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  • Brett Minchington

Employer brand leadership is much more than recruitment!

Excerpt of published article from Module 2 - Employer Brand Leadership Principles and Practices in the 'Certificate in Employer Brand Leadership'

For details about the global online course, please click here>

Fortune 500 companies are recruiting employer brand leaders

In 2014 Nike and Facebook recently placed ads to recruit employer brand leaders. However this trend is not limited to Fortune 500 companies. According to during the period 2009-2013 there was more than a 300% increase in the number of employer brand manager positions advertised in the USA.

Over the past five years EBI's Chairman/CEO Brett Minchington has been tracking, collating and analysing job descriptions for employer brand leader positions as vacancies have been advertised around the world. The review found a diversity of approaches being taken by companies in recruiting employer brand leadership talent (see table 1). What is consistent is the increasingly strategic nature of the role requiring professionals with experience in functions such as branding, consulting, social media and events.

A strategic leadership function

The focus for the employer brand leader is on recruitment at companies such as Facebook, Amazon and KPMG. However companies such as LinkedIn, IKEA and Amtrak have adopted a holistic approach to employer branding across the total employment lifecycle.

History shows that companies transition towards a strategic approach to employer brand management after two to three years of adopting the concept. This is consistent with how employer branding evolves inside a company as expertise and experience builds across the leadership teams.

It is clear that with the increasing talent shortages around the world we will begin to see many more follow the lead of companies such as Google, IBM, Marriott, 3M and EY in recruiting leaders to leverage the value an employer brand strategy has on profitability and sustainability.

Whilst there are company culture and structural issues in reorganising and implementing a holistic employer branding function if the trend of appointing employer brand managers continues as it is has in the USA, Europe and the UK there is no doubt the role of the employer brand leader will become more commonplace in places such as Russia, Brazil, UAE, Poland and Asia as companies in these regions seek the benefits gained by those who are already three to five years into their journey.

Too many companies view employer branding as a ‘project based’ or ‘add on’ function to an already overstretched human resource function and then complain about the lack of return on investment.

We are still at a phase of first mover advantage with EBI’s research finding only 17% of companies having a clearly defined strategy (up from 14% in 2011). Those acting now still have time to ensure they will become top of mind in the employment choice for talent they seek to drive growth and profitability in possibility the most challenging economic times in history!

Table 1 - Employer brand leadership - A strategic talent attraction, engagement, retention function

Future focus of employer brand leadership

When considering the evolving nature of business impacted by political, economic, social and technological changes (and increasingly environmental – think BP!) and the role of the employee in contributing to brand equity, the focus of future discussions should be on the skills, experiences and capabilities required to successfully execute the employer brand strategy and the structure of the team that supports it!

Whether the personnel come from human resources, marketing, communications or other function is not the debate we should be having. The focus should be on how your company develops a competent team of professionals sourced from inside and outside the firm who can develop and execute an employer brand strategy that builds value. I support the view that people are a company’s main source of competitive advantage and this is where the employer brand strategy has most impact!

The traditional siloed approach to managing the attraction, engagement and retention of talent is out of date and out of step with today’s candidate and employee needs. More needs to be done by organisations to facilitate cross functional leadership of the employer branding function to ensure a more cohesive approach. In more than one hundred events I have presented at I can only recall one finance director in the audience (from Nike!) – There is little wonder why one of the biggest challenges for employer branding leaders is to gain budget approval for their employer brand strategy.

Managing the employee experience across the employment lifecycle should be a shared responsibility. Employer brand leaders need to build awareness and capability in employer branding across the organisation rather than relying on only one or two leaders to manage the function as has been traditional practice.

To learn how to develop and manage a strategic approach to employer branding across the employment lifecycle using a practical work based approach consider enrolling in the next global online intake for the 'Level 1 Certificate in Employer Brand Leadership'. For full details please click here>

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