By Brett Minchington MBA and Merdiye Eker
The past three years has been a period where the global employer branding industry has taken giant leaps forward. Research studies and numerous conferences were conducted around the world such as World Employer Branding Day 2016 held in Prague and attended by 250 leaders from 36 countries.
Vendors across multiple sectors including consulting, HR technology and traditional brand agencies made it a key part of their business development strategy.
Employer branding, like many management practices moves in line with economic growth. Investment in people, technology and the supporting systems and processes all benefit from an improved economy.
In this International best practice article, Brett Minchington outlines five key focus areas to take your employer brand strategy to a new level in 2016/2017. Award winning Turkish blogger and employer branding professional Merdiye Eker will then detail where the opportunities lie for Turkish companies.
- Define the scope, objectives and metrics
There is a tendency to want to rush into employer branding without a clear direction, this is how most projects usually get started. However, be aware, the path of least resistance can end up costing you more in the long term. Companies like Ferrero, adidas Group, Volvo Cars and Lego have all made significant progress in this area over the past few years by clearly defining the scope of their strategy and establishing metrics to measure return on investment and demonstrate how a strong employer brand creates value.
These companies have also developed dedicated employer brand leadership functions to manage the strategy at a time when most companies still see employer branding as an add-on role to an already overstretched HR or marketing function.
Before you begin your employer branding journey be clear on the scope of your strategy. Questions to consider include:
- Will our focus be global, national or regional?
- Are we looking at a tactical employer branding project or a holistic employer brand strategy?
- How does employer branding fit in to our strategy alongside consumer marketing, HR and communications?
- What resources do we have to invest?
- How engaged are our leadership in employer branding?
- How will we measure success?
Next you need to define your objectives and establish timelines. I’m amazed as to how much is invested by companies in their strategies without clearly defined objectives or metrics. At Employer Brand International (EBI), our employer branding global trends study found 17 percent of companies said it was too early into their strategy to determine the effectiveness of their employer branding initiatives.
Opportunities for Turkish Companies
- Companies such as Coca-Cola, Garanti Bank, KPMG and Turkish Airlines have already commenced implementing employer branding projects in Turkey. Other companies can capitalize on this trend by integrating their own initiatives into a broader, long-term strategy which will save time and money whilst impacting positively on recruitment and retention outcomes.
- EBI’s research found 65 percent of employer brand strategies are led by the human resources function. Turkish companies should take a holistic approach to employer branding across the employment lifecycle. Engage leaders across the marketing, communication, IT and legal functions to contribute to the employer brand strategy through concept development and activation initiatives.
- Research by EBI also found 40% of Turkish companies haven’t developed an employer brand strategy but they are working on it. This is a further prompt for local leaders to clearly define their employer branding objectives and metrics to build the business case for investment and engage the CEO and Senior Management about the benefits.
- Gain feedback and insights from employees, they are the one’s experiencing the ‘real’ day to day experience. Be clear on the workforce you want to attract and be prepared to adapt your people policies, systems and practices to ensure a better culture fit that supports organisational growth.
- Train leaders in employer branding
This task is critical if you are striving for your organization to adopt a strategic approach to employer branding.
If you can’t engage leaders across the business in your strategy it is likely to become a stand-alone project that receives little interest or investment by senior leadership.
Ten years ago there was very little information available on employer branding, how to do it or case studies of companies doing it successfully. There is a wealth of information on the internet and in books that can assist to educate leaders on the value and importance of an employer brand led people strategy.
For the past 10 years leaders have predominantly been exposed to theory and concepts on employer branding. It has only been over the past few years where leaders have begun developing the competencies required to become a successful employer brand leader. Like many other roles, employer brand leadership talent is in short supply. The lead times to fill advertised roles (many for the first time) have been long, especially if the role has a strategic focus. In 2016/2017 more leaders will seek training to build these competencies and not just in economies such as USA, UK and Europe.
Opportunities for Turkish Companies
- LinkedIn research found the #1 action that talent acquisition leaders are afraid competitors will do is invest in employer brand, and lack of employer brand awareness is considered one of the top three. Investment for Turkish companies must start in training leaders on the basics of employer brand strategy and allow them to test and trial initiatives in a supportive environment.
