Employer Branding: A Ripple Effect for organizational effectiveness


By

Ms. Vijt Chaturvedi
Faculty (HRM)
ICFAI University
 


Introduction

Headlines like  RINL(Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited )  Personnel department gets ISO 9000 for its excellent services in Human resources, , Standard charted bank employees to have5 days week, icici plans to recruit 30,000 employees in coming year , Accenture on course to hit 35,000 headcount in India  or launching of a completely a new Brand strategy TCL a china based electronic company termed " Creative life "for global market or Infosys to open BPO unit in Mexico , or that of wipros in Egypt or the UB group acquiring Shaw Wallace.. these statement as news of daily magazine or topic of discussion create what is known as Brand image or the "Trust mark "or as defined by Minchington (2005) as "the image of the organization as a 'great place to work' in the minds of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders)."

The concept of Employer Brand has gained importance since 1990"s or it is a result of Global manic competition but above all it has become a magnetic force, a catalyst , an accelerator and a prime factor which determines an organization success and future .

Employer brand has overshadowed and synchronized all other factors which had their individual importance like customers, relationship, PR, networking, 2- way

Communication etc and is now the sole prima factor or the turnkey of success.

This article is aimed to explain the need, importance, process, applicability, and outcome of employer branding.

Defining Employer Branding

Like a consumer brand, it is an emotional relationship, but between an employer and employee, one that radiates out from this core to other stakeholders, to the community at large, and obviously to potential employees.

Employer branding is the development and communication of an organization's culture as an employer in the marketplace. It conveys your "value proposition" - the totality of your culture, systems, attitudes, and employee relationship along with encouraging your people to embrace and share goals for success, productivity, and satisfaction both on personal and professional levels.

Employer branding is the essence of the employment experience, providing points that commence with initial employer brand awareness, and continuing throughout the tenure of employment, even extending into retirement. Employer branding is a distinguishing and relevant opportunity for a company to differentiate itself from the competition creating its branded factors as its USP for employee satisfaction and happiness resulting in retention, productivity and efficiency.

Developing an image as an employer is part of employer branding. Turning that image into a working relationship between an organization and its potential recruits is a process. Understanding that relationship is often a process of discovery," says Jo Bredwell, senior partner at JWT Specialized Communications. "Sometimes employers need a brand, but what they really need is to discover what it is.

A corporate understanding of employer Branding concept across the Globe

American Express, Cisco Systems, Amgen, Starbucks, and Intel, all of which have received recognition on The List of 100 Best Companies to Work for in America are leaders in Employer Branding as well. "They all share the common trait of treating their employees better than their peers in their industries, and all invest heavily in employee training and development," states Hornung .

Companies who don't invest in developing an effective Employer Brand will, in the long run, be less financially successful than those who are. As stated by States Woltzen, "They will not be able to recruit or retain the high-performing employees they will need to run a successful business."

2002 Gallup survey reported that less than a quarter of American workers are fully "engaged" in their work, costing the US economy $300bn (and 50bn in the UK) per year. Gallup surveys in Great Britain, France and Singapore revealed similar findings in 2003.

The surveys revealed that more than 80% of British workers lack any real commitment to their jobs, with a quarter of those being "actively disengaged," or truly disaffected with their workplaces. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged workers cost the British economy between 37.2 billion ($64.8 billion U.S.) and 38.9 billion ($66.1 billion U.S.) per year due to low employee retention, high absentee levels, and low productivity.

Gallup survey results in 2003 also showed that only 12% of French workers are engaged in their work, with approximately 2.5 times as many workers (31%) being actively disengaged, or disconnected from their jobs.

In Singapore's workforce, the percentage of actively disengaged employees is on the rise. At 17%, this figure is up five percentage points from 2002. Gallup estimates that the lower productivity of actively disengaged workers penalizes Singapore's economic performance, costing between $4.9 and $6.7 billion annually.

Recruiters in IT/ITES sectors are increasingly advising companies to hire expert help for employer branding. "If you are not a first-mover like Infy or Wipro, then where is your USP?" asks Mr Gautam Sinha, CEO, TVA Infotech, one of the largest IT recruitment firms in the country.

