8 Starting Points lead to an Effective Employer Brand Strategy

To assess the potential for an upgrade in Employer Brand Management thinking in Asia, with a special focus on China, besides insight into general practice and market trends, we had done some research from April to June, 2019.

As part of this research, with kind support from Simon Barrow himself, I personally, over telephone, have interviewed 30 professionals in Asia in the 1 on 1 manner, among them, the majority are based in China (including Hong Kong).

Drawn from opinions from the 30 respondents coming from a list of leading employers, including: Ctrip, CC Intelligence, Chengfayun, Del Monte Philippines, Muma Pizza, Geely, Harman, Joyson, Mogu, Momentive, NetEase, Sinolink Securities, Shell, Sampoerna (Indonesia), thyssenkrupp, Xiaomi, Uisee, WuXi AppTec, Yangtze Memory Technologies etc, I  like to continue to share with you today.

When asked questions like what is the biggest thing you will suggest great employer to offer to attract talent and engage them to work better, advice from respondents falls into the following 8 subjects as following, in an descending order of frequency:

1, Employee Value Proposition Definition/Discovery is a Strategic Start

Among respondents, most of advisors on this argued that Employee Value Proposition will play the guiding star for strategic employer brand building activities and processes, by explicitly stating who an employer is and is not and what an employee will expect and be expected from an employer, where an employer stands and where an employer shall stand, no matter we go into the world of VUCA or not, or if iteration is everywhere.

However, just like Stanley Sun, HR Head, HARBOUR BIOMED and former HRD, HRBP and Staffing, AstraZeneca responded, some of advisors on this moderately agreed on a need to choose a relatively broader description for their EVP to define and (re)discover ahead, so as to make it stay relevant as far as an employer brand can go, by placing a slight emphasis on different pillars of an EVP, in a different time frame .

2, Employer Brand Ambassador/Championship Program is a Gold mine

Almost everyone of respondents agree every people in a business will make impact on its Employer Brand and will represent Employer Brand to some extend, with the senior management and the major stake-holder, like founders will hold the greatest influence.

Therefore, that one of best things to highlight an Employer Brand in an explicit manners and approachable manners is to set up and promote Employer Brand Ambassador/Championship Program, is highly advised by the majority of the respondents.

With deeper understand into this context as above, I incline to include these following practices into this category: Employee Referral Program for talent acquisition, Employee Referral Program for customer acquisition, Employee Advocacy Program on social media etc.

Of course, in reality, in many cases, people tend to run Employee Referral Program for talent acquisition, Employee Referral Program for customer acquisition and Employee Referral Program for customer acquisition etc., much more spontaneously, transactionally and less strategically, and this tendency is reflected during this research.

3, Candidate Experience is Winning more Light

Quite a few respondents advised ambitious employers to try candidate experience campaign or program to intensively increase employer brand’s status, with a cost-effective yet remarkable return to look forward to, even in a short term .

One of respondents, Beryl Hu, TA leader from Yangtze Memory Technologies, further explained, “Candidate Experience sits in a very interesting intersection between external world and internal reality when a candidate explores towards an employer.”

Yes, by doing this, an employer brand will have chance to strategically expose itself to the talent market, with significant effort will be required to improve the internal reality which is directly related to work environment and people performance.

4, Employee Experience is unfolding the Inner World of an Employer Brand

Many respondents advised forward-thinking employers to primarily uplift their employer brand initiate by choosing one of the following things:

Internal Career Mobility program, for example, rotation practice;

On-boarding and Orientation Program, such as mentorship program;

Introduction of new form of employment, like remote work; Action Plan based on Engagement Survey, (Employer) Brand sensitive HR practice responding to core demand of senior management.

If you put them under the titles of talent management, total rewards practice or leadership development, I wouldn’t blame you, as they are indeed.

Here, I count them into the category of Employee Experience which lends us great lens of ‘customer-orientation’ philosophy to understand better about talent and leverage human capital very well to drive brand and business forward, which is also the essential ground for the concept of employer brand.

Therefore, the key here from my view is why you choose this, not that, how you do in this way, not that way, in other words, a Signature issue, outstanding and differentiating your employer brand while doing the basis jobs of talent management, total rewards or leadership development towards professionalism and productivity themselves.

