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Employer Branding

 
By : rashmi on 16 March 2012 E-mail Comments     Print Print  Report Abuse
 



EMPLOYER BRANDING- A NEW AVTAAR

 

A product is inseparable from its brand; so is an employer. Managing a company's HR (Human Resources) is a vital part of the overall employer branding. Brands are a firm’s most valuable assets and as a result, brand management is a key activity in many firms. Brand is what a company is and what it does. It is more than the mission statement and the essence of any organization. Although firms commonly focus their branding efforts on developing product and corporate brands, branding can also be used in the area of Human Resource Management (HRM).Employer branding is a image that a company projects of itself to its current and prospective employees, to the key stakeholders in particular, and to the entire industry or to the society, in general. This brand represents the work culture, sense of belongingness of employees to the company, core values of the organization and the willingness of the employees to share the goals of the organization for success. Brand building is not an overnight exercise, but a long drawn, comprehensive and critical process involving years of hard work.

 

An employee looks for a stable career and a long term association with the company and research against this backdrop has rightly indicated that employees of industrial brands feel a great sense of security, pride, attachment and trust towards their employers. Working for an established brand employer acts as fodder for the motivation of the employees.

 

HR Branding

 

Customers differentiate firms by their products. Marketers have repeatedly used ‘The 4P’s” (product, price, place and promotion) to sell the products of their firm in the market. Similarly, an employee differentiates their jobs by HR branding. The 4P’s of HR are people, pay, position and prospects. In today’s knowledge –driven economy, HR plays a strategic role in bringing in the right kind of people into the organization.HR is the first face of an organization to the prospective employees. For a company to be successful, it has to attract, motivate and retain the best and the brightest, making itself competitive in the race.

 

The brand HR can be well built by concentrating on the factors which directly or indirectly influences the expectations of the employees. HR branding shares many of the foundations of other types of brandings like corporate branding, community branding, culture branding, co-branding etc. since all are focused on creating a visual identity in the people’s mind.

 

Types of HR Branding

 

1. Employment Branding- the image of the organization as a “great place to work” in the minds of the general public and in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders) is known as Employment Branding.

 

2. Employer Branding- Employer branding is a set of attributes and qualities- often intangible- that makes an employer distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience with him, and appeals to employees who will thrive and give their best in its culture.

 

3. Employee Branding- the image projected by employees through their behaviors, attitudes and actions to the outside world is employee branding. This image is impacted by the employees’ attitude and engagement towards the employer brand image, promoted through the culture of the organization.

 

Five reasons why employer branding is important

 

There are five reasons why employer branding should be a vital management tool for every organisation and for companies today.

 

1. Shortage of skilled labour: With the emergence of China, Russia, India and Brazil as economic powers, and due to the aging population in the U.S., European Union and Japan, the competition for skilled workers has or will continue to increase. Adding to this trend, there is also a clear shift in students’ preferences moving from technical degrees to non-technical degrees. Companies or organisations that are perceived to be attractive employers will have an easier time to recruit top talent.

 

2. More with less: A mantra coined during this economic downturn, there is high pressure to cut costs and increase productivity, which has made the need to get the right people in the right jobs even more crucial. Employer branding results in more successful recruitment and retention of top talent. Moreover, by properly communicating the reality of the work environment, companies are more likely to attract talent that fits their organisational culture, thus increasing the number of people with the right skills in the correct positions.

 

3. Growth & profitability: hiring and retaining top performers is essential for growth and to maintain a competitive edge. Employees who have the right skills, experience and knowledge, in relation to the critical areas of a business to drive growth, are strategically important. In addition, as developed economies move more towards the tertiary/service sectors, people become the primary asset. Employer branding increases your profit margin.   

 

4. Popularity: Research on the talent market reveals that graduates and professionals want to work for companies with great reputations; they often turn to family members, friends or colleagues for advice and approval when making a decision about which employers to consider. Moreover, the consumer/corporate/employer brands are interlinked: If a company is viewed as being an unpopular employer, it will consequently affect everything else and cause disequilibrium in the corporate ecosystem.

 

5. Strength: being an attractive employer provides a company or organisation more bargaining power, as employees will want to work for them more than anyone else, even those that have rare or most in demand skills irrespective of salary levels. An attractive employer can create for employees an illusion that their choices are limited outside of the organisation, constantly maintaining an image of being the most desirable employer, giving the right reasons or incentives for their top performers to stay.

 

How to Promote Employer Brand

 

When recruiting potential employees, state in the job description what the workplace culture is like. If everyone laughs and jokes around, state how "fun" and "easy going" the atmosphere is.

 

The first step is for the company to understand what its culture is. Usually this falls to the human resources department or the hiring manager. First, identify the core values. Is the company very reliable? Is it trusted? Is it fun? Second, write them down and form a statement. This statement is similar to the company's mission, but focuses on recruitment. Third, use it to attract the right people, and let current employees feel good about where they work.
 

