Employer Branding - 10 tips to avoid the bear traps
We often focus on the case for an employer
brand and stories of success, but we don’t
often lift the lid on the process. After being
asked to speak at a recent conference on
Employee Engagement and Employer
Branding, Louisa Moreton, Director of Talent
Communications and Consultancy at SAS,
talks though her top tips and answers
the question “what are the processes
and approaches that can make the
process painless and even enjoyable?”
The Employer Branding
Your Employer brand should be
a mix of “today’s truth” and
How the employee lifecycle
can help you
Think of your Employer Brand as weaving
through the employee lifecycle, from
attraction and support, to on-boarding
and training to engagement, internal
communications and reward, through
to exit and alumni.
It has to be authentic and recognisable
to your current employees and keep
the promise made to candidates. This
means reflecting your current DNA in
how you express your employer brand.
At the same time, your business will
have a vision and objectives it needs to
meet as part of the strategic plan, and
your employer brand can help achieve
this. The rough rule of thumb is 80%
today’s truth, 20% tomorrow’s ambition.
If you think of it in this way, you’ll ensure
you get the right people involved in
the project team, the research and the
implementation. If you’re currently
seeing it as a tool for recruitment only,
then see if you can work with colleagues
in communications and HR to expand
the brief and get value from the project
and consistency of experience in
Building a brilliant
This can make or break the project – both
in terms of getting the work completed
and signed off, to implementing it.
Spend time inviting/coercing colleagues
on to your project team. Even if your
Employer Brand is going to be used
primarily for recruitment, you still
need the input of other departments
HR resourcing. They will be heavy
users of the Employer brand and can
influence how deeply it is embedded
in organisational people processes.
Marketing brand. They will ensure
alignment with corporate brand, and if
you have them involved from the start,
they are more likely to sign it off at
Internal Comms. They can help
you reach the employee audience
(for example for research) and can also
be part of implementation, aligning
your messaging with theirs.
Business functions. This is where
your employees are, after all! Get
representation from your key business
functions, for example engineering,
sales and production.
Locations/geographies. Try to
get a mix of heritage and future
growth countries/offices. Is there
a country/area that should be
included for “political” reasons?
Exec team/Board. If you don’t have
a mandate from, or a sponsor in or at
least the interest of the Board or exec,
then you need to get one! Provide
unprompted updates to gain and
maintain interest or use a senior
steering group as a conduit.
Trouble makers. You know the ones…
and you need them on your team!
They will be cynical, critical and
defeatist: in short, they’ll identify
every possible issue and help you to
mitigate, and they must just become
the biggest advocate.
is your corner stone
Your project is likely to last a while, so you
need to be ruthless in keeping everything
on track and keeping people engaged.
Have clear roles and responsibilities;
e.g. who has right of veto and who
merely comments? Set up your project
team – who will do the work – and a
steering group (or senior sponsor)
– who will ratify and sign off. Then
create a RACI (who will be responsible,
accountable, consulted, informed).
Finally, once you’ve agreed key stages
and rough dates, createa chart/slide
that shows what will be happening
when. Add to this a slide on why you do
the project and the business case and
you have a ready-made introduction to
your projectthat your project team can
use to update colleagues – ensuring
a consistent story.
Don’t race to the summit –
take your time in the foothills
Think of your project in three stages: research
and recommendations, then implementation.
Spend time discussing the research
findings, challenging them and then
agreeing the messaging to be taken
forward. This will form part of the brief
for implementation, so it’s worth getting
it right because it will be expensive and
painful to go backwards. Don’t race to
creative concepts; get the messaging
framework right first.
Use what you have already.
It’s economical; time saving;
sends a great message that you aren’t
reinventing the wheel; it will inform
the research you carry out.
Agree the business areas you’ll
research in. You need to reach the
factory floor and the support functions
not just exec or comms people.
Who do you want to canvass
externally? Hard to reach/scarce
audience (e.g. engineers); people who
have recently rejected a job offer; or
people at competitor organisations?
Geography. You might want to
think about heritage or where your new
markets are; or you might cover one
country per continent.
Let’s be honest, research programmes
can get out of hand. You need enough to
inform the proposition and be reflective
of the organisation, but if you are
planning a toolkit with flexibility, then
local market adaptation will happen later.
Admin support is critical. You need
someone tenacious, charming and
meticulously organised to make the
research phase happen. From working
with stakeholders to identify and
invite participants, to arranging room,
refreshments and permissions… it’s a big
job. This is the most common hold-up.
Diversity groups, they might be able
to help you reach employees you would
otherwise miss. Unions can make or
break your project; don’t leave them
until they are an afterthought. If their
members are those you want to interview,
you’ll need their help.
A strong facilitator and thought-
through question guide is key. Brief the
facilitator on what you’d like to get out
of the groups in addition to what’s in the
question guide. Anything in particular you
want them to look out for. Once they’re
over, you can’t go back.
Discuss and debate the key themes,
before you move to recommendations,.
This is your opportunity to identify red
herrings, block up blind alleys and
underline themes that you think are
important. Work collaboratively with your
agency… otherwise the chances are
that the “ta dah” moment may be a flop.
even during research
Think back to the employee lifecycle –
where do you need the employer
brand to be present?
Allow the creatives
to be creative
As long as you’ve given them a great brief,
and they’ve understood the key research
findings, step back.
Getting the best
out of testing
Will the project or steering team choose the
chosen concept and will you then use testing
to refine the idea?
For example, it’s probably worth asking
about reward and training in the groups.
You may not have control over these
areas, but they can either support or
contradict your employer brand.
Allow yourself to be open to something
surprising as much as something very
familiar. Listen to the story behind the
idea and ask yourself if it could work
today, next month, next year. Try to
choose a future-proof concept.
Or do you want to put all ideas out to
test? Who will you test with – potential
and current employees? Don’t go
overboard; if you conducted good
research to start, and spent time on
the messaging, then you’re likely
to be on the right track.
Your employer brand can deliver value and
bring consistency to so many areas of comms,
HR and engagement.
Once you have messaging agreed,
start planning the workstreams through
which you will implement the employer
brand. You can focus on two types:
where the employer brand needs to
be evident (e.g. resourcing) and where
you need to do remedial work in order
to achieve your 20% ambition (e.g.
addressing work life balance, doing
salary benchmarking). Once you
have identified the workstreams, give
members of the project team ownership
and accountability and set up monthly
meetings at which you re-group to
discuss progress. This will help keep
the employer brand live and relevant
beyond the initial launch.
We help organisations to find better
ways of attracting an inspiring the right
talent. Whether this means thinking in a
more joined-up way, communicating with
more authenticity or simply being more
interesting, the resultis the same; better
people, contributing more to your business
For more information contact Victoria Sugg on
+44 (0)20 3219 8700 or email email@example.com