“The Employee Value Proposition at Schneider Electric is our way of promising an enriching work experience to all our people. We want our employees — no matter who they are, or where in the world they live — to feel that they can be at their best every day. “ – Olivier Blum, Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources, Schneider Electric (quoted from se.com)

The special thing worth to highlight is innovation advocated by Jacky Yeung, a senior HR leader in China Hong Kong, on employment form, remote work.

(A snapshot of Deloitte’s Insight into Employee Experience)

Actually beyond it, there are part-time job, flexible employment (gig economy), AI supported work to create now. This will not only affect talent management and total rewards, but also subsidy an attractive employer brand which nurtures leadership for a potential business re-modeling.

5, Communicating Employer Brand efficiently is a Common Battle

Some veterans leading efforts of promoting corporate employer brand for years advised their beginner peers to primarily get focused on employer brand communication efficiency, through increasing followers from the talent market in a short term, especially through corporate account on social media.

Surprisingly, meanwhile, an employer branding manager who switched her career from marketing, advised beginners driving employer brand strategy to set up and maintain a VI system for an employer brand.

6, HR People are really Talking about Media Plan and Brand Endorsement

Yes, media plan is not a domain exclusive to product marketing and traditional brand manager any more, it has been a great part of toolkit of an effective employer branding/brand manager.

Media that some of our respondents talked about covers social media and even more fashionable we-media and personal brand, though they didn’t mention print and TV (a little pitifully,huh?~).

They were talking about not only conventional medium, but also pre-movie ads and event medium.

James Li, a senior HR leader, recalled that he was amazed years ago by a pre-movie advertisement placed in North America for Basf’s employer brand, and SABIC sponsored an international debate competition hosted by a 3rd party and attended by MBA students in Singapore, besides competition hosted by employers themselves being mentioned more from respondents.

Actually, event sponsorship is much more about brand endorsement which goes beyond common media strategy, and is very classical movement for product marketing and corporate brand building.

And yes, 2 respondents mentioned employer brand prize/ranking bidding could be a smart move to gain endorsement while increase popularity, if people didn’t pay for a prize.

7, Campus to be the Best venue for an Employer Brand to Take off

Quite a few respondents mentioned a lot about activities in campus or related to campus are useful for employer brand building.

(snapshot from mckinsey.com/June, 2019)

True, the youth in campus brings the future into reality — with potential purchase power to buy a job and other product, and they are eager to exchange and interact individually or in group, in campus, and some of employers do recruit a significant fresh graduate each year for jobs and other products; campus is an important battlefield.

But on-campus activities don’t alway come with new recruits, either for ‘job’ or for other products.

Winny Liu, a HR leader from Shell recalled they run scalable competition event on innovation and electric vehicle to attract colleague students to attend, preparing young talent for tomorrow’s challenges while giving them a taste of working with people in Shell.

8, Great Job is actually the Game-changer for an Effective Employer Brand

Only 1 respondent mentioned this and advised ambitious employer to package a major job into a superior one, either with strategic investment, such as prominent pay and perk, or competitive edge, then market it to the talent market, arousing top candidates, to compete to fit in a great position in the organizational chart, essential to a business success.

It’s Bo Wei, heading recruiting and employer branding for Sinolink Security, who recalled 10 years ago when Sinolink Security was still small, the senior management made a bold move to campaign ‘Million Dollar Sponsor Representative’ which was a major job, essential to its new business of helping guide initial public offering (IPO) candidate to the stock market, and it turned out the new business successful and therefore make Sinolink Security well-known and one of major investment banks in China.

Though there is only ‘vote’ from only 1 respondent, I am grateful for this response, and like to enthusiastically advocate this is the very right big key for an effective employer brand.

What do we build an employer brand, then a business and a product brand for? Value Delivery.

(the GROWTHS model suggested by Steven Li, LinLead (China). Learn more? Click www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-people-buy-job-from-you-steven-li/)

Employer brand delivers growth which delivers business to deliver product delivering value.

Let’s start selling jobs wisely and gracefully?

You are not inspired enough?

Join us at the live gathering resembling f forward-thinking leaders and pioneering practitioners  from HR and marketing fields,

from home in China and aboard, which On July 26, 2019, in Shanghai, China, LinLead will host, to exchange and debate with Simon Barrow,

the father of the Employer Brand concept, leading the speaking faculty, at the general conference at EBS2019’ The 6th Employer Brand Strategy (Learning) Summit, with an add-on workshop on July 25, 2019.

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