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7 lessons for Employer Branding

Employer branding differs from usual commodity branding. Choosing an employer is more like dating or voting in the general election. Employer branding is what employees and potential employees (candidates) think about a company. The employer branding affect the ability to recruit and retain the best talent. Here is a simplified marketing tactics for employer branding:

 

4P tactics4C conceptEmployer market
ProductConsumer wantProfessional challenge, Company status & vision etc
PriceCost to satisfySalary and benefits, Security etc
PromotionCommunicationCompany brand awareness, Company communication etc
PlaceConvenienceJob placement, flexible hours, Remote working etc

Define your employer brand

It is not uncommon that the employer brand image has no clear manager and no defined strategy.

 

  • 1. Clear responsibility

The first step is to define responsibility and secondly to define the company brand image. Employer branding is sometimes placed within HR which would be analogue to give all marketing responsibilities to sales. Communicate the employee brand image to employees and potential employees alike. You can only have one image. Start with a smaller group of employees and with a general broad image. Expand the group and precise the brand image over time.

 

  • 2. Manage expectations

There is a tendency among some employers to stretch the qualities of the company brand image to compensate failure in other areas like salary and benefits or professional fit and challenge. Nothing will destroy your employer brand faster than making promises that you can’t keep. Don’t forget to define what doesn’t fit into your employer brand image.

 

  • 3. Involve employees

Employee satisfaction surveys provide a trend where you are going. Exit interviews/surveys can identify failures and areas of improvements. Another way to check the health of your employer brand image is to involve selected employees in a workshop where they provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.

 

Defend your employer brand image

Trust is fundamental to any market place, but especially the labor market. The labor market is not equally transparent as a normal commodity market. You can not try out several different employers at once. It takes time to get into a job and it takes time to switch. Many aspects of an employer brand can change during an employment.

 

Trust is built upon consistent alignment between the company brand image and the brand perception within the target group of employees and potential employees.

 

  • 4. Focus on key moments

Living up to the brand promise at key moments is crucial: Job advertisement, application process, interview, offer, onboarding, performance management and exiting.

 

  • 5. Prepare for crisis

Unexpected and planned crisis will happen and the company needs to address the challenge quickly, confirm the problem and present an action plan what will happen in the future. These challenges may include: off-shoring, out-sourcing, down-sizing, sexual harassment, breaking of labor law, bad company results, merger and acquisition, new CEO, key employees leaving etc. A crisis is a turning point, small or big. If it is perceived as good or bad is heavily influenced by how the communication is handled.

 

  • 6. Demand vision and leadership

Trust is not solely built upon of the proficiency and content of the communication. Every employee and potential employee also needs to know and like the company vision and the leadership of the company. A top manager doesn’t need to be Steve Jobs, but he/she needs to visible every day and the employees need to look up to him/her.

 

Understand the limitations of branding

Don’t forget that the employer brand image is the way you want to get perceived by employees. It isn’t the corporate strategy to solve shortcomings in vision, organization and leadership. Just like branding of a consumer product can’t solve potential flaws with a product you are trying to sell.

 

  • 7. Don’t try to be the CEO

The manager responsible for branding is probably not the right guy to address, identify or change the fundamental properties of the employer. Leave the value proposition job to someone else: management and HR.

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