Em­ployer brand­ing: Five se­crets from SA’s top em­ploy­ers

South Africa’s cur­rent cer­ti­fied Top Em­ploy­ers 2017 share some of their best tips for de­vel­op­ing a pos­i­tive em­ployer brand

Mail & Guardian - - Careers -

Em­ployer brand­ing is about your to­tal em­ployer iden­tity. The goal is for your em­ployer brand to be viewed as an or­gan­i­sa­tion that of­fers a great em­ployee ex­pe­ri­ence. We asked some of South Africa’s cur­rent cer­ti­fied Top Em­ploy­ers 2017 to share some of their best tips for de­vel­op­ing a pos­i­tive em­ployer brand.

“Brand­ing is a prom­ise to your cus­tomers. Em­ployer brand­ing is a prom­ise to your cur­rent and fu­ture em­ploy­ees.” — Kathryn Min­shew, au­thor of The New Rules of Work

“Em­ployer brand­ing”, a term not so new to the HR in­dus­try, is mak­ing an enor­mous im­pact in the mar­ket­ing world. Take for ex­am­ple Heineken’s “Go Places” re­cruit­ment video. This video is on trend to a typ­i­cal con­sumer ad and was fea­tured on Ad­week. You might be ask­ing your­self: “But wait — HR made head­lines in mar­ket­ing?” You’re not alone.

HR has tra­di­tion­ally been viewed as a cog in the wheel to strate­gi­cally man­age peo­ple as a busi­ness re­source — deal­ing with HR poli­cies, con­tracts, em­ployee de­vel­op­ment, etcetera. How­ever, HR has be­come much big­ger than that; to­day it plays a crit­i­cal role in shap­ing and defin­ing the em­ployer brand.

A healthy em­ployer brand is crit­i­cal for en­gag­ing with your staff and at­tract­ing qual­ity prospec­tive em­ploy­ees. With the labour mar­ket be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive HR has had to adapt to the changes, and not just play a tac­ti­cal role, but step up to be­ing a strate­gic part­ner in building and main­tain­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s em­ployer brand in or­der to at­tract, re­tain and en­gage tal­ent.

We in­ter­viewed five of South Africa’s Top Em­ploy­ers for their se­crets to suc­cess­ful em­ployer brand­ing. These Top Em­ploy­ers have been cer­ti­fied for pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lence in em­ployee con­di­tions.

1. Mercedes-Benz South Africa: “Mar­ket­ing and PR work hand-in­hand to cre­ate the em­ployer brand.”

Mercedes-Benz recog­nised early that the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween HR and mar­ket­ing was be­com­ing crit­i­cal to em­ployer brand­ing. The car man­u­fac­turer used key marout­stand­ing ket­ing in­sights to de­velop em­ployee value propo­si­tion mes­sages for the right tar­get mar­ket and branched out to digital tools to max­imise cre­ativ­ity and ap­peal.

Mar­ket­ing helps in­crease the vis­i­bil­ity of the em­ployer brand and at­trac­tive­ness through chan­nels, me­dia and plat­forms tra­di­tion­ally used for brands only. Digi­ti­sa­tion has also ex­panded op­por­tu­ni­ties for cre­ative em­ployer brand­ing. For ex­am­ple, the use of vir­tual re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide prospec­tive tal­ent with an ex­pe­ri­ence of the em­ployer’s value propo­si­tion with­out hav­ing to phys­i­cally visit MercedesBenz’s fa­cil­i­ties is an ex­am­ple of how mar­ket­ing and HR col­lab­o­ra­tion is driv­ing em­ployer brand­ing.

2. San­lam: “LinkedIn is a pow­er­ful plat­form for Em­ployer Brand­ing.”

As most of San­lam’s pro­fes­sional staff are LinkedIn mem­bers they strate­gi­cally de­cided to in­cor­po­rate LinkedIn into their em­ployer brand­ing strat­egy. San­lam use Work with Us, a be­spoke LinkedIn em­ployer brand method­ol­ogy to lever­age their em­ploy­ees’ net­works on this plat­form. Us­ing LinkedIn as a prime plat­form the brand ambassadors are able to en­gage with in­ter­nal and po­ten­tial ex­ter­nal tal­ent by po­si­tion­ing the San­lam brand. In or­der to achieve this, San­lam has se­lected 10 brand ambassadors and works on creating con­tent with these brand ambassadors, e.g. through photo shoots and sto­ries. This con­tent is then shared on their in­ter­nal ca­reer page and on their LinkedIn ca­reer page.

San­lam has also de­vel­oped a web­site specif­i­cally ded­i­cated to their em­ployee value propo­si­tion, the golden thread in all of San­lam’s em­ployer brand­ing cam­paigns.

