Several years ago, I plugged in a simple search for “employer brand” on LinkedIn. At that time, I recall there were approximately 300 people listed in the search results. Today, that same search produced 144,216 people! It’s exciting to watch the surge in interest, the growth of a profession, and the focus on such important work. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a number of calls with individuals new to or interested in employer branding.
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For organizations, achieving strategy is all about vision. Where do you want to go and how do you want to get there? And a big component of that is talent. To get where you want to go, you need to have the right people along for the ride.
Therein lies the conundrum: how do you attract and retain talent based on your organization’s vision when current state doesn’t match desired future state?
Going it alone can be valuable when you’re short on resources, and long for talent. But for many organizations, working with an external partner can provide in-depth, rigorous experience when you don’t have it in-house. Depending upon an organization’s goals, there is a whole list of reasons why you might take this step
For football fans, the Super Bowl is the much anticipated game of the year, pitting the final two teams standing against each other to determine the season's NFL champion. For non-football fans, the Super Bowl is also a must-watch experience to find out which commercials everyone will talk about on Monday.
So what does the Super Bowl have to do with employer branding?
Find out now.
From your employer brand to employee recognition, here’s the latest talent and HR news. Enjoy!
1) 5 Ways in Which You Should Let Employees Influence Your Brand from Entrepreneur
“For employers, relinquishing control of the brand can be hard. But think of the upsides -- and they do exist. Relinquishing control of the company brand is intimidating for employers. But allowing their employees to have a say in it can be positive. Example: Recently, Starbucks changed its dress code policies, allowing employees to wear different types of hats (literally, not figuratively) and dye their hair unnatural colors. In this case, the company listened to employees and allowed them to drive the brand forward. Starbucks considered the benefits of connecting with different types of customers through employees’ colorful styles and saw the policy change as a chance to bring employees in on branding efforts…”
Have you seen it, Heineken’s Go Places ad and website? If you haven’t watched this latest, buzz-worthy employer branding ad, click on the embedded video below. It’s definitely worth a minute of your time. Once you’ve watched, explore the Go Places website and enter “The Interview” door. You will quickly realize why AdWeek stated this is an “HR campaign that’s as cool as any consumer ads it’s done.”
Here’s our take on this slick, sexy campaign.
Disclosure: Heineken is not our client.
The video is smart, lyrical poetry. The website is engagingly informative. You can’t help but want to spend time on the site, continue through The Interview door and discover the result of your interview. This is a prime example of just how impactful great creative can be. It creates buzz, strengthens brand awareness, and provides insight and differentiation into the employment experience. And it’s obvious a lot of time, energy, brainpower and money brought this idea to life.
But what happens when an engaged candidate clicks the green Apply To Jobs Via Career Site button? “It is a shockingly different user experience,” shares Kathleen O’Brien, lead consultant and project manager at exaqueo. “One that will likely create a high drop off rate at the part that matters most—the ATS conversion.”
Pull through a consistent experience.
According to AdWeek, there were three agencies that had a hand in the work (and clearly a budget most HR teams dream of). And while they put a great deal of thought into the user experience, they didn’t quite think about the candidate experience: what happens after their target audience clicks for jobs. It’s a great example of front-end excitement followed by unaligned copy and imagery, a typical back-end ATS experience and honestly, some candidate frustration.
We all want to wow users and attract talent, but it can’t just be the window dressing. It has to follow through. And that’s where you come in.
“While this campaign is really well done, there’s an incredible lesson to be learned,” explains Shannon Smedstad, lead consultant and newest member of the exaqueo team. “Great creative is nothing without HR strategy behind it. Nothing without thinking about how it affects your ATS, your tools, your systems, and your candidate and employee experiences.”
Campaigns must connect to strategy.
As HR and employer brand leaders, you know your workforce better than anyone else—it’s your expertise. Your people are at the heart of what you do, day in and day out. So while it’s exciting to wow the user and think big, don’t forget your roots, your people. They’re not customers. They’re candidates, they’re employees. And choosing a job is just a more impactful life experience.
Honestly, this is why exaqueo exists—to connect the wow with the people. To help illuminate your expertise. To help consumer marketers understand HR. And vice versa. As you’re planning for 2017, think about the impact you can make—and let us know how we can help you ensure the power of the creative connects purposefully to your HR strategy.
Employer branding cannot be done by an agency or marketing or communications alone.
They need you.
Watch the Heineken Go Places ad below, experience the full site and then tell us what you think in the comments.
Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps companies build cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn how to better compete for talent by building honest, authentic employer brands and powerful talent attraction and retention programs.
Here’s a mix of the latest news on employer brand, culture, employee referrals and more. Enjoy!
