Article: Employer Branding is key to competitive advantage

Employer Branding

Employer Branding is key to competitive advantage

The 2012 report on Employer Branding trends reveals how an employer brand can be crucial for gaining competitive advantage
Employer Branding is key to competitive advantage

Shortage of skills is one part of the talent problem in India


Employer branding has become a crucial element of organizational strategy, at a time when talent acquisition and retention have become essential ingredients of business performance. The 2012 survey on Employer Branding Trends by People Matters & among 110 Indian organizations reveals that 52 percent of participating organizations, ranging across industries and size, plan to conduct an assessment of what factors will attract the talent pool in 2013. 60 percent of organizations say that an understanding of talent attraction factors is essential to develop their employment value proposition and 59 percent believe that it is required to sharpen their recruitment efforts.

The challenge, however, does not end with a deeper understanding of factors that attract and retain talent. Organizations across industries continue to grapple with one central question, “How do we promote our employer brand in a way that will not only attract talent, but also create an engaged workforce of brand ambassadors?” While organizations recognize the importance of having an employer brand, the survey reveals that 62 percent of organizations do not have a formal brand promotion campaign. Added to that, 55 percent of organizations do not have a formal plan to launch an employer branding campaign in 2013.

While shortage of skills is one part of the talent problem in India, perceptional aspects such as poor image of an occupation and demand for higher remuneration constitute some of the primary reasons behind why organizations find it difficult to attract talent. Industry analysts disclose that losing critical talent can cost an organization as much as up to four times the individual’s salary. Talent market studies in India reveal that most employees have not been able to find a harmonious path between two conflicting ideas–organizational loyalty and career progression. A 2012 Towers Watson global workforce study reveals that 56 percent of employees in India believe that they must leave their current organization to advance to a better job.

Perhaps, the primary reason why organizations are hesitant to invest in an employer branding campaign is the fact that there is no clear and immediate RoI associated with it. In order to build a solid business case, an employer brand needs to communicate how it can constitute a source of competitive advantage for the business. Conversations with senior executives in some of India’s prominent employer brands reveal that these organizations pull the following levers of competitive advantage through their employer branding campaign:

Attraction and retention

An employer brand has been known to impact both attraction and retention positively for an organization. In terms of attraction, an employer brand helps target the right profile of talent. Allen Matthew, Vice President, Human Resources, at Oracle India highlights that their strong employer brand allows them to target the right talent pool and reduces their time to hire. In addition, Oracle has also noticed that their strong employer brand translates into higher retention numbers for the organization. This translates into significant cost savings through reduction of replacement hiring costs.

Engraining organizational values

The employer brand helps an organization engrain the key employment value proposition message in the minds of the employees. R. Anish, Director of HR Services, at Intel Corporation highlights that their employer brand was able to communicate the most critical organizational values.

Becoming an employer of choice

An employer brand is a universal message that helps an organization pull the right set of talent. In a competitive talent market, such as India, it is very critical for an organization to place the right talent at the right place, with the right set of skills. Sangeeta Singh, Executive Director, at KPMG highlights that it is their strong and consistent employer brand that creates excitement among both fresh and experienced candidates to come and work for KPMG.
Create a targeted talent management strategy

An employer brand also allows an organization to understand and create a targeted talent management strategy. KPMG relies heavily on placing young talent from premier campuses where the competition for talent is very intense. The KPMG employer brand encompasses the needs and requirements of their targeted talent group, thereby giving them a strong competitive edge over other players. Another strong example is Hindustan Coca-Cola that relies heavily on hyper competitive campus placements. P.V. Murthy, Zonal Head at Hindustan Coca-Cola reveals, “We have a very strong association of the product brand with the employer brand. The Coca-Cola brand stands for happiness and the employer brand communicates the value of happiness in working with Coca-Cola. This has enabled us to attract premium talent over the years, which has come to work here for happiness, over other drivers such as compensation.

Ownership of the employer brand

There is divided opinion among Indian organizations as to who should own the creation and execution of an organization’s employer branding campaign. While a majority of organizations in the People Matters survey (37 percent) believe that the employer brand campaign is the responsibility of the HR function, some of the most popular employer organizations rest the responsibility of the brand to the HR, senior management, and the marketing team. At KPMG, for example, the employer brand is a joint responsibility of marketing, HR, and the executive leadership. The accountability lies with which part and component of the branding initiatives each group owns. Analysis and discussions on the employer brand strategy are ongoing and a component of quarterly executive meetings. The costs and accounting too, is shared among the three groups based on the initiative that each group owns.

Measuring the effectiveness of the employer brand

After all, a business case is all about identifying the hard metrics on which the success of the employer brand will rest. While the largest opportunities for efficiencies lay with how an employer brand helps in attraction and retention, many organizations are clueless about the right metrics to measure success. At Oracle, some of the metrics by which the success of an employer branding campaign is measured, are as follows:

Attraction metrics for success of an employer brand

Number of job applicants per rupee spent on advertising the job
Candidate acceptance rate per rupee spent
Cost per hire
Length of time to fulfill job openings

Engagement & retention metrics for measuring success of an employer brand

Retention rate of new hires and tenured employees
Employee satisfaction and engagement level
Constantly assessing/re-enforcing our value proposition by monitoring and action planning on employee feedback/concerns
Retention andcareer growth of people from within

With the competition for talent only expected to go up across the years, owing the lack of right skills and the demand for more specialized talent, an employer brand will act as one of the key sources of gaining a competitive advantage.

CEOs drive the best brands 

Sanjay Modi, MD (India/Middle East/South Asia),

A successful employer branding exercise needs to have an integrated approach and requires organizations to take their employees and the job seekers as the most valuable product that they have. As a CEO, one aspires to have the best people in the organization and also the best products & services in the category. An understanding that it the people who produce and deliver the most innovative and successful products is important and it is the starting point for building an employer brand.

The subject of employer branding is not an HR domain subject. Employer branding needs to be owned by the CEO and he/she must bind the rest of the stakeholders, like specialists from the marketing and HR teams to build on employer branding strategy and take it forward internally and externally. The CEO needs to wear the hat of the “Chief People Marketing Officer”; only then employer branding efforts will yield results, otherwise they won’t.

HR needs to play the critical role of promoting the employer branding case to the CEO. CEOs need to be employer brand ambassador and promote it both internal & prospective employees.

The purpose of an employer brand is to promote the culture and values of working in the organization- the task does not end with magazine glossies and multi-channel ad-campaigns. It starts from the way the CEO himself carries the brand. Employees imbibe they way CEOconducts himself/herself which in a way defines the character of the organization. Steve Jobs is a great example of how his conduct and media communications helped Apple’s employer brand. Every Steve Jobs message carried one common message that the quality of Apple’s products stand the testimony to the poolof intellect that theorganization nurtures. Apple is an ideal example of how employer branding can be integrated in theculture of the organization.





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Topics: Employer Branding, Strategic HR

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