You're an Employer of Choice: Now What? HCI White Paper February 23, 2007 By Thomas V. Durgin

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1 You're an Employer of Choice: Now What? HCI White Paper February 23, 2007 By Thomas V. Durgin

2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The getting and keeping of top talent is not only one of today's hottest topics in business, it's also an absolute necessity. Competition for talent to fill key positions has become a priority in a dynamic, global economy. And companies with a strong and positive employer brand have an advantage - indeed, they are regarded as an "employer of choice." This paper will examine several key areas of employer branding: - The four pillars of an employer brand - The link between best practices of talent management and a strong employer brand - Building a brand - Branding in action process that makes people feel the way they do about a brand. Branding is a series of signals that gets the idea about a brand across to people. Advertising is one signal; an organization's application and interview process is another, as is its display booth at a job fair, its onboarding process, employee newsletter, annual report, community relations, and other "face" connections with the world at large. Every company has an employer brand, whether they know it or not, whether they actively manage it or leave it alone. This last point is the "catch." All companies have an employer brand, but not all companies manage it. Yet managing the employer brand is basic marketing. Building a brand means organizations understand what makes them distinctive, and communicates that distinction to key stakeholders in an integrated and consistent way. THE BIG PICTURE First, the difference between "brand" and "employer branding." A brand is what a product or service stands for in people's minds. In other words, a brand is an idea, and branding is the way that idea is communicated - but it starts with the idea. THE FOUR PILLARS OF A BRAND There are four pillars to an employer brand. 1 Branding is the process of managing the things that make people feel the way they do about your brand. How does branding relate to employment? The employer brand is the perception of the relationship between employees and an employer; in other words, what people think it's like to work in an organization. This perception is extendable; it can exist in the minds of the general public, customers and vendors, and potential job candidates. Employer branding is a method for organizations to connect with their larger audience. It's the 1. Differentiation 2. Relevance 3. Esteem 4. Knowledge Differentiation is the most special or unique factor in an organization's relationship with its employees. Relevance asks the question, "Who will care about the point of differentiation?" Esteem concerns how well-regarded a company is in the marketplace. And knowledge measures how well people understand the brand. 2

3 Each pillar matters, but success in branding starts with differentiation, which has very specific relevance for a very specific group of people. "Esteem" and "knowledge" add up to a brand's stature. Esteem may be thought of as a "consequence of fame" and it is crucial to becoming an employer of choice. Yet Jo Bredwell, Senior Partner and Director of Brand Strategy at JWT, cautions to "... never let it replace differentiation and relevance," when developing or managing a branding strategy. THE LINK BETWEEN BEST PRACTICES AND EMPLOYER BRAND How are best practices in talent management and employer brand connected? One measure might be the rating a company receives in Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work for. Fortune looks at a number of factors to compile this annual list including several factors directly linked to good talent management: Benefits, career opportunities, compensation, and turnover. Employers are ranked by a survey of employees' attitudes, and satisfaction on issues such as management, jobs, and camaraderie. Top companies also established their leadership positions relative to benefits, policies, communication procedures, career development, diversity issues, and more. In other words, they have created environments that provide high levels of employee satisfaction - one of the hallmarks of quality talent management. BUILDING A BRAND The creative process of branding begins with differentiation and relevance. A company needs to know exactly what makes it special and why that resonates with the larger world. "You can't be all things to all people - you end up disappointing everyone!" Creative though the process is in the beginning, its expression must provide a reality-based view of a company's employer brand. Aspiration can factor into the message, but "Pure fantasy is unacceptable." Bredwell summarizes the four pillars of branding in this manner: DIFFERENTIATION - Research inside and then outside you organization to find out what makes it truly different - Define your employer value proposition RELEVANCE - Define your ideal prospect - your target audience - Analyze your "personality" ESTEEM - Work on it constantly KNOWLEDGE - Communicate the idea of your brand in the right places, at the right times, to the right people. Brands must be well defined. "Understand your brand as a distinct personality and it will penetrate your business strategies." Bredwell offers some important things to consider about an employer brand: - Your brand will be appropriate in some environments and not in others - Your brand will express itself in specific ways - Your brand will provide a barometer for policies, procedures, internal communications, and external messages - Thinking "on-brand" will be central to the decision making process BRANDING IN ACTION 3