“One of the most overlooked challenges that small businesses and startups face as they experience growth is their ability to become competitive when looking for high quality employees. Many of these small businesses and startups are competing for the same talent as much larger, more established organizations, ranging from Enterprise level companies to established mid-sized businesses and other small businesses. While it’s hard enough to find the right person to fill a role, it becomes an even more daunting task when you are a relative unknown commodity in a hyper competitive market…”
At exaqueo, we believe that culture is the way in which you work--the norms and values that define who you are as a business and what makes you different. It's how you get work done and the way people are expected to behave. Culture is your foundation and then your build your business around it. That said, here’s the latest news on workplace culture. Enjoy!
1) The Ultimate Guide to Improving Workplace Culture from SnackNation
“Improving workplace culture is a thorny issue for most business leaders. It’s something that they probably know is important, but can’t quite get a handle on. Finance, strategy, product development, operations – those are the tangible, measurable elements of their business.
But Culture? That’s the definition of the “soft stuff,” the stuff they probably skimmed over in business school, the stuff that makes their eyes glaze over whenever speakers bring it up at conferences. However, more and more leaders are learning it’s no coincidence that the biggest, best, and most innovative companies also happen to have great cultures. In fact, so often these companies are great precisely because they have phenomenal workplace cultures…”
Company culture and employer brand are inextricably linked. A company culture is the foundation. It's what's accepted and what is not. An employer brand is the whole experience and the strengths you leverage to position your company among competitors. This week, we're sharing some pieces on both hot topics. Enjoy!
"I don’t think companies put enough stock in their cultures. Company culture is like an employee’s attitude; it will make or break you. Your company’s culture is a strong determining factor in its adaptability. We’ve established that the only constants in the future of business are change, agility, and the ability to pivot in response to market shifts—and that technology is essential to the success of a company. Your organizational attitude is marked by your business’s aptitude to change. Are you prepared for the future?"
This past June, FlexJobs hosted the TRaD* Works (*Telecommuting, Remote, and Distributed) forum on remote work. Major brands gathered to discuss how to maximize remote work programs, covering topics such as recruitment, management, communication tools, branding, culture, challenges/benefits and ROI. Not surprisingly, we learned that more professionals and companies utilize remote work than ever before. The newest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data just reported that in 2015, 38% of workers in management, business, and finance did some or all of their work from home. And, many companies are realizing that in order to attract, engage and retain talent, most notably millennials, flexible work arrangements have to be a priority. Plus, it’s known that the more flexibility we give workers, the happier, the less stressed and more productive they will be - which will ultimately benefit the worker and company. That being said, there is a lot of pressure for companies to change their policies and keep up as fast as the rate technology is changing.
Employer branding is such an important focus area; it has the power to affect the overall market perception of your company. So what is it about your company that would attract talent? Why would people want to work for you? What makes your company stand out? At exaqueo, we understand that every company is unique, which is why we take a bespoke approach to building honest, authentic employer brands and powerful talent attraction programs for our clients. In this week's Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup, we're featuring recent insight into just that.
1) These Are Job Seekers' Top 3 Priorities Right Now, According To LinkedIn from Fast Company
"Last year, job openings in the U.S. hit a five-year high, clocking in at over 5 million, where they remain today. That's a lot of positions that need filling, but the good news for employers is that a staggering 90% of professionals, according to new research here at LinkedIn, are open to considering them.
One reason so many people say they'd like to hear more about job opportunities is because they simply don't know enough about them already. For all the job-search resources out there, it seems people still need more—or different—information about prospective employers than they're currently getting.
That points to a pretty big disconnect in the employer brand department, but to mend it, companies need to know what job seekers actually want to learn when they’re skimming job descriptions and career sites, and weighing whether or not to apply."
Over here at exaqueo, we love brand. Consumer brands are cool, sure. But for me personally? Employer brand has more meaning. Sure, there are products and services that are invaluable and that change your life. But (almost) everyone works, and you spend most of your time at work. Deciding where to work is a major life decision. The salary you land on, the experience you get, the connections you make...this mostly sets the trajectory for your professional life. So that brand experience is crucial. This week our Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup features the latest thinking on employer brand. Enjoy!
1) How to Use Employer Branding to Become a Talent Magnet from Beamery
"Recruiters at Google probably have a much easier time of it than you! It’s not because they’re necessarily any better at their job, it’s because Google’s employer brand is so strong. The company has become THE place to work for many great engineers. Everyone has heard of Google and the exciting projects that it’s working on, (self driving cars being perhaps the most famous.) Therefore, whenever a sourcer reaches out to a top candidate, they’re already predisposed to listen to whatever it is they have to say. This is the power of branding! You may not have the resources or reputation of Google, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t build an awesome brand."
