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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Fielding

What is strategic employer branding?

Advance your knowledge, skills and experiences in employer branding by studying for a Certificate in Employer Brand Leadership - for further information please click here>

There are numerous definitions about employer branding and it's impact on business performance.

So let's provide some clarity!

Employer branding defined

Minchington (2005) defines your employer brand as the image of your organisation as a 'Great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders).

Strategic employer branding is a whole of business, strategic concept. The art and science of strategic employer branding is therefore concerned with the attraction, engagement and retention initiatives targeted at enhancing your company’s employer brand.

The process of strategic employer branding is by nature holistic and is evident across the employee lifecycle from hire to retire.

Whilst this may be a straight forward concept in principle, in reality it can be a complex process to build an employer brand. The rise in a more audible employee and candidate voice through social media has increased challenges for companies but also provides opportunities for organisations that have previously relied on controlling employment messages to their target audience.

Today’s dynamic marketplace calls for an employer brand strategy that is considerate of all stakeholders and delivers a working environment that is engaging and inspiring.

What is an Employer Value Proposition (EVP)?

In its simplest form, an EVP is a set of associations and offerings provided by an organisation in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to an organisation. A unique, relevant and compelling EVP that is well defined, communicated and targeted can be the difference why talent choose your organisation compared to any one of your competitors. Your EVP is an employee centred approach that is aligned to existing, integrated workforce planning strategies because it has been informed by existing employees and your external target audience.

Based on the outcomes of their research and inights some organisations choose to have segmented (or targeted) EVP's for different segments of their target audience. These EVP's are most prominent in communications specific to the target audience whereas the company EVP is generally used in more generic communications.

It is the strategies to develop and manage the EVP(s) which usually provide the most challenges for organisations as more often than not their EVP(s) is aspirational rather than a realistic view of what it is like to work for the organisation. This is where effective employer brand management is most critical.

Who is responsible for employer branding?

Our research at Employer Brand International found whilst HR is driving the strategy in 36% of companies surveyed, increasingly teams of HR, marketing and communication professionals are managing the employer brand strategy especially in countries such as Russia and Ukraine. We are also seeing a greater role being played by CEO's and Executives especially in small-medium sized organisations.

What are the responsibilities of an employer brand leader?

An analysis of employer brand leadership job and person descriptions over the past five years shows a diversity of approaches used by organisations when recruiting employer branding leaders. Some companies focus their employer branding strategies on recruitment whereas companies such as Linkedin, Nike and Amtrak have adopted a holistic approach to employer branding across the total employment experience (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Employer Brand Leadership Responsibilities

(click on the image to read the full article)

Adopt a strategic approach to employer branding

The Employer Brand Excellence FrameworkTM can be used to guide your employer brand program across the employee lifecycle from pre-hire to retire (see figure 2).

Successful implementation of the framework will ensure the promise to customers that is articulated by the company’s corporate and consumer brand is aligned to the promise experienced to employees through your employer brand strategy. Develop in 2005 by Brett Minchington, the framework is even more relevant in today’s environment which requires companies to apply a ‘systems thinking’ view to how the employer brand impacts on an organisation’s ability to attract, engage and retain talent and the linkage between employees, customers and profit.

Figure 2: Employer Brand Excellence FrameworkTM

(click on the image to enlarge the framework)

Too many companies and vendors still promote employer branding as a talent acquisition and/or recruitment function. Companies adopt this perspective usually due to a lack of awareness of the benefits of employer branding across the employee life-cycle whilst vendors usually take this approach to support the business development of their products.

Focusing employer branding on talent acquisition usually results in an improved recruitment and/on boarding process that has usually very little impact on culture and/or business performance due to lack of consistency in the employee experience as they evolve through their tenure. Siloed organisational structures also do little to promote a strategic approach to employer branding because the HR personnel don't get along with the marketing and/or communications personnel. Exacerbating the situation is executives that have very little awareness of employer branding so it ends up as an operational project that lives in the HR department but has very little impact on business performance.

A contemporary approach to employer branding requires a strategic perspective towards how your company attracts, engages and retains talent. Begin by undertaking an employer brand audit and/or employee experience mapping project and hopefully the results will inspire your leaders to change their perspective and thinking on employer brand strategy and management.

Where shall we focus our employer branding efforts in 2015?

2015 will be a break out year for the employer branding industry if the trend of companies hiring dedicated employer brand leaders continues as it has over the past few years. We will see a tipping point in employer branding in 2015 which will be led by the USA where the economic growth forecast suggests companies will begin hiring again. However even in a growth market talent is getting harder to find.

Getting your employer brand strategy right will require a dedicated and disciplined approach by the leader driving the strategy with strong support from leaders across all lines of business.

These are the key areas you should focus your efforts in 2015, click here>

Advance your knowledge, skills and experiences in employer branding by studying for a Certificate in Employer Brand Leadership - for further information please click here>

To visit our bookstore for employer branding books and learning resources please click here>

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