When asked by me to upgrade his current definition, Simon Barrow, creator of the Employer Brand concept, responded: ”the Employer Brand is formed by the functional, economic and psychological realities making up the actual employee experience provided by the employer”.
He also suggested, “the role of employer brand management is to provide a coherent framework to simplify and focus priorities, increase productivity, improve recruitment, retention and engagement. It is also to ensure regular measurement and that external and internal communications are compelling, distinctive and true in the view of existing employees.”
What’s your current definition of the Employer Brand concept?
While awaiting your answer, and before Simon’s new definition came in, we have done some research to assess current undstanding to the topic.
Worthy to be mentioned is that we asked professionls directly and in details.
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, NetEase, Sinolink Securities, Shell, Sampoerna (Indonesia), thyssenkrupp, Xiaomi, Uisee, WuXi AppTec, Yangtze Memory Technologies etc, I like to share with you 7 key points as following:
1, An Employer Brand Exists in Mind of Audience Members no matter What You do or not
Basically, almost every respondents believe an employer brand exists in mind of talent no matter what an business do or don’t do, as long as it employs people.
“companies need an employment value proposition — a statement of why the total work experience at their organization is superior to that at other companies”
-Brad Hill and Christine Tande
(Quoted from an article by Brad Hill and Christine Tande for Workspan, a magazine of World@Work, in 2006.)
Jane Qian, a Talent Acquisition leader from Harman China even said further: “no matter you realize it or not consciously, the target audience feels about your Employer Brand on their own, in terms of your HR practice, activities and culture you built.”
This kind of perception hints a compelling demand for employers to take a proactive approach to drive their employer brand to serves their purpose.
2, Employer Branding Goes beyond Recruiting Externally
Almost every respondent recognized active employer branding is good for talent acquisition function, particularly reducing difficulty of attracting and recruiting new hires for a business.
Among respondents, a senior HR leader switched her leadership role from a Western MNC to a Chinese hi-tech start up reminded that an employer brand serves like an identity or sign, when a business tries to attract candidates.
“This maybe controversial because I suspect that recruitment dominates the job rather than the actual employment experience which is outside recruitment but is the heart of the EB management role in my view.”
– Simon Barrow, creator of the Employer Brand concept
Additionally, the majority of respondents understood employer branding does go beyond recruiting externally, and make impact on engagement, retention and more internally, so that placed emphasis on authenticity and consistency of an employer brand which the core of its audience, employees live everyday, through employee experience .
Another respondent, Virginia Wan, HR Director from Shanghai Wanxiang Blockchain Inc. held an idea that an employer brand represents the uniqueness of total value talent to receive from an organization.
3, An Employer Brand may have More Diversified Audience than Many Thought
Generally there seems a consensus held by all respondents that at any point of a full lifecycle of an employee, an individual actually is part of the target audience of an employer brand, as a job-seeker, candidate, interviewee, employee and ex-employee.
Beyond that, some of respondents believe key members of the target or potential audience could or should be university, business partner, family, product consumer/user, and even financial investor.
Some respondents believes a strong employer brand which attracts good talent and treats employee well, helps assure consumers to prefer product and service associated with that employer brand.
Bulin Tong, Head of Global Campus Recruitment and Employer Branding, Geely suggested an audience member of an employer brand will play a consumer role and a candidate role simultaneously or successively, while Alex Yu, HR Head from Chengfayun, a Chinese PaaS business startup, mentioned he experienced interviews by financial investor and believed great investor understands well about implication of a good employer brand for its business future.
4, The Equity of an Employer Brand may be Leveraged to Uplift Product and Business Brand
Since the same person may play two roles: candidate and consumer, and people tend to change their jobs more frequently, it means the audience of an employer brand may serve as the audience of an product or business brand.
Bulin Tong, Head of Global Campus Recruitment and Employer Branding, Geely introduced their own practice which allows an employee to give out a discount for consumer in their network, to buy a Geely car.
Another respondent, a communication manager — not with HR function, told her own experience that a great compensation package of a B2B type company she had not been familiar with, rose up her curiosity to learn about what they are and what they did.
Though we don’t see many from this perspective, it make sense that a well-planned employer brand strategy can lend marketing or product team a hand to build brand for product and business in a smart and cost-effective manner.
5, Measuring an Employer Brand is Hard and Current Measurements Vary Much
The majority of respondents thought to measure an employer brand, especially quantitatively is hard, and there are short of effective methods in market for practitioners to have confidence to choose from.
For those respondents mentioning metrics, the majority of their measurements fall into the conventional HR practice, such as: time to fill, new hire quality, cost per hire, employee engagement, turnover rate, attrition rate, retention rate, vacancy rate / talent readiness etc..
However, some respondents came up with measures more directly linked to employer brand, including, eNPS (employee net promoter score ), Rate of Internal Referral Hires, employer awareness rate, employer approval rate etc.
Sofia Chen, a senior HR professional based in Guangzhou, China with a MNC, which produces water quality analytical instruments, even gave out a specific metric, suggesting over 30% employee referring a job to their network indicates an employer brand success.
Meaningful to mention, is a question a respondent mentioned, advised by McKinsey’s OHI (Organizational Health Index ) solution: how reluctant for you is it to leave the current employer.
6, Necessary to have a formal position Employer Brand Manager or Leader?
The majority of interviewees answering to this question responded with ‘not necessary’, especially when with a limited business scale —- when asked to specific the scale limit, some said 100 and 100 millions in yuan (RMB) , some thought 150, and some choose 200, or 500 employee or the half of a billion in yuan (RMB) etc.
When asked the ideal supervisor for an independent Employer Brand manager or leader, top HR head is the most favorable, then CEO, then TA head, then top Marketing Head.
All respondents suggested employer brand management is a great job to do, no matter there is an independent Employer Brand manager or leader or not, except that one respondent advocated all employer brand manager/ leader, and/or HR manager/leader should exit eventually to disappear from the organizational chart towards a fully empowered organization.
When asked how employer brand inspires HR professionals’ career, respondents generally believed the topic employer brand highlighted the strategic nature of Human resources, and driving employer brand will increase business impact.
7, Some Employer Branding jobs go under Corporate Culture Team
Employee is building a business, and Employee Value Proposition involves what kind of values an employee may expect to receive and/or be expected to give, while corporate culture reflects a business’s core values.
So what’s the relationship between Employer Brand and Corporate Culture?
Some respondents responded that their employer branding jobs go in the name of corporate culture now, or corporate culture building jobs merge with jobs of employer branding.
Joe Li, Director, Corporate Culture, Ctrip, responded “corporate culture building is to transform employee’s behavior to reflect and realize corporate vision, mission and core values”.
In reality, employee behavior, corporate vision, mission and core values all make impact on employee experience which delivers authenticity for an employer brand.
So, can we say EVP – Employee Value Proposition to be supported and embedded by corporate culture building to live in reality?
Worthy to be mention is that Joe’s current role is newly created with an expanded scope covering his old job employer branding.
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.