Employer BrandingStrategic HR

Ali Ayaz: Is EVP in the heart of the Employer Brand?

Employer Brand Management is a holistic management process that brings the human element to the fore in companies and involves the functioning of a company, its productivity, performance and the happiness of its people.


It covers a whole range of elements of corporate life from the recruitment of a candidate; identifying and managing the talents in the company, holding performance reviews by giving “real” feedback and creating leadership. It has to be owned by top management. It should be managed as a project, it has to be there and managed strategically as long as the organization survives.

It has been more than twenty five years since Simon introduced the concept of employer brand. It is obvious that the idea of employer brand management has brought very different perspectives to the human resources department, and that it has introduced the concept of marketing to HR. Yet, it is still perceived as “recruitment marketing” or “corporate entertainment events”.

Admitting having failed to get the concept across well, I, at this point, want to criticize those company executives and so called consultants who think they can achieve the desired result through internal and external communications only. I came across some companies which claim they conduct employer brand research by asking “Which company would you like to work for?” at a university campus and shooting a couple of videos, as well as some advertising agencies claiming to create employer brand through social media communications only. As I see these improper practices, I feel the need to explain the proper way more. My admittance of our own failure explain the proper way more.

The first rule of being an employer of choice is to create a humane workplace. An employer of choice will focus on people rather than resources.

This does not mean not making profit or wasting resources. This means to really value, appreciate, ask the opinion of, listen to, and respect the differences of its people. To achieve this, it may require the company to be substantially reorganized.

 Employer brand management consists of three basic steps:

  1. Understanding (objective and diagnosis)
  2. Development,
  3. Implementation (including measuring, optimizing and managing).

OBJECTIVE

Employer Brand Management is not a finite project to be launched as a passing fad just because many companies are implementing it; rather it is an endeavor to be pursued as long as a company exists. A poorly planned project would do more harm than good, increasing your employee turnover rate.

The first step of employer brand management is to set an objective and the scope. You can start by answering “Where do you want to take your company and how will a strong employer brand help you?” “Do you have problems attracting or engaging people as an employer?”

The next thing to do is to secure the support of the top management. Starting without gaining the top management’s support will generally leave you in the lurch. Relate the objective of the project to top management’s strategies. You must make the benefits of the project known also to the other departments so that you can gain their support and acquire companions for the journey. Then, you must form a steering committee. If possible make sure that each department is represented. Although the participants’ seniority in the company is not very important, it will help if they are people who know the company and contribute with their ideas as well as charismatic people who can influence people.

DIAGNOSIS

The second step is to understand and define your existing situation. The discovery step starts with the human resources department; however, before holding interviews in the department, you should analyze the results of the qualitative and quantitative research (employee engagement, exit interviews, internal customer satisfaction, focus groups, employer perception outside the company, candidate experience etc.) available in the company. Third party research companies conducting these surveys will provide you with the reports.

Reports show ups and downs by years, but they do not question the reasons for these fluctuations or invariable state. You must question these reasons. Start asking questions.


What sector and what type of labor market is your company in?

What are the working conditions, wages, and side benefits?

Who are your competitors (sectorial, functional) for benchmarking purposes?

How much is the demand for your company, who is demanding it (employer image)?

How many applications do you receive to your job ads, do the applicants really have the competence you are looking for?

How engaged are your employees (our question is not “whether they are engaged” but “how much they are engaged”), how satisfied are they?

What is the level of interdepartmental cooperation in the company?

Can you achieve your corporate vision and business objectives with you existing employees?

What else do you need?

What do you promise to attract candidates and increase the engagement of your employees, what should you change, what can you change; what kind of an organization do you need to keep your promises?

And the most important question: what kind of a leadership team do you have?


Once you have identified the existing situation, some of your findings may not please you. But you have decided to continue the project. Here, from this point on, you are starting the development phase.

DEVELOPMENT

Once you have identified the existing situation, you must clearly state the ideal situation you would like to achieve and state the ideal situation you would like to achieve and strategically plan the journey in between. At this stage, you will strategically plan the journey in between. At this stage, you will first define your target candidate profile (candidate persona) and then how you will position your company and what you will promise as an employer to attract candidates and maintain the promise as an employer to attract candidates and maintain the engagement of your employees (EVP – Employee Value Employee Value Proposition). You will have to revise, eliminate, and reconsider many ideas.

Do not forget to highlight your difference/s from your competitors and your unique value proposition. While trying to create a brand, do not fall into the trap of forming a dull entity without character.

Creating the Employee Value Proposition is one of the most critical points of the project. You turn your findings in the previous stages into promises at this stage. And determine what you should propose, what characteristics of the company you should bring to the fore in order to attract candidates and enhance their engagement when they are employees. In product brand communication you can exaggerate the facts a bit.

