The importance of having an authentic employer brand

31 Aug 2016



How can you create an authentic Employer Brand that supports hiring and retention?

This topic was discussed by the opening Keynote panel at the TREC 2016 conference, and is also an integral part of the Good Recruitment Campaign. One of the panelists at the event was Kevin Hough, Head of Group Resourcing at LV=, and also an Advisory Panel Member for the Good Recruitment Campaign. We spoke with Kevin about LV=’s Employer Brand journey.

The business at LV= has gone through a period of significant growth, from 1800 people in 2009 to around 6000 today, and underpinning this is an Employer Brand that helped position them as an employer of choice. The brand needed to be truly authentic – as Kevin explains “it’s always a case of what people say about you when you’re not in the room rather than what your brand marketing presents” – and it has been successful, with LV= winning awards for their employer brand, careers website and more recently Most Effective Recruitment Strategy at the 2016 HR Excellence Awards.. But was it truly authentic? Kevin’s team started taking anecdotal feedback and conducting research to find if they were being really clear about their EVP, and if their employer brand was truly fit for purpose.

Talking to internal staff as well as external candidates helped to give them broader perspective, with good reason – “The key thing is that companies are very interested in why people leave but what they don’t do too often is try to understand why they stay” Kevin told us. They worked hard to understand what really attracted job seekers to LV=, and the varied interests of their different target audiences.

The first thing they found was that the Employer Brand they had in place, successful as it had been, wasn’t really reaching out to their two key audiences – customer service representatives and experienced senior professionals. They were effectively trying to be all things to all people rather than engaging specific target candidate pools. They also were not giving candidates what they really needed. The career site was content rich, but didn’t really talk to job seekers, who could get lost on their site before finding out about live vacancies- the thing they wanted to know about most.

The framing of the Employer Brand articulation was also under scrutiny. This included a focus on the channels used to convey the brand message, and adopting a flexible approach dependent on the platform and intended audience. One bespoke example Kevin shared was from a campaign aimed at attracting actuarial candidates. Puzzles and analytical games were created and shared through social media. These resonated with this specific audience more strongly than the image-based narrative of the brand created through photo sharing.

There is also now an onus on the recruitment team to bring the brand to life when they talk to candidates. As Kevin explains “others may treat Employer Brand as a project, but it’s actually something that’s living and breathing. You have to constantly keep it alive, as it develops and evolves”. He is also in no doubt as to what platform is driving the current need for real authenticity – “regarding what people say when you’re not in the room, Glassdoor has blown it open now. People can see it and read it”.

He now sees Glassdoor as another channel for sharing the brand and has made sure that LV= encourage applicants looking at roles to visit the site to check out the ratings and reviews – “we’re proud of the ratings and happy to encourage people to check them out”. The data available through Glassdoor is important in helping to gauge the external perception and indicating how current and ex-employees feel.

Whilst it’s early days for the newer Employer Brand, Kevin admits that the ultimate measure of success will be quality of hire and how LV= are perceived externally as an employer – “are we recruiting the right people, are they staying, and are we developing them into talent” is his benchmark, particularly as the talent acquisition team become more connected with the talent development side of the business.

Kevin outlined the two important factors that contribute to the development of an authentic Employer Brand. Firstly, that everyone in the organisation owns the brand, not just the recruitment team. Secondly, to remember that job seekers want to hear what a real employee thinks of the business, hence the importance of leveraging the power of social media platforms (particularly Glassdoor and LinkedIn) by encouraging employees to share their stories.

And Kevin also acknowledge that LV=’s adoption of the Good Recruitment Charter plays a key role too, for his team and stakeholders – “The Good Recruitment campaign is important, because it helps us to remain focused when we’re planning our strategies and approaches, and when reviewing our recruitment operations. The best thing for me is it’s on one page, it’s clear – it’s simple and it’s something our business stakeholders can understand – and it’s hard to disagree with – it’s the right thing to do”.

Kevin will continue his involvement in the Good Recruitment Campaign in his new role at Pepsico, joining the organisation in September.

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