Thursday, December 10, 2009

Employer Branding, Step 2: Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

The objective of this stage is to define a set of values, associations and offerings that characterize you as an employer. The set must support the business strategy of the company and fit into the corporate brand.

Your employer value proposition needs to contain associations and values specific to the company’s role as an employer in order to fulfill its purpose among potential and current employees. In addition, it should be very specific in order to differentiate you from other companies. Survey conducted by Universum shows that the majority of companies in Europe and the US that already have a developed employer value proposition, states it could become clearer.

Many employers I have spoken to have pointed out the importance of finding concrete arguments for why their company is attractive. Novo Nordisk, today Denmark’s number one ideal employer among graduates, said once that it has, in the past, made the mistake of not having defined the company’s image before producing their advertisements. Consequently, the company did not have the most effective communication.

My advice for getting your employer value proposition right is presented below.

Decide who your target groups are

Without knowing exactly who you will be communicating to, you will not be able to formulate an attractive proposition. So, already at this point you have to know in detail what your different target groups are. However, it is not enough to know who they are. In order to develop your proposition, three additional areas must be considered:

Your Image – what should you say?
What do candidates want to hear? This is a first and essential question to answer. By doing qualitative and quantitative research you get information on what your target groups want from their ideal employers.

Some years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers said they learned along the way to pay better attention to what their potential candidates “wanted to hear” before elaborating and communicating their offer to the different target groups.

Then the question is - what is our image? What kind of perception do candidates have about us? And is it a match or mismatch between preferences and our image?

Your Identity – what can you say?
To ensure that your formulated employer value proposition is true it needs also include the current perceptions of your employees. Sometimes companies make the mistake of basing their communications around factors attractive for potential employees notwithstanding the fact that they may be far from the truth of the day. Obviously, when there is a discrepancy between the promise and the delivery there will be disappointment and frustration among your employees. Recruiting may become successful in short term; however, retention will collapse and even affect recruitment potential in the long run.

Your Profile – what do you want to say?
The employer value proposition and the employer brand cannot and should not be in any way separate from the corporate brand. They should be consistent and support each other in order to fulfill business objectives. Therefore, management must be involved in the process, since brand vision must come from them.

Companies should make a realistic evaluation of what they would like to say (based on the vision statement from top management), what candidates would like to hear, and what they can say given internal realities. The process of creating a proper employer value proposition should take time, be based on proper research and involve all relevant groups. Once you have developed your set of values, offerings and associations in this manner you should conduct this simple test:
· Is it attractive?
· Is it true?
· Is it in line with our corporate values?
· Is it differentiating us from competitors?

If you can answer these four questions with yes then you can go to the next step – to make a communication plan. If not there is still work to be done.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Employer branding, Step 1: Research

Too many companies make Employer Branding decisions based on gut feelings. STOP doing that! Time to change. The starting point for any employer branding strategy, no matter the company size should be Research.

The goal of this first step is to ensure knowledge of the current position of your employer brand: how it is perceived internally and externally – all in order to create a robust base for decision making in later stages of the process. Research can and should be used for two purposes: 1) planning and 2) evaluation. Evaluation refers mostly to step five:

My experience is that conducting internal and external research is among the least prioritized
activities in order to reach employer branding objectives. The fact that many HR professionals still follow their instincts rather than factual data for deciding on how to promote their employer brands
is alarming. I see though some encouraging signs of changing approach. Research improves the quality of activities conducted by employers and can reduce costs of branding activities dramatically.

Internal and external research
Employer branding is a prerequisite both for successful recruiting and retention. Both internal and external research is thus crucial for creating a sufficient basis of your employer branding strategy; they help you to create an understanding of internal and external target groups.
Some questions that are important to answer before going further in an employer branding strategy are:

a) What do graduates and professionals consider from an ideal employer?

b) What are the differences between graduates and professionals?

c) How satisfied are our employees?

d) What do former employers tell others about us?

e) How do our main competitors promote their employer brand?

f) What perception has potential employees about us?

g) Which channels have potential employees used to get a perception of us?

In my next blogs I will talk more in depth step 2) – a series of five blogs about Employer Branding:). Enjoy and comment!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Employer Branding – New Fast Growing Discipline

Over the last 5 years the interest for Employer Branding has grown tremendously. The table shows numbers of hits on Google for “Employer Branding”*. Today you will find millions of hits!

*Ref Universum Group,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Employer Branding recognized by a growing number of companies

I have seen that the term ‘employer branding’ has been used in different degrees in different countries. But regardless of the terms used, the purpose of the activity is the same: to build a strong, attractive and true employer brand that will succeed in attracting and retaining key talent.

What I find interesting, is that the concept of employer branding is being recognized by a rapidly growing number of leading companies as part of their main strategic challenges, and is therefore the new fast growing discipline.

In other words, if you do not work with employer branding it will cost you money. You will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain key talent. When everyone else is getting more professional and committed to employer branding, the competition will increase.

The Employer Branding work should be conducted in five steps:

Step 1: Research
This is the starting point in any employer branding campaign. By undertaking research you gain information on how your brand is perceived internally and externally.

Step 2: Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
Employer value proposition consists of a set of associations and offerings that characterize an employer and differentiates it from competitors. In this step it is time to analyze the gaps between the internally and externally perception discovered during step 1.

Step 3: Communication Plan
Now it’s time to select the appropriate channels for the target groups, and to coordinate the employer branding communication with other corporate communication. Remember, a sustainable Employer Brand is created when HR and Communication work together.

Step 4: Communication Material
After the communication plan has been finalized, it is time to define the materials, i.e. the pictures, words, movies and other specifics to be used, based on your EVP.

Step 5: Action
The final step consists of implementing, measuring and adjusting activities from all the stages above on a regular basis. Especially is a yearly measuring important.

In my next blogs I will talk more in depth for each step – a series of five blogs :). Enjoy and

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Employer Branding is not easy

Working with Employer Branding sounds easy, but when companies start working with it they realize that it involves a rather complex set of activities.

Universum has conducted a global survey among 875 HR professionals that have been working with Employer Branding for some years (November 2008).

Some key findings:

  • Access to resources is the main challenge for both the short and long term, indicating difficulties in showing the value of investments in Employer Branding
  • Less than half the respondents are comfortable with their evaluation metrics
  • Wide spread involvement throughout the organization is critical for success
  • The employers strongly believe that communication should be centered around intangibles such as "culture" and "image".

However, "Universum Student Surveys" shows that students consider tangibles such as "job characteristics" and "remuneration" more important than "culture" and "image". Analyzing and understanding research before starting the Employer Branding work is therefore critical.

The good news is that the survey shows that communication departments and HR have started to talk to each other, and that's a good start for a sustainable work within Employer Branding. As much as 49% of the companies said that communication department is involved in the Employer Branding work, and 59% said that top management is involved.

I am therefore looking forward to some exiting coming years in the field of Employer Branding!