Employer Branding

By Mohammad Iqbal Mirza,
CEO, Green Leaves
One evening in the summer of 1969, I had to travel in a taxi. On my destination, I asked the taxi driver how much fare on the meter. While I fumbled with my wallet, the driver posed me an unexpected question, Bao Gee, where do you work? I hesitated for a while and then answered him. On knowing my Company name, he instantly asked, “Is it true that you are served Chicken/Mutton Quorma at 2 rupees per serving in your Company. My affirmative answer saw confirmation of his information in his curious eyes with a neutral face asking me yet another question: Can I get a job there?
Today, the real life example quoted above is called “Employer Branding”. In the Journal of Brand Management, Mr. Simon Barrow and Mr. Tim Ambler were the first to introduce this term in 1996, as “the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with employing company”. And since then, numerous books have been written and conferences held on this subject. In late 70s or even before, the concept of Employer Branding was tacitly present at all levels of business in Pakistan, but unfortunately stalemate or routines have occupied our business leaders thinking process and overshadowed by instinct of exploiting more without giving enough to those who are reason to their production volume and quality. I correlate the product and employer branding with employee’s welfare and satisfaction.
The mission of a small shopkeeper and large industrial concern could be the same; what the mission of an organization is and how it is projected says a lot about it. From employees’ perspective, it’s really important for organizations that their employees must understand their mission, so that the prospective employees adapt their abilities to achieve the organization mission – its goals and objectives.
We human being are different than other living species. Our survival depends primarily on physical needs, safety and security followed by social needs – possessiveness, love, intimacy, family, friends and relationship. Then comes recognition, respect, self-esteem, achievement, and status which furthers to personal growth, realizing personal potential and using it to self-fulfillment and creativity. We human being thrive on emotions and negative attitude or behavior impact our performance. When it comes to business organization, the employees are basic to all the good and bad a business organization achieves. A vague message, and negative attitude can ruin an organization’s image and act as a resistant to growth, product and employer (Organization) branding. The example I quoted was one of the many my employer was extending to employees. Though small from someone’s perspective, but the value it embraces and ethics it displayed have a great impact on the psyche of employee’s talents. Therefore, in today’s business environment where organizations need to have a competitive edge in all spheres of its operation, organizations shall ensure to send a carefully designed and thought out message to attract pool of talented employees.
The concept of employer branding is a value based approach to retain existing talent, shaping their perceptions and behaviours while attracting talents in the market. It is quite similar to marketing within the organization and positioning itself as cherished employer – employer branding. Nowadays, employer branding is a niche concept as opposed to brand management, which is a more general term. However, employment and branding seem to co-exist, in response to the ever growing competition for talent.
We are in an era of change, the surfacing of social platforms are compelling companies to be more open, candid and transparent. The job seekers prefer to join an organization based on what its employees say about it and have a sound perception; this shows talent is attracted by existing employees’ word of mouth; and when an employer becomes an employee’s choice, they prefer to stay longer.
The example I quoted represents a distinct identity, a characteristic and uniqueness attached to the Company name. The term brand is usually associated with product and services only, but now it is widely used for almost everything including workplace, skills and content. When we talk about employer branding, it gives a unique identity to the referred organization and sets the organization apart from the rest making it an employer of choice. Employment is not just a mean of earning sustenance; rather it’s a platform where people from diverse backgrounds come together and work to achieve a common goal, while holding each other like family members. Offices are becoming new homes where work and play co-exists.
The world has become a global village, integrated by modern communication technology creating opportunities for talents to choose the best employer. The workplaces around the world are trying to rise to the new levels of engagement, trust and work-life balance in making employees feel at home. In a survey this year 75 companies are identified who are leading the way in creating workplaces that are great not just for some—but great for all. Top winners on this year’s list include multinational shipping behemoth DHL, online streaming service Hulu, UAE retailer THE One, and multinational hospitality giant Hilton, to name a few. These companies span all sizes, ranging from 500,000-employee DHL, to small-but-mighty Galton Voysey Ltd., a consumer goods branding company with just 20 employees.
These Best Workplaces represent 17 different industries; Information Technology, Financial Services & Insurance, and Manufacturing & Production industries represent nearly half of all companies.
They hail from eight diverse countries and cultures: India, Japan, South Korea, UAE, Greater China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. Despite these notable differences, these organizations have one thing in common: they have created workplaces where the vast majority of employees experience a Great Place to Work–regardless of who they are, or what they do for the organization. In other words, they experience a Great Place to Work for All” (By CEO of Great Place to Work)

