The Employment Brand

When I was responsible for corporate branding at a global company, a new head of human resources came on board.  She was very focused on the employment brand and charged a person in the HR department with this responsibility.  In my meetings with this person, it became clear that the objective of a strong employment brand was to make the company the place where the best and brightest wanted to work.

My major question about an employment brand was (and continues to be): Is the employment brand really something separate from the company brand?

I view the employment brand as an extension of the company brand.  People want to work, first and foremost, at a company that is or could be the leading brand in its industry.  If people have a choice, they would like to be with a leader and not the company that has a reputation for poor product quality, less than stellar customer service, dishonest business dealings, etc.  By being the leading brand in its market space, a company attracts great candidates and has the option of picking the very best to join the company.  It is a bit of a closed loop: Be the leading brand, attract the best people, continue to distance the brand from the competition.

Yes, a company has to be competitive in its pay, benefits, work environment, technology, etc.  But, with few exceptions, there is not a great deal of variation from one company to another.  And if people are joining your company primarily because of the benefits, you may want to rethink if they are the employees you want.

A company should be hiring talent that supports its corporate brand.  If the company brand is built on customer intimacy, then strong customer service orientation should be a leading qualifier for candidates.  If the company brand is innovation, proven experience as an innovator should be an important qualifier for candidates.  In short, cultural fit maybe the most important element of a successful new hire.  And a large part of cultural fit is the person’s ability to “live the brand”.

By the way, this fit should not be restricted to prospective employees.  Sometimes a disconnect develops between the company brand and a current employee’s ability to deliver on the brand promise.  Managers and executives need to be attuned to this and can either coach the employee on changes the employee needs to make or decide the employee is no longer a fit with the company.

Trying to be the employer of choice primarily through outsized compensation and benefits, like competing solely on price, is a losing game.  There will always be someone who offers more and you will be in a constant arms race to stay on top.  However, if you create a compelling company brand that leads your industry, the best people will flock to your company (and stay there) because they want to work for the best.



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