Published on March 10, 2014
Employer Branding: 10tipstoavoid thebeartraps
Employer Branding 2 Employer Branding We often focus on the case for an employer brand and stories of success, but we don’t often lift the lid on the process. After being asked to speak at a recent conference on Employee Engagement and Employer Branding, Louisa Moreton, Director of Talent Communications and Consultancy at SAS, talks though her top tips and answers the question “what are the processes and approaches that can make the process painless and even enjoyable?” “You’vedonemanyEmployerBranding projects. We’veneverdoneone,and Ihopewe’llonlyhavetodoitonce.” SAS client
3 Employer Branding 1 2 DEPARTURE EXPERIENCE AND ALUMNI PROGRAMME EMPLOYER VALUE PROPOSITION CORPORATE BRAND RECRUITMENT EXPERIENCE ON-BOARDING AND INDUCTION THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE/ JOURNEY BRAND ENGAGEMENT INTERNAL COMMUNICATION TALENT MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATING CHANGE STORYTELLING VISION, MISSION, VALUES SOCIAL MEDIA The Employer Branding 80/20 rule Your Employer brand should be a mix of “today’s truth” and tomorrow’s ambition. How the employee lifecycle can help you Think of your Employer Brand as weaving through the employee lifecycle, from attraction and support, to on-boarding and training to engagement, internal communications and reward, through to exit and alumni. It has to be authentic and recognisable to your current employees and keep the promise made to candidates. This means reflecting your current DNA in how you express your employer brand. At the same time, your business will have a vision and objectives it needs to meet as part of the strategic plan, and your employer brand can help achieve this. The rough rule of thumb is 80% today’s truth, 20% tomorrow’s ambition. If you think of it in this way, you’ll ensure you get the right people involved in the project team, the research and the implementation. If you’re currently seeing it as a tool for recruitment only, then see if you can work with colleagues in communications and HR to expand the brief and get value from the project and consistency of experience in your business.
4 Employer Branding 3 Building a brilliant project team This can make or break the project – both in terms of getting the work completed and signed off, to implementing it. Spend time inviting/coercing colleagues on to your project team. Even if your Employer Brand is going to be used primarily for recruitment, you still need the input of other departments and functions. HR & resourcing. They will be heavy users of the Employer brand and can influence how deeply it is embedded in organisational people processes. Marketing & brand. They will ensure alignment with corporate brand, and if you have them involved from the start, they are more likely to sign it off at the end. Internal Comms. They can help you reach the employee audience (for example for research) and can also be part of implementation, aligning your messaging with theirs. Business functions. This is where your employees are, after all! Get representation from your key business functions, for example engineering, sales and production. Locations/geographies. Try to get a mix of heritage and future growth countries/offices. Is there a country/area that should be included for “political” reasons? Exec team/Board. If you don’t have a mandate from, or a sponsor in or at least the interest of the Board or exec, then you need to get one! Provide unprompted updates to gain and maintain interest or use a senior steering group as a conduit. Trouble makers. You know the ones… and you need them on your team! They will be cynical, critical and defeatist: in short, they’ll identify every possible issue and help you to mitigate, and they must just become the biggest advocate. 4 Documentation is your corner stone Your project is likely to last a while, so you need to be ruthless in keeping everything on track and keeping people engaged. Have clear roles and responsibilities; e.g. who has right of veto and who merely comments? Set up your project team – who will do the work – and a steering group (or senior sponsor) – who will ratify and sign off. Then create a RACI (who will be responsible, accountable, consulted, informed). Finally, once you’ve agreed key stages and rough dates, createa chart/slide that shows what will be happening when. Add to this a slide on why you do the project and the business case and you have a ready-made introduction to your projectthat your project team can use to update colleagues – ensuring a consistent story.
5 Employer Branding 5 Don’t race to the summit – take your time in the foothills Think of your project in three stages: research and recommendations, then implementation. Spend time discussing the research findings, challenging them and then agreeing the messaging to be taken forward. This will form part of the brief for implementation, so it’s worth getting it right because it will be expensive and painful to go backwards. Don’t race to creative concepts; get the messaging framework right first. 6 Secret to great research Use what you have already. It’s economical; time saving; sends a great message that you aren’t reinventing the wheel; it will inform the research you carry out. Agree the business areas you’ll research in. You need to reach the factory floor and the support functions not just exec or comms people. Who do you want to canvass externally? Hard to reach/scarce audience (e.g. engineers); people who have recently rejected a job offer; or people at competitor organisations? Geography. You might want to think about heritage or where your new markets are; or you might cover one country per continent. Let’s be honest, research programmes can get out of hand. You need enough to inform the proposition and be reflective of the organisation, but if you are planning a toolkit with flexibility, then local market adaptation will happen later. Admin support is critical. You need someone tenacious, charming and meticulously organised to make the research phase happen. From working with stakeholders to identify and invite participants, to arranging room, refreshments and permissions… it’s a big job. This is the most common hold-up. Diversity groups, they might be able to help you reach employees you would otherwise miss. Unions can make or break your project; don’t leave them until they are an afterthought. If their members are those you want to interview, you’ll need their help. A strong facilitator and thought- through question guide is key. Brief the facilitator on what you’d like to get out of the groups in addition to what’s in the question guide. Anything in particular you want them to look out for. Once they’re over, you can’t go back. Discuss and debate the key themes, before you move to recommendations,. This is your opportunity to identify red herrings, block up blind alleys and underline themes that you think are important. Work collaboratively with your agency… otherwise the chances are that the “ta dah” moment may be a flop.
6 Employer Branding 7 8 9 Think “application” even during research Think back to the employee lifecycle – where do you need the employer brand to be present? Allow the creatives to be creative As long as you’ve given them a great brief, and they’ve understood the key research findings, step back. Getting the best out of testing Will the project or steering team choose the chosen concept and will you then use testing to refine the idea? For example, it’s probably worth asking about reward and training in the groups. You may not have control over these areas, but they can either support or contradict your employer brand. Allow yourself to be open to something surprising as much as something very familiar. Listen to the story behind the idea and ask yourself if it could work today, next month, next year. Try to choose a future-proof concept. Or do you want to put all ideas out to test? Who will you test with – potential and current employees? Don’t go overboard; if you conducted good research to start, and spent time on the messaging, then you’re likely to be on the right track.
7 Employer Branding Employer brand 10 Implementation: think big Your employer brand can deliver value and bring consistency to so many areas of comms, HR and engagement. Once you have messaging agreed, start planning the workstreams through which you will implement the employer brand. You can focus on two types: where the employer brand needs to be evident (e.g. resourcing) and where you need to do remedial work in order to achieve your 20% ambition (e.g. addressing work life balance, doing salary benchmarking). Once you have identified the workstreams, give members of the project team ownership and accountability and set up monthly meetings at which you re-group to discuss progress. This will help keep the employer brand live and relevant beyond the initial launch.
8 Employer Branding About SAS We help organisations to find better ways of attracting an inspiring the right talent. Whether this means thinking in a more joined-up way, communicating with more authenticity or simply being more interesting, the resultis the same; better people, contributing more to your business for longer. For more information contact Victoria Sugg on +44 (0)20 3219 8700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.saslondon.com
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