Yesterday, I wrote about your own personal brand and how to manage that brand in your career search. Today, I want to look at the flip-side of that and share some thoughts on employer or employment branding. Chances are, unless you are in HR or staffing functions, you have not heard of this term. So let me get you up to speed and give some thoughts of my own.
In a recent article titled The 8 Elements of a Successful Employment Brand, Dr; John Sullivan describes an employment brand (more here) as “a targeted, long-term strategy to manage the awareness and perceptions of employees, potential employees, and related stakeholders with regards to a particular firm. The strategy can be tuned to drive recruitment, retention, and productivity management efforts. It works by consistently putting forth an image surrounding management and business practices that make your organization an attractive, ‘good place to work.’ “
Marketers talk a lot about branding for products or companies, but in a market where candidates are the customer, and the employee experience is the product, employment branding is vitally important. Companies spend millions of dollars to strengthen their employment brands and increase the perception of their company as a great place to work (which staffing professionals often refer to as “employer of choice” status). Aside from the formal programs that companies implement to influence this perception, there are grassroots efforts that impact employment branding. As employees, we are all marketers of our employment brand.
Because of my role staffing marketing organizations at Microsoft, I’m probably a little more conscious of this than most HR professionals. While my co-workers might tease me a little about wearing my Microsoft security card when we go out for lunch, I think of myself as a walking representation of our employment brand. And the degree to which I am friendly to the waiter and even that fact that I take a lunch break is a positive influence on Microsoft’s employment brand. Our employment brand plays out in how our employees drive their cars (fortunately or not), speak with their neighbors and engage in their community and industry.
I recently attended an AIRS Diversity Summit in Seattle and one of the sessions was about benchmarking your diversity web brand. This means evaluating your online diversity brand effectiveness, specifically with regard to diversity initiatives and people with diverse backgrounds (candidates, employees, partners, customers, etc.). One of the best practices that the speaker brought up was around featuring real people on your company website (in this case, he was speaking specifically about a company’s diversity website). This is an effective marketing strategy because people viewing the page can see the humans that live the brand versus a listing of initiatives. Further, it suggests that people are happy at that company (and honestly that the company is not afraid of recruiters trying to recruit these visible people away). Unhappy employees don’t want their faces on their corporate website. (Meet some happy Microsoft employees here)
So this brings me to the corporate blogging phenomenon. I can’t tell you how many comments I have received from people that feel that this blog provides a human face to staffing at Microsoft (and by the way, thanks for all the kind words, people!). And I’ve seen similar comments on other Microsoft blogs as well. People are surprised that we are nice, helpful, care about their careers and that we aren’t computer generated ; )And while all of this blogging has a positive impact of the brand of Microsoft, I see an especially profound impact on our employment brand, which is what gets me really excited to post here every day (weekends excluded…as I do have a pretty active life outside of work). And the fact that all of the other bloggers here are helping in this effort to humanize Microsoft makes it that much more exciting (and frankly, easier for me).
So maybe all those Microsoft bloggers haven’t thought about the impact of their blogging on our employment brand. And as long as they keep on blogging, I don’t care if they think about it. This might be the most cost-effective employment branding strategy every. Keep on blogging people!
More links on employment branding:
Employment Branding Roadmaps (Electronic Recruiting News)
Dr. John Sullivan on Employment Branding
There's That Word Again: Your Employment Brand