Sunday, July 19, 2009

HR Practices - The Brand Wagon!

Building employer brand the better way…
Key learnings:
  1. Employer branding is not a recruitment exercise, but a relationship building process
  2. To ensure effective brand creation, a clear understanding of the scope and objectives of the programme is important

Employer branding calls for an appropriate strategy to accomplish its objectives. However, most organisations do not pursue employer branding efforts in the right way. A recent survey conducted by the Employer Brand Institute revealed certain interesting facts. While some findings conform to universally accepted ideas on employer branding, there are others that come as a shocker. The findings include:

  1. CEO involvement is critical for branding success
  2. External and internal market research is not a success parameter
  3. More than 80 percent of the global corporations have an employer branding strategy
  4. Half of those having a branding programme showed a serious disconnect between branding objectives and strategy
  5. The scope for development and improvement in an employer branding strategy is dynamic and depends to a large extent on the environment surrounding the organisation

These findings are important for organisations that are working towards framing an effective branding strategy. Most organisations fail to link their strategies to branding objectives. For the desired branding effect, organisations have to focus on certain key measures, which ensure that they meet their programme objectives with ease.

Imperatives for success

To succeed with the employer branding strategy, organisations have to focus on the ‘intent’ of execution. To do so, leaders have to work on six critical parameters. They are:

Clear definition

Leaders need to begin their efforts by defining employer branding clearly, with reference to the organisational context. The definition should include the type of brand that the organisation wants to create, the kind of talent pool it wishes to attract and the changes that would accompany the process. Further, leaders need to understand that employer branding is not about recruiting talent; it is a relationship building exercise that is largely strategic in nature, aimed at creating a positive corporate image. This image would determine the quality of talent that would be associated with the organisation, and therefore, impacts the overall productivity of the organisation. Leaders, who take a narrow view of employer branding, fail to capitalise on its true potential. They will be vulnerable to crises as compared to those who focus on building lasting relationships through a strong brand.

Scope and objectives

Branding is not any ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity, but presents itself as and when there are changes taking place in the corporate environment. Leaders must, therefore, ascertain the objectives keeping in view the ‘need’ for the exercise. In addition, understanding the scope of the branding effort is also important to give it the right premise and context for execution. For instance, if an organisation wishes to attract alumni of certain universities and institutes, its approach and scope would be different from an organisation that wants to establish an employee referral culture. Thus, within a larger employer brand, organisations can create small branding strategies that cater to the changing business needs and different lifecycle stages of the business.

Ownership of process

Whose job is it anyway; HR, marketing or corporate communications? Most corporate initiatives fail because of the uncertainty over the ownership of the process. Hence, clarifying issues pertaining to ownership and accountability is important for the success of any initiative. In the case of employer branding, the effort has to be more collaborative, as the exercise is largely strategic and calls for the involvement of HR, marketing and corporate communications. Hence, allocating responsibility on the basis of the roles that each of the functions would play is important for the smooth execution of the strategy.

Understand ethos, drivers and needs

A clear understanding of the corporate culture, work ethos, talent routers and needs is important for building an effective employer brand. Collecting information and intelligence on important issues like external perception, leadership vision, employee concerns, suggestions for improvement and talent needs is critical for deriving the desired branding solution.

Leadership involvement

CEOs and other senior executives have to be involved in the process of employer branding. Leadership involvement enables managers to get a clear insight into the future needs, and helps them work on a premise that is more long-term in nature.

These key factors determine the success of any branding initiative.

Right channels

The world of communication has undergone a revolution. The number of channels available for communication today are plenty, thereby giving leaders a number of options to channelise their message. However, selecting the right channel of communication is important, since a wrong choice of medium can sabotage the very purpose of communication.

Communication in the context of branding has myriad complexities. Since the agenda of branding is to communicate a positive image about the employer, and also strike the right chord with target audience, it is important that cultural, geographic and demographic considerations are accounted for. Therefore, applying a common template to all global locations can boomerang for organisations that believe in a ‘tried and tested’ strategy. Developing sensitivity to the surrounding environment is, thus, critical for creating an appealing and successful employer brand.

Ref: TheManageMentor.

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