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Employer Brand

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A guide to employer branding

Provoking thought Generating discussion Delivering results Making a difference

These are the questions that we What does it mean? answer in the latest How useful is it? Is it just a new term for an thinkBox paper on old and intuitive concept? best practice employee And, critically, how do you engagement.establish, build, shape or change it?

The Employer brand

Employer branding

What is an employer brand when its at home?

In theory, an employer brand has the ability to attract and retain the right people, influence productivity, engage, motivate, innovate, and therefore fend off competitors. An organisations wellbeing and reputation relies on more than the sum-total of its varying operations. Everything an organisation says and does plays a part in shaping its employer brand.How inextricable is the employer brand from an employers overall identity and reputation? Some companies possess an innately strong and distinguishable brand presence -The BBC, Marks & Spencer and Proctor & Gamble, for example. All have made appeals to job-seekers, who formed queues at the door as a result. Specific communication efforts were part of the plan. But an employer brand is built on far more than any slick roadshow or induction brochure. This is because potential employees have worn other stakeholder hats before, whether as investors, customers or members of the community. Any marketer knows that brand reputations are built on perceptions matched by experience. And that is no different with employer brands. Employees know what it is really like working for the organisation; they live it every day, good and bad. This is a key differentiator between overly-clever employer marketing or positive spin and effective employer branding. Good employer branding might accentuate the positive but, ultimately, it paints a picture that people can and will relate to.

the mission, recruitment processes, internal culture, leadership behaviours, working environments and feedback mechanisms all tell employees and potential employees what it is like to work there.

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Employer branding

Who owns the employer brand?

No one and everyone is the trite response. But it is also true. HR is often tasked with being the midwife and nurse to the concept of the employer brand within an organisation. However, too often it is seen as being the sole responsibility of HR.Employer brands and associated values that are the exclusive preserve of HR or internal communication teams will, more likely than not, end up as meaningless words translated into glossy posters, mouse mats and expensive videos. This is where organisations get it wrong. An important dimension to successful employer branding is the role played by an organisations leadership. Visible direction setting by leaders is a vital component in showcasing to employees the desired behaviours and culture. Organisations which try to encourage employees to understand and engage with their employer brand will invariably fail if their leaders are not actively living the brand themselves. Another argument is that any successful employer brand comes from within the guts of an organisation based on the innate culture, values and traditions of the workforce. It is not artificial, based on an expensive branding consultancys musings or simplistic focus groups findings. But what if an organisation wants to move its culture on changing behaviour and the way people understand, experience and relate to what their employer stands for?

Chicken or egg?

Do you start from where your employees currently are, basing brand-building activity around existing cultural traits? Or do you set a marker for where you want employees to be and change culture and behaviours accordingly? The answer is that you need a bit of both.Some may say this is the cop-out answer. However, to shape a successful employer brand which supports your organisations strategic goals you have to set a marker in the sand. You need to define what kind of culture, values and behaviour will help deliver the organisations goals. And you have to get leaders to be very clear about what kind of organisation they want to lead. But and its a big but this vision of the desired employer brand has to be realistic and achievable. It has to be rooted in the organisations current cultural traits so employees can recognise aspects which are important to their self esteem and why they joined the organisation in the first place. As such, knowing where you start from and where you want to get to will help define the journey of step-by-step culture change.

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Employer branding

How many ambassadors does it take to make a light bulb?

The notion of an employer brand can be defined by using two simple parameters: what an employee knows about an organisation and how they feel about it.

Positive examples of what these parameters mean in practice are: Understanding and experienceI know where this organisation is headed. I know what our priorities are and what my role is in delivering them. I am receiving a good pension scheme and training and development opportunities. My company gets us involved in a variety of community-based projects. My organisations leaders do what they say they will.

Emotive engagementI like working for this company.

I am proud of what the company stands for.

I feel valued through the work that I do. My organisations leaders care about me and my future.

Im not afraid to voice my opinions about issues that matter to me.

How emotionally engaged are employees in your organisation? And how positive is their understanding and experience of what your organisation stands for? By knowing the answers to both these questions, organisations can see how many of their employees are ambassadors for the brand. These ambassadors are people who both understand and are emotionally engaged.

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Employer branding

The ambassadors matrix is used by a number of organisations to understand how many of their employees are brand ambassadors, and how many are bystanders, loose cannons or wreckers. The challenge for every employer is to move employees into the top right quartile (see below) and minimise the number of employees in the other quadrants.Loose cannons Employees who are highly engaged whilst having a relatively weaker understanding or experience of the organisation and what it stands for Ambassadors Employees who are emotionally engaged and have a strong understanding / experience of the organisation and what it stands for

Wreckers Employees are both emotionally disengaged and have a weak understanding of the organisation and what it stands for

Bystanders Employees who have a strong understanding / experience of the organisation and what it stands for but are emotionally disengaged

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Employer branding

Taking employees on a journey of understanding and engagement

Building, shaping, or reinforcing an employer brand does not happen overnight. Nor is it a onehit process. Many organisations put their employees through sheep-dip brand engagement experiences that are often no more than a marketers or event managers wet dream. Lots of money is spent in a short period of time to achieve limited employee understanding, motivation and engagement.Deep and long-term employer brand building encompasses the life-span of an employees time with an organisation. From before joining to after leaving it, and including every experience in between, an employer has to positively shape and reinforce an employees relationship with the brand. This approach is known as employer brand journeys. Employers define the significant experiences employees have when working for an organisation and seek to influence each experience in ways which improve brand understanding and engagement.

The employer brand journey

5 The power of goodbye

1 Getting the right people on board

2 Welcome to the company

3 Getting to work

4 Entrenching the brand

The experiences along the employer brand journey can be as significant as being inducted into the organisation, receiving recognition for a job well done or being made redundant, through to receiving their pay slip, or talking to senior managers. They also include experiencing the way their organisation is positioned or represented in the media and advertising compared with the reality of working there.

The next section: Find out about the journey a typical employee experiences in the life-span of one job and examples of how some organisations have brought to brand the life at each stage of the employees journey.6 www.karianandbox.com

Employer branding

Step One

Getting the right people on boardAt this stage, the prospective employer is wearing his or her external stakeholder hats. This is where the employer brand journey begins. What might external branding suggest about what it is like to work for Orange, Cisco, DHL or Royal Mail? Even for the outsider looking in, organisations have an identity, a story, and a culture, that targets the right audiences at the right times, and differentiate them from their competitors. Employer rankings such as The Guardians Ideal Employer List, FORTUNES 100 Best Companies to Work For or even Working Mother Magazines 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers help to shape perceptions in a more definitive way. Organisations which land on top employer lists often offer challenging assignments, exciting training and development prospects, and therefore recruit bright people selectively. Or they may offer marketleading products and services and people are attracted by t

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