The concept of “Employer Branding” is now a global movement, after the developed world has already embraced it, the developing world is also embracing, because of a balance-minded generation in business who want their workplaces to be as comfortable as home to increase production and quality by reducing the importance of an opaque wall drawn between home and workplace. The employer needs to do things not out of box in projecting itself as a brand or an employer of choice; it simply is taking care of employees what he opts for himself and his children.
The products are facing tough competition in the market, because of innovation every manufacturer is trying to introduce and for this advanced technology is being used. The future of work will depend largely on creativity and innovation. This can only be achieved with the best research and development facilities, flexible working environment and very agile manpower that can rise to challenges of becoming pioneers. Therefore companies with best think tanks will sustain their growth path in highly turbulent and competitive environment. The employer brand will attract highly talented employees and this is best strategy of recruitment which keeps talent pursuing their chance to become employee of such companies. In the recent years Googles, Mahindra & Mahindra and Adobe are companies who are employer of choice for people around the world.
Here are the latest findings of Harvard Business Review about what employers expect to achieve through employer branding:

 Attract new talent as it people want to associate themselves with an organization that cares for its people and gives them freedom to work the way they want to.
 Retain their existing employees to reduce the cost of new hiring. Investing into wellbeing and happiness of employees is important in shaping employer’s brand. It’s the word of mouth that spreads faster than fire.
 Build a global reputation, so that people from around the world are attracted to work with them. With a wider talent pool, companies have more choices and can pick the best from the crowd.
 Secure long term hiring needs, which is possible only if the company is able to attract a wider pool of talent for years to come.
 Enhance customer experience. This is because company reputation and customer experience are intertwined. And a company’s reputation depends much more on the quality of people it has and innovation its drives.
 Strengthen online brand visibility. As social media plays a crucial role in spreading the information, with a strong employer brand a company will be able to expand its reach it far flung areas.
 Have more influence on customers. It’s impossible for companies to police their brands constantly. It’s the employees whose experience counts. What they spread about you has influence on customers. When you’re good with your internal customers, it directly impacts the satisfaction level of external customers.
Believe it or not, “Employer Branding” is like displaying your people, their opinions and emotions, their experiences and attachment to the cause of organization. When companies are able to show how their employees are empowered, encouraged and their efforts recognized; it ultimately transmits a messages to the prospective candidates and the world outside about how even they can build a stable future with the company.
Almost all companies try to attract and retain great talent. This is by making them believe that they will be valued the most and this philosophy may attract some of the greatest talent, but it doesn’t necessarily create an engaged workforce that wants to be retained in the company. As human beings, the employees’ needs and aspirations have changed over time. The new employees bring a wealth of ideas with them, so they expect organizations to give them freedom and flexibility in their work environment. They exert and dedicate their time and abilities expecting their companies to take care of their needs and worries. The value of freedom at work is paying off, therefore organizations need to say goodbye to the traditional ways of work and offer creative freedom to their people. It not only infuses trust in people but they motivate people to work when their creativity is at peak.
It is very important for an employer to know what his competitors are doing. It is just possible what he has started doing now, his competitors have been doing it for decades. Employer shall provide unique benefits catered to employees personalized needs and interests to exploit their best of the potentials. The routine benefits will not attract high talents. The employer need to stay well informed on current needs of talents in the market. A look-in approach analyzing HR practices, procedures and benefits being given is very essential.
According to a new survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, here are the five things that employees want the most other than freedom and flexibility at work. The survey was conducted on over 600 people.
Anyone, including beginners and veterans, who are making a move in their career will always take into consideration:
 How a company treats its employees
 How workplace culture is
 What the chances of growth are
 What opportunities a company provides for personal development
 If the company has seen too many salary freezes
 What perks and benefits the company offers
A company with strong employer brand shows that it cares for people and values them. It has a long way to go. Employer branding is not a fad. It actually works. Don’t believe? Let’s conduct a quick experiment:
Simply ask yourself where you want to work. Which company would you like to be associated? What comes to your mind? I’m sure most people will say – Google, Twitter, McKinsey, etc. Why? Because they are big brands! Their employees have loads of fun working in company premise and get a lot of benefits.

Note: A part of the article has been adapted from management Study guide)