The Union: Employer Branding and Digital Transformation

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At a time when both the business world and society are increasingly dependent on digital technologies, it would appear obvious that organizations (and their HR teams) need to leverage these technologies for a range of initiatives.

One of these emerging areas is how organizations construct and cultivate both an employer and company brand. The merger of technology and brand strategy within the context of a digital transformation has given organizations great opportunities to find new talent, develop more business, and qualify themselves as great places to work in the modern age.

New hires and job seekers are also now more judicious in their approach to finding a new workplace than ever before, as they have a range of means to analyse and evaluate their potential employers. They will take in a number of factors when deciding not only where to apply, but also how the company will suit their needs and career desires in the coming years.

Thus, organizations must be proactive and put their best foot forward to find the talent that will help them to succeed. Despite the ready availability of ways to approach employer branding, actually constructing a great workplace and brand is not an easy one. There are a myriad of variables to be taken into consideration and no viable one-size-fits-all approach.

Employer Branding & Company brand

In the current age, where visibility, transparency, ethics, culture, and authenticity mean more to an organization’s perception than they ever seem to have in the past, it is essential that organizations have a coherent and well developed employer branding strategy. While a company name and traditional branding methods do matter; it is no longer sufficient to be able to rest on your name or visibility alone.

Organizations need to be on board with a number of workplace changes that will help them to develop a coherent brand value proposition. To kick-start this, HR must be in a leading position to set the tone. Job seekers will be very selective about the company they want to work for, and they typically take a wide range of holistic factors into consideration before applying for a job. It’s up to HR to consciously drive the creation of an employer brand that reflects the wider company brand and culture.

So, what’s in an employer brand?

  • Company name, visibility, perception in the market.
  • Workplace location and environment – it matters – and suffice to say it’s more than just a fancy office space and a garden patio. It’s both a physical and holistic representation of the company, the people, the products, and how they all merge.
  • Company culture – how does the company operate? What behaviours are accepted and tolerated? How does management interact with the organization? How do people experience the workplace with each other?
  • Candidate experience – how are potential hires treated? What was their recruitment and onboarding experience like?
  • Company tone of communication – how does the company present itself both internally and externally in messages and media?
  • Social media – how does the organization implement and use social media in a productive way to brand itself and attract talent?
  • Ethical standards of the organization – what does the organization tolerate? How do they comply with laws, industry standards, and social duties? What are their environmental policies?
  • Ability to progress in a career, both vertically and laterally – how does the company provide and organize career paths/alternatives? What is the company’s learning & development strategy?
  • Community outreach initiatives – how does the company help the community to prosper outside of regular operations?
  • Openness and transparency – is the organization open with employees about all manner of issues; transformations, business strategies, goals, hierarchy, and conflicts?
  • Respect for individuals – does the organization actually care and respect individuals and their unique attributes? Do people feel empowered to speak up?

Enter the Candidate Experience

With a major focus of employer branding initiatives for HR largely on attracting talented individuals to the organization, it is therefore necessary for the candidate experience to reflect the desired company culture. Over recent years, the candidate experience has become a more well understood area of employer branding for HR.

The candidate experience should be constructed so that potential hires gain a clear understanding of how the organization operates. The treatment and experience candidates get through the recruitment and onboarding lifecycle should therefore fully reflect the established values and brand of the organization. Some of the key touch-points of the candidate experience could include:

  • What is the ideal User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) of your recruitment and onboarding processes, tools, and platforms?
  • The personal touch is still king – having the right people with the right interpersonal skills will always be the most important interface and experience multiplier you can have.
  • Leveraging mobile/new technologies – mobile and cognitive technologies can now provide the ability to personalize each individual candidate experience, allowing increased chances for engagement between HR, the candidate, and the brand.
  • HR should develop a multi-channel recruitment strategy to attract talent through both traditional (job adverts) and less-traditional ways (content, outreach, social media).
  • New hires can make use of blogs, apps, social media, and other means to build engagement and community.
  • For recruitment and onboarding, social media is potentially a great personal and organizational branding tool; a communication device, a workplace platform (in the form of enterprise social media), and a meeting place for new ideas.
  • Communication – how are things communicated with the candidate? What is the tone of communication – is there a fundamental human touch?

While HR is in a great position to influence the creation of an employer brand and great candidate experience, it is of course only with the buy in and support of senior management. A great employer brand fundamentally relies on the authenticity of the message, and on how well HR and the business can articulate the ethical and cultural framework of the organization to potential hires. Building a coherent employer brand is a task that therefore befalls HR, and is an increasingly important part of standing out in the business world, attracting the best talent, and representing the company’s culture.

In a time when digital transformations are the order of the day, HR has the influence and ability to lead the organization. In doing so, HR must take the lead in branding the company to ensure a continuity in the talent pipeline, and for healthy organizational growth.

The 3rd Digital HR Innovation Summit in The Hague, April 27-28, will feature a selection of sessions that will explore the ongoing implications of digital technologies on HR and the business in general. Make sure you follow The HR Congress LinkedIn page to stay posted on all the latest news, updates and content from the world of work!

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