Benefits

 

The major benefits of organized employer branding includes-

 

a. Increased productivity and profitability.

b. Increased employee retention.

c. Highly ranked for employer’s attractiveness.

d. Increased level of staff engagement.

e. Lower recruitment costs.

f. Minimal loss of talented employees.

g. Maintenance of core competence.

h. Employees committed to organizational goals.

i. Shorter recruitment time.

j. Improved employee retention.

 

The brand 'HR' can be well built by concentrating on the factors, which directly or indirectly influence the expectations of an employee. HR department should take decisions that would not discourage employees from being aligned to the brand behavior. Initially, we have to build a brand internally that is possible by making high participation of internal customers in benefit plans, training programs and company functions. Greater the acceptance of performance plans, compensation programs, and policies and procedures, employee assistance programs, meditation services lead to higher satisfaction ratings on employee attitude surveys. If an organisation wants its brand to be perceived as more strategic, more valuable, more reliable, one needs to think about what internal and external customers expect from them, how well they can deliver it, and how to progress. This isn't achieved by fancy packages, catchy slogans and name changes, either. This is achieved by thinking like a business with a product to be developed, marketed and reliably delivered to customers who want your services.

 

Beyond Becoming 'Employer of Choice'

 

The bees and birds find honey in flowers. The flower attracts bees and birds through its colourful exterior. The purpose of the exercise is not to disseminate honey or build a reputation for being a beautiful flower.

 

Similarly, management must understand that the core value offering of the organisation is to engage performers towards being productive and responsive to customers. In the process of doing that, they must encourage employees towards extracting their performance and involvement. This leads to customer satisfaction and brand building. The brand in turn attracts more customers. Additional customers need to be served well, for which motivated employees are essential and so the cycle continues.

 

A recent study throws a completely different perspective on the branding initiatives of organization. The data shared on employee aspiration is indeed revealing. A leading consultancy company surveyed 1,500 MBA students (final year) across the globe and found that the most valued attribute in the companies where they wish for a job was not the salary, learning, ethical working conditions, the friendly colleagues but a good brand that would significantly enhance their package in the next job. By and large, these days talented people are looking for a change after 10-12 months of the running assignment. Contextually, the organizations crowned with bouquets of the `best employer' award - a result of its branding initiative - would question the necessity and value of the painstaking exercise if talent prefers to fly out of its folds. Often the not so young or the veterans of the industry have come across one-liners like, "the deadwood stays with the organization and the star performer flies away" or "employee with more than three years in same company reckoned as corporate fossil". Strikingly, a good numbers of companies are subscribing such views and the numbers are growing. One should not forget the dedication of such employees that has led to the growth and prosperity of the organization. Such casual remarks are equally damaging, both for the company as well as for the employee. The profitability of the company is not only based on short-term, project-oriented execution requiring youthful enthusiasm but also on the long-term service continuity that the organization is capable of providing through its experienced, matured workforce. Generally, matured workforce promotes the leadership level. It is only on devoting one's entire career that one is able to build the organization as a brand ambassador. This is all about brand equity - the long-term sustenance formula of the organization. It is unfortunate that the industry ignores this truth and is overwhelmed by personality cult at the apex level. It is a complete paradox and hypocrisy on the part of the management to interpret similar circumstances differently. Interpreting older employees as `dead wood' or `corporate fossil' will only lead the organization to hara-kiri. Such views at the end only attract mass demotivation and overall corporate inefficiency. It is true that to infuse new technology and become more competitive through inculcation of lateral thinking in management system, fresh brains need to be hired. Also, the new talents need to be compensated competitively. But the organization should ensure that the building of talent package should never be done at the cost of employees in the fold who have served the organization for years together. If the content of survey is any indicator for generic interpretation, one may easily conclude that the employer branding is only a cost to the company with hardly any reckonable positive return. In fact, acquisition of talent through employer branding is fine - it is a situational cost that the organization needs to bear, otherwise the gray matters shall continue to elude the organization. However, as a cost control measure, it needs to focus its employer branding initiatives at skill gap areas. Once the desired talent is within the fold, the HR should make an effort to project the HR branding initiative as a safe, empowered and a democratic place of work, where individual rights are protected. Head hunters enticing employees with fat pay packages will hardly serve the corporate objective. It would cause further expectations for fatter pay packages and employees eventually would leave for greener pastures. Thus, competitive firms would eventually end up in conflicts. It is imperative that corporates remain responsive to protect the interests of all the stakeholders and not only a few high-priced talent without any long-term sustaining value proposition.

 

The employee engagement measures will have higher scores as the organisation itself embodies the image they want to convey resulting in a better psychological contact with the employer. The other outcome could even be that the organisation is featured as one of the best places to work! The benefits of having a right employer brand and conveying them effectively are many folds. The key aspect of employer branding is to understand that it is not just about advertisements or communication collaterals — it is the reflection of what is the reality — present or future — that the employees experience in the organisation.

 

Employee recognition is not an end to itself. Engagement of employees is towards customer success: companies that realise this fact will deliver a better brand proposition.

 

(The author is a management faculty with Dr. Ambedkar Institute of Management Studies and Research, Deekshabhoomi and can be contacted at rashmigupta15@yahoo.com)

 

BY PROF.RASHMI GUPTA

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Views: 2303

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