One of my learning points from #trulondon 1 was the issue of employer branding. I made a statement in my 10 take- away’s from the unconference, “The employer brand is dead.” What prompted this was the question posed by Keith Robinson: A.K.A: @Siteadvisor as part of the “Recruiter Cast series”, “Is the employer brand relevant?” My response was based on a thought that it had been replaced by the employee brand.
I didn’t take part in the debate, which was run by Keith and broadcast on the web. The conclusion of the panel is that the employee brand is alive and well.
I hadn’t seen the debate when I made my statement, now I have I’m a little more convinced that the conclusion is right but I still had plenty of questions on the whole area of employer branding, if it’s not dead, it’s certainly different!
I again outlined my view that employer brand was now employee brand and that the issue was that the employer brand was set by the employees and what they were saying on Facebook and other social media. Keith added his view that employee brand was much bigger than this and was the D.N.A. of the whole organisation from the board down.
Gareth Jones, A.K.A: @Garelaos went one step further and put together a very reasoned response by way of a blog post. Gareth’s blog, “Inside my head” has some good posts and contains some well thought out arguments. I don’t always agree with his views,but I think he is well worth a read and one to look out for. As ex-HR turned Recruiter (is that gamekeeper turned poacher?) he has some good insights. Keep an eye out for his new posts.
In Gareth’s blog he takes the discussion further, pointing out that social media will have a huge impact on employer brand but it will not turn the employer brand in to the employee brand. I happen to agree with this statement,but as Keith Robinson says, “Social Media is a mirror to the employer brand but is not it.”
With this in mind, I think looking in the mirror often is a good practice to know what is being said, so that you can look in to why and change it if you need to. This is equally important in order to identify the good things that are being said so that you can keep doing them. You can’t change the environment on the basis of every comment but listening on and off line and balanced review is needed over time to adjust when needed.
Just recently I’ve seen 2 examples of great employer branding run by the employees that demonstrate great examples of positive branding using social media channels :
A video from the employees of Connected Ventures. On the Vimeo page it was posted on was the statement with the link “We’re also hiring.” I would guess the response was huge from those seeking a funky and hip place to work.
I accept that this needs to reflect the reality of the environment because the brand delivery needs to match the brand reality. That’s where the brand definition from the business leaders come in, along with listening and engagement to ensure that reality matches the promise. On this week’s US radio show, Rayanne Thorn of Broadbean raised the point that employer brand begins when an employee joins the company not before. This echoes Keith’s point that it is the whole D.N.A. of what the company really is, rather than just what is being said.
The second example of great employer branding is from Deloitte’s in New Zealand. Richard Long came on the Down Under Recruiting show on Facebook, to talk about how they have introduced a Facebook fan page where last year’s graduate intake speak to this year’s students about life and jobs at Deloite’s ,and the HR and Marketing Dept’s have little to do with it. This kind of existing employee engagement with the outside world shows what is possible, but again is dependent on the environment being good in the first place. (Thanks to Paul Jacobs of Engage, who worked on the project)
In summary, I’m bowing to Keith (and others) wisdom, the employer brand is alive and well but it needs to be aligned with employer reality. You can’t brand your employees or your environment but you can listen to them and react when you start to see trends that conflict with what you want your environment to be. Perhaps the employee reality is the employer brand, and brand definition, monitoring and delivery are the key. This is still employer branding alive and well.
I’m really looking forward to the Employer Brand V Employee Brand track at #trulondon 2 on Feb 18th/19th 2010. The discussions already started in earnest, the track will be standing room only!
Please leave your thoughts, perhaps a wave beckons. Leave your Gmail address, I’ll send an invite.
Be the ambassador of your personal brand!