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The Employer Brand

In this article, lead educator Catalina Schveninger interviews Claudia Tattanelli, Chairman of Universum’s Client Advisory board and global expert in employer brand and corporate culture.

In this article, lead educator Catalina Schveninger interviews Claudia Tattanelli, Chairman of Universum’s Client Advisory board and global expert in employer brand and corporate culture.

Claudia With over 20 years experience in employer branding, Claudia has extensive experience from the global recruitment scene working with many of the world’s largest companies and organisations, including a majority of the Fortune 100 firms, on their employer branding and recruitment strategies.

They discuss the key difference between the employer brand and customer brand and how companies know whether their employer brand is successful.

You can download a presentation from Claudia on the meaning and importance of the employer brand in the Downloads section.

Why should companies have an employer brand? What’s the difference between an employer brand and a commercial brand?

I’ve been working in this space for the last 25 years and my focus was to help companies communicate in the best possible way what their strengths are as organisations, both internally to their talent who they want to retain but also externally to attract the right candidates who will enable them to win in the marketplace.

So in your own words, what would be the definition of the employer brand? And how is that different from a commercial brand? Do I automatically want to work for Coca Cola if I like their soft drinks?

Great question, I’ll try my best to make it simple. So, an employer brand is really what people say (to friends, colleagues, on social media) about your company. So you might want to be seen as a company that is focused on work-life balance, but if your own employees don’t experience and say that, that’s not going to be your employer brand.

You have an employer brand if you want it or not, not dissimilar to a personal brand. Every company, large or small, should consider trying to understand it, define it and build a coherent and honest employer value proposition. You want to take control of what people are thinking and saying about you and speak to the hearts and minds of your employees and candidates in an authentic way, without too much marketing polish.

So what is the key difference between the employer brand and customer brand?

The customer brand is something generally that marketing, PR and comms deal with, and it’s answering the question, why should customers consider your products and services? Why should they buy Coca Cola and not Pepsi? Why should they come back for more? What kind of customer experience do you offer on your website, in physical stores?

Now, the employer value proposition describes the employee experience. So it’s really answering, why should people join you? Why should they stay? Why should they commit to you? Why should they recommend you to friends? In the past, this was word-of-mouth. Now current employees and candidates share on social media, on sites like Glassdoor, and the messages, negative and positive, get amplified.

Can smaller companies that don’t have big budgets and even HR and marketing departments build an employer brand and an employee value proposition? A lot of small and medium enterprises have been impacted in this crisis but some are still hiring. What would be your advice to them?

I particularly love working with smaller organisations, because in their case they don’t have all the resources to run huge campaigns, therefore they need to be more resourceful and creative. Remember, employer branding is not really just about attracting talent externally, it’s about keeping your own employees engaged and giving them a strong sense of purpose. So right now, the emphasis in companies large and small is to reassure your own employees, letting them know that you care, doing a lot of listening. You don’t need budgets for this, you need leaders who show empathy and take the time to be there and listen.

No matter how difficult these times are, scarce skills are still in demand. Look at online food shopping, it has seen a huge increase in demand, a lot of privately owned stores had to build an eCommerce presence in order to survive. So, more than ever, if you want to attract key talent during very difficult times when people are reluctant to change jobs, you need your own employees to speak about your culture and be your “brand ambassadors”. These very challenging times might provide the best opportunity for companies to shine and demonstrate they have strong values and treat their people as their biggest assets.

Could you share examples of companies that are doing a great job with their employer brand in this period?

A lot of great examples. Ironically, it’s the airlines and retailers, two of the industries that have been impacted at the core. In March and April, many of them were sharing how their own employees, who didn’t know if they had a job tomorrow, were helping communities, delivering supplies, making masks and hotel chains were hosting key workers. Many CEO’s became more active on social media, posting encouraging videos to their staff, often recorded in their own homes, with their kids playing in the background. And I think for the future, openness, authenticity and vulnerability of senior leaders will become a key element of the employer brand. They will no longer get away with just formal, corporate website photo shoots.

How do you know your employer brand is successful?

Reputation and brand perception can actually be measured. According to Glassdoor research, 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand. You know you are doing well when you are able to attract the right level of talent for your open roles, when your employee engagement is high and you don’t lose talent, when your own employees and candidates speak well about their experience and refer others to work for you. In a crisis like the one we are going through now, your brand is under even more scrutiny, all actions as an employer will be discussed and shared and people will remember when things are “back to normal”.

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