Celeste Sirin on why the two functions must collaborate to take the Employer Brand to the next level.
Historically, for candidates to find out what it’s like to work for a company in SA, they’ve had to rely predominantly on the corporate (mission, vision and values), product or service brands to gather information. People often assume that a strong product or corporate brand alone will attract candidates and customers. To succeed in today’s digital world, high performing companies are quickly realising that equal and focused attention must be given to their employer brands to attract, engage and retain the best talent. Brand experience is shaped by people irrespective of whether they engage with companies as a consumer, candidate, employee or stakeholder.
The product/service brand, together with the employer brand are interrelated to form a unified company corporate brand. But creating and preserving brand consistency across all spheres is not an easy feat. The debate is ongoing as to whether the employer brand best resides within HR or Marketing and Communications. The reality is that companies have so much to gain through Marketing (and Internal Communications) and HR working closely together in building their employer brands.
Whilst we might debate that we are in an employer-driven market, faced with a high unemployment rate where employer branding is a “nice-to-have” and not a “must-have”, this is not the case if we consider the following factors:
- Companies still require a strong and competitive employer brand to compete for scarce skills, especially when appealing to the passive candidate market.
- SA companies are failing dismally in managing the candidate experience, completely oblivious to how the lack of professionalism in serving their “candidate customers”, can detrimentally impact the company’s entire brand reputation.
- Ongoing internal employee engagement and embedding of your employee value proposition re-engages and elevates employees’ purpose, belonging and brings an organisation’s culture to life.
People are at the heart of driving your product or service - so even more reason for marketing to collaborate with HR in building the employer brand. Without good talent, how can companies sell their products or services? A siloed approach to Marketing focusing purely on the consumer brand, and HR on the employer brand is short-sighted, especially when Marketing is the brand custodian and has already established market research principles, strategies and channels to market.
So how does one create a successful partnership between HR and Marketing? Here are 5 steps that can move you in the right direction:
1. Designate an Employer Brand champion to sit in on marketing meetings
Acknowledging the fact that your CEO and leadership team must drive employer branding as a business principle, you still need a designated champion to attend regular marketing meetings to ensure that your employer brand receives the equal attention and action it requires to that of the consumer brand. A deliberate approach to establishing a competitive employee value proposition and employer branding strategy is necessary, otherwise, it can tend to become diluted and/or lost within Marketing’s holistic corporate brand strategy.
2. Allocate resources for Employer Branding
Ensure Marketing has allocated designated resources to work with HR in focusing and building your employer brand positioning, presence and ongoing nurturing. Resources can include digital media strategists, internal communications specialist, social media co-ordinators, recruitment marketers etc. all focused on driving the people brand and employee value proposition both internally and externally.
3. Have Marketing teach HR about segmentation
Through Marketing HR can access an established arsenal of brand collateral and marketing intelligence. Marketing’s strength lies in market research and segmentation so that the right message reaches the right target audience. HR can assist Marketing with understanding the different personas needed to create and tailor different employee value propositions to address groups of candidates (especially insofar as the multiple generations are concerned). By coordinating this intelligence with HR’s input on recruitment, retention and engagement strategies, companies have the opportunity to accelerate their employer brands and develop an Employer Brand Bible.
4. Have HR teach Marketing about the power of culture
With Marketing being focused on product or service, it is important for them to work alongside HR to better understand that employee beliefs, values and behaviours can have enormous impact and influence on the holistic corporate brand. Through listening to employees’ thoughts, observing their behaviours and embracing employee-generated input and opinions, Marketing can uncover authentic answers that will impact customers, candidates and stakeholders.
5. Ensure that your employer brand reinforces your corporate brand
A company’s employer brand complements your parent brand and with a focused approach from HR, Marketing can benefit from the impact it can have on improving a company’s holistic brand reputation.
Experience is everything and with the lines between the consumer and employer brands blurring, candidates and consumers alike often do not distinguish the difference in their interactions with a company. It, therefore, stands to reason that a strong collaborative approach between HR and Marketing is necessary towards building a competitive and desirable employer brand.