In a few days we’ll be celebrating Halloween here in the states. The role Halloween plays at different points in life is kind of funny. You love dressing up as a kid and getting as much candy as you can. Then you reach an age where it’s just not cool anymore to dress up and go around your neighborhood asking for candy (my mom has a policy that if the trick or treater is taller than she is, she won’t give them treats). Just when you think you’re done with dressing up, you get to college and young adulthood and the costuming resumes.
I remember the first year I decided not to dress up. It felt a little weird being on the other side, handing out the candy rather than collecting it. In some ways it symbolized a departure from innocence to responsibility. The next year didn’t seem so strange, and then it became more and more fun to be on the other side and show off that I was “older.” This got me thinking about change and transition.
Last week, we hosted our inaugural class - Brand Like a CMO - as part of our learning series. We invited speakers from non-HR functions to educate employer brand practitioners on the fundamentals of consumer marketing. Speakers included: Steve Hoeffler, a marketing professor from Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management; Mitzi Gaskins, VP of Luxury Brand Management for Marriott International; Caroline Frisbee, VP - General Manager for Delk; and Peter LaMotte, Chief Digital Engagement Officer for Levick. Participants came from all over the country (and Canada!) and from a variety of industries.
Some of you may have heard about the Lilly Pulitzer partnership with Target and the mayhem that ensued when it was launched. I shamefully took part in the mayhem. I’m not a die-hard Lilly Pulitzer fan, but fell victim to their marketing. They had countless media plugs, a pop-up shop in NYC, and a glamorous marketing campaign that consisted of 3-D snapshots sprinkled with models and celebrities oozing the Palm Beach life. My intense desire to take part in this lifestyle mimicked an eight year old child walking down the candy aisle of a grocery store. I had to take part. I scoured the collection and researched blogs with the best strategy to ensure I ended up with my most coveted pieces. On the day of the launch, my friend and I waited in line for the store to open with about 50 people in front of us and 80 more behind us.
It all comes down to marketing. When a political candidate is lobbying for votes, he’s campaigning. I would argue he’s marketing. When a lawyer makes it to partner, she’s no longer practicing law, she’s marketing the firm’s services to bring in new business. When a recruiter is seeking out candidates, he’s recruiting. I call that marketing. We could all use a lesson or two in marketing because it applies to a heck of a lot. Most professionals in the HR space are not trained marketers. But so much of what we do involves the core of marketing. Instead, we think marketing is all consumer facing, but it’s just as important to market a company to both candidates and employees (and even alumni!) as it is to consumers.
We’ve talked about the importance of the link between HR and marketing. To help speak the language a little better, here are some tips to help you think like a marketer when marketing your employer brand.
Your company culture and your employer brand can be pulled through to any part of your organization that touches your employees, including a vacation policy. A company’s vacation policy, and how you promote it, can say a lot about your culture and brand. The spectrum is broad – from no vacation for the first year of employment to unlimited vacation. Some industries – such as the financial industry – require two weeks (to be taken all at once) for legal reasons. Some companies opt to make their vacation policies unique to their company. Here are a few examples of different vacation policies that connect with the culture: Netflix: Netflix’s culture of “freedom and responsibility” is pulled through to so many different parts of the employment experience. Its vacation policy is no different, allowing unlimited vacation as long as employees get their work done.
Last night millions of Americans tuned into the Oscars to find out who the most talented people are in show business. Why do these awards matter to us so much that we even broke Twitter from excessive retweeting? Awards mean credibility. It’s a way for industries to call out excellence and inform the public of the best of the best. The actors, writers, and directors who were nominated and won last night worked hard to get to that point. The exclusive club of Oscar winners practically guarantees a spot in any movie of the actor's choice. The personal brand recognition of an Oscar winner sky rockets, and the public is now more willing to spend $12 to see his/her movie. The same applies to your employer brand. As a startup or growing company, you are competing with bigger, well-known brands for talent. You are always looking for ways to show credibility early on, and one way (certainly not the only way) could be to stand out through employment-related awards.
Over the weekend, I was explaining what I do to a few friends. In describing what we do, I emphasized the need for strong company culture, employer brand, and talent strategy because these elements of a business affect the bottom line in the long run. By not caring about these things, companies risk high turnover, among other consequences. Costing between 25% and 250% of a single employee’s annual salary, high turnover has a profound effect on the bottom line. While explaining this to my friend, he asked, “is there ever a time when turnover is good?” I had to think about this one for a bit. According to Software Advice, new employees who replace those who left can bring new ideas; however, high turnover is traditionally thought of as a negative indicator. That said, there are some industries where turnover inevitably is, and likely always will be, high. For example, retail, food service, or customer service are all industries with high turnover. These jobs consist of a workforce that is typically compensated on an hourly basis.