4 As Bredwell notes, a brand is always in action - it's always at work. It's important, then, to ensure that it is both real and relevant. Organizations can check relevance by measuring recruitment, hiring, and onboarding against the promise of their brand. Three other "reality checks" are: - Understand the key touch points that employees have with you as an employer - Understand the connection between your employer brand and your business strategy - Make certain that your employees' experiences equate to the experiences they must deliver to your customers Every contact matters. The employer brand should be consistently communicated throughout the total employment experience. CONCLUSION In a world of commoditized products and services, an organization's workforce may be its single most distinguishing feature. Understanding the relationship offered to that workforce - and potential candidates - and managing the perceptions of that relationship could well be an organization's most strategic competitive advantage. This, in a nutshell, is what employer branding does. Organizations that do it well will not only retain the talent they now have, they will be much better able to attract the talent they will need for the future. 1 Source: Young & Rubicam, creator of the BrandAsset Valuator Based on the Human Capital Institute webcast, You're an Employer of Choice: Now What? February 23, 2007 PRESENTER Jo Bredwell Senior Partner, Director of Brand Strategy JWT Employment Communications Jo Bredwell has over 25 years of experience in recruitment marketing. She joined JWT Employment Communications in 1999 from the Bernard Hodes Group and leads the agency's employer brand development practice, which uses proprietary methodologies to define and express client brands. She believes that an employer branding initiative can be one of an organization's most strategic advantages in the war for talent, by allowing an employer to distinguish itself in a commoditized world. She also sees a strong connection between employer branding and the bottom line: "Knowing what makes your employment experience unique is the first step in attracting and retaining the type of people who will help your business succeed." Jo is a graduate of Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and lives in New York City. MODERATOR Bill Craib Vice President, Communities The Human Capital Institute Prior to joining the Human Capital Institute, Bill was the Founding Director of AIRS Human Capital Solutions, and served as Director of Training and Curriculum Development from 1997 to An early Internet adopter and advocate of its far-reaching potential, Bill developed his practical experience by establishing an Internet-centric executive search practice focused on telecommunications. This endeavor helped lay the groundwork for the 4

5 significant contributions he has made to the core curriculum of AIRS. Bill earned a BS Degree from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and spent 10 years as a journalist working for several media organizations, including ESPN and the Rocky Mountain News, before entering the recruiting industry. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This White Paper is made possible by JWT, sponsors of HCI's Employer Branding Track. ABOUT JWT What people do for a living and where they work are among the biggest decisions they will ever make. Influencing those decisions takes planning, knowledge and experience. That is what JWT Employment Communications provides employers of every size in every business sector, helping attract, recruit and retain people in every corner of the working world. Talk to us about how we can talk to your workforce by defining and managing your employer brand through recruitment marketing, employment communications and consulting services. Take a tour at (www.jwtec.com) ABOUT THE HUMAN CAPITAL INSTITUTE The Human Capital Institute is a catalyst for innovative new thinking in talent acquisition, development and deployment. Through research and collaboration, our programs collect original, creative ideas from a field of top executives and the brightest thought leaders in strategic HR and talent management. Those ideas are then transformed into measurable, real-world strategies that help our members attract and retain the best talent, build a diverse, inclusive workplace, and leverage individual and team performance throughout the enterprise. The Human Capital Institute gratefully acknowledges the financial and volunteer contributions of our Underwriters. They include: - ADP: VIRTUAL EDGE - AIRS - AUTHORIA - AXSIUM - BATRUS HOLLWEG INTERNATIONAL - BERNARD HODES GROUP - BEST SOFTWARE - BROADBOOK TECHNOLOGIES - BUCK CONSULTANTS - CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT - CENTER FOR TALENT RETENTION - DBM - DNL GLOBAL, INC. - DOUBLESTAR, INC. - HYPERION - FIRST ADVANTAGE CO. - HCR SOFTWARE - HEWITT - HR CONSULTING - HUMAN CAPITAL MAGAZINE - HRSMART, INC. - IBM - INSALA 5

6 - JOBSTER, INC. - JWT EMPLOYMENT COMMUNICATIONS - KELLY SERVICES - KENEXA - LOMINGER LIMITED INC. - MONSTER CANADA - MENTTIUM CORPORATION - MONSTER GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS - MONSTER.COM - MONSTERTRAK - MONSTER JOBS - MULTI-HEALTH SYSTEMS - MYBIZOFFICE, INC. - ORACLE - PEOPLECLICK - PLATEAU SYSTEMS LTD - PREVISOR - RECRUITMENT AGENCY ASSOCIATION - SABA SOFTWARE, INC. - SEQUENT, INC. - SKILLSNET CORPORATION - SOFTSCAPE - SUCCESSFACTORS.COM - TALEO CORPORATION - THE RIGHT THING - THE NEWMAN GROUP - TALENTTRACK - TMP WORLDWIDE - TOWERS PERRIN - UNICRU - VANGENT - VELOCITY RESEARCH GROUP - VURV TECHNOLOGY, INC. - WEBHIRE - WORKBRAIN - WORKSTREAM, INC. 6

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