A Marketing vs Human Resources mentality will damage your brand, this is why.
To most people, the relationship between the marketing and HR departments of many companies to most people probably resembles that of the two Koreas?
In a siloed organisation, Marketing sees itself as the ‘keeper of the brand’, gathering consumer insight, communicating the brand promise and monetising opportunity.
Human Resources concerns itself with attracting and recruiting new talent, training and managing staff, and if necessary, moving-on and supporting those individuals as required.
Altogether separate entities, with little or no opportunity for crossover and although not in open hostility, it could start at any moment, especially at budget allocation time.
The ‘experience economy’ and the importance of ‘people’
News stories and articles about digitisation and the digital economy are everywhere; effectiveness and efficiency dominate the business narrative. How the client or customer experiences your brand is given barely a thought.
The unavoidable truth is that we’ve reached a point where we are as efficient as we can be. Effectiveness in the form of new tech or other innovation won’t distinguish your business to the degree that clients will recognise you as different to your competitors. A lack of differentiation means you’re off to the commoditisation heap.
The best way you can achieve differentiation is in the quality of your client interactions – how they experience your brand through your service at every touchpoint.
And despite the digital revolution, behind every customer interaction or moment that matters, directly or indirectly, there is a real, live human being or, as they used to be known, a ‘person’.
The people you recruit, who recruits them, trains and manages them, are now critical to your company or business’s success and likely to become increasingly more so.
Have a chat with HR. They’re nice people. Really.
None of us gives much thought to the importance of other business disciplines – we all tend to think our role is responsible for and critical to the company’s success. So, it’s easy to think of HR functions as generic and unchanging, built around standard frameworks like competency and leadership with a few ‘chewing gum’ words and cliches thrown in.
If thought of at all, workplace culture means flexible working hours, dress down Fridays, and having an espresso machine or table tennis table in the office.
When all things’ Human Resources are considered, nobody is thinking about the brand. And you really should be because companies are now defined by their client interactions’ quality, not just features and benefits.
If your staff don’t believe in, understand or care about your product or service, it shouldn’t take the brains of an archbishop to realise that you might have a problem. Brand, after all, is driven by awareness built on a solid reputation created by excellent product and service delivery.
Welcome to the ‘Experience Economy’.
Your brand isn’t just for your clients
Brand works from the ‘inside out’; everybody needs to be aligned to be believable.
Just as you’ve spent time cultivating your Customer Value Proposition (CVP) and your customer-facing brand positioning, so you must do the same thing for your existing and potential employees by developing your employer branding, employer brand and your employee value proposition.
Employer branding. What it is and why it’s important
When you want to employ new staff, you put a skills-based ad on Seek, Jora or similar with vague promises regarding remuneration and information about what a fantastic company it is to work for. Sort through the resumés, pick the best and then give your favourite the job. Right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
Brand marketing exists to shape potential and existing customers’ perceptions about you and the services and products you provide.
Employer branding does the same thing by positioning your talent offer – your employer brand – to your existing and prospective employees, allowing you to attract the very best candidates easily, at less cost.
You achieve this by showcasing your company’s uniqueness and developing clear messaging that will see you recognised as a desirable place to work.
Attracting talented people who are the right fit, have the right experience and credentials is a competitive exercise. If you can’t consistently and effectively communicate your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – the reason skilled candidates should work for you – then you’re on the back foot.
Employer branding that’s honest, strategic and delivered creatively will make advocates of existing staff and provide a clear proposition and brand stories you can amplify to inform and appeal to future prospects.
Employer Brand. You’ve got one even if you know it or not
Your employer brand is the sum total of your talent audience’s thinking – this means your current, past and prospective employees. You don’t own it; you can only shape it. It significantly influences a prospect’s desire to consider working for you, actually apply, stay with you, and perform to the highest standards.
Your employer brand defines the essence of your company, its uniqueness and what it stands for. Constantly changing, you should manage your employer brand carefully; this means crafting and aligning your ideals with the people you’re looking to attract, boosting your recruitment efforts to attract candidates that will deliver a competitive advantage to your business.
What is an Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?
An employee value proposition succinctly communicates ‘why work for us’ and ‘what we expect from you’ – a clear value exchange. It should provide your employees with a powerful reason to work for you.
Your organisation will benefit from a well-designed EVP that is communicated often to both prospective and current employees. A clearly articulated EVP can attract and retain the best people and help prioritise HR and workforce planning goals, bringing them to life.
Beware. To deliver the desired superior engagement and recruitment results, treat your EVP as a pillar of your overall brand, not yet another generic ‘mission statement’ that people always tend to see right through.
Before you craft your employee brand proposition, take the time to establish and define the benefits of working for your company. Check they resonate with your current employees; if they don’t, work on them; consider some of the things that might trigger the desire of a candidate to work for you:
- Company values and culture
- Overall compensation
- Career development
- Management style
- Quality of work
- Work-life balance, or proportion of work to time off
- On-the-job perks like lunch, on-site childcare, flexitime, and remote working
- Opportunities for travel and client exposure
- Job security
EVP and your employer brand, why they’re different
To recap, your employee brand already exists in the minds of your people – past, present and potential. It is how they feel and think about you as an employer and drives their behaviour and attitudes.
Your EVP is something that you can and should be controlling – it should clearly define the value exchange between you and your employees to understand the benefits to them in exchange for their skills and time.
Use your EVP along with your employee brand positioning to drive your employee branding – and drive your actions and inform your communications to your talent audiences.
The Pointy End. Recruitment
Suppose your company doesn’t have a dedicated HR department. In that case, there’ll usually be somebody within your organisation that takes responsibility for induction and training, but do you have the time or experience to interrogate resumés, interview candidates and select the best one?
It may seem like it’s easy, but there’s a clear difference between being able to do something and thinking you can do something. Trying to do it yourself may result in you employing somebody who interviewed like Dr Spock but performs like Homer Simpson.
A few pointers.
Go to a reputable recruitment company. Avoid the generalists and engage one that preferably specialises in the type of skill or business you’re recruiting for. A company that specialises in retail might not be the best fit if you’re after an engineer.
Ask what experience the recruiters have (if their last role was a travel agent or enthusiastic vet nurse, walk away), outline your brand and EVP. Then define the person you’re after.
If all they want to do is ‘sell flesh’ and aren’t interested in you and your company, find another one.
It may take some time to settle on a provider that understands your needs and will work with you, not for you to get the best results. But it will be worth it in the end.
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