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Employer brand made easy

Employer brand is about the whole employee experience. An experience that must ensure the right culture emerges – a culture that attracts and retains the right talent. Talent which attracts and retains the right customers. This blog looks at 7 employer brand lessons.

It’s Employer Branding Week and you’re motivated to learn a little about employer brand. What do you need to know?

In all honesty, I didn’t even know there was a ‘week’ for this but hey, we have a ‘week’ and a ‘day’ for everything nowadays, so why not. Here’s 7 employer brand lessons:

  1. It’s not rocket science

Just as your marketing department will have a customer value proposition; and they will have developed a set of brand attributes and a brand personality designed to attract and retain target customers, so employer brand does the same thing.

  1. It’s not all down to HR

Typically, agencies like mine get briefs from the HR team to develop an employer brand. That usually spells disaster. HR controls what is inaccurately referred to as the People Strategy and this usually influences things like reward, recognition, learning, line manager behaviour, recruitment and organisational design, to name a few. It rarely controls communication, facilities, finance and I.T., all of which hold huge sway over the employee experience.

An employer brand can only be fully implemented when all of those functions buy-in to one strategy that will shape employee experience.

  1. It’s all about experience

As Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines, said – and I paraphrase – happy employees make customers happy, and happy customers come back again and again. It’s not one of the big mysteries of the world. Your employer brand framework must describe what the day-to-day experience inside the business feels like. Is it fast paced or methodical? Is it all about fun and laughter or are you deadly serious? Is it about self-expression and creativity or is it about following process and standards? Agree the experience and then design things in that mould.

  1. It starts with customers, not with people

At the end of the day, the business needs to make money to survive. To do that it needs to know what it is selling and to who. When it knows who its target customer is, then it can look to that customer and ask itself what sort of behaviour they might expect from the people they come into contact with. When we know what these behaviour expectations are, then we can start to build an employer brand. You create an employee experience that will encourage and unlock the behaviours your customers want to see.

  1. Test it!

It’s not hard. Test it with your people and with people that might be considering a move within or into your sector. Make sure you are checking it with the right sorts of people – people that display the values you espouse – but test it. I won’t say it again.

Yes, I will. Test it!

  1. Don’t be in a hurry to publicise your employer brand – live it

Do you see the marketing department keen to share its customer strategy with customers? Are they getting pieces of direct mail prepared so they can mail the brand essence, strategy and guidelines to the door of every customer? No.

So why are HR departments so keen to tell employees all about their employer brand as soon as they have developed one? The first step always seems to be some attempt to put it all on the intranet or circulate it in a PowerPoint document. Like that is going to make the slightest difference!

Instead, live it! Bring it to life in everything you do. Train every member of your HR, Communication, I.T. and Finance teams to use the tenets of the employer brand framework when designing anything for employees.

  1. You will have to change some things

You might be the best thing since sliced-bread – hello First Direct, are you reading this – but even if you have created a great employee experience – hi, Pret and Southwest – then you will have to accept that the process will result in you having to change some things. Any employer brand has an element of aspiration in it. It reflects the changing nature of the workplace and the people coming into it. Generation Z are on their way, and they will want not just flexible working through the social media style tools they are used to; they’ll want learning and assistance in how to build relationships and develop soft skills. This will impact on the type of workplace and employer brand we are building.

Employer brand is not about recruitment marketing. That’s just one off-shoot from employer brand. Employer brand is about the whole employee experience. An experience that must ensure the right culture emerges – a culture that attracts and retains the right talent. Talent which attracts and retains the right customers.

Oh, and did I mention that you really must Test It!

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