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International Employer Brands
As global organizations emerge from the recent economic downturn, a renewed focus is being placed on the need for an authentic and credible employer brand as a means for improving both recruitment and retention. However, Peer Group has found that existing research regarding employer brand and EVP strategies has typically been gathered using quantitative online survey techniques – we wanted to find out not only what organizations are doing but why they are doing it. Working with global recruitment marketing agency OneAgent, we interviewed the very individuals who are most involved in delivering the employer brand/ EVP to arrive at a more complete understanding of current trends and challenges.
The employer brand is again emerging as a top recruitment and retention issue. However, given that most research into the current efforts and perspectives of global organizations regarding the employer brand is quantitative in nature, Peer Group and its international recruitment communications partner OneAgent wanted to better understand not just what organizations are doing but why they are doing it.
To get at the heart of the issues that impact the effective development of an international employer brand, we conducted qualitative, individual in-depth interviews with HR directors or those who were charged with managing the employer brand and EVP. Respondents represented internationally active B2C and B2B companies – spanning eight countries – and the interviews were conducted during the first six months of 2011. Sectors included banking/finance/insurance, biotechnology, construction, consumer goods, energy (petroleum and natural gas), IT, manufacturing and professional services.
Key Findings & Trends
International Employer Brand Development
The survey revealed that the need for an employer brand appears to be most crucial in Asia, particularly China and India, followed by the United States, Europe and Eastern Europe. It is less likely to be cited as a necessity for the regions of South America and the Middle East.
For many organizations, the core brand elements remain consistent across countries with the emphasis modified to address local variations in culture and behavior. As an example, salary is the key driver for choice of employer in Eastern Europe, while in Russia a strong focus on career development has been successful in attracting talent. In China, where the market is subject to dramatic change, there is a need to promote the financial package, personal and professional development, career paths and international work. And in Northern Europe, the workforce is motivated by work-life balance, challenge and empowerment.
Respondents identified a fairly similar process for employer brand development. After articulating the business case for such an effort, these organizations undertook a period of research and consultation to arrive at the core elements of their brand and to define the employment offering. This effort provided the foundation for the development of communications materials and the launch of the campaign, both internally and externally. Following this, organizations were likely to monitor the impact of their initiatives and make modifications as necessary. In addition:
- Respondents were likely to have used external resources at various stages of program development, most commonly for research, EVP development and communication strategy.
- Most projects were managed by a central location with regular consultation taking place as needed on a local basis.
Not surprisingly, limited resources and budget were identified as the most significant challenges these organizations needed to overcome in order to move forward with the development of an international employer brand. Additional challenges included responding to language and cultural differences, as well as the impact of various generations and nationalities on a program. Many respondents also noted a lack of external experts to provide employer brand consultation and development services as a barrier.
Employers are still struggling with their ability to adequately measure the success of their employer brand efforts. While companies recognize that their employer brands have had a significant impact on their recruiting and retention outcomes, not all of them can point to statistical data to confirm their perceptions. Among those who are measuring outcomes, the most commonly used metrics are as follows:
- Cost per hire
- Quality of hire
- Employee engagement
Finally, the survey revealed a continued perception among organizations that the employer brand is primarily the responsibility of HR. While other functional areas, such as marketing, communications, public relations and the executive board, were involved to varying degrees, HR was charged with day-to-day responsibility for the brand.
In our view, it is absolutely critical that this practice evolve so that key stakeholders throughout the organization fully participate in these efforts in order to achieve program goals and objectives.
Interested in reviewing a complimentary copy of the survey results? Email Kendra Van Nostran, director of Peer Group US.
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