The ice cream you eat takes you to an exotic land or your car is so attractive that the traffic turns into a mess because the other drivers cannot take their eyes off it. On the other hand, when it comes to employer brand management, you must relate only to the facts. If the facts you will relate to do not satisfy you, you should first change them, then turn them into promises and communicate them.


Attention:  While the Employee Value Proposition states what kind of an employer you are and what you promise, Employer Brand Management ensures that what you communicate to your employees and the experience you provide to them is in accordance with your EVP. (this text goes into special box)


 IMPLEMENTATION

This is the phase in which you will make all stages, from recruitment to retirement, purposed to ensure both candidates and employees live your promised experience. This is exactly where most projects are put on the shelf. So, beware of this where most projects are put on the shelf. So, beware of this stage.

The creator of the Employer Brand concept, Simon Barrow , says that the main positioning you have devised, your propositions, and the experience you promise should be delivered at every candidate and employee touch point so that they can go beyond being a mere slogan. Otherwise, the results of all your work up to this moment will not go beyond being pieces of a poor discourse and will have no credibility on the employees’ side.

You must make every point (Picture 1) that you come into touch with the employee such as the candidate experience, the first day orientation, performance assessment, career planning, personal and professional development, awarding, salaries, and side benefits suitable for your promised experience. Your promises, slogan, and communications should translate into an experience. Embedding your strategy into operations is one of the most challenging steps.

Picture 1. Modern Management Consulting touchpoint model

Employer Brand projects are carried out primarily for existing employees. The main purpose of employer brand projects is to organize (or often to improve) the workplace experience of employees. If you start external communication before improving the working conditions and processes inside, you will decrease the satisfaction and credibility inside the company.

MEASUREMENT

Through areas of measurement you can find out not only your areas of improvement but also those factors preventing the project from making progress. 9 – 12 months after proceeding to the implementation stage, how much of the target results have been achieved, what has changed, and what needs to be changed should be measured. The top management team, just like they control the financial

results of the company every period, should also examine employer brand management results. The following are example measurements.


  • The employer reputation outside: New graduates + professionals + local community, Rate of direct applicants and recruitment without using an intermediary firm, Rate of new candidates coming with existing employee referrals, Rate of direct applicants and recruitment without using an intermediary firm.

  • Recruitment metrics Ex: qualifications, unit managers’ satisfaction by the newly recruited employees, Job offer / acceptance rates
  • Orientation experience, Internship experience
  • Social media analysis
  • Exit interviews, Employee turnover rates
  • Employee engagement, Internal customer satisfaction ––interdepartmental communication, interaction and service satisfaction, Sickness / absenteeism rates
  • Business results – Utilization, release of new products, the employees’ spending their working hours more productively, etc.
  • Relations with former employees – EY often organizes networking events with their former employees (those who retired, resigned, presently working in other companies or not).

CONTINUITY

Employer brand management (Picture 2) need to be maintained in a consistent manner. As a matter of fact, if a company has come this far, it must have understood that employer brand management is something beyond a passing fad and requires continuity.

Picture2. Employer Brand Management Scheme

As I have stated on several occasions in the book, it is very important to gain the support of the top management team to ensure continuity. To put it once again, you should show them the strategic and economic benefits of employer brand management before its emotional benefits and reconstruct it in accordance with, and relate it to, the changing market conditions and corporate structure.

THE SECRET OF THOSE COMPANIES WHERE PEOPLE WANT TO WORK THE MOST

 … or becoming a branded employer is simple. The problems in those companies that could not retain their employees were common in the projects we have run up to the present day. The high performance companies that rendered its employees engaged also had many characteristics in common.

o   A clear vision and future target. Companies which are not going anywhere cannot take their employees anywhere or develop their employees, either.

o   Leadership team. Select and train your leadership team well. They should be well equipped in the topics of team management, effective communication, and giving and receiving feedback as well as achieving good results.

o   Human approach. Establish sound relationships with your employees and make them feel that you understand them, appreciate their work and they are valuable. Doing this is not only the task of the human resources department. This structure should be established starting from the immediate manager. There is no other way of coming into contact with all the employees in companies with thousands of employees.

o   Talent management. Select and train the most suitable people for the corporate culture and the position in question. Tell people that not everybody can be managers, that there is a need for experts who do their job well in your company, and that there is a fair talent management process.

o   Transparency. Inform the employees about as many processes as possible, particularly the processes of talent and performance management. Employees who are informed will feel more valuable. By acting in a transparent way, you will also prevent the rumours that can emerge in the company.

Ali Ayaz

Founder of Employer Brand Academy
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