, a few years for an organization. It’s been a pleasure to have both of you on the first Blu Thread Conversation. There is an absolute reason why Mattamy and you win so many preferred employer awards. The intention and the approach that you have and that you take with your employer brand strategy has really been focused, as you said, Brent, on driving maximum impact for the business and Kaitlyn for the talent experience.
Thank you both for joining. The work that you do is fantastic, and we really appreciate you sharing your experiences with us today.
Brent Carey: Thank you. It’s been a real pleasure.
Stacy Parker: For our listeners who want more information or have further questions for Brent and Kaitlyn, where’s the best place they can reach you?
Kaitlyn Anderson: Yeah. So first and foremost, check out our brand in action on our career site Life@Mattamy.com, as well as on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Brent and I are both very active on LinkedIn, so feel free to reach out to us and connect with us personally on there as well.
Stacy Parker: Once again, thank you so much Brent and Kaitlyn, for joining us today and sharing your journey in building a human centered and high-performance workplace at Mattamy.
Thanks for joining us for our first Blu Thread Conversation.
We want to hear from you. What did you think of today’s episode? What future conversations or topics would you like to hear or be a part of?
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We look forward to connecting with you soon, on our next episode of Blu Thread Conversations.
Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands and high-performance cultures.
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