Employer Branding

Last week we began a conversation about Employer Branding. Employer Branding is the epbrandcurrent HR buzzword for being able to describe why you work for a particular organisation. We defined it as the summation of the value your business offers an employee. As such, as   it encompasses the reason you’re are in business, plus the WIIFM (What’s In It for me) Factors for employees.

Let’s now begin to look at the main areas of employer branding, to understand what is involved.  It’s growing in importance in companies all over the world and will continue to challenge the value of traditional functional departments such as HR, Marketing, and Communications over the coming years.

To be frank, success in business can no longer rely on out-of-date organisational structures and siloed functional departments. We have to find ways to align the hearts and minds of our staff to deliver the most important aspect of the organization – the brand promise. Brett, of Employer Brand International, is a global authority on employer branding. He asserts that any leader must know the answer to the following four questions:

  1. Why would someone want to work for you?
  2. How many of your managers have received training in how to deliver the brand experience? (Employer Brand International research in the US found that only 46 percent had!)
  3. What is the main perception that employees and candidates have about your employer brand?
  4. How many of your employees would recommend your company as a great place to work?

While you ponder these five questions, remember that you must be able to describe – in a clear, succinct and motivating way – the reason why you are in business. Or, if you are in the public or non-profit sectors, why your organisation exists. Simon Sinek, the US strategic guru, very helpful in this regard. Go on to YouTube and find him talking about The Why. He uses Apple as an example. And why not, Apple is after all the most valuable brand in history?

Once you have fixed on The Why, you need to make sure that The What and The How supports it. The What being what you do. The How being how you do things. Global coffee retailer Starbucks tells the world that its Why is: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Starbuck’s What and How are then guided by its published brand values:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity, and respect.
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
  • Being performance driven, through the lens of humanity.

If I’m honest, I think there’s rather too much in these statements. They have probably been put together in committee, and I suspect someone swallowed a dictionary of worthy terms before going to the meeting. No matter, Starbucks employees are very clear about the role of the brand in people’s lives, and are encouraged to live up to that promise. Can the same be said of your own business?

We’ll look at more guidance on Employer branding next week. But before we finish today I’d like to throw in a challenge. I think it’s time for enterprise leaders to resolve the ownership of the process. Research by Employer Brand International shows a shift in employer brand strategy ownership away from HR over the past five years. That’s no surprise to me. I encounter far too many HR professionals whose contribution is administrative, and whose focus is inside the organisation. Employer Branding, which is intended to package the value of the enterprise, is by its very nature an issue for external focus. So isn’t it time to involve Commercial and Marketing people in the process? Perhaps it’s time to develop a competent team of cross-discipline professionals sourced from inside and outside the firm who can develop and execute an Employer Brand strategy that builds value.

If you are looking for inspiration at this point, here’s a reminder that there are only two weeks to go until Professor Nader Tavassoli’s 5-week open-access online course begins. Nader (from London Business School) is a thought leader on brands being built by people – not just marketing.

His Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is entirely free, or you can obtain a certificate of completion for a nominal fee. Learn more by visiting the course webpage where sign-up is now open for an October 7 start – https://www.coursera.org/course/brand

Use it to inspire your thinking on building an Employer Brand for your business.


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