Focus on employer branding or say goodbye to talents

Employer branding is alive and kicking, at least when looking at the multinational audience and listening to inspirational keynotes at the World Employer Branding Day Seminar in Prague. One thing that makes me especially thrilled is that the audience is truly diverse. Here we cannot speak about “all female panel” or “all female audience” which is the case quite often in Finland when experts are gathering together to discuss about Employer Branding or other HR topics.

Why draw attention to diversity? It matters because in some cases employer branding still needs to fight for its existence. After working for one year with diversity and organization culture topics together with 10 big companies in Dialogi Program, I claim that there are still things called men’s jobs (serious business) and women’s jobs (soft business). Quite often employer branding is categorized in the latter one. Naturally this division is silly, but it stems from a deep cultural structure and it is kept alive by the unconscious biases we all have. And it’s a problem.

Global Employer Brand Manager at Volvo Car Group, Robert Malm told the seminar audience that after working in a whole bunch of different leadership positions he wanted to take the lead of Employer Brand at Volvo. As a result some people were asking him where did you mess up, what did you do wrong for changing your current role into HR & Employer Branding.

Well then, for people who think that employer branding is women’s tinkering I say that your company will be screwed. There is clear evidence that employer brand correlates with customer satisfaction and happy employees make happy customers. Happy customer is the one who brings you money. CEO and Chairman of Employer Brand International Brett Minchington stated that employer branding should be a business function as an attractive employer brand results in better business performance. Employer brand should not be only HR department’s business, it should be everybody’s business, it should especially be on the agenda of top management.

There is also a big cultural shift coming, which will separate the wheat from the chaff. I had a long conversation with the Managing Director of Liv.It, Kristina Viderø about their work culture that sounded pretty much perfect: extremely flat hierarchies, freedom and responsibility in doing your work the best you can wherever the best you can. I was able to sense trust, happy employees and inspiration. And yes, the company is growing rapidly.

The point is that building a great place to work is a foregone conclusion for the new generation of entrepreneurs and employers. It’s written in their DNA. They have the company culture that most talented people want to work for. When more and more new companies like that enter the market and hire new people, old school corporation guys with their arrogant attitude to culture topics and employer branding will see that the best people don’t want to work for them. Talented people have options. And that’s a serious problem for old school companies.

I was happy to hear and meet so many inspiring and talented people – men and women – who work their assess off to build better workplaces and hold the EB-flag high all around the world. We will need them all, as there is still plenty of work to be done. The best workplaces will win and if you want your company to be part of this team do as Richard Branson says: Learn to look at your staff first and the rest will follow.