Employer Branding – Friend or Foe?
By Amy Haley Employer branding describes what it means to be an employee of your Company. Done well, it can improve employee engagement levels, should mirror the message to consumers, impacts the brand’s reputation and can create passion amongst staff and consumers alike. Strong employer brands include: John Lewis – employees are known as ‘partners’, consumers eagerly await their Christmas advert each year. Jamie Oliver – the Company values are ‘spread the love’, ‘enjoy yourself’, ‘keep it simple’ and is well known for giving back to the community, promoting health and inspiring change. Virgin – Richard Branson has proudly stated that Virgin employees are top priority. He said ‘we train our staff so they can go anywhere; we treat them so they never want to’. Apple – Apple’s previous campaign ‘think different’ reflected its employer branding by announcing that Apple employees are ‘creative minds that take risks and push technological boundaries’. What do strong employer brands all have in common? A strong transformational leader. But, what happens when disaster strikes? BP was once a strong employer brand. Following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, suppliers were blamed; the Company seemingly failed to take ownership of the disaster and continued drilling for fossil fuels. Have they ever fully recovered? When a crisis occurs, how closely do leaders stick to their own Company values? Does a Company with a strong employer brand have to work harder to stay competitive? The recent tragedy at Virgin Galactic has seen people speaking out about how it could have been prevented. However, Richard Branson, representing his brand values, announced he would personally be making his way to immediately be with the family following the tragedy. An example of how, even in a crisis, employer branding can have a positive effect. With that in mind, does a strong employer brand have more to lose in a crisis? Does it outweigh the benefits? Employer branding is a valuable tool for being both an ‘employer of choice’ and ‘brand of choice’ for consumers but be careful, to make it work you have to be willing to practice what you preach!