Who is taking care of Employer Brand in your organisation?
Employer Branding: too much to handle?
Recently I had a chance to speak with a senior HR professional with a large organisation. I was sharing with her what I do, that my corporate experience straddled mainly Talent Acquisition/Recruitment, my focus had been on Talent Attraction vis-à-vis Employer Branding, so I naturally position myself as a Talent Acquisition specialist with focus in Employer Branding.
This senior HR manager narrowed her eyes upon hearing this, and subsequently, she gave me this caution, “Be careful when you position yourself as having Employer Branding expertise as a Talent Acquisition specialist, because the association does not seem right.” She explained that Employer Branding entails a large scope that involves many stakeholders in the organization, and by subsuming it under Talent Acquisition i.e. HR, it appears to be too big a claim.
I was not able to confirm the exact context of her advice.
Was it for me personally? That I am biting off too much than I can chew by claiming expertise in Employer Branding while also in Talent Acquisition?
Was it was more a professional opinion? That Employer Branding should not be under the purview of HR? (She seems to hint later that it should be with Marketing.)
She could have meant both. In any case, her advice communicated a hesitation in getting HR too involved in Employer Branding. This opinion appears to correlate somewhat to my experience in other organizations: HR is first excited at the immense value that a good Employer Brand can do for the organisation’s Talent Acquisition strategy, but they subsequently realized the enormity of the effort to create an Employer Brand. With growing apprehension, they would start to curb their enthusiasm to champion Employer Branding.
Is it the same in your organisation?
When everyone is responsible, no one is accountable
The issue with building an Employer Brand is that it entails challenges similar to raising productivity or improving safety: such strategic objectives require the collective effort of the entire organization but it is difficult to get buy-in from everyone to take individual action. The management needs to sponsor a champion to coordinate and steer the movement, the difficulty is in finding a suitably effective candidate who has the leverage to push through the agenda.
Driving Employer Branding also requires resources and risks that not many management are willing to undertake: there is a need to constantly engage the senior management, to encourage and facilitate cooperation from stakeholders across the organisation, disruptive changes to the organizational culture, exposure to media, etc.
Without a clear mandate from the senior management to drive such initiative, there would only be haphazard and halfhearted effort from discrete parts of the organizations based on a vague ‘it’s everyone’s responsibility’. The lack of direction ensures that no one could define success to work towards, and with no way to coordinate and cooperate, the initiative imminently fails.
Does your organisation have a clear mandate to create a great Employer Brand?
An opportunity for strategic HR partnership
Building an Employer Branding is a strategic challenge that would bring tremendous Value-On-Investment (VOI) for HR, especially in terms of talent management, attraction, and engagement and retention. In this perspective I think it is a mistake for HR professionals to distance themselves from championing it because of fears that it will require immense effort in coordination across the organizational structure.
HR has always sought to play a more strategic role in the organization and championing the Employer Brand is the right move in this direction because it is a critical initiative that would bring the business to the next level. HR is also the ideal function to strategically drive Employer Branding because we are the owner of the People strategy for the organization of which is necessary to be aligned with the Employer Brand.
I am not proposing that HR should always be the default driver for Employer Branding. Depending on the nature of the business, the corporate structure, and the branding strategy etc, each organization should have their own rationale for selecting who to build their Employer Brand. My opinion is that HR has a natural advantage to become the driver, and it fits in with the aspiration to be a strategic partner to the business.
Who is taking care of your Employer Brand in your organization? Should it be with HR?