So, over on another blog, I read an article insinuating that employment branding was nothing more than a way for agencies to schnooker money from talent managers. You can read the initial article here.
Here’s my response:
So let’s all take a step back from the rhetoric so we can analyze this problem objectively. First of all, I can easily say that no one of competence has ever really explained employment branding to you or shown you numeric results of how it can positively affect a company. And, I assure you from experience, it can.
So let’s start with the basics:
Employment branding refers to a larger group of services that treat recruitment and retention efforts like building a brand. It has nothing to do with creating brand-building tv spots like Nike or Apple, rather it has everything to do with using the same emotional triggers (often seen in good advertising and design) that draw someone to a brand outside of just rational benefits. Think Nike or Apple. Their products are more expensive, but their branding makes people want to buy them for the association and perception benefits.
Case in point, the EVP, or employer value proposition, is an attempt to define the intangible qualities of working with your company. Other than their balance sheet and dental plan, what motivates me to want to work for Google over Yahoo; Nike over Reebok; or The Home Depot over Lowe’s? Sure, many of those things will be tertiary employee benefits, like bringing your dog to work or not working in a sweat shop, but they make a difference. Recruitment advertising throws a laundry list up on an 8.5×11 flyer and hopes somebody notices. It’s a classic push strategy. Employment branding takes those ideas and shapes them into a message that features the benefit of working with that company to a candidate. It uses both emotional and rational messaging to draw them into that company.
Just like in a retail brand, the manifestation of an employment brand is the combination of several talent facing and employee facing concepts, including talent management software, referral programs, college recruitment programs, signature experiences, internal communications and recruitment. Shaping a consistent look and feel that delivers on a company’s core values is really where the agency comes in. They should be able to help a CTO or HR manager extract most of the core ideas for the employment brand from the company vision statement and extended intangible benefits. Then the agency can help them express that creatively in a campaign. Also, the agency should help them place it in different media that just classifieds and Monster. There are too many opportunities out there to get in front of potential candidates that just “the old standby’s.”
And with the economy in the shape it’s in, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting the right people, not just warm bodies. Because your applicant flow will be far greater now, you need to be actively screening for good people that share your core values. Again, this is where EB comes in. Not only should it screen in the right people, it should effectively screen out the scrubs you don’t want. In work that we’ve done in our past, we’ve flat out told people that “this job isn’t for everyone.” You know what that effectively does? It tells the lazy dude to buzz off and encourages the competitive candidate to step up and apply. We’ve also done work that showcased different working environments that stiffer, more corporate types would hate. And in numeric, quantifiable ways, it has worked. But don’t just take it from me, take it from the Marine Corps. They used the “We’re looking for a few good men” line starting in 1776, and for over 200 years it helped them attract a different breed of soldier. Screening worked then, and iit will continue to work today.
I know you like to think that agency folk don’t know what they’re talking about because it’s easy to hate on agencies. We lie, cheat and steal just like Darrin Stephens or Mel Gibson from What Women Want. However, some of us actually do our homework, know what we’re talking about and make a difference for our clients. Some of us do great creative work that’s strategically sound and helps HR managers get better people. So before you cast wide aspersions that employment branding is throwing millions of dollars away, dig a tad deeper. It does work.
Actually, check out a presentation I did on the basic case for Employment Branding.
It’s featured on www.Insightory.com this week as their key insight.