What motivates a company to rebrand?

Employer branding: in an interview with expert Annekatrin Buhl

“Employer branding” is an increasingly important approach for employers. In some cases, it uses traditional marketing activities and measures, but these are not, as usual, related to a product or service. Rather, they pursue the goal of making a company an attractive employer. In view of the increasing shortage of staff and the war for talent, companies can establish themselves as attractive employers thanks to employer branding and thus better assert themselves against their competition. In addition, employer branding can also bring decisive advantages in terms of employee loyalty.

We asked expert Annekatrin Buhl why employer branding can be extremely valuable and what goes with it.

MARKTKOST: Annekatrin, you write on your website “9 out of 10 medium-sized companies do not operate employer branding and thus assign valuable potential.” Where do you see the greatest value in employer branding?

Annekatrin Buhl: There are various positive effects that employer branding has in the company. One of the most important is the contribution to value creation. Most companies don't see that far. Employer branding has a positive influence on recruiting because it enables companies to find the right candidates more quickly, which of course reduces costs. But it also has positive effects on employee loyalty and can thus reduce fluctuation costs. The corporate culture also benefits from employer branding, which increases motivation and productivity. All of this has a high economic effect, especially in medium-sized companies.

"Credibility, attractiveness, uniqueness and being memorable - that is what a brand has to be able to do!"

What makes a good employer brand?

For me, four things are crucial here. The first is credibility or authenticity. An employer brand should not just look good, it must also be based on very specific achievements and experiences. Employers should be able to back up the promises they make. A good employer brand must be attractive, especially for the ideal candidate that a company wants to reach. The question that often arises here is whether companies even offer what applicants want. Then the brand should be unique. It's not that easy, because somehow everything already exists somewhere. Here it is important to individually combine and present your own culture and certain characteristics. And finally, the brand has to be memorable, because an applicant: in has to be able to remember it long enough.

What is an absolute no-go in employer branding?

Not being believable. A very clear no-go for me is wanting to build a brand but not have done my homework beforehand: Which promises can I really keep? Many companies are accused of having a brand that is more appearances than it is, and that shouldn't be. Applicants immediately notice whether the employer really reflects what they claim. Otherwise it is thought of in the short term and is quickly discovered.

You also say on your website: "HR expertise and communication know-how together result in the perfect interaction for successful employer branding." - In your opinion, which skills are often neglected?

It takes a combination of skills. One is often more brought by the HR staff, the other by the communicators. It is important to break the silos between departments in the company. You need an analytical understanding of your own strengths, your target group and the competition. You need creativity to be able to communicate your brand in such a way that the message creates the impact you want to achieve. In addition, you have to be able to empathize with your target group of employees and applicants in order to recognize their needs. And you need a strategic understanding and you have to be able to abstract. This is often a difficulty when companies want to build their employer brand completely themselves, because there is no distance to their own strengths and weaknesses and you cannot see the forest for the trees. It can therefore be advisable, in addition to HR and communication, to also bring in an: n external: n consultant for support.

At MARKTKOST, sustainability and nutrition come together thanks to reusable packaging and varied dishes. This can be a decisive advantage in employer branding.

What importance do sustainability and CSR play in employer branding? How can greenwashing be prevented?

That's a very interesting question. Because although sustainability is currently discussed and present in society incredibly, surveys show that it hardly plays a role in the choice of employer. Issues such as sustainability and CSR often end up in the last place. The younger job seekers, the students, are more aware of these issues. Among them, at least 19 percent attach importance to ecological and social awareness within the company. Greenwashing in employer branding is quickly discovered - unlike in product marketing. Because in the first few working days at the latest, it becomes apparent whether the company is really as sustainable as it claims. Credibility and authenticity are extremely important on this issue too.

"Healthy eating can have a positive effect and shows that the health of employees in the company is important."

You mentioned corporate culture earlier, which is particularly interesting for us too. How important is catering in employer branding?

Meals can express many different things that are important in employer branding. On the one hand, it strengthens the corporate culture and the sense of community when colleagues eat together. It also shows a certain caring and that the employer: Is important to the health of the employees. And especially in areas where there are not many options for varied catering, such an offer can also be an advantage over the competition. Together with other factors, this can result in a coherent, attractive image of the employer.

Employee benefits are becoming more and more important in recruiting. Start-ups in particular often offer advantages such as membership in the fitness studio or a foosball table in the break room.

How does the employer branding of medium-sized companies differ from that of start-ups?

In terms of the process, not really at all, because everyone goes through more or less the same steps: recognizing strengths, defining target groups, identifying competitors, then defining the brand in the workshop, planning communication and finally implementation. The more complex the company, the more time-consuming the process. In young start-ups, the employer brand can usually be built up faster and therefore more cost-effectively than in established companies.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of start-ups?

Start-ups have the advantage - especially if they are still in the start-up phase - that they have a blank sheet of paper in front of them and can build exactly the employer brand they want. The founders can shape their being as employers and thus their employer brand from the start and tailor it precisely to their target group.

If you could give start-ups a tip on employer branding, what would you advise them?

It does! From the beginning. This is the best way to exploit the full potential. Basically, many start-ups generally neglect HR, as their focus initially is on product development. When things suddenly have to move quickly because the first large orders are coming in, employees are needed. Founders often do the recruiting themselves and the structures and processes don't keep up. It is advisable to build up professional HR right from the start and, with it, an employer brand, because employees are the most important asset.

Annekatrin Buhl is a self-employed employer branding consultant for medium-sized companies. It supports companies in building a convincing employer brand from their strengths and in finding qualified employees and retaining them in the long term. She originally comes from corporate communications and with this expertise complements the HR know-how of the HR departments. She has been working in employer branding for more than 10 years - and with great success: in 2018 she won the Gold Stevie Award for Best Brand Management, last year she and one of her clients were nominated for several HR Excellence Awards.

www.die-employer-branding-beraterin.de | https://www.linkedin.com/in/annekatrinbuhl