The Business Transformation Network recently hosted an event on "Employer Branding? Why future focused employers are embracing experience marketing”, at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London, in partnership with Cielo.
The conversation, chaired by Andy Curlewis, was open and varied, touching on a wide variety of subtopics under the enormous initial topic including:
1. Where do we need our people and culture to be in the future?
2. Do we have a clear view of whom our key stakeholders are to lead and activate change?
3. What experiences do we need to create to get to where we need to be?
The problem business today are facing today is around how to align their employer brand with their external brand to help bring them into the future of work age, without getting stuck on the cliches associated with the perceived future. The conversation aimed to look at how the employer branding landscape is changing from a sole candidate focus, to a more cohesive full stakeholder focus.
After an initial branding exercise, looking at logos, straplines and then employer branding of organisations, the conversation started by looking at where do we need our people and culture to be in the future?
The main focus of this part of the conversation was around the importance of understanding the effect of external driving forces on your internal culture. It was recognised that there is a continuum of external stimulus on an organisation's culture that in turn affects retention, re-engagement and employer branding, as employees are also consumers. This conversation drifted towards understanding your employees as being part of their own 'customer journey', focusing on the moments that matter for employees and how to equip them for these moments. One of the biggest focuses of the conversation was around culture and the importance of allowing the culture to be built by the people, not the leaders.
From here, the conversation shifted to focusing on how communications looks at where the customer should be and employee experience should tie into customer experience, as without a good employee experience, you customer experience may not be as high. In the age of 'Fake News', one of the biggest issues in employee experience and employer branding today, is the problem around not being transparent and sugar coating things to appeal to people initially, making authenticity integral. Whilst discussing authenticity the concept of bringing your full self to work was approached, as the differences between people and their personalities is where organisations work best, with silos and hierarchy being almost abandoned as they affect this collaborative approach negatively.
From this our people and culture needs to be more open and inclusive in the future, to help build a culture that can be reflected in your employer brand. To do this organisations may need to return to basics, removing hierarchy and politics to encourage change, whilst also combining employer brand and customer branding under one united umbrella. The unification of employer and customer branding can help establish a higher joint purpose to an aligned brand, which in turn will attract talent and create a sense of targeting one brand to different stakeholders (IE. Employees and customers) in different ways.
In modern business we are at a point where we are saturated with different states of organisations that we've experienced before, however Cielo provided seven practical trends for contemporary businesses that can encourage culture change for employer branding. With the initial issues of employer branding, culture and hierarchy being addressed, the conversation steered towards the roles of stakeholders and their effect on the cultivation of change by asking do we have a clear view of whom our key stakeholders are to lead and activate change?
Due to the nature of roundtable events and the group in the room, the answer to this question varied person to person based on the state of their organisation, however there was a general consensus that yes, we do need (but don't necessarily have) a clear understanding of key stakeholders within an organisation. If an organisation understands it's key stakeholders, their wants and needs, then they will generally be able to engage and do business better. In the less cohesive organisations, understanding your stakeholders is far from easy as your paying customer and end-user vary greatly, with a different set of wants and needs, making full alignment difficult.
Obtaining a full understanding of your stakeholders and their needs, and adapting to meet this is integral, as the power of the brand is in it's legacy and history, but the power of the future lies in talent. Although there are varying drivers, cost, risk and growth, there are also some typical stakeholders that can work as a Blocker/ Dinosaur/ Agent of Change and their influence depends on the people and culture of your organisation.
It was understood that combining corporate communications and talent communications to one grouping would allow them to understand each other better, developing one, more cohesive unit.
Although understanding the culture and people of your organisation is essential, there is a seismic shift towards the need to understand the strength and influence of the external market and how this can be reflected by our customers if we listen. From here, the conversation moved on to focusing on what experiences do we need to create to get to where we need to be?
Initially, the key to knowing the experiences that you need to create, is understanding that the sole purpose of employer branding is to match more people, to more jobs, more often and more effectively. In this sense, experiences need to be more realistic based on the moments that matter, returning the conversation almost full circle to the idea that collaboration is key and that removing silos can create bigs changes and challenges, as today's successful people aren't the people of tomorrow. Having said this, the conversation progressed into whether we have enough of an understanding of the skills we need for the future, or if it's purely guess work. Regardless of this, it is important to recognise your outliers and remove them from the restrictions of the potential command and control nature of a hierarchy to allow them to thrive and innovate.
Taking the above into account, it was concluded that as we cannot actually predict the future of employer branding and talent acquisition, we must focus first and foremost on the experiences of all stakeholders (including employees), establishing a culture of listening and understanding. From this the importance of diversity in a representative and innovative workforce for the future was emphasised as part of what needs to be a constant iterative listening, adapting and communication process.
Keep your eye out for more events like this at www.thebtn.tv/events
This event write-up is exclusive to The Business Transformation Network.