Branding Magazine’s Employer Branding Roundtable (Part 2)


[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.


What do you see as the primary benefits of investing in employee branding, to employer, employee and other stakeholders?

In today’s job market, companies are overloaded with applicants. Google gets one applicant every 25 seconds. On the employee engagement front, disengagement at companies is at an all time high. Companies are searching for top talent that fit their specific culture.

We have recently seen data that claims 70 percent of the workforce is dissatisfied in their current job. This is costing the US economy $450 – $550 billion dollars per year. Employer branding helps to address these challenges and more.

The top employer brands encourage employee ambassadorship. They create opportunities for content co-creation. They host management workshops to align leadership. They encourage specific behaviors through rewards and recognition programs. An effective employer brand ensures the highest levels of productivity, innovation, morale, participation, pride and retention. Applied more holistically, you’ll find the benefits are endless and an invaluable return on investment.



As the natural flip side of benefit, or reward, in business is risk, what risks (if any) do you see in employee branding – perhaps even along the lines of those explored in the legal analysis “Managing Identity: Buying in to the Brand at Work.”

Changes in leadership, a merger or acquisition, transition to a new line of business, all can potentially change the direction and culture of the organization requiring you to revisit and refine the employer brand accordingly.

The risk is entirely financial, as the organization would need to reinvest in re-alignment. But these are risks beyond your control. T-Mobile recognized this and waited until the right moment to define its employer brand. With the dark days of the failed AT&T merger behind them and with a new CEO in place, there was no risk, just opportunity.

Additionally, the activation of an employer brand should not be forced or dictated to your employee population. Instead, it should be co-created by the employees who work there – enabling them to take ownership of its development and participate in its implementation. Make it participatory and respect cultural and geographic nuances and you will limit the risk of any “organ rejection” by your workforce.


According to recent reports, this is not a happy time in the general workforce, with large percentages of employees dissatisfied, disengaged and disbelieving of their organizations’ branding claims – witness Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace,” detailing lack of employee engagement, The New York Times article “Why You Hate Work,” citing even more current research on employee stress and dissatisfaction, or Deloitte’s “2014 Core Beliefs and Culture” which reports that relatively few employees buy-in to their organizations claims of purpose, one of the key drivers of satisfaction. Where does employee branding fit into what one might call this difficult, if not dismal, current picture, either as part of the problem, solution, or both?

Employees feel they have – for far too long – accepted limited career and compensation growth as their employers limited their capital investment during challenging times. Following the great-recession, many employees have taken stock of their personal brand, and prefer to work somewhere with a clear purpose and vision that aligns with their own personal values. A job or career is no longer enough, especially when reflecting on the most recent difficult years. Employers who have taken the time to craft their employer brand have a clear competitive advantage as their culture, purpose and career opportunity are well articulated. Candidates can immerse themselves in understanding these organizations online and off and truly envision themselves being part of the story.


Emily Fearnley is currently the Search Engine Marketing Analyst at JWT INSIDE managing search engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-performance, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media strategy campaigns for all JWT INSIDE US offices and clients. Among many things, Emily is most passionate about music, writing and advertising.

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