- Benefit by learning from the vast amount employer branding literature and information that is now in the public domain from companies such as IKEA, Google, H&M, Dell, Shell, etc.
- Benefit from participating in online accreditation courses being conducted by companies such as the Employer Branding College employerbrandingcollege.com to build employer branding leadership competencies.
- Join employer branding networks on LinkedIn such as the EBI Employer Branding Global Community Group and connect with industry professionals to network and learn from leaders who have travelled down the path you are headed.
- The growth of employer branding as a strategic management practice in companies around the world opens up opportunities for newly created employer branding specialist roles within Turkey with a view to giving rise to a new set of leaders who will develop the competencies required to successfully manage the employer branding function in the future.
- Focus on the experience
In 2015 I co-authored a whitepaper with Lisa G. Morris titled, “In employer branding, EXPERIENCE is everything.” We also received contributions from forty leaders around the world to inform our thinking.
As a key differentiator for brand experience success, organizations have traditionally focused on the customer experience. However, what’s been missing has been an understanding of the role of the employee in the relationship between organizations, customers and profitability.
Employees are central to the customer experience and organizations must adopt an integrated approach towards brand experience if they are to remain relevant to the needs of customers and the talent that drive these experiences (see figure 1).
Experience goes beyond employee engagement and employee satisfaction before it. How companies interact with employees on a day to day basis impacts on a number of lagging indicators such as staff turnover, disengagement and lack of trust.
In 2017 assess your employee experience and develop strategies to address the gaps to ensure the experience across the employment lifecycle is consistent and aligned with your employer brand strategy.
Employer branding is much bigger than a stand-alone recruiting function. Implemented effectively it can result in transformational results as it has at companies such as P&G, L’Oréal and Philips who are now seeing the benefits of their investments in employer branding over the past 5-10 years. Many of the leaders driving the strategy in these companies invested considerable time educating senior leaders about the importance and benefits of employer branding and how it would assist to attract and retain talent necessary for its growth.
Figure 1: Minchington & Morris Brand Experience Model™
Opportunities for Turkish Companies
- Counteract the challenges of the shortage of supply in high demand talent pools such as trades and technical jobs by focussing on personalizing the employee’s’ experience across their tenure.
- Personalizing an employee’s journey will lead to a reduction in attrition rates. Whilst it is easier said than done, leaders should consult with technology vendors to collaborate with them on developing tools to assist in this process.
- Re-visit your employer value proposition (EVP) so that it aligns with more intangible benefits such as work flexibility, friendly, fun workplace, career and personal development, supportive leaders and interesting job content that are being sought by talent in 2017 compared to the traditional benefits such as compensation and rewards. Whilst these are important, research shows employees are likely to join companies on lower salaries if the intangible benefits are strong.
- Segment your audience and ensure that employer branding initiatives are relevant to what is being sort by candidates and employees. Understand what millennials (employees born 1990-2000) are seeking in the employment experience and provide ‘employability skills’ training such as problem solving, effective communication and working in teams, to ensure graduates have the right skills to support the growth of their career start. These skills are often lacking in new graduates so companies should adopt a proactive approach to developing these skills.
- Implement an employer branding content marketing program
Nowadays content is everywhere. However many early adopters are simply broadcasting to the market the great things about working for their company. It is one-way communication and unlikely to connect with the target audience. There needs to be interaction and an environment developed where two way communications can take place.
Companies should follow the lead of companies such as Dell, Starbucks and Santander (see figure 2) who have developed and implemented an employer branding content marketing program that adopts a long term approach that aligns with their EVP and showcases what it’s like to work at their company. Consider you are scripting a TV show you want to run for many years by keeping the content relevant, fresh and interesting and not just creating a mini-series!
Opportunities for Turkish Companies
- Turkish companies need to be proactive in their approach to their ongoing employer branding marketing programs as opposed to a tactical approach only when they are recruiting. Sporadic initiatives will not drive top of mind awareness and build an employer brand companies are seeking to achieve, especially when competing for critical skills and wanting to attract the passive work-seeker.
