Advertising no longer has the impact it once did. We are now firmly in the age of the well-informed and critical customer. Aligning employee behaviour to deliver the brand promise is now a strategic imperative for businesses that expect success.
This in turn places more responsibility on organisations to define the role of employees in delivering signature customer experiences. And that process begins with employer branding – the ability to package the overall benefits of being an employee so that every staff member buys in to a value that goes beyond the pay cheque.
US-based consultancy Employer Brand International (www.employerbrandinternational.com) has some great content on the whole subject – which I happily draw on here to give you encouragement and direction. They recommend that before drafting your employer branding statement, you work through two important areas of debate.
- Your employee platform
Here you need to reach consensus on the following aspects of the employee experience:
- The nature of your recruitment and induction process.
- The competitiveness of your pay and benefits.
- Opportunities for career development.
- Whether your reward and recognition is both fair and open.
- How well you communicate internally.
- Whether you ever ask employees’ opinions.
- The quality of work environment you have created.
If you are reading this list as an employer, you may well be feeling slightly anxious at this point. I’m not sure it’s a comfort, but you should know you are not alone. Less than 25 per cent of the companies I have engaged with over the last decade have had satisfactory answers to more than four of the above points
2.Your strategic platform
Here’s some good news. If you have already spent time defining your corporate brand - and if you are also happy that your HR policies are up to date – then you are going to race through this exercise like a Scotsman who has just heard ‘last orders’. For in your strategic platform you will need to consider and record the following:
- Your organisation’s vision, mission and value set.
- Your corporate reputation and culture.
- The nature of your leadership.
- Your approach to people and performance management.
- Your innovation strategy (no one wants to work for a business that stands still)
- Your track record in Corporate Social Responsibility (which often impacts employees more greatly than any other public)
Now would be a good time to undertake an employer brand audit or employee experience-mapping project. I often use Ipsos Synovate’s Employee Engagement study, which produces a very clear picture of the different levels of employee engagement across a company. The results never fail to change employer perspectives on staff management. And the ‘reasons why’ give you a pretty clear roadmap for improvement.
Employer Brand International suggest that following this framework will ensure the promise to customers made by the company’s corporate and consumer brand is matched by the promise delivered to employees by their employer brand.
Sadly, many HR people make the mistake of talking about Employer Branding as a talent acquisition or recruitment tool. But it has to be exploited further than that. It needs to become part of the employees experience throughout his or her tenure. It needs to form the bedrock of the organisation’s culture.
That’s why it is a good idea to involve both your HR and your marketing people in framing your employer brand. That’s not always easy because, quite frankly, those two disciplines rarely get along. But it’s worth persevering. Not only will you get a more rounded statement employer brand, you also enjoy the bonus of having marketing people think about staff as a target audience, and HR people curious to see the impact of their work on the customer base.
The focus for the employer brand leader is on recruitment at global companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and KPMG. However companies such as LinkedIn, IKEA, IBM, Google and Emirates have adopted a holistic approach to employer branding across the full employment lifecycle. In other words, they have turned the theory into sustained practice.
If the trend of appointing Employer Brand Managers continues as it is has in the U.S., Europe, and the UK over the past few years, there is no doubt the role of the employer brand leader will become more accepted here in Africa. And if you are looking for more fresh thinking on how to enhance your Employer Brand here’s a reminder that Professor Nader Tavassoli from London Business School begins his Massive Open Online Course on brands and people today. The course is entirely free; you can obtain a certificate of completion for a nominal fee; and you can sign up right here: https://www.coursera.org/course/brand
Chris Harrison has 30 years experience of marketing and advertising most of them spent in Africa. He leads the African operations of The Brand Inside, an international company that helps organisations to deliver their brands and strategies through their people. www.thebrandinside.com
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