Mr Harish Bijoor, CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, calls this a cusp activity between HR and marketing. "Internal branding is all about activation of solutions that can be seen, touched, felt and literally smelt by the employee every single day. Branding from the external perspective is all about top-down branding. Internal branding is a very bottom-up process."

Brand name is what makes companies employers of choice at campuses, emphasizes Prof S. Murali, Chairperson, Placements, at the ICFAI Business School. Companies now send students of previous batches as brand ambassadors to talk about the work atmosphere, growth opportunity, salary and other attractions that companies offer.

Rishi Das, CareerNet Consulting, a consulting firm that has been connecting engineering colleges with corporate, has had a different experience with entry-level employees. "We have seen that in the top 20 colleges, it's the salary and the job role that matters. Brand name only comes third, but in colleges that are ranked below the top 20, salary and brand name are top .Thus employer branding includes  all such tangible and non-tangible factots that create satisfaction .

Gautam Sinha, CEO, TVA Infotech, a Bangalore-based IT recruitment firm, says the brand name is the most important factor at entry level. On a scale of 1-10, he says, most students would place brand name on top. An opinion that is also influenced by parental views, he says. "At campus placements, parental consent plays a critical role. Most candidates choose big brands because of this, unless of course they have specialized in niche subjects like robotics which big brands may not offer. Thus as per the organization requirements employer brand or the Trust generating factors should be culminated in the system.

Employer branding as the" Right Fit" model

Effective employer branding also helps in hiring, retaining the right stuff. Considering that 85% of job changes are attributed to organizational incompatibility, and one quickly recognizes employer branding as a critical factor in effective recruitment, says Donald DeCamp, COO of Comp Health Group, a health-care staffing firm. "Employer branding goes beyond a company's reputation," says Kurt Mosley, vice president of business development says that." Becoming an employer of choice and increasing retention rates means that an organization's branding message truly aligns with the reality that exists for its workers because loyalty is no longer the dominant paradigm of the employer/employee relationship, attracting and retaining talent relies much more on being able to fulfill a different promise, and that promise varies from organization to organization, depending on its culture, mission and ability to achieve its goals.

Knowing Employees expectation: - The foundation for employer branding 

When properly planned and executed, an employer branding initiative can generate lively dialogue between an employer and its employees, build a rationale for a 'mutual working arrangement', and establish compelling reasons to commit to the arrangement. Whatever is a corporate or an employer an employee expects the following from employer:-

1) Fair treatment
2) Trustful and open channeled communication
3) Ability to provide security and benefits in present and future
4) Planned and systematic career and succession planning
5) Motivating and morale building team and management
6) Smooth Disciplinary procedure  and I.R
7) Employee benefit oriented culture and practices
8) Adequate talent acquisition , management, retention and utilization
9) Proper advancement and up gradation of employees
10) Participatory management
11) Industrial democracy
12) Clarity in roles and goals
13) Clearly defined authority responsibility charting
14) Timely decision making
15) Impartial , fair and growth promoting organization structure   

Creating the Right Mix: Defining the Employment package


The Employment Package includes those that often "close the deal" for the

Prospective employee, such as financial compensation, work/life balance, the Employee's role in organization and professional development. Every organization as per its need , workforce , level of competition and forecasted demand or business plan should match its expectation Requirement matrix in such a way so that it becomes easier for both employer and employee  to create a perfect brand name resulting in satisfaction. It includes the following

1) Focus on Culture and Environment: - It includes items such as the physical working environment, the size of the organization, and the organization's approach to work.

2) Brand Image and Reputation: - It helps in establishing integrity.. The consequence of a lack of integrity is the employee does not stay with the organization for long, contributing to the organization's well being. To attract people to something you cannot deliver is a waste of your time and money.

3) Management Performance:- It  is a vital part in the Employer Branding process. Senior management must be committed and involved in recruitment or the Employer Branding process or it will be a failure.

5. A combination of Functional, psychological, and Economic benefits which a new entrant expects. Thus by creating a need based employment package an organization is benefited in two-way.

