11 Employer branding best practices to focus on in 2011

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Have you read Brett's latest book,  Employer Branding & the new world@work?

 

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I've compiled a list below I wanted to share with you. The list includes 11 areas for leaders to focus their employer branding efforts on in 2011 based on some of the workforce changes we have encountered by the introduction of new technologies, global economic instability and the requirements of a modern workforce - one that is agile, adaptable and responsive to a constantly changing and highly competitive landscape.

 

It's great to see many more companies appointing employer brand leaders in 2010 to drive their organisation's employer brand strategy. I expect this trend to continue in 2011.

 

It is only with this focus will we see the continued evolution of the employer brand concept and employment offerings which on the whole, works towards achieving a much better match of the needs of employees with those of business.

 

Here is my top 11

 

1) Establish a real-time career development for employees

Today real-time career development can be facilitated with some imagination, technology devices, innovation and focus.

 

Each morning when I wake up, I grab an expresso, my Ipad and find a quiet spot whether it be on the couch (winter) or on an outside table (summer!) and spend an hour on my own personal and career development. This usually involves:

  • Checking facebook, twitter and linkedin status updates, making comments and responding to overnight messages
  • Using the apps previously downloaded from publications such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, etc I scan the world’s leading newspapers to find out  what’s been happening in the world whilst I've been asleep!
  • Read an article each from the latest editions of The Economist and Harvard Business Review
  • Scan google alerts for key words I track such as employer branding, employment branding, talent management, employee engagement, etc
  • Read apps  from websites such as www.mashable.com, www.socialmediaexaminer.com, www.techcrunch.com, etc to update on social media and technology trends

 

and once a month I visit the world’s leading consulting firm's websites to download and read their latest research and statistics.

 

So, in early 2011 take an hour to speak with your employees and assist them to develop a real-time career development plan. This may include coaching them to develop a plan that tracks their career development interests, current job function responsibilities and personal development interests (if it’s just work related people will switch off, many employees want a blended life so if you mix it up a little you will keep it interesting). Don’t complain too much about the $600 it will cost you for their iPad, you’ll get a ROI many times over.

 

2) Have that meeting with HR, Marketing, Communications and IT!

It’s no longer efficient or effective to develop and implement an employer brand strategy solely with HR resources and budget. Your employer brand is interconnected with your corporate and consumer brand and the total portfolio needs to be considered if you really want to build an adaptable and agile employer brand. Think about how your organisation would react if faced with the situation BP found itself in when one of its wells starting leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. Is the level of communication and connectedness between those managing your corporate, consumer and employer brand high enough to react quickly and effectively to structural changes (e.g. announcement of company layoffs), market changes (e.g. the GFC) or in times of crisis (e.g. social media sabbotage)?

 

In 2011 schedule a two hour meeting with leaders from HR, Marketing, Communications and IT and have a discussion around these agenda items – it will start the conversation and provide for some good discussion on where to go next. Some of the questions that may be useful include:

 

  • How will a stronger employer brand support our business strategy e.g. mergers and acquisitions, growth, consolidation?
  • What are the main factors currently driving our employer brand?
  • What kind of organisational culture do we have? How consistent is it across geographical and divisional boundaries?
  • What are the most consistently attractive and compelling organisational attributes for both current employees and potential employees?
  • What behaviours are felt to be most characteristic of our organisation? What are the moments of truth when our organisation is at its best (and worse?)
  • What is the most useful way of segmenting the employee population in terms of cultural characteristics and distinctive needs?
  • What are the most effective channels of employee communication, both top/down and bottom/up?
  • Which positions are most critical to our success and what are we currently doing/need to do to attract, engage and retain this talent?
  • What levels of resources are we prepared to invest in our employer brand strategy?
  • What timeframe will we be working towards to define and develop our employer brand strategy?

 

3) Assess your employer branding performance against best practice

Take this quick assessment to see how your employer branding initiatives measure up against best practice companies. Answer yes of no to each question and then total your score out of 20.

 

  1. We have developed an employer brand strategy
  2. We have developed a social media strategy
  3. We have at least two of the following working closely on our employer brand strategy – HR/Marketing/Communications/IT
  4. Alignment to brand values is part of our performance management system
  5. We have an active coaching and mentoring program in place to transfer knowledge and build internal capabilities
  6. We have defined our employer brand metrics
  7. We have conducted research to determine the perception current employees have about our company
  8. We have conducted research to determine the perceptions prospective employees have about our company
  9. We monitor what people are saying about our brand online
  10. We have identified the leadership competencies we aspire employees at all levels to have
  11. We have created a database of talented employees who we would like to hire when the time is right
  12. We have a dedicated careers section on our corporate website
  13. Managers have access to a leadership development program
  14. We have defined our employer value propositions (EVPs)
  15. We have reviewed our EVP’s in light of the Global Financial Crisis
  16. We have an active employee referral program which we promote to staff and external stakeholders
  17. We conduct an employee engagement, satisfaction and/or climate survey at least once per year
  18. We participate in an external annual best employers and/or employer of choice survey
  19. Each staff member has a documented career development plan that is reviewed at least annually
  20. We use an IT system to automate our recruitment process and rank candidates against weighted criteria

 

How did you rate?

