The Morning After: Employer Branding

morning afterThe other night, while scrolling through my Twitter feed after a lovely dinner at the neighborhood Tex-Mex restaurant, a headline jumped out at me – “A Holistic Approach: Branding the Entire Employee Lifecycle.” 

“That sounds pretty good,” I thought. “Sounds like something I would say.”  So I clicked through to the link and found, much to my surprise, I DID say it; it was a blog post I wrote for my friends at RiseSmart last year. (I must say I appreciate them keeping the content evergreen and alive lo these many months later).

I wrote about employer brand and employer branding. I wrote about the employee lifecycle (talent acquisition and onboarding; cultural affinity; performance management, development and employee relations; offboarding and transition). I offered my thoughts on how employers fail when it comes to connecting the dots and making sure their “brand” ties into all areas of people operations/HR: employee relations, total rewards, and performance management.

I wrote that post for a solution provider I really admire. Their clients, at least as far as I have discovered, are sometimes big shot CEOs and CHROs at well-known Fortune xxx companies and whatnot. Therefore I wrote that post in my serious-important-people-who-might-give-me-a-job-one-day-are-reading-this mode.

Now I’m going to get down to the real deal; in case people couldn’t read between the lines.

Human resources professionals suck at grasping this concept.  I mean truly, seriously, suck big time. Major suckage.

Why so?

Reason 1: Employer Branding is sexy. Black stockings and garter belt sexy. “Johnny Depp and Jessica Alba had a baby” sexy. It gets written up in Harvard Business Review. There are Employer Branding Conferences and Summits. China Gorman has recently been appointed Chairman of the Board for Universum’s North American operations.

Reason 2: The conversations about employer branding tend to happen amongst those who work in Talent Acquisition, Marketing and HR Technology. Janet, the exhausted HR Leader at the local community bank, barely has time to get her ACA notices to employees (Forms 1094-B and 1095-B and/or Forms 1094-C and 1095-C) on time even though the deadline was (mercifully) extended to March 31st, let alone have thoughts about sexy HR stuff.

Reason 3: Employer Branding still sits firmly in the sexy HR stuff column.

Reason 4: Janet doesn’t have time for sexy. Or, if she does contemplate sexy, it happens that one time during the year when she goes to the SHRM Talent Management Conference and listens to a captivating speaker from a large, global brand that has built out an entire Employer Branding function/team.

Reason 5: Suitably re-energized Janet re-launches her semi-dormant twitter account and sends out a few job posting tweets; she vows to put an Employer Branding strategy on her 2017 plan.

Reason 6: Janet must deal with employee relations, budgets, mid-year performance appraisals, open enrollment, bringing her job descriptions into FLSA compliance, and auditing the 1,872 I-9s she has on file. Sexy goes out the window.

Reason 7: Janet’s recruiting team (they’re the sexy part of HR…remember?) put together a branding strategy – unveiled with much fanfare and hoopla. The candidate pipeline grows! They have video! They’re on Instagram! Janet is very proud and crosses it off her to-do list.

Reasons 8 – 375: Ensuring that this “branding” (yes…I’m putting it in quotation marks) extends beyond the organizational entry point never occurs to Janet or her team. No time is devoted to the importance of all the touchpoints along the employee lifecycle. “Isn’t branding like sales?” they secretly think to themselves. “It’s advertising…sorta. Isn’t it? Our job is done when we get them in the door. Right?” 

Reasons 376 and beyond: The disconnects continue. Rewards and recognition don’t match the brand promise. Compensation is floating in the ephemeral atmosphere. Benefits? Employee relations? Fuggedaboutit.

An HR hangover.

The morning after.


One thought on “The Morning After: Employer Branding

  1. I love the way that you’ve still managed to keep your sense of humour whilst discussing this area! A lot of people are pulling their hair out in despair!
    There is definitely a massive disconnect between the “sexy” departments and HR. The most successful HR functions are those that are allowed to play as a multi-discipline team, with the teams who get to play with the shiny toys 😉 Afterall, HR is about the people, as is the talent attraction, emplyer branding, marketing, Payroll and advertising/marketing… When will we all be allowed to play together though?!

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