No PR stunts included: 10 guidelines for an authentic employer branding process
In face of the Great Attrition, more organizations are investing in employer branding to compete for the hearts of talent. Here’s how to do it right.
Last month Amdocs announced that they will now be offering their 29,000 employees an unlimited amount of vacation days. The company stated that they realize that to execute this bold move successfully, they need to change their organizational culture in a way that encourages employees to take more time off.
This example is one of many attempts of organizations all over the world to retain and attain great talent. While some of these attempts are genuine, others are no more than a useless PR stunt. Companies that wish to retain their people, lure in more great talent and leverage their worth in the global employment stock-market, should consider the following guidelines to build a fruitful and authentic employer brand:
Create a value-based narrative:
Companies should learn to tell their story in value-based terms, created together with their people and translated into a simple and effortless language, that every person can understand and get excited about. For example, instead of explaining that you’re “developing an app that streamlines cross-team work interfaces”, try saying that you’re “saving time, money and frustration for busy people.”
One size doesn’t fit all:
Every company has a wide range of target audiences that need to be personally addressed, not only by marketing divisions but by the organization at whole. Start by differentiating employees at all levels, their families, job candidates, customers, suppliers and communities. Identify their individual motivations and create a corporate narrative for each one of them, tailored to their specific needs and desires.
Emphasize purpose, not technology:
Companies are often tempted to ramble on and on about their revolutionary technology, while addressing the competitive market with a distinct “us versus them” approach. But these moves will not result in authentic employer branding, simply because technology is a means, not a goal. That’s why instead of talking about technology, it’s better to talk about its purpose, and how it contributes to making the world a better place. For example, the narrative for a 3D printer company shouldn’t describe how the groundbreaking technology works, but rather how it helps surgical doctors simulate heart surgery for an unborn fetus. People don’t necessarily relate to innovative technology, let alone understand it, but they will relate to a service which is valuable to humanity.
Speak up proactively:
Great stories should be told on a multitude of stages. Search proactively for all kinds of platforms to tell your story, including those that might seem weird at first. Be it a morning talk show, a business convention, a local community center, school, or even kindergarten — everything goes! The more versatile stages you speak on, the more you control your narrative and strengthen your corporate brand. So don’t rely on someone else to tell your story for you; do it yourself, today.
Remember the people you already have:
Numerous companies make the same miserable mistake of offering new talent the stars, the moon and everything humanely possible to lure them into the organization, while neglecting existing talent in the process. This can result in dire repercussions such as high turnover and low productivity, no matter how impressive your Employee Welcome Package is. Be respectful and appreciative of the people who have been there for you in thick and thin, and they will reward you by being good ambassadors of your corporate narrative.
Invest in power skills:
No matter how much money you spend on employer branding, at the end of the day, the direct manager’s leadership style remains a crucial retention factor. While recent studies show that interest, impact and professional development are key to accepting a job, poor treatment by a direct manager remains the primary reason for quitting. Regretfully, while investing in managers’ power skills (formerly known as soft skills) has been proven just as important as investing in technology, most organizations invest much more in their product than in their leadership skills. This is unfortunate, as the payoff by balancing between the two investments is high, and results in both preserving talent and strengthening the corporate ethos.
Foster a culture of partnership, recognition and appreciation:
Everything about implementing a positive and empowering corporate culture is worth every penny, and costs far less than another extravagant celebrity -starring campaign. Treating employees as partners in processes and achievements, communicating truthfully and updating internal communication platforms in real time, are like music to your people’s ears (but don’t give up good music at company events. It always boosts morale).
In 2020, following a sharp decline in income due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky had no choice but to let go of 1,900 employees. The letter he wrote to his people and the video of him crying while reading it became instantly viral; not because people enjoyed or gloated about watching a CEO cry, but because they related to his authenticity. Organizations that share both their failures and their profits authentically with their people, come across as companies that really care.
Put your money where your mouth is:
In global corporate, money talks. When management invests money in an idea or product, it means they’re serious about it. If management only talks but doesn’t invest where necessary, what they say will be perceived by their people, their customers and their communities as PR mumbo jumbo and will not be taken seriously. As the famous Disney saying goes, it’s a small world after all, especially in today’s digital existence, where word travels fast online and offline. Bear in mind that when your branding is in sync with your investments, trust in your brand will increase threefold, if not in sync — your trustworthiness will decrease at a threefold rate and result in massive turnover. No matter what you say or do, put your money where your mouth is, be truthful and make sure others believe your intentions.
Invest in diversity and inclusion:
Given the severe talent shortage in all industries around the world alongside the need for flexible job requirements and working modes, it is also truly worthwhile to invest in diversity and inclusion. This means hiring more women, minorities, human capital of versatile ages and cultures, and nurturing a more inclusive environment in your corporate culture. A larger and bluer recruiting ocean not only strengthens your employer branding; it creates a productive, prosperous and compassionate human society, where everyone wins.
Nili Goldfein — EVP Marketing & Business Development at NGG Global Consulting Solutions, an expert in Leadership and Management in a World of Disruption.