The essence of Employer Branding is about organizational authenticity, isn’t it? But coming up with a really strong and differentiating Employer Brand seems to be easier said than done. It’s also usually filled with a lot of buzz words.
The more social and transparent that we become, the harder it is for companies to “say this” and “do that”. Accountability now comes from all angles—those who have financial power, those with political power, those with social power, and those that will have the power tomorrow. Which one of those is the most threatening to a company? It depends on who you talk to!
One of the biggest challenges that employer’s face with Employer Branding is, who is responsible for it? Well marketing is responsible for “branding” and HR is responsible for “employees” and the COO is responsible for “operations”, and then there is the CIO who is responsible for “information”. And some companies even have a Chief Culture Officer . . . . hmmm . . . let me think.
I know! Do you?
I am not going to tell you just yet! But I will tell you that the days of a company’s departments working independently are over—that is if they want to remain in business. No one department is responsible for the employer brand and no one department can create it (though one department is usually responsible for maintaining it, which I disagree with, but that’s for another post). The employer’s brand is determined by the company’s culture—what is considered right and wrong within, what are the beliefs and practices of the company and most importantly, how are they executed within.
Interpretation and articulation of what “is” are so important. You can have the best research and consulting expertise in the world to identify the reality of “what it’s like here”, but if a company over relies on template materials to obtain insights, and has no ability to interpret the findings effectively they will be on a path of discovering nothing and most likely implementing the wrong changes.
It’s a challenge to understand what a brand is all about and understand that an employer brand is different than a market brand. With marketing, a company can influence what they would like to be true today and tomorrow, but an employer brand is about what was true yesterday and is true today and most importantly how the company maintains that truth or actively creates new truths.
Lying about an employer brand is perhaps more detrimental to a company than lying to the market. When a company lies to prospective / new employees, they will leave increasing employee turnover. Existing employees hear the same messages and begin to speak out about the lies and then also leave taking their knowledge of your company with them. Now the company is left with an extremely high employee turnover rate and a bad market reputation for not treating its employees well just to name the surface level challenges. When these employees leave on bad terms they usually do not become customers and develop a loyalty to not do business with that company as they do not want to support that situation.
So if the essence of Employer Branding is about organizational authenticity and is the result of what was true yesterday and is true today as well as how the company maintains that truth or actively creates new truths—Who do you think is responsible for the employer brand?