I spent the better half of my morning playing and replaying this Hermès video.
If you look at it as a piece of marketing material, then you might think to yourself, “well of course they’re only going to showcase what they want you to see about their workers and their workshop.” And on the one hand, while that may be true, I really don’t think you can ask unhappy or disgruntled employees to show this much care and pride in the work that they do. The people who were featured in this video aren’t the top executives, but span across different timelines in terms of where they are in their trade and in their employment with Hermès. You have employees telling you what a difficult situation it is in the region to find work, and you discover that you can and will be employed regardless of your age, so long as you pass all the necessary requirements. How many companies can you think of that have entry level positions for people in their 70s and 80s? How many 70 and 80 year olds would even think to want to apply to your company? I think both sides of this question illustrate what a great job Hermès has done of cultivating its reputation and brand.
I think it’s important for employees to know where they fit in terms of the overall structure of the organization. I went on a leadership training course last week and what kept being hammered into us was that people want and need recognition. It doesn’t even have to be something grand, but the desire to be heard and to know that we’re doing a good job, and that our work is valued and valuable, goes a long way in producing more and better quality work. Watching the Hermès video, I can see that the artisans are encouraged to envision a long term pathway at the company. What I saw in the video was that people understood exactly why they needed training, and how that training fits into the overall scheme of how products are made. No one seemed to think that the skills they were learning were beneath them. In fact, what I saw was an appreciation for the process of learning and the meticulousness of which everything is scrutinized at Hermès.
I do think Hermès is a company that has successfully aligned its values from the top all the way down. I do think that people who work for the brand understand the history of the brand and have internalized the belief that quality and time-honoured skill are truly things to be proud of; the way artisans speak about their work is demonstrative proof of this.
This is one of the major reasons why I love this particular brand.