6. It also helps in Attracting and recruiting "the right" candidates
   Attending to shortages within the organization
   Advancing retention rates and reduce turnover
   Amplifying employee engagement, commitment, and performance

Employer branding process

The employment brand architecture as suggested by Ryan Estis the chief talent strategist for NAS Recruitment Communications, an agency of the McCann World Group for becoming an employer of choice includes the following steps -

1) Understand your business objectives
2) Identify your talent needs.
3) Determine the employment brand attributes.
4) Look for synergy with the corporate brand.
5) Develop a communications plan.
6) Develop the messaging and creative content.
7) Establish metrics.
8) Execute and evaluate.

Taking these as the basic objectives and criterion the process of Employer branding can be summarized as following

Step 1 Concept Phase

360 degree  employer brand audit to determine the strength of your current employer brand and to determine its level of synergy with your corporate brand and business objectives.

Step 2 DESIGN PHASE

The Design Phase is the process to formulate your employer brand strategy. It includes -

(i) Defining your Employer Value Propositions (EVP's)

(ii)
Defining your EBI

The EBI is made up of two components the Employer Brand Employee Platform which includes

* Recruitment & induction
* Compensation and benefits
* Career development
* Employee research
* Reward and recognition
* Communication systems
* Work environment

Employer Brand Strategic Platform

*
Your firm's mission, vision & values
* Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
* Leadership
* Corporate reputation and culture
* People management policies and practices
* Performance management
* Innovation

iii)  The Corporate brand- the employer branding process and procedures should be aimed towards corporate branding so that betterment could be created not only among internal customers but also among external customers and all stakeholders.

iv)  Market forces - Employer branding process and techniques should be aimed towards building a positive image of the organization in external and internal environment equally.

STEP 3 - INTEGRATION PHASE

These may include:

* Career website
* Company intranet
* Careers fair brochures
* Company newsletters
* Policy and procedures templates
* Recruitment advertising
* Sponsorship

STEP 4 - EVALUATION PHASE

The Evaluation Phase involves measuring the impact of the Employer Brand program

Above all the success of any employer brand program depends on the efficiency with which the need, situation for designing, implementing and monitoring an employer brand program has been made. Not only a good understanding between the need, process, and inputs are required but the full utility comes when full workforce is benefited by it.

Implementing employer branding concept in organization

Following steps help in fruitful implementation of employer branding process they are

* Set measurable and attainable target for employer branding which should be development oriented.
* Hire professional services if needed for better and result oriented activities
* Identify the needs of employees and design program as per the requirements.
* Undergo survey either attitudinal for gathering information of employees satisfaction and needs.
* Design a full proof need based support oriented and growth focused strategy which will help both employee and employer for development and promotion.
* Validate the strategy with key constituencies.

Supportive factors in employer branding

1) Active employee involvement
2) Clear understanding of what your employees of choice want in an employer.
3) A clear, honest, ongoing feedback loop with employees that enable you to continuously gather information about organizational strengths and weaknesses
4) A clear understanding of what needs you address well, and what ones you don't
5) A list of organizational practices and policies that weaken your employer brand and those that strengthen it
6) A list of moment of truth experiences that help shape employees' overall work experience, and a clear picture of how well you do in each area

Outcome of effective employer branding

Thus, Employer branding gives an organization a competitive advantage. Employer branding is a tool to attract, hire, and retain the "right fit it also has an impact on shareholder value, creating positive human capital practices, contribute to bottom-line.

Strong employer brands have employer value propositions (EVP's) which are communicated in company actions and behaviors and evoke both emotive (e.g. I feel good about working here) and tangible benefits (this organization cares about my career development) for current and prospective employees. These organizations segment and communicate EVP's which reflect the image that the organizations want to portray to its target audience. A company's employer brand is reflected in the actions and behaviors of leaders and is affected by company policies, procedures, and practices and the same when well planned and implemented results in
profitability of organizations.

Conclusion

Thus it can be concluded that not only there is a need of creating a satisfaction in minds of employees (Internal customers) but there is an urgent need of creating this positivism in the minds f external customers and stakeholders. The created image has to be monitored and sustain d in such a way so that it will help in increasing profits as well as would create belongingness, pride, self actualization and true commitment in true words and spirit.
 


Ms. Vijt Chaturvedi
Faculty (HRM)
ICFAI University
 

Source: E-mail November 1, 2007

          

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