Branding Magazine’s Employer Branding Roundtable (Part 1)


[excerpt from full roundtable ebook]

In this Branding Roundtable we hear from leaders of three agencies as to the nature, benefits, challenges and future of Employer Branding:

Ed Barzilaij, CEO of Maximum Employment Marketing Group, based in Rotterdam, with offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Carolyn Ray, Managing Director, Interbrand Canada and former leader of that worldwide brand consultancy’s Global Brand Engagement Practice.

Michael Savage, Director of Employer Brand at JWT INSIDE, part of JWT Worldwide.

Read the full roundtable ebook to see how they each have strong, distinct perspectives – and we invite you to add yours, or respond to theirs, in the comments section. Here are some of the roundtable responses from our very own Director of Employer Branding, Michael Savage.


Employee branding can be difficult to categorize – is it a human resources/operational discipline, a marketing endeavor, or both? Please give your definition.

Employer branding is neither a Human Resources nor a Marketing initiative. It’s more than just marketing and recruiting. Employer brand is a tool that brings immeasurable value and substantially contributes to business performance. The last thing you want is for employer branding to be viewed as just another marketing or recruiting campaign.

Starting with the Executive Suite with the CEO, an employer brand is a clear articulation of how every employee will contribute to delivering on the business vision, strategy and objectives. You’ve also got to rally your workforce – especially in these times of constant transformation across industries.

The employer brand evolution has been a long, strange trip for sure, and it’s finally finding its place on corporate agendas and on the annual budget forecast. It’s gone from a recruitment initiative, to a business imperative with employee productivity

Michael Savage Employer Branding 1Who should own and drive Employer Branding within an organization?

The greatest employer branding successes are the result of strong CEO leadership and the participation and collaboration of HR and Marketing. Beyond the C-Suite, every employee should own and drive the employer brand within the organization, and employer branding initiatives should be designed with employee participation in mind.

The individuals who should lead this initiative should straddle the Human Resources and Marketing discipline. They are indeed a hybrid. That’s why you’ll notice the emergence of new job titles including: Chief Brand & Culture Officer, Employer Brand Managers, and Chief People Experience Officers.

Think about all the ways in which your employer brand lives and breathes and requires maintenance daily across peer-to-peer interaction/behavior, recruitment and selection, internal and leadership communications, rewards and recognition/reinforcement, work environment, meeting rituals, learning and development, and customer service. In this context, every manager and employee has a role to play in owning, maintaining and evolving the brand.

Inspiration from The Circular Economy: Recruit, Retain, Recycle (Part 2)

Blog_image_part2_2In our previous post in this series, we introduced a trend report developed by JWT Intelligence titled “The Circular Economy” (download), and discussed how our field could benefit from thinking in the context of this theme. While the previous post focused on Retention, today’s post explores how thinking “circular” can enhance Recruitment efforts.


It is not uncommon for companies to receive hundreds of applications for a single position. This process by nature generates a significant amount of waste, as only one person from this candidate pool is ultimately hired.

Could we design out waste in the recruitment process? Or find a way to make what is not waste into something of value?

  • Develop a process for bringing candidates back into the circle: The option to send a reminder to yourself three months later to review current openings.
  • Keep candidates in the circle: Building a talent community that is actually useful to the candidate versus one that is useful to you.
  • For example, ANN INC. developed an app that acts as a 24/7 friend in the fashion business, helping users put their best foot forward in their careers. While there is a recruitment message throughout, the app features trend and fashion news and gives users the ability to contribute. Links to download an Apple or Android version can be found at ANN INC BFF

  • Reduce negative bi-products: Well thought-out and timely communications to applicants can dramatically decrease candidate frustration and disappointment and help maintain a positive brand image.
  • Re-purpose: For companies such as retailers or restaurants, consider incorporating consumer offers. For example, a retailer could provide a 20%-off coupon as a way of thanking candidates for their interest, recognizing that the process is time-consuming and encouraging them to reapply later. Many companies spend a huge dollar amount on marketing and advertising to drive sales. So when appropriate, why not capitalize on the high volume of applicant flow?

The preliminary thoughts outlined in this two-part blog post are just examples to illustrate how one can start thinking about this trend in the context of their own domain. Sometimes looking at an old problem from a different angle can spark interesting ideas. So give it a try. Take a few minutes and think about how you can act more “circular” in your efforts. You might just be able to turn something typically negative or neutral into something of value.

Inspiration from The Circular Economy: Recruit, Retain, Recycle (Part 1)

A recent report developed by JWT Intelligence titled “The Circular Economy” (download) focuses on the trend towards a markedly different way of doing business, forcing companies to rethink everything from the way they design and manufacture products to their relationships with customers. As described in the report:

“The vision: a smarter, more regenerative and restorative way to create, use and dispose of products that designs out waste from this cycle. An alternative to the ‘take, make and dispose’ model that predominates today, the circular economy is an old concept that’s steadily gaining ground among influential entities and corporations.”

While not every trend report offers relevance to the world of recruitment and talent management (did you know that aerial yoga and cocktails on tap are both “Things to Watch in 2014”?), I couldn’t help but consider how our field could benefit from thinking in the context of the circular economy.

Inspiration from The Circular Economy: Recruit, Retain, Recycle (Part 1)We all can attest that in many cases, the HR space today is not always efficient or proactive—and for that reason, there can be significant waste in both processes and function.

In this two-part series, I’ll examine how this thinking can impact the areas of both Retention and Recruiting. Let’s start with Retention.

Essentially, any company with a high turnover rate produces a lot of waste, as they invest heavily in an employee (e.g., recruiting costs, training, on-boarding, etc.). This investment is lost the second that employee leaves.

This brings to mind one aspect of the circular economy report that highlights the “repair movement,” through which goods are repaired and used for as long as possible rather than thoughtlessly tossed out. Companies are empowering consumers with the information, tools and replacement parts to fix their products, and also designing goods to make the repair process easier.

Shouldn’t employers proactively manage and repair employee dissatisfaction versus just accepting a high turnover rate?

  • Repairing could take many forms, such as improved internal communications that ensure employees understand the company vision and decisions.
  • Repairing could include internal processes that ensure employees feel their voice is being heard.
  • Repairing could ensure that the proper training and technology is provided to foster productivity and collaboration.

In addition, fine-tuning your performance management can likely contribute not only to “repairing” dissatisfaction, but also to identifying any issues early to ensure that minor challenges or frustrations don’t escalate. Ideally, an effective program should be preventative, reducing the need for repair by ensuring that employees are focused and fulfilled and feeling that they have a path forward in the organization.

For example, The Motley Fool developed an interactive employee handbook that is both educational and reflects their unique culture. Tools like this ensure that employees start off on the right foot and understand the culture they are joining and the “rules” that govern behavior.

Finally, since it is inevitable that some great employees will leave, a targeted alumni recruiting program could offer a way to facilitate “secondhand sales.” These individuals know your organization already and are proven performers. For example, T-Mobile recently won a Most Strategic Use of Technology award for a program they developed, targeting what they called “A-List Boomerangs.”

Stay tuned for our next post that examines how thinking “circular” can inspire more effective recruitment efforts.