 

0-5 We are in the very early stages

6-12 We have made a start

13-17 We just need some fine tuning

18-20 We are up there with the best

 

4) Review and update your employer value proposition (EVP) communication assets

When was the last time you review your EVP communication assets, how long ago were they developed? Make it a project to review all your internal and external EVP communication tools and ask the following questions:

 

  • Does our employer value proposition clearly reflect the current employment experience?
  • How inspiring is our welcome pack for new hires? How does it differentiate our employment offering?
  • Can we deliver on what we are promising in our recruitment communication efforts?
  • How effective is our social media strategy – are we engaging with our communities or are we merely broadcasting about our products and services?
  • If I was looking for a job how inspired would I be by what our company is communicating and how consistent is the messaging
  • How well do our communication assets flow from text – images – audio – video?
  • How authentic is our messaging?
  • How do we feel about the tone, style and imagery we are using in our communications?

 

Based on the outcomes of your review schedule a project in 2011 to update your communication assets across key offline and online touchpoints.

 

For a best practice case study, see how effective Starbucks is across its online platforms including facebook, twitter and YouTube

 

5) Learn from best practice employer brand companies

Study and learn from companies who are leading the way in employer branding including Google, IBM, Starbucks, Sodexo, SAS, Singapore Airlines, Deloitte, McKinsey, etc there are many but these are some good companies to observe and learn from - for starters!. Don't just study companies in your own industry - you'll find companies outside your industry a great source of innovation for employer branding best practice. Companies in the oil and gas industry companies such as Chevron, Schlumberger and Shell are good companies to follow as are the major players in the banking and finance industry such as Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs.  They all invest in employer branding!

 

Companies to watch in 2011 include Research in Motion (RIM), UnitedHealth Group and Adidas. Each company's employer branding programs are headed up by world leading employer brand practitioners Kat Drum (RIM), Health Polivka (United Health Group) and Steve Fogarty (Adidas). I can assure you if you have the right type of leader in charge of your employer brand strategy you will go far!

 

6) Assess the employee lifecycle

 

click on image below to enlarge employee lifecycle map

 

 

Have your business unit leaders assess the employee lifecycle in their function to assess how well it adds value to an inspiring employment experience and one that adds, not distracts from engagement and retention efforts?

 

Employees at your company will transition through different stages of the employee’s lifecycle depending on factors such as age, education, experience, living arrangements, marital status, etc. It is important to understand how important these 'moments of truths' are to employees and to realise which ones if not handled well, can be deal breakers and result in employees seeking another place to work whilst being unconsciously unproductive in their current role. It is important to make adjustments based on observation and feedback from employees.

 

7) Develop social media capabilities and appoint some social media Rockstars to engage with your community real-time

If you haven't already started, 2011 is the year to train employees in how to use and leverage social media to support branding efforts. Global food service group, Sodexo have experienced a significant rise global brand awareness over the past two years through their ability to develop a social media sharing culture within their organisation. It won't happen just because your company has a facebook page or twitter profile, employees need to be trained across the company to ensure your initiatives are aligned with your brand strategy. To identify your social media Rockstars you may need to conduct some influencer studies to determine where your most connected, active and influential social media participants in your organisation are. I like to follow Kerry Noone from Sodexo.

 

8) Write a book!

Write a book about your employment practices and use it as an EVP communications tool for all stakeholders. In 2008 I was inspired by a book I read about the mentoring practices at Essar, a multinational conglomerate corporation in the sectors of steel, energy, power, communications, shipping ports and logistics as well as construction headquartered at Mumbai, India. Over a 12 month period the HR Manager had compiled a book on the company’s mentoring practices and included insights from leaders and employees across the organisation. Whilst the publication took a while to write, it will provide a lifetime of value for Essar. It has also been an excellent tool to build internal engagement as employees were involved in the development of the product and distribution of it on its release. So find a topic, write about it and share it with stakeholders!

 

9) Connect your employees on the inside!

How often do we see the ‘wheel being re-invented inside organisations because there is no way to track what has been developed previously and if it has, it’s usually outdated or too hard to find. IBM have had some great success in this area by establishing an internal social networking tool, 'Beehive' which has allowed employees across the world to make new connections, share knowledge and capabilities and to advance their career. Connected employees will lead to higher levels of communication and trust between employees across the enterprise and is becoming more important in today's increasingly dispersed workforces.

 

10) Leaders - slow down! and coach, mentor and share your knowledge and experiences with middle managers to enrich your talent pipelines, increase trust and developed capabilities

Too many of today's leaders are too busy to spend quality time coaching and mentoring or even just communicating with team members due to shorter deadlines, increasing workloads and longer working hours.

 

Before they know it, they’re burnt out, fail to take holidays and disconnect from the very people who can assist them, their staff. This leads to higher levels of disengagement which is an all too common output in organisations around the world today.  For the first time in a decade, research from the Hewitt Global Engagement database shows the percentage of organisations with decreasing engagement now exceeds the percentage with increasing engagement. This is a disturbing statistic!

 

11) Build employer brand awareness, knowledge, skills and capabilities

Most of time employees don’t buy into your vision to develop and implement an employer brand strategy because they lack the skills and capabilities to do so. Employer branding is an emerging field in many economies so take the time to build awareness, knowledge, skill and capabilities within your organisation. I’ve written two books, ‘Employer Brand Leadership-A Global Perspective' and ‘Your Employer Brand attract-engage-retain', and a do it yourself guide, 'The Employer Brand Manager’s Handbook-2011 International edition' which will assist you to build employer branding capabilities inside your company.

 

What are some other best practices that can be added to this list. Please leave your comments below.

 

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful 2011, I hope it is a very successful year for you!

 

Brett.

Connect with Brett - You can follow him on Twitter, watch him on YouTube connect with him via LinkedIn, or friend him on Facebook.

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