HR Branding

Branding transforms ideas into actions.

Your organization is unlike any other, and your brand symbolizes its unique qualities. While your external brand captures the essence of the experience people have with your organization, HR branding delivers a meaningful, differentiating promise about the employment experience. It’s how dynamic companies pump up the power of their HR programs.

Effective employment brands help attract and retain talent, as well as promote desired behaviors and organizational culture. Branding provides a platform for key touch points such as leadership, mission, vision and values, corporate strategy, and business plans. When visuals, themes, and key messages provide a clear, consistent, and coordinated voice for communications to your employee population, you’ll build brand equity and experience high returns on your identity.

Surge Assembly translates the intangibles of your culture into a powerful brand that tells employees who you are and what you stand for.

Together, we can create the right approach for your:

  • HR brand and identity development
  • Benefit branding
  • Recruitment branding
  • Total rewards branding

Employee listening

At Surge, we believe the rationale for employee listening is simple: What you don’t know can hurt you.

Employee listening is the process of determining what employees really believe about their employer, their managers, their jobs, and themselves. When you really listen to your employees, they can tell you all sorts of interesting things — how to improve processes, where competitive opportunities might be found, and what kinds of changes could increase efficiency and morale. Employee listening can tap into a gold mine of information — the kind of information that often can’t be obtained from any other source.

We believe you need to understand employee opinion to be able to identify and implement the kinds of organizational change that lead to better performance. Our team of research and communication professionals has deep expertise in employee listening, including:

  • Developing a strong research strategy and design that reflects your objectives
  • Conducting stakeholder interviews and focus groups
  • Designing and administering surveys
  • Analyzing survey, interview, and focus group findings

Through a well-designed and effectively executed employee listening effort, you can:

  • Identify specific human capital objectives and desired outcomes
  • Generate results that significantly enhance your human capital decisions

We can pinpoint your objectives, help you decide which combination of surveys, focus groups, and interviews makes the most sense in light of your objectives — and make sure you extract the most value from what your employees have to say.

Our employee listening suite covers a wide range of important subjects, including:

  • Communication effectiveness
  • Employee engagement
  • Health care and wellness
  • Organizational culture
  • Retirement planning and benefits
  • Total rewards and benefits optimization

Communication Effectiveness

Effective communication underscores the impact of every process, system, and management action designed to enhance performance — from motivation to reward systems and decision-making to strategic planning. Our Communication Effectiveness Survey has one main goal: to assess and help you improve the effectiveness of communication in your organization.

Our approach

This survey helps employers better manage their workforce to achieve higher performance. It can be conducted online or through printed questionnaires and is tailored to your business strategy, human resource strategy, and employee population. The survey helps you assess multiple dimensions of organizational communication, including:

  • Communication climate: To what extent is communication in your organization open, free-flowing, trusted, and credible?
  • Adequacy of information: Do employees get enough information to do their jobs well and to be well informed about important organizational matters? And is that information accurate, reliable, and timely?
  • Media: What media are most effective at delivering different kinds of information throughout the organization?
  • Understanding/knowledge: How well is strategic, operational, HR, and other performance-relevant information understood by employees?
  • Technology: Which communication technologies are effective in reaching your employees, and what communication channels do they prefer?
  • Communication flow: Do you have enough upward, downward, and lateral channels of communication, and are they used effectively?
  • Supervisory communication skills and behaviors: Do your managers have adequate communication skills, and are they using them appropriately (for example, by providing effective performance feedback)?
  • Barriers: What are the major obstacles to the flow of communication?

Employee Engagement

Employers recognize that recruiting, retaining, and motivating talent is the key to high performance. This calls for more than becoming an “employer of choice” — it requires a work environment that stimulates the commitment of employees. Managing employee engagement is a vital key to improving business results. In fact, substantial research indicates employee engagement is a critical link to employee performance and, ultimately, to organizational performance.

