Universum recently published its rankings on Finland’s most attractive employers. Earlier this spring Randstad likewise premiered attractive employers in Sweden. As always, strong corporate brands placed highly on each list. The question arises; is a strong employer brand actually, or at least partly, the result of a strong corporate brand? One thing is for sure though; an employer brand is a complex phenomenon, built by different kinds of messages and experiences and in different contexts.
Your clients, business partners or investors may be potential employees or alumni and therefore target groups for employer branding efforts. Marketing, customer experience, investor relations, PR and media coverage – they all impact on your employer brand and you need to be consistent in building your company story, irrespective of what stakeholder group you are communicating with.
What is more; in a digitally transparent world where word of mouth is stronger than ever, the actual experience needs to be aligned with the image. A positive employee experience can strengthen the image, however, it probably works in the other direction too; the image can strengthen the experience. Doesn’t it feel better to work for a company that has a good reputation? And what about the experience of employees in those companies that find themselves in a crisis or a scandal?
Employer branding is, in reality, as much about internal branding too. The real experts in your work community are those who are actually building it. You know the old PR truth that people don’t believe in management, but in experts. The same is presumably true when it comes to employer branding. Who would you trust more when wanting to find out about a work community – recruiting HR or peer employees?
Allow for versatile contents
Today, organisations need different types of communications content. People are extremely skilled in handling information and we all develop different strategies to cope with the overload of messages. For job searches, some of us count on LinkedIn, others scan careers sites or job boards, while others talk to their friends. On the other hand, we expect we will get the information we want in the media and in the formats we prefer. The baseline for employers is to have their careers site in shape. LinkedIn starts to be a must. Videos, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels are also popular for employer branding purposes.
Employee-driven communications represents perhaps the most important content to complement companies’ official streams. If you train your people in presenting, give them the tools to act as spokespersons and let them know your employer story and the company story underlying it: they will be able to bring it to life. Make your people visible in social media, in traditional media and at face-to-face events. And let them know that they have an important role in building your employer brand. Give room to diversity and nuances, as well as challenges and even problems – your employees are providing just the authentic non-polished picture of your work community that the official streams cannot cater to. Also, talk not only about profession and expertise, but also about culture and habits. A great example of employee communications is Wärtsilä’s employee radio, portrayed in Brett Minchington’s latest book that includes employer branding cases from around the world and will soon be available.
Target your message
Probably your organisation needs to talk to very different kinds of groups. You need to cover different geographical markets and appeal to Millennials, Generation X representatives, Baby-Boomers, young professionals, experts and specialists from many different sectors, C-level candidates and so on. It is self-evident then that you need targeted messages, different communications platforms and formats. BASF’s career site is a great example of targeting. EY, like many other consulting companies, are also skilled at segmenting information to different kinds of professionals on their career site.
So in a world already overburdened with messages, my honest belief is that what employers need to do to build their image, is actually to produce or provide the circumstances for even more messages. But this content should be varied, presented in different media and formats and include both professionally developed corporate materials as well as diversified employee materials, shared without the gatekeeper function of marketing or communications. The highly adept communications consumer of today will pick the contents relevant for him or her, and if you are able to support this by targeting, then that is a definite plus in the competition for visibility.
Pelagia Wolff heads one of Miltton’s corporate communication teams. She focuses on employer branding and financial communications and wants to be part of building a successful Finnish working life. Pelagia has a fascination with storytelling, whether it concerns business strategy, a unique work culture or princesses.