Key Learnings from #LifeAtSAP Employer Branding

July 21, 2020 • 5 min read

Key Learnings from #LifeAtSAP Employer Branding

Robin Dagostino

Robin Dagostino

Employer branding teams are faced with a set of common issues. Attracting and engaging the right candidates is a major focus, but there are also challenges in getting the message right, and continually analyzing, optimizing and improving your strategy. You can’t get complacent, thinking ‘this works, so this is what we should always do’ – you need to diversify your strategy and keep it fresh and relevant to the best fit talent.

As a global company, employer branding at SAP brings a suite of unique challenges. For the most part we’ve been able to overcome these and realize success. In doing so I’ve learned a lot about the evolving role of employer branding, and how multinational corporations should be looking to have a multi-channel recruitment marketing strategy to deliver employer branding at scale and guide key talent strategically to roles for today and tomorrow.

Standing out from the employer branding crowd

There’s a lot of sameness in the employer branding space. There’s a tendency to all say the same thing: ‘this is the best place to work!’ Let’s be honest – if you look through the right lens, every workplace can appear to be a great workplace.

So how do you make your employer branding stand out? My advice: dare to be transparent. You’re not a perfect company because no company is perfect. By showing both the good and the bad you demonstrate real authenticity. We call it being a ‘talent magnet’ because we want to attract people who match the skills we are looking for and repel those who don’t see themselves at our organization.

So how do you make your employer branding stand out? My advice: dare to be transparent.

There is another common mistake, most often made by multinational companies. They craft a message that is too broad, in the hope of catering to everyone. At SAP we have flipped our focus; we want to gain a deep understanding of the type of people we want to attract, and hyper-personalize a relevant message to our talent personas.

Making the switch from quantity to quality

We’re a technology company needing people with specific skill sets, and attributes.

In January, when I took the helm, we focused on catering to critical fit talent. Quality over quantity. Hyper-personalization, talent personas and all that good stuff.

It has been a challenge, sure, but after just six months the strategy is already showing significant ROI.

The #LifeAtSAP employer branding initiative

We’re all unique. Success means different things to different people. Some workers are content with a solid job and a great work/life balance, others want to be the next CEO. Whatever you want to be at our company, our aim is to help you be the best version of you possible.

This philosophy underpins our #LifeAtSAP employer branding efforts.

With #LifeAtSAP we aim to attract key talent by sharing what makes our company unique. The initiative puts a spotlight on our employees, highlighting and celebrating SAP’s culture and the impact a worker can have.

We encourage our team members to join the conversation by following and engaging with our social media accounts, or even doing something as simple as leaving a Glassdoor review. Whatever the mode of participation might be, the intent is always the same; to share what makes our company unique and special.

The strategy behind #LifeAtSAP

The core of #LifeAtSAP is social media. We primarily pour all of our efforts into a single hashtag. We found that it gave us both simplicity and focus.We established an internal advocacy program, where ambassadors – or #LifeAtSAP leaders, as we call them – are empowered to share their thoughts and experiences. We strive to arm them with turnkey elements that enable them to easily share what makes our company unique and special. By making advocacy as simple as possible, we’re able to deliver employer branding at scale, allowing my team to focus on guiding the talent to the appropriate roles.

Our social media accounts are one of our top five sources of hires. It’s hard to underestimate how huge that is. We continue to see an incredible increase in the amount of traffic to our careers site and new subscribers to our talent community. Month by month we see more people following our accounts.

Our social media accounts are one of our top five sources of hires.

This is made all the more satisfying for the fact that we don’t have a paid strategy – it’s pretty much all organic. It was a real challenge when I first started, realizing I had no budget to work with, but empowering passionate employees has really helped us to take it to the next level.

Employer branding tools

Passion and excitement only ever get you so far though. Employer branding initiatives demand consistency and focus to succeed. Arming employees with information and the means to share it really makes a difference, so the choice of tools is critical.

We utilize Microsoft Teams to share information – we’ve created a number of channels to discuss employee stories, initiatives and ways that team members can get involved. We created a SharePoint – a one stop shop to access all the tools and resources the employer branding team has to offer. Colleagues can learn how to write job descriptions to attract more diverse candidates, how to run an employee referral campaigns in their local market, or how to be a #LifeAtSAP social media advocate. The internal SharePoint has easy-to-use forms for frequent requests to the team and are automatically sent to the responsible team member to track and work on. In terms of posting and sharing, social media tools like GetSocial are invaluable as well.

An employer branding mindset

To be a success, your employer branding strategy needs to be supported from the top down and company-wide. Employee advocacy needs to become part of your organization’s DNA.

An example: While every company claims to listen, at SAP we make a point to action our learnings and share everything with our employees. Pre-COVID we had a cafeteria in our German HQ and noticed that people were complaining about the service on Glassdoor. We brought this to the attention of our German leaders, and they soon switched food vendors.

To be a success, your employer branding strategy needs to be supported from the top down and company-wide

The simple act of listening and acting really makes employees feel heard and that their voice matters. Because of this, it’s something that we take a systematic approach to. We are currently evolving our EVP, and our employees are playing a key role in that process – this might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many companies don’t take a team centered-approach. We’ve consulted with 10,000+ employees, 1 million+ external talent, had 1:1 interviews with our leaders, and looked at industry benchmarks, asking  what resonates, what’s missing, and what should be removed.

These things might seem small, but when viewed together they add up to something far larger and more meaningful – an organizational ethos that puts employees at the heart of everything you do.

With employees as such a fundamental part of your approach, branding and advocacy become so much easier, and so much more effective.

About the author:  Robin Dagostino is a brand builder, innovative marketer, and creative services leader with over 15+ years’ experience driving double digit KPI growth.  Robin is based in the US and currently leads SAP’s Global Employer Branding team.  Her passions include concepting, executing, and optimizing campaigns and initiatives that truly make a difference.