Everyone is in a race to get the most talented people for their organizations. The war for talent is real, understanding your needs and preparing a strong plan to attract the best and brightest is a powerful means of corporate survival. The most important aspect of this plan is the HR brand.
The HR brand is merely an extension of the corporate brand, but with HR’s processes (in this case, talent acquisition,) in mind. An alignment of HR’s branding, with the larger corporate messaging, means the candidate’s experience with the corporate culture will be seamless from their first interaction. According to The Talent Board’s 2014 Candidate Experience Awards, 48% of all candidates are driven to discover if a given company has the “values they like” when being interviewed. It’s better to put that information out there from the beginning in order to attract the right fit from the first interaction.
While the concept of branding is typically applied to marketing and sales, a strong HR brand is really about how strong brand recognition affects attracting great people in the marketplace. Individuals who work for companies with a strong HR brand such as Google and Facebook carry the hallmark of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and workplaces that are designed with the employees’ best interests in mind. From your first interaction with either of these companies through hiring, the branding is flawlessly executed and their values are emulated in every aspect of the recruiting strategy. You don’t just want to be an employee of these companies; you look to assimilate with their culture and the hiring process only reinforces that desire. That’s the power of a strong HR brand. Hiring packets, interviews, travel, candidate connection, feedback, onboarding – all of these processes send a strong message of how exciting it will be to become part of the team.
Building a strong HR brand starts at the top of the organization, where leaders emulate written corporate values, and exude corporate values through words, actions and behaviors. They set the tone for communicating a distinctive and seductive internal brand. HR then translates into its processes, exemplifying that through talent acquisition and all chances to touch the employee experience. HR brand is a 360 experience through the employee lifecycle: it starts at hire, and ideal ends at retirement.
One of the most important aspects of HR branding is defining and delivering consistently on that promise. GE’s reputation for building a strong leadership pipeline is a result of a rigorous, relentless focus on their Session C process, which focuses on identifying and developing talented leaders. When your brand promise is aligned to your business strategy, clearly articulated and woven throughout your culture, it becomes infectious from the inside out with people eagerly seeking to be part of it.
Understanding the customer is critically important to branding. People connect emotionally, organizations that successfully appeal to their hearts and minds not only achieve better results, they extend their brand reach. In such a way, engaged and committed employees create a multiplying factor, recommending their company as a great product or service… and a great place to work. HR branding doesn’t have to be a formal piece of paper; it’s your employees evangelizing your workplace values for you every single day with everyone they meet.
Companies that have developed a strong HR brand know the importance of building awareness, which involves time and capital investment. Whether it’s providing scholarships to students, getting involved in the local community, sponsoring networking events, and/or actively engaging in social media, they work actively to put the brand out there. You won’t find them resting on their laurels.
From the company website to every interaction with a customer or candidate, the brand is kept top of mind. Once developed, it’s protected at every turn. A strong HR brand is aligned to corporate values and the company’s overall identity; it bolsters results rather than deterring.
Responsibility for conveying the company brand does not lie in the hands of a single person, and it can’t be forced or mandated. It’s about the stories that people share when they talk about the company, each moment reflecting the culture and brand through their experiences.
Reputation is everything, and those with a strong HR brand demonstrate the same consistency in standards with everyone they touch. It takes hard work and a long time to build a strong brand, but it can be lost in minutes if companies fail to recognize and stay true to its true elements. Build it wisely, nurture it regularly, and you’ll soon find yourself awash in the best and brightest talent in the marketplace.