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In October 2022, Miltton was joined by 600 employer branding professionals at the World Employer Branding Day in Lisbon. Here are the five key takeaways on what can you do to amplify your employer brand, turning your business into a talent magnet.
This year’s main topics were about the post-pandemic shift in talent needs from the perspective of employers as well as employees. But some topics were more timeless. Speakers representing the leaders in their respective fields highlighted the need for empathy, especially in the hopes of doing branding that is both relevant and authentic.
Many also stressed the value of employee-generated content, the power of videos for emotional storytelling as well as the mysterious employer value proposition (EVP). Some presenters also brought up leadership. For example, regarding how you lead the employer brand and how you equip and inspire the senior leadership to take the issue seriously.
At the conference, we were privileged to learn from the presenters representing some of the biggest and most inspiring employers out there, including Amazon, Unilever, Vodafone and VCA. Here are our five takeaways of the 24 workshops and presentations; we hope you will find them as insightful, helpful and inspirational as we do.
During the seminars, the single most repeated word was unquestionably “EVP.” But for all the talk about EVP, people seem to have forgotten the significance of what’s arguably the central initial in that acronym: value. Indeed, as the seminars went on, it became apparent that many employers struggle to add value to their employer brand.
The question is, what values should we, as a company, offer employees to increase the value of our employer brand? A short, ideally crafted employer value proposition should convey:
By effectively communicating and marketing such values, you are bound to enjoy more success in attracting and retaining the right kind of employees.
The nature of work is always changing and growing increasingly complex. Meanwhile, people are also looking for better work-life balance. According to research by Gallup in 2020, taking care of your employees is good business. For example, companies that enhance employees’ well-being have 10% higher customer satisfaction and even 23% greater profitability.
Nowadays, people are so used to personalizing everything from Netflix and ads to online shopping and more. So now, employees want a personalized experience at the workplace. And many pursue a sense of purpose at work. Besides the work itself, it’s worth noting that people can also derive purpose from collaborating in teams and working for organizations that have a big influence on societal or environmental issues. We need to consider the different sources of purpose and not focus on communicating just one.
But as everyone is already talking about purpose many are wondering how to stand out. There’s one very current topic that you should consider. And it is growth!
When people grow, businesses grow. So how can we develop the right skills for our people? “What took us here, won’t take us there,” was a great quote from Svante Randlert, founder of Wisory. Since learnability is a must-have skill in today’s working life, employers must give some serious thought to how to support the employees in their personal growth and how to convincingly communicate this to even the most demanding employees. We are convinced that effectively conveying this will be a crucial question for the employer branders in the 2020s.
The demand for personalized experiences and skills growth means that employers must understand and prioritize considerations such as: What moments matter for employees? And which ones should you invest in and make the in to your organization’s signature moments? Well-designed moments bring results for both the employee and the employer. At best, they may even become the talk of the town. And yes. We know. It’s hard to identify the moments that matter (MTM for the friends of abbreviations) and especially painful to have to choose where you invest your limited resources.
It is hardly news to anyone that we need stories to communicate the employer’s value proposition instead of just stating things. When looking at career sites, it becomes painfully evident that thousands of years of storytelling have not been put to much use when creating many of these stories about employee X’s career or the EVP theme Y.
First and foremost, you need empathy and a framework. You need to understand what is relevant to the target audience. And it helps a lot if you use a framework to design your stories, so you remember to set the scene and build rapport before explaining your core message. There are plenty of frameworks out there, and even in the seminar, there were several ways to frame the lessons in four or five steps, some of which go back to the philosophers of Ancient Greece. Our favorite, however, is the narrative model that our colleague Erik Bäckman has been finetuning for years: Context – Desire (of the target group) – Action (of the organization) – New reality (that the organization offers the target group with its actions). It works every time.
And what’s the optimal format for telling these stories? The chant at the seminar was “video, video, video!” Even though we think other content formats should not be overlooked, videos have enormous potential for making an impact and leaving memorable impressions. Many at the seminar seemed to believe that authenticity is the key to great videos. And what better source to find authentic content than your colleagues. Let’s address that in more detail a bit later after we have addressed the topic of collaboration more broadly.
With tough times ahead, it’s best to trust the people you spend the most time with: your colleagues. Start with the usual suspects you want on board your employer branding adventures. It was great to hear innovative ideas about how to collaborate with different people in an organization to build the employer brand. Of course, you should have a good thing going between HR, recruitment, communications, marketing, and branding. And don’t forget the leadership or recruiting managers. Find out what the other person’s view on employer branding is and what kind of goals they need to achieve in the short and the long-term. Some need more help in realizing how employer branding can benefit them and what part they can play in realizing the employer brand goals.
A new revelation was how you should consider also asking different groups of employees to take a more active role. These groups, called by some as employee resource groups (ERGs), are most often working on a voluntary basis with some topic dear to the participants. In many organizations, they are in some ways connected to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. And they are important stakeholders for employer branding. They provide key insights and support the employer branding activities in many ways. For example, ERG members can attend events and create content that explains the ways diversity plays a part in your workplace and what has been done to make it inclusive. But nothing prevents you from also forming groups that have some skill or interest uniting employees, such as a shared passion for developing their communications skills or interest in photography. Imagine what a group dedicated to internal communication could do to help you in your employer branding efforts.
In addition to internal stakeholders and active employee groups, there is another major source of help within the organization. Namely, all the other colleagues. We will end our five tips with employee advocacy.
Any employer can benefit from getting at least some of the employees to take a more active role in saying good things about their employer. And some even succeed in getting people to go the extra mile to do things that you didn’t ask for but still dreamed of.
We already mentioned authentic videos in the takeaway related to storytelling. Many presenters had turned to employee-generated content (EGC) as the easy solution for being “as authentic as you can be”. In addition to content creation help many employers are hoping to tap into the vast networks of their employees in getting the content out there to the right people. However, the lesson from Lisbon was that you need to be aware that it takes more than just showing an example or asking politely. You need to ask people what kind of training and support they need so they feel equipped to do their part in meeting your employer’s branding needs.
If you want your colleagues to engage in employee advocacy, they need to be convinced that the organization they work for is good enough to deserve praise. In addition to making sure the employee experience connects with the employees’ expectations, there are a lot of things you can do to make it easy for people to contribute. Here are some great ways employers can lower the bar for employee advocacy:
a) communicate a clear WIIFM (what is in it for me) for employees
b) train people — social media skills, writing clinics, ABC’s of photography and editing videos as well as in all sorts of other things they tell you is keeping them from advocacy
c) create easy to use social media templates, materials, and instructions
d) show an example
e) give incentives for advocacy work (some even pay x€ per blog post, presentation, etc.)
f) design a formal ambassador program and recruit the most motivated employees to it
If you want more inspiration about employer branding — please ask us for a virtual coffee or have a look at our previous blogs and reference cases:
Employer value proposition with value in it
Storytelling to describe hard to explain things like the culture of the company