In this article we start with an illustration of a UK company dating back to half a decade. Sainsbury, a leading grocery retailer in the UK, faced an attrition problem which was causing the business severe financial damage year after year. They realized that the problem was really a very simple one: there was a huge disconnect between what they were as a brand and what they were as an organization. Sainsbury had special initiatives for customers like a new low price strategy, the way they treated their own employees was very disrespectful. There was a great deal of concern and outrage among employees.
To tackle this, Sainsbury adopted an employer brand management system. They â€œtied upâ€ HR, Marketing and Communications so that they gave out a single unified message and reflected a positive message.
They instituted a lot of little measures to make sure their employees are treated respectfully. In addition to the operational training they got, they also understood the importance of good people management and this had a positive effect on how employees were treated. They also made sure that promotions were made from within the company rather than from outside. Training people internally and trying to promote people internally, showed that if one is a good worker, Sainsbury gave the opportunity to grow within the organization.
The effort paid off. It cut attrition rates by close to 10% over the course of two years. They also had significant improvements in employee engagement and productivity. These factors tend to be all part of the same picture: If you look at the attraction side of the business, once they have established the employer brand, attraction improves and conversation of good candidates into employees also improves.
Microsoft has an integrated idea of what the Microsoft brand stands for in terms of realizing people potential.
To start with, one needs a good insight into what the employeesâ€™ needs and aspiration are and the proposition the company is offering to them. Once there is some clarity over the brand offer one needs to make sure that there is an integrated system for delivering that experience across the organization. That would mean joining the various pieces such as recruitment, career paths, recognition into something that delivers a more consistent experience.
One of the most important things is to ensure that itâ€™s not just a HR initiative, but also a leadership initiative. The likelihood of success of an employer brand is much greater if it is embraced by the leadership team and supported proactively and promoted.
Not all employer brands are consciously created â€“ some evolve on their own. A very strong employer brand will emerge when you have a senior team with very strong people orientation and a very strong HR team.
Employer branding is becoming a compelling business imperative today. One reason is the growth in the economy and the pressure that it is putting on organizations to compete for talent in the market place. In any situation where the demand for talent canâ€™t keep supply there is competition. Where people have choice, branding is a very effective way of competing for peopleâ€™s choice.
In a modern capitalistic environment, one of the best ways to effect value is to see it as branding and brand management. Joining up with marketing, with the commercial side of the business, therefore delivers a service which is much more connected to the value delivering side of the business.
Employer branding runs a huge risk from one front though. There is often a temptation of manufacturing a positive image of an organization whereas in reality, the experience is somewhat different.
In contrast, companies are a lot more careful in terms of what they offer during consumer advertising: because they know if people buy the product and it doesnâ€™t work, word will get around that this is a poor brand. However, in employment recruitment is far more prone to over promising and inspirational image building than most marketing is.