Imagine this: your organization spent thousands of dollars to conduct workforce research to build an authentic employer brand that launches perfectly. There is excitement around the new employer brand launch, complete with a thunderclap, champagne and branded cookies. But, what happens after the initial launch and excitement fizzles? What happens after time passes?
What we have seen, both as in-house practitioners and as consultants to our clients, is a shift from employer brand launch to daily employer brand management. This shift can be a very telling and trying time for an organization, particularly around ensuring brand consistency across locations and countries. There is a risk of recruiters going rogue on messaging. There is a risk of teams developing off-brand career microsites and creative collateral. There is a risk of rewinding the clock to before your employer brand initiative ever began.
Launching an employer brand is just the first step. How can we effectively shift to long-lasting brand management and get ahead of the potential risks? Here at exaqueo, we think it’s about having employer brand governance in place.
Adopt a Model of Employer Brand Governance
While externally we can’t control what employees and candidates say about our workplaces, we can put a strategy in place to underpin the day-to-day management of our employer brand. Doing so allows us to ensure employer brand adoption and sustainability for years to come. This strategy is employer brand governance, and it boils down to these four key components: People, Policy, Process and Toolkit.
PEOPLE: After an initial employer brand launch, where we’ve seen organizations fail is when they do not have the right person or team in the right place to carry the torch. The employer brand work becomes tasks recruiters are expected to do “off the side of their desks,” making it more about checking off a to-do list versus effectively managing a brand.
Leaders must ask themselves: do we have the right people in the right role to lead our employer brand strategy and daily execution?
POLICY: As employer brand professionals, there are policies that we must know and work within. They include a company’s code of conduct, PR policies (knowing what you can and cannot say on behalf of your organization), and social media policies. Where we have seen pitfalls arise is when organizations are decentralized and information doesn’t trickle down to a local or line level.
Leaders must ask themselves: what are the HR, marketing and legal policies and guardrails in place that our employer brand must follow? Do our people have the proper skills and training in these areas? Are we effectively communicating our policies to our teams?
PROCESS: Many corporate communications and marketing teams have processes in place before any asset goes live. This may include the CEO sign-off on all commercials or the CMO approving all press releases. There are checks and balances. There is a chain of command and approvals. But when it comes to employer branding and recruitment marketing, which is often a new role to many organizations, there is a lack of process maturity in requesting and approving assets. This creates inconsistencies and will quickly dilute the employer brand.
Leaders must ask themselves: do we have a defined process in place for accepting requests and approving materials? How do we best define and set up these processes?
TOOLKIT: Many employer brand “teams” are equal to one individual contributor or (if you’re lucky) a small, lean team of two or three people. However, these individuals wear many hats in support of large organizations and massive talent acquisition and/or retention goals. Having the right toolkit to support everyday employer brand management will help drive consistency. For example, a centralized, self-service job template and image library helps stakeholders adopt and extend the employer brand, without reinventing the wheel.
Leaders must ask themselves: do we have templates, tools and technologies in place to help our teams align and activate the employer brand, whether it’s at the corporate or local level?
Stop Policing and Start Empowering
Effective employer brand governance isn’t about policing your people and reprimanding them for improper logo usage. It is about thinking ahead and having a strategy. It’s about communicating to and empowering your teams by knowing who to work with, the policies to work within, and the processes and tools by which work gets done. And most importantly …
… it’s about keeping your employer brand strong and long-lasting.
Shannon Smedstad (@shannonsmedstad) is a Principal Employer Brand Strategist for exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting, and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.