The employer branding exercise should not be a set of discreet activities, but a planned combination of activities from several channels
How many times does an organization introspect on the question “Who we are” How often does the organization make an effort to understand its core values? A typical CEO’s day is a collection of competing priorities, revenue goals and competitive pressures. As such, an organization may often overlook the most important questions that characterize the workplace. Without content and happy customers, all business plans stare at the face of inevitable doom. The same principle applies to the workplace as well. It is about time that CEOs started realizing that their most important business is the business of happiness.
A June 2014 People Matters-Monster.com survey among 85 CEOs in Indian organizations suggested that employer branding is on a CEO’s top priority list. About 75 per cent of Indian CEOs have employer branding as part of their annual objectives this year. A small percentage of CEOs (2 per cent) even mention that they plan to own, budget, execute and act as the chief ambassador of their organizational employer brand. This is the biggest indicator that talent has made its way to the top of his business priorities.
Kazutada Kobayashi, President and CEO at Canon India, says, “Growth and sustenance of the business are two sides of the same coin. A dedicated and strong workforce will find ways of keeping the organization competitive in the marketplace and in turn ensure the brand evolves and reinvents itself in the fast changing business scenario. Some very well-known companies in the world with strong brands have changed their core businesses and reinvented themselves.”
CEOs contribute in various ways
While CEOs recognize the importance of employer branding for the organization, many are not sure what its role is. Our survey reveals that almost two-thirds recognize that it is important for them to be involved with their employer brand development plan. About 74 per cent of CEOs who took the survey will play the role of either an advisor or a participant in their organization’s employer branding strategy. A small percentage (2 per cent) also mentioned that they will actively play the role of an evangelist—owning, budgeting and executing the brand strategy. Sanjay Modi, Managing Director, Monster.com (India, Southeast Asia and Middle East), says, “If you look at any established brand, there is a substantial amount of effort that has gone into building the employer brand, driven by the CEO.” However, nearly 26 per cent of the respondents noted that employer branding was not part of their top priorities list.
A major reason for organizations to invest in employer branding is campus hiring. About 66 per cent of CEOs mentioned that they wanted to reach out to campus talent in an organized and effective manner and employer branding was the way to do it. Progressive organizations realize that in order to make a lasting impact on their target group, employer branding should not be looked at as a one-time exercise. Bhuvaneswar Naik, VP-HR, at SAP Labs says, “Employer branding is not a project or a one-time investment. It is a way to influence and change what employees think about an organization.”
Choice of channel depends on the audience
CEOs exercise several lenses to view the impact of an employer brand. Employer brand is seen as an investment to increase the quality of applications received. 73 per cent of CEOs report that they expect the employer brand to filter the best applications the organization needs for a job opening. Reduction in the time and cost to hire are the other major impact areas of the employer brand. About 55 per cent of CEOs believe that a strong employer brand impacts the time to hire positively, while 48 per cent believe that it impacts the cost to hire. These are the points that a CHRO should drive home while making a business case for employer branding.
The employer branding exercise should not be a set of discreet activities, but a planned combination of activities from several channels. “Employer branding should have a three point agenda – Communicate, communicate, and communicate,” adds Modi. The first question that an organization needs to ask is whether there is a career section on the company’s website. The section should talk about all that the company stands for, including the CEO’s speech.
The company’s career site is the top choice of channel for organizations in India to further their employer branding efforts. 78 per cent of companies promote their employer brand through their career site. The second popular channel is campus outreach programs. Organizations are in a war to pick quality campus talent in the coming times, and hence, they are increasing their employer branding efforts within campuses in the country. The coming months will see a lot of exciting employer branding activity in the campus space. Many progressive companies are using social channels inventively to create round-the-year touch points to promote the organization’s employer brand.
Social channels are also among the popular channels of promoting an organization’s employer brand. 64 per cent of organizations plan to use LinkedIn for employer branding, while 56 per cent plan to use Facebook. About 48 per cent of companies plan to use other social and professional networks to promote their employer brand. The target audience that an organization is focused on has a great deal of impact on the choice of a particular channel.
The need for a CEO’s involvement in the employer brand is no secret. CEOs need to live the brand message every day so that s/he becomes a living example of the organization’s employer brand. Rajesh Tripathi, Vice President and Head, Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd., says, “It is a CEO’s job to promote the culture of openness and non-hierarchical environment.” Unless the CEO steps up to the task of becoming a brand ambassador, an organization cannot hope to make a lasting impact on its target market, which will likely have very harmful long-term effects.