The term 'employer branding' describes how an organisation markets what it has to offer to potential and existing employees. Marketers have developed techniques to help attract customers, communicate with them effectively and maintain their loyalty to a consumer brand. Employer branding involves applying a similar approach to people management.
An employer brand can be used to help organisations compete effectively in the labour market and drive employee loyalty through effective recruitment, engagement and retention practices.
All organisations have an employer brand, regardless of whether they have consciously sought to develop one. Their brand will be based on the way they are perceived as a 'place to work', for example by would-be recruits, current employees and those leaving the organisation. To be effective, the brand should not only be evident to candidates at the recruitment stage, but should inform the approach to people management in the organisation.
Rather than focusing on a single value proposition for the whole organisation, some organisations are beginning to take a more segmented approach. Employee segmentation is driven by the recognition that employees, like customers, are not a homogenous group. It can be beneficial to tailor the 'deal' or value proposition to the needs of a diverse workforce - and this can mean emphasising different elements of the value proposition to different groups of employees or creating subsets of the overall value proposition.
Employer branding is a useful tool to help organisations differentiate what they have to offer in the labour market, and recruit, retain and engage the people they need to succeed. Just as marketers seek to understand their customers, HR people will benefit from gaining 'employee insight' through methods such as employee attitude surveys and focus groups. This insight should inform the HR strategy, influence how internal communications are handled and help in the design of effective people management initiatives.
Employer branding presents HR people with an opportunity to learn from some of the techniques of marketing and apply them to people management. New roles have started to emerge in some organisations which draw on skill sets from both disciplines. It is important that HR works collaboratively, for example with colleagues in marketing and in internal communications, to share expertise and reap maximum benefits from developing an employer.