Employer branding. If your company is hiring and doesn’t have an EB strategy yet, you might be in big trouble. Attracting and retaining top talent is a huge battle that businesses must fight; the competition for quality candidates is tough. Having a strong employer brand means there’ll likely be a lower employee turnover, lower cost per hire and increased interest among prospective employees.

As employer branmding techniques become more advanced, the need to keep abreast of exciting developments in the field becomes imperative. To shed some insight on where we’re at now, I’ve spoken with Claes Peyron of Employer Branding Academy.

Tell us about the Employer Branding Academy?

Employer Branding Academy is a company owned by Universum, and what we do is that we offer training and employer branding to HR, marketing, and communication professionals. Today we have two different offers. World class employer branding, and world class recruitment marketing. Both of these products are offered in either a blended format, including face to face meetings and e-learning or as pure e-learning. The courses typically take around eight weeks to complete and are designed to allow the participants to study in parallel with their day to day jobs. And at the end of the completed course, the participants also get a certification.

Let’s start with the big question. Why do we need employer branding?

Well, a few reasons why we need it today and why we probably will need it even more in the future. And that is that we see an increased competition. I think everybody has heard about the war for talent. McKinsey came up with this book I think in the year 2000 and edited version of that in 2012 where they basically said you know we were right back in 2000 but it was even more extreme than we thought.

And the increased competition is due to two things mainly. It’s aging population in most countries in the world. So basically there’s not enough younger people to fill the holes that the retirement people are leaving behind them. That’s one thing. And there’s also a much stronger focus on the topic in itself. So more and more companies are out there marketing themselves as employers. There’s also an increased focus on matching a company’s culture and value with the talent. So talent or young people, in general, are more and more aware of their own beliefs, their own bigger purpose in life perhaps and are trying to find the best possible match for the company. That means that companies basically have to get out there and talk about themselves in a softer way.

And thirdly there’s a financial reason. So several studies that we’ve seen and including Boston Consulting Group have shown that companies that invest in employer branding that they benefit from as much as 3.5 higher revenue growth and as much as 2.5 profit margin increases.

What’s the difference between employer branding and recruitment/HR marketing?

There’s so many different terms in this industry, isn’t it? And I think we’re all confused about it. But my view on this is that employer branding or perhaps employer brand management, as it’s more and more called these days, is long term. Meaning the long-term effort to create a brand position that attracts and retains the right talent. So it’s basically a company with a very clear notion of what we want to be perceived as three years down the road because if we are perceived as that, that will help us attract the people that will help us grow our business. That’s the long-term employer brand management. Well, over three years, or five years even. Recruitment marketing is much more short term. It’s about executing on that employer brand but with a full focus on driving increased number of quality candidates basically. So it’s very linked to classical recruitment but it’s adding the employer branding on top of that if that makes sense.

What’s a step by step guide to success employer branding success?

I can let you know five steps as I see it:

  1. The first and perhaps the most important step is to understand the business objectives. So basically understanding where my company’s heading? What are the biggest drivers in our future business plan? What’s going to make our company grow, be more profitable? Whatever it is that we have in our business plan, what are those drivers?
  2. And then it’s understanding the target groups that are most important to deliver on those business objectives.
  3. The third step is to set the EVP, as we call it, which is the employee value proposition. Basically, the promise that we make to future and current members of staff. As well as setting my KPIs, my key performance indicators, what I’m going to measure everything against.
  4. And the fourth step is to set your creative strategies. So basically the visual identity, perhaps the creative idea that you have that you want to bring out there when marketing yourself externally. As well as defining your communication mix. Which channels will do the job for me? Do I need to get out there and drive awareness, or consideration, or preference, or whatever it is?
  5. The fifth step is to execute on all of these plans and to follow up by using very careful metrics, continuously using data.

What employer branding pitfalls should companies avoid?

I would say it’s two areas. First of all, it’s that you don’t spend enough time understanding the business. Typically because this is done by HR. HR perhaps don’t have all that knowledge, and they don’t spend the time and understanding that are going to ask somebody that can tell them about these long-term drivers for the company. So that’s one of the traditional pitfalls I would see.

Second one is about the target groups, that many companies are way too vague in their definition of their target groups. They talk about engineers in general or, you know, business people in general. They don’t dare perhaps to be narrowed down and to be much more segmented. And then you end up with campaigns or messaging that appeals to no one really because you haven’t made the effort of narrowing it down to the people that you really, really need and really, really match you.

How important is it for employer branding professionals to stay updated?

Very important I think, because you know we are living in the information and knowledge society. And we’ll be doing that for the coming decades. So the talent aspect of business will grow dramatically in importance. I even predict that the second most important person in many companies in a few years will be the Chief HRO or the Chief Talent Officer if you like because the focus on this topic will be so strong. And a couple of years ago and in Davos, in the big meeting in Davos, the chairman there actually stated that talentism is the new capitalism. Meaning that companies that have a people strategy that beats other companies will have a stronger competitive advantage than perhaps having access to capital or the right products or what have you.

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About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter, CEO of Link Humans & host of the weekly Employer Branding Podcast.

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