3. Transnet: “Noth­ing beats be­long­ing”

“Wouldn’t you agree that the big­gest driv­ing force be­hind any or­gan­i­sa­tion is its peo­ple and that com­pa­nies that per­form ex­tremely well, do so as a result of their in­spired, em­pow­ered and en­abled col­leagues?” Ogotlhe Dolly Sathekgem, gen­eral man­ager: group tal­ent man­age­ment and trans­for­ma­tion for Transnet.

Transnet recog­nises that in or­der for the company to con­sis­tently achieve their strate­gic ob­jec­tives and to be an em­ployer of choice, it needs to cre­ate an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment in which peo­ple feel that they be­long. Their for­mula for suc­cess is: “I am em­pow­ered, I am en­abled, I am in­spired: iBe­long.”

Sathekgem says: “Em­pow­ered em­ploy­ees are con­fi­dent about tak­ing ac­tion, and most im­por­tantly, have the author­ity to do so. Our lead­er­ship is com­mit­ted to in­spir­ing and em­pow­er­ing em­ploy­ees to take ac­tion to serve our cus­tomers, a crit­i­cal part of why we ex­ist. We value our peo­ple and en­able them to grow through train­ing and de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes that will al­low them to add value too, and be­come an in­valu­able as­set to us and to our coun­try. In this high-per­for­mance and en­abling en­vi­ron­ment, our to­tal re­ward struc­tures are mar­ket lead­ing, and we en­cour­age and recog­nise our em­ploy­ees for their ex­cel­lence and in­no­va­tion. “

4. Clicks: “Link your em­ployer brand to your em­ployee value propo­si­tion.”

The Clicks Group recog­nises that em­ployer brand­ing is a key mech­a­nism used to at­tract tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als able to thrive within their high-per­for­mance, fast-paced en­vi­ron­ment as well as to in­form their em­ployee en­gage­ment in­ter­ven­tions aimed at re­tain­ing both top and scarce tal­ent. In or­der to max­imise re­turn on in­vest­ment, the Clicks Group needs to en­sure that their em­ployer brand­ing re­flects their em­ployee value propo­si­tion and sup­ports their or­gan­i­sa­tional vi­sion and mis­sion.

Mea­sur­ing the suc­cess of their em­ployer brand­ing ac­tiv­i­ties has put the Clicks Group in good stand­ing, with the or­gan­i­sa­tion achiev­ing seven Top Em­ployer Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. The Clicks Group has shared its wealth, with 10% of its is­sued share cap­i­tal in the hands of their em­ployee share trust. The group has also made a R95-mil­lion in­vest­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of their em­ploy­ees, as well as hav­ing spent R22-mil­lion on sus­tain­able com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives in 2016 alone.

5. Wipro: “Em­ployee in­volve­ment is crit­i­cal to de­vel­op­ing brand ambassadors.”

Wipro has re­cently re­branded, in­cor­po­rat­ing a new logo and re-af­firmed val­ues. This new brand was largely birthed from within the Wipro fam­ily, based on Wipro em­ploy­ees’ own vi­sion of what the spirit of Wipro en­tails and what they be­lieve Wipro stands for. The Wipro brand, as it now ex­ists, is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ex­pert de­sign and the Wipro fam­ily’s pas­sion for the spirit of Wipro.

The brand is cen­tred around its core val­ues, drawn from the peo­ple ex­pected to be brand ambassadors — Wipro’s em­ploy­ees. These val­ues are: be pas­sion­ate about clients’ suc­cess; be global and re­spon­si­ble; treat ev­ery per­son with re­spect; and un­yield­ing in­tegrity in ev­ery­thing it does. The Wipro fam­ily be­lieves in its brand and con­tin­ues to up­hold it and its val­ues.

Em­pow­er­ing its em­ploy­ees to con­tinue to be brand ambassadors is an on­go­ing process, one which is re­vis­ited an­nu­ally when con­duct­ing the em­ployee per­cep­tion sur­vey. In each sur­vey, the Wipro fam­ily’s be­lief in the brand is eval­u­ated; as­sessed to see what has changed; changes are in­cor­po­rated; new be­liefs and val­ues are dis­cov­ered; and pride in the brand is reaf­firmed. Re­cently recog­nised as a Top Em­ployer, Wipro Africa’s busi­ness head Gavin Holme says: “We firmly be­lieve that peo­ple form the foun­da­tion of an or­gan­i­sa­tion. Com­pa­nies need to in­vest in nur­tur­ing their em­ploy­ees and pro­mot­ing an en­vi­ron­ment which fos­ters trust, growth, ideas and in­no­va­tion. Happy and mo­ti­vated em­ploy­ees are im­por­tant to drive or­gan­i­sa­tional growth.”

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