Employer branding has always had a battle to convince organisations – some more than others – that it is worth its place on the board room table. Arguments would rage that it had little value, it was just about having consistent communication and there were far better things on which to justify prising open the company coffers.
It has been hyped more than ever as some agencies have seen it as an opportunity to jump on the envisaged gravy train and tout their wares as the next employer branding experts. As a result inconsistent messages, a fragile economy and over-complicated analysis is resulting in something of a backlash.
Everyone’s an expert
It would appear that everyone has something to say about how ’employer branding should be done’. Now I’m not saying there aren’t many people making very worthwhile contributions to the debate and discussion on the topic, but I’m regularly bombarded by web links to articles (and maybe this is one of them!) on people sharing their insights and ideas like the concept was developed yesterday. It’s creating an element of fatigue that if you subscribe to many of the networking sites you will be familiar with and have to make some clear distinctions between generally worthwhile contributions and blatant self-promotion.
Large agency services
I personally feel some of the large agencies who have tried to offer ’employer branding’ as a product in its own right have a lot to answer for. Regardless of the fact that these are often the most poor at managing their own employer brand, they are also inconsistent with the way they deliver their ‘services’.
Employer branding never has been and never should be a ‘product’ but it is often packaged in such a way that it makes a convenient sales line when totting up the latest quarterly revenues. The problem with this approach is that there is no long term devotion or commitment to the client need. The usual approach usually follows along the lines of persuading the client they need some focus groups followed up with a branding ‘solution’ and a creative face lift. All of which is fine, but does not fulfill the need for regular appraisal, revisiting and consultancy within the business to ensure its long term implementation. The job is done after the last presentation and there is no interest in maintaining a long term relationship. The client feels short changed and there is no consideration given to how performance, retention and recruitment are going to be effectively measured and benchmarked.
The need for reinvention
I’ve witness all kinds of reactions to employer branding. Those who just simply refuse to want to understand it, those who can’t be bothered, those who think its a dark science and simply people who don’t give a monkeys.
There are, and will be, agencies and consultancies who will become victims of their own downfall through over-theorising a concept that has derived its principals from already well-honed techniques in the areas of employee communications, cultural change and basic good management of an organisation’s reputation through its talent market and employee engagement.
I use the term ’employer branding’ because it is important in identifying how an organisation manages its relationships with its potential recruits and existing employees. The real and the perceived experience of what that organisation is like to work for. In its simplest form, that is it. The communciation that is involved to deliver, manage and enhance on the promise alongside a long term commitment to reviewing and managing feedback determines how successfully the organisation manages its people policy.
The world is changing. People’s expectations are changing and the recruitment and employment market is moulding a future that will be very different to the landscape that existed before the recession. We need to change and adapt to this and look to innovative and interesting ways to manage the employer brand. Experience is a good thing, but experience is also only what we have learnt from the past and can resist inventive ways of managing the future.