Getting your employees involved is one of the most effective means of building a strong employer brand and in turn boost your talent attraction efforts. So how can you get your employees involved in the employer branding for your organisation and what’s the next big thing for digital employer branding?

I spoke to Alexander Onish who is the digital employer branding manager of L’Oreal, a front runner in social and digital employer branding, to get some of his best advice and insights!

Listen to the interview on iTunes, SoundCloud or keep reading for a summary.

What L’Oreal do and how Alexander fits in:

About L’Oreal:  L’Oreal as you probably know is the world leader in cosmetics, beauty and grooming around the world. We have companies in more than 70 countries, we’re selling products in around 130 and basically we are on a mission to help provide confidence to men and women around the world, by making them feel better about themselves, protecting them against skin cancer, making them put together their optimum version of themselves, when they are presenting themselves externally and ultimately trying to make the world a more beautiful place.

Alexander’s Role: In terms of what I do there, I’m in charge of HR communication and specifically with digital communication. I’m not at all from an HR background. In fact I’m coming from the e-commerce and digital marketing world, where I was working on Kiehl’s in the US for about 2 years. And now my job is to use the same digital tools that I used for selling skin care in order to help attract top talent, which means managing the career websites and all of the campaigns that drive traffic there. CRM campaigns with our email database, social media and content strategy, as well as employee feedback tools.

And kind of on the side, just because I am an additional person working in HR, I’m helping with the upscaling of the entire HR community and helping introduce and onboard tools that help digitalise and get people to understand the objectives of why digital is so important even if we’re not talking about marketing.

The objectives of digital employer branding at L’Oreal:

Well I’ll go first through a principle that we like to use which is the loyalty of the principle, which follows the consumer on the main stages of their awareness of a product:

  • Their evaluation of a product;
  • Their purchase of a product;
  • Their post purchase advocacy of that product.

So in the HR world we use the same loop, but we replace the purchase with apply.

  • So we want to make sure that we’re developing campaigns and working with platforms in order to increase the awareness of L’Oreal as an employer.
  • Then give all the tools possible to help evaluate the benefits and possible options that you could have with a career.
  • The next step is to apply;
  • and then once you’re inside L’Oreal, to of course advocate on behalf of the company, in order to use the power of the network and the recommendation and the word-of-mouth to make more and more people come to join us.

So, our employer branding team is separate from the talent acquisition team; but we work very closely in tandem with them in order to make this loop as solid as possible. We focus as much as possible on the awareness and evaluation parts of the loop and of course on developing different platforms and procedures for inciting advocacy.

L’Oreal’s employer branding methodology:

Think digital: In employer branding we love to be, I guess, as digital as possible and what we do is a lot of testing and learning. In the digital world it’s better to to launch something and then improve after you have learned about how it works, so test and learn. So when we see a new platform or a new system that’s not necessarily meant for employer branding or HR communication, we say what could we do with this? Is there a way that we can hack it? Is there a way that we can use this media or take some of our existing content and put on this platform to reach people that we haven’t reached before.

Share content: We have tons and tons of great content that we’re creating ourselves, but we’re also collecting from all parts of the business all around the world and a platform, like for example SoundCloud, which normally is for DJs and artists to showcase their newest tracks, could actually be used in fact for showcasing interviews of people and we use that as a content repository and we use that to share sounds if you will on all of our other channels.


Some hard lessons learnt:

Know your audience: Just because you want to talk about something that you think is attractive to a candidate, or that you really want to share about your company because you think it’s really cool, it doesn’t mean that the candidate actually cares or that the message is going to even work on social media or digital channels, or even off-line. So first you have to really analyse the things that you’re actually credible to speak about and then of course intersect them as I was saying before with what’s attractive; then you have something worth of talking about.

Get employees involved: Also I guess say that it’s been an uphill battle and in some cases specifically with a project like Glassdoor. You know it’s a place where people could certainly air their dirty laundry and as it has traditionally been a place where we don’t want employees to go because we were afraid of what they’re going to say. But in fact if we treat this opportunity right and try and re-frame how the platform is perceived, or how other new digital platforms are perceived, then by showing what the possible benefit is or that they won’t be ignored anymore then we help try to change the discourse.

Experiment: If you’re trying to launch something new or you’re trying to launch something interesting, that you think is really going to make a difference, with employee advocacy, or with social media strategy, or a new candidate portal for example, that really takes itself out of the corporate environment; don’t be afraid to challenge the norm because the only way that you’re going to be able to make any change if you may be think of further than what people want you to go then you bring it back a little bit.

But there are certainly going to be obstacles in your way, especially in the HR world where people are certainly concerned about privacy and people are certainly concerned about ensuring that we keep our image and our reputation as positive as possible.

The future of digital employer branding:

Create a good experience: It’s not about employer branding anymore, it’s certainly about the employee experience and giving the power if you will, back to the employees. We talk a lot about advocacy and employee engagement and we want our employees to be sharing content and sharing their stories to their networks, which essentially does all of the work for us. I think that in the future, there won’t be employer branding teams when you have an engaged workforce that knows exactly what and how you want them to share.

Employees will be more involved: When I talk more about giving the power back to employees, I think it’s about creating platforms and encouraging the use of platforms, that get people to leave feedback and get people to play an active role in the construction of the future of the company; because first of all when people do in fact share they really feel like this culture is something that they can be proud of and something that they’ve constructed them self. But also you create a much better version of the company, so Glassdoor is a really important platform for not just for recruiting, but also for employer branding and getting people to go there and know that this is a place that we want them to share their experience.

So employer branding can be a much bigger role than you think as a change agent, because the tools are normally perceived as external are also internal. But we’re also working on launching internal engagement apps that actually encourage people to read news stories about us and share them on their own personal networks and that also gets people embedded into our culture, plus becoming advocates as well.

Follow Alexander on Twitter @AlexOnish, connect on LinkedIn, and don’t miss his recipe for Breakfast Egg Strata.

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About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a social and digital marketing agency.

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