- Launch staff blogs to showcase what it’s like to work at your organisation. Use images and video as well to assist to tell the story. Effective content marketing is about evolving an engaging story and not a once off advertising campaign that were once popular in the early 2000’s.
- Research shows acceleration in social media usage in Turkey is much higher compared to Europe. Millennials in Turkey can also be regarded as heavy users of social media as both producers and consumers of the information. This should motivate Turkish companies to involve these younger workers in activating the content strategy to communicate what it’s like to work to the external target audience.
Figure 2: Content marketing framework at Santander
- Understand the needs of the next generation of employees
The World Economic Forum, a think-tank, ranks Turkey 131st out of 144 countries by labour-market efficiency. The next working generation, the millennials have an opportunity to change this. This generation is now entering employment in vast numbers and will shape the world of work for years to come. In Turkey millennials represent nearly 25 percent of the population in a country that has a median age of 30 years.
Is also very important to note that Turkey’s young population is an important contributor to labour force growth. 24.7 million people are active in the labour force, and the country has the fourth largest labour force of the 27 countries of Europe. Currently, there are over 1.2 million university students in Turkey. Approximately 730,000 students graduate every year from Turkey's high schools, one‐third of who graduate from vocational, technical, and professional high schools. At the end of every academic year, nearly 400,000 graduates from 116 universities in Turkey join the labour market, adding to a talent pool of more than 24.7 million young, well‐educated, and motivated.
According to research by the U.S. Census Bureau, International Programs Centre, by the year 2025,
Turkey will have the highest rate of young population among European and surrounding countries such as Cyprus, Ireland, Litvania, Russia, UK, Croatia, Norway, France, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy. Therefore, the sheer size of the Millennials cohort in Turkey makes this segment a desirable target of other countries to replenish their ageing workforces. This should be a concern for Turkish companies.
A Deloitte study found regardless of gender or geography, only 28 percent of Millennials feel that their current organizations are making ‘full use’ of the skills they currently have to offer. That figure is just 23 percent in developed markets and falls to 15 percent in Turkey. The good news is that the majority of Millennials say they now have, or will be able to obtain in their current organization, the skills and experience that allow them to fully meet their career ambitions.
Deloitte also found millennials overwhelmingly believe that business needs a reset in terms of paying as much attention to people and purpose as it does products and profit. Seventy-five percent of Millennials believe businesses are too fixated on their own agendas and not focused enough on helping to improve society.
These statistics demonstrate the important of companies developing specific employer branding and talent management strategies including personal and professional development opportunities, targeting millennial employees and candidates.
Opportunities for Turkish Companies
- Millennials’ use of technology clearly sets them apart. One of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation is their affinity with the digital world. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media being the norm and expect instant access to information. This is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tool than more senior workers. Train Millennials to become company ambassadors and get them to put their technology and social media skills to good use by communicating what it’s like to work at your company. If you block their access to social media, expect their external communications to take on a negative tone.
- Provide millennials with an internal coach and channel their energy, desire and passion towards teaching them the skills that will assist to grow your organisation. It will also assist to engage the older and more experienced worker with this younger generation of workers.
If the growth trend of employer branding practice continues at the same rate around the world as it has over the past five years then Turkish companies that make a commitment to invest in their strategy in 2016/2017 will be best positioning to reap the benefits such as ease in attracting candidates, higher engagement and lower attrition rates and better quality of hire.
It’s never too late to act!
About the Authors
Brett Minchington MBA, www.brettminchington.com, Chairman/CEO of Employer Brand International is an International strategist, corporate advisor and educator who has trained leaders in more than 50 cities in 30 countries in person and through the online global Certificate in Employer Brand Leadership at www.employerbrandingcollege.com
Merdiye Eker is an Employer Branding and Human Resources Specialist with 14 years experience in the private sector. An award winning blogger, Merdiye provides insights and directions for leaders to evolve their employer branding to create an integrated culture focused on inclusive teams delivering a consistent employee expeirence across the employment lifecycle. Merdiye believes that companies focused on developing a people-oriented brand will create winning strategies to attract and retain Turkey’s best talent.