The keys to Employer Branding

Technology makes it possible, but people make the difference. That’s what my first boss used to say, when I started my career in human resources at the end of the 1990’s. During this time, one of the partners of McKinsey&Company used for the first time the term “War for Talent”; due to the lack of people to replace the children from the baby-boom who were starting to retire. Achieving to attract, recruit and retain the best converted itself in a strategic challenge for many companies.

During this decade, we started talking about “Employer Branding”; when we begin to try techniques of brand management in the human resources sector.

“Employer Branding” is nothing else than applying marketing to the management of human resources. Create and advertise your brand as an employer, not only as a products and/or services provider.

Whereupon the apparition of this phenomena, organisations that you’ve probably heard of started to appear; Top Employers or Great Place to Work, whose objective is to find the companies that best practice employer branding. Acknowledge the companies whose culture and values, whose conditions and work processes, whose leaders and managers make the difference while enabling these companies to be excellent working place.

How do you build an attractive manager brand? Very easily (even though it can sometimes be quite difficult): with integrity. Integrity in the American sense of the term: the famous “Walk the talk” which is very well graphically represented.

Generating a culture of bidirectional communication, of respect, of recognition and growth and development and reflecting these values in the day to day. Because it will be difficult to create a false brand as an employer; it’s ideal but unrealistic.

In the same way as product/service branding, we will have to emphasise on what makes us different from our competitors, the benefits that we offer as employers: Why will it be better for you, talented person, to work with us rather than with the others? What am I offering that is appealing and interesting? But, if I lie, if I sell what I am not to the potential candidates, what I will never do for them, what they will hardly be able to do if they start to work with me; not only I’m misleading them but also myself; with the consequent cost that it supposes (waste of time and money on actions of employer branding, in recruitment, in selection, in initial formation of the new people and in having to replace them if the expectations that I generated are not fulfilled).

Abraham Lincoln Quote

On the other hand, in this world of social networking and instant and global communication (in the same way that Abraham Lincoln said it a while ago): “You can fool everyone at one moment in time. You can fool some of them all the time. But you can’t fool everyone all the time”.

Therefore, your employer brand has to be honest, because your principal brand ambassadors are going to be your employees, ex-employees and the candidates that are “suffering” from your recruitment and selection processes.

Because our actions define us, not our words.

Take the test, go and visit Glassdoor, the TripAdvisor for employees and ex-employees. The site where they make reviews on the companies they are working with or have worked with.
What does it say about your company? What would you like it to say? If there’s a gap between the answers to the first question and the answers to the second question, then it is the time to ask yourself how to work on the design of a good employer brand.

What things should you take into account if you want to have a good image as an employer? What do the people with talent want from my company? My experience tells me that they are common sense things (I know, it’s not always the most common of the senses):

  • A mission, a vision and a strategy that you need to be proud of.
  • Workstations with a purpose. A reason to be. Everyone likes to feel that they are adding value, that what we are doing has a positive impact on others and on our environment.
  • Recognition and trust. If you don’t allow mistakes and you don’t recognise their accomplishments and their efforts, they will not be happy to work with you, I promise you.
  • Growth and development possibilities. If the people that are working for you don’t feel that they can grow, that they can develop their capacities, that their potential is being used; they will not enjoy being in your organisation. They will end up by leaving or, which is worse, they will stay but totally demotivated and intoxicating their whole environment.
  • Contribution possibilities. You have to put the means so that the objectives are clear, ensure that the resources to accomplish them are available for everyone, give feedback and listen.
  • An appealing culture. The sense of belonging is vital during the retention of talent. If the values of the company are not being shared, it will be difficult to stay and work. You need to clearly know what are the values of your organisation and engage people that are aligned with these values, it’s essential.
  • Create the basis so that the people feel entrusted, committed and motivated. It will depend primarily on them; they need to come motivated from home, like my boss used to say. But it will depend on you to create an environment that helps it or no. Listen and know your team.

Therefore, analyse your organisation: what are you doing to achieve the latter? What should you stop doing? What should you start doing?

When you’ll have the answers to these questions, you’ll have the base of your employer brand, and then you will “only” need to communicate it.

About the author: Cayetana de la Guerra | Consultant and Coach in Talent Management
• Expert in Organisational Happiness and Attitude Management
• She has been Human Resources director in companies like PepsiCo, Siemens and Mercedes Benz
November 26th, 2018 | In Depth, Strategy

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