Our approach

Our model of employee engagement involves:

  • Emotional commitment: Having pride in and emotionally identifying with the organization
  • Behavioral commitment: Being willing to exert extra effort on behalf of the organization
  • Continuance/normative commitment: Wanting to remain a part of the organization
  • Performance accountability: Feeling responsible for work product and outcomes
  • Motivation: Being inspired by the organization to do one’s best work
  • Goal alignment: Understanding the impact of individual performance on business goals and results

As important as it is to measure employee engagement, it is equally important to understand its drivers — the organizational factors that can drive high levels of employee engagement. Our employee engagement model also looks at the following drivers:

  • Leadership: Confidence and trust, articulate vision, strategic direction, concern for employees’ well-being, and job satisfaction
  • Total rewards: Market equity, internal fairness, and performance linkages
  • Communication and involvement: Two-way communication and involvement in decision-making
  • Advancement and development focus: Concern for employees’ growth and development, opportunities, and fairness
  • Immediate supervision: Maintenance of trust and supportive supervisor-subordinate relations
  • Co-worker relations: Competence, collaboration, friendliness, and support
  • Job characteristics: Task variety, challenge, skill utilization, and growth, achievement
  • Concern for employee well-being: HR policies/practices that show institutional concern

Health care and wellness

Health care benefits are a major factor in recruitment, retention, and employee loyalty. Today, though, employers are finding it more difficult to manage the cost of health care benefits while trying to provide for employees’ needs.

Many employers are looking favorably at plan design options that engage employees to become educated health care consumers. But these “consumer-driven” approaches require employers to know far more about their employees than the traditional benefit satisfaction survey can tell them. They need to know as much as possible about their employees’ attitudes toward their health care benefits, their preferences for alternative arrangements, and their feelings about health, wellness, and their roles as health care consumers and decision-makers.

Our approach

Buck’s Health Care and Wellness Survey helps organizations make employee research a meaningful part of the plan design process. Our survey can be conducted online or through printed questionnaires and is tailored to your benefit strategy, health care plans, and population. In addition to the traditional assessment of health care plans and their features, our approach typically covers the following dimensions:

  • Attitudes toward wellness and healthy living
  • Perceived impact of healthy lifestyles on health care costs
  • Frequency of employee participation in healthy lifestyle behaviors
  • Factors influencing decisions to engage (or not engage) in healthy behaviors
  • Familiarity with and use of available wellness resources
  • Ratings of the quality of available wellness resources
  • Preferences for various wellness benefits, programs, and services
  • Awareness of factors influencing health care costs (including individual behaviors)
  • Acceptance of different ways to influence employee health-related behaviors
  • Attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of employees as health care consumer
  • Assessment of current wellness communication resources
  • Preferences for communication channels and technologies

Organizational culture

An organization’s culture — defined as the shared values, beliefs, and customary ways of thinking that shape and guide the behavior of the organization’s members — can have a powerful impact on recruitment, retention, motivation, and employee performance. What’s more, differences in organizational culture have been at the heart of the success or failure of many mergers and acquisitions. Gaps between an organization’s current and desired cultures, as well as between the cultures of integrating organizations, can be obstacles to success — but they also can present opportunities.

Identifying the core elements of an organization’s culture is one key to improving business results. In fact, a substantial body of research indicates that the alignment of employee behavior with a strategically sound culture is a critical link to employee performance and, ultimately, to unit and organizational performance as well.

Our approach

Buck’s Organizational Culture Survey helps employers better manage their workforce for higher performance. Our survey can be conducted online or through printed questionnaires and is tailored to your business strategy, human resource strategy, and employee population. Our model of organizational culture involves assessing:

  • Core values: The values that underlie an organization’s culture and the extent to which they are shared by employees
  • Vision, mission, and strategy: The core purpose, direction, and aspirations of the organization and the extent to which they are widely understood, accepted, and championed throughout the organization
  • “Taken-for-granted” assumptions: Employees’ beliefs about how things work in the organization and their interpretation of organizational actions and decisions
  • Norms of behavior: The informal expectations that employees have of their own and others’ performance and productivity

As important as it is to measure the components of the culture, and any gaps that exist, it is equally important to understand the drivers of culture — the organizational factors that shape the culture. These are the “levers of action” for creating, sustaining, and modifying the culture. Among the important drivers of culture assessed in our surveys are:

  • Leadership: Are top management’s actions in accord with the desired culture?
  • Performance management and reward systems: Are performance assessments and incentives aligned to produce the desired behaviors?
  • Organizational socialization: Are there onboarding processes, routine ceremonies, celebrations and rituals, and other socialization processes that reinforce the desired culture?
  • Structure: Is the structure aligned with and facilitating the desired culture?
  • Immediate supervision: Do managerial practices support development of the desired culture?
  • HR policies/practices: Do selection, hiring, promotion, and termination processes support the desired culture?

Total rewards and benefits optimization

Recruiting and retaining high-performing employees are critical for most organizations. Although studies continue to show that rewards and benefits are key components of recruitment and retention, they also show that most employers underestimate the value of rewards and benefits in recruiting and retaining talent.

