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This article provides insights from Brett's new book "Employer Brand Leadership - A Global Perspective?" For full details please visit the publisher's website click here>
Employer brand leader vacancies set to increase
“ Any company trying to compete, must figure out a way to engage the mind of nearly every employee.”
Jack Welch, former CEO General Electric
The biggest influence on the success of your employer branding program will be the strength of the leadership (at all levels!) responsible for the development and implementation of your employer brand strategy. This is no different to the impact leadership has on innovation and re-invention, corporate reputation, financial performance, customer relationships or performance management – strong leadership is central to the sustainability of your business.
Different leadership for changing times
Named among the 20 Best Companies for Leadership in a 2010 BusinessWeek.com/Hay Group survey included: GE, Southwest, 3M and Procter & Gamble in the top four positions. It is no wonder these companies are also household brands with a track record of success. Another company at number sixteen on the list is online retailer, Zappos.
Both GE and Zappos with their rapidly shifting environments face similar challenges in motivating and engaging their employees. For Zappos, it’s about creating and maintaining passion in a call-centre culture. For GE, it’s about keeping people engaged in a changing climate. Both GE and Zappos put a premium on selecting, developing, and retaining strong leaders at every level. What sets them and the other companies on the list apart, however, is not just their emphasis on good leadership, but also how they approach it. They carefully tailor their developing leaders to fit their unique business strategies and organisational cultures.
Strong leadership is linked to financial results
When Hay Group looked at how the Top 20 organisations compared to the S&P 500 in terms of shareholder returns, they found the Top 20 outperform in both the short term and long term. Over a ten year period the top 20 companies had a 3 percent return compared to the S&P of -1.4 percent
Behind many strong employer brands you will also find a charismatic CEO who has a tribe-like following. A standout charismatic leader is Tony Hsieh, CEO of online shoe seller Zappos.com is clearly a talented leader who understands the value of creating talented tribes. Prior to joining Zappos, Hsieh co-founded and sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265M in 1998. In 2008 Zappos achieve the $1billion sales revenue milestone and on 22 July 2009 Amazon.com announced the acquisition of Zappos.com in a deal valued at nearly $900 million.
Such was the level of brand equity built upon Zappos’s unique culture that Amazon decided the brand would remain as an independent subsidiary. Hsieh set a very clear vision – for customers to say “That was the best customer service I have ever had.” Hsieh then did two things to engender a tribal culture. Firstly, he asked all of the tribal members to convene and agree what values were required to deliver this vision. The Zappos tribes consulted each other and came back with a list of 10 core values. Posted on their website for the world to see it’s quite clear what Zappos stands for:
As we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to explicitly define the Zappos core values from which we develop our culture, our brand, and our business strategies. These are the ten core values that we live by:
1. Deliver wow through service
2. Embrace and drive change
3. Create fun and a little weirdness
4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
5. Pursue growth and learning
6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
7. Build a positive team and family spirit
8. Do more with less
9. Be passionate and determined
10. Be humble
The role of the employer brand manager
In 2006 when I published my book, ‘Your Employer Brand attract-engage retain,’ the position of an employer brand manager was virtually unheard of. Today companies such as Nike, Ernst & Young, UnitedHealth Group, Vestas Wind Systems, Starbucks, IBM, Ahold, E.ON, Deloitte, Nordea, DONG Energy, HP and Deutsche Bank now all have dedicated employer brand managers focused on developing their company’s employer brand. When I returned to Copenhagen in May 2011 there were 8 employer brand leaders in the delegate audience compared to only two when I delivered an employer brand global masterclass in 2009. I am seeing similar trends when I return to other markets, especially in the UK and USA.
The role of an employer brand manager is increasing in scope as the discipline evolves. As the line between the role of human resource, marketing and communication professionals in talent attraction and retention continues to blur, employer brand managers are being empowered to deliver responsibilities from all three functions. In the UK and USA the trend is for companies to seek employer brand managers with expertise in branding, marketing, communications and publication relations compared to roles 5 years ago which were seeking leaders from a human resources background. Monsanto’s recent vacancy for an employer branding specialist states,
Bachelor's degree required, preferably in Communications, Branding, Marketing, Journalism or related field.
A minimum of 9 years relevant working experience in related industry or similar capacity with particular emphasis on planning and executing branding / communications programs, with an emphasis in brand marketing.
Figure 1: Excerpt: Employer brand leader vacancy at Monsanto – June 2011
click on image to enlarge
Have you read Brett's new book "Employer Brand Leadership - A Global Perspective?" For full details please visit the publisher's website click here>