Our approach

Buck’s Total Rewards and Benefit Optimization Survey helps employers use employee research to refine their human resource strategies, offer the optimal mix of compensation, benefits, and development opportunities, and maximize their return on investment. Our survey can be conducted online or through printed questionnaires and is tailored to your business, total rewards strategies, and employee population. The survey can help you determine how important specific total rewards components are to your employees, as well as their satisfaction with the total rewards they are offered, including:

  • Compensation: Base pay, premium pay, incentive pay, long-term compensation, mix of compensation components
  • Benefits: Health and welfare, retirement, paid time off, legally mandated financial benefits
  • Work/life programs: Alternative work arrangements, personal leaves, wellness programs, sabbatical leaves, community service opportunities, on-site convenience services, dependent care, voluntary benefits, culture change initiatives, social responsibility opportunities
  • Recognition and non-financial rewards: Service awards, performance awards, managerial recognition (formal and informal), goal-specific rewards, celebrations
  • Development and advancement opportunities: Education reimbursement, on-the-job training, coaching, mentoring, job postings, advancement opportunities, career pathing, job rotation, and similar programs

Change management

Communication can help transform integration into synergy.

The dynamic of global markets can sometimes expose companies and their employees to substantial change in how they operate. But regardless of the cause — merger or acquisition, restructuring, outsourcing, downsizing, reorganization, or process re-engineering — there can be an adverse impact on productivity, efficiency, motivation, and even retention. In that case, the anticipated advantages do not fully materialize. The workforce is disrupted, shareholders are disappointed, and management is frustrated.

Surge Assembly designs effective communication strategies to address the needs of your many constituencies — from directors to shareholders to business partners, communities, employees, and even retirees — and deliver the right messages through all phases of change, from the earliest planning stages through completion of implementation or full integration. The result: constituencies are involved and motivated — and objectives are achieved.

Management advisory

Efficiently designed executive compensation arrangements focus management’s attention on your organization’s performance imperatives, thereby supporting its business plan and increasing shareholder value. We believe the primary purpose of management advisory programs is to align executive interests with and focus on the overall business objectives of your company. From that perspective, we work with you to develop programs tailored to the particular needs of your organization across a comprehensive range of business, technical, and financial issues relevant to effective plan design. We can help:

  • Develop a compensation philosophy and supporting principles consistent with your business objectives
  • Design appropriate peer groups for purposes of competitive analysis
  • Develop tailored performance metrics and measurement systems
  • Support your obligations for required reporting and disclosures, including say-on-pay
  • Provide guidance and support during mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, joint ventures, recapitalizations, and other corporate transactions
  • Design detailed compensation arrangements, including salary, annual bonus, long-term incentive, and equity-based programs
  • Develop other arrangements, such retention, severance, and change-in-control agreements
  • Provide financial analysis and what-if analyses
  • Negotiate employment agreements and sign-on arrangements

In addition, we have experience with special circumstances that can arise from:

  • Cross-border incentive and equity programs
  • Partnership and LLC arrangements, including the design of carried interest arrangements
  • Executive compensation for ESOP-owned companies
  • Expert testimony

Talent Planning

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Instead of testing this theory on your organization’s most valuable assets – your people – let Surge Assembly help you develop your strategic talent plan so you’re always positioned with the right information to make the best decisions for your business.


Human capital strategy: Develop an HR strategy that is driven by your organization’s overall business strategy. Based on the HR goals, design and implement a governance structure, a talent management approach, an HR delivery service model and meaningful metrics.

Workforce planning: Provide strategic and operational workforce planning and management to maintain a workforce that supports the current needs and priorities of your organization’s leadership as well as be proactive in supporting future business goals. Determine how to reorganize, align, and create efficiency in your workforce through metrics including size, skills, location, motivation, and price to make sure you spend your budget on the right people at the right time.

High performer profile and measurement: Define and isolate the specific factors that make your top performers excel, use these results to create a high performer profile, and quantify the expense and effectiveness of your organization’s efforts to optimize high performers.

Vendor selection, management, and oversight: Improve the quality of your vendor relationships by building on your vendor’s strengths, identifying areas for improvement and establishing and maintaining a framework for oversight and management that supports your HR programs and service delivery.

Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures: Offer support and services for both pre- and post-deal phases that focus on: organization and talent; rewards and benefits; and change and implementation. Before your merger, acquisition, or divestiture takes place, we can partner with you to complete due diligence and preparation activities. Following the transaction, our team of specialists can assist you with the transition and integration phases.