Creating Meaningful Brands: The Havas People Guide to Building your Employer Brand

Creating Meaningful Brands: The Havas People Guide to Building your Employer Brand

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Building a compelling employer brand and EVP can be time-consuming and daunting, especially when faced with the challenge of where to start and how to measure success.  

That's where Havas People, a leading agency specializing in employer branding and talent communications, comes in. 

We spoke with them to learn about their approach and how they help clients tackle common challenges, while effectively creating and communicating a strong employer brand. 

Where to start creating an EVP 

The foundation for every meaningful employer brand is a robust and flexible Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Put simply, we want to know why people should choose to continue or start their career at this organization. What makes it special? What are the best bits? What are the challenging moments?  

Our aim with any Employer Brand project is to have real business impact and benefit. So, we always start with a company’s purpose, vision and strategy and understand the people challenges they need to solve to achieve those bigger picture ambitions. Starting with this in mind allows us to set KPIs early in the process.

We often use the phrase “human-centric” when we talk about employer branding. In practice, that means we ground our work in insight from real people: existing employees and, often, the future talent the company wants to hire.

We work with our clients to design bespoke and thorough research programs. At their heart are some clear objectives: to understand what this organization is like as an employer now; where they want to be in the future and the reality of how people feel about working there (and yes – we mean the good, the bad, AND the ugly!).

Whilst our programs look different, depending on the client’s needs, let’s take a look at what they often include.

Desk research – into business strategies, people strategies, internal communications, engagement activities; internal surveys or research to learn as much as we can from the work that exists.

Leadership Interviews – to discover their aspirations for the business as an employer in the coming years. This includes leaders throughout the organization and includes the CEO.

Talking to HR, TAs or Recruitment Partners – those who will use the EVP & EB on ‘the front line’.

Social listening – to assess your current brand story and analyze how your brand is perceived by both internal and external audiences alike.

And of course, engaging with employees across different job functions, levels, tenure, business areas and markets, to truly go deep about what they love about working there as well as the things they find more challenging.

By combining these rich data sources, we’re able to identify patterns, trends, and insights to create an EVP which is authentic for today – but aspirational and future-proofed.

Common challenges faced when building a brand identity

We typically work through three common challenges with our clients:

  • Stakeholder alignment & engagement
  • Working within global brand parameters
  • Activating a global brand with local market nuances.

The Martec recently spoke with three global employer branding leaders who experienced these issues during their Campfire events. These challenges can directly impede the success of your employer brand, so it is important to understand them from the start. 

Stakeholder alignment 

Managing tension or misalignments between teams that own different strands of the corporate or consumer brand identity is one of the most common challenges our clients face. When teams such as Corporate Comms, Brand (corporate or consumer), Employer Marketing, and Internal Comms operate independently, it can sometime seem as though there are conflicting objectives and difficult hurdles to cross.

By starting with the organization’s vision, purpose and strategy – we’re able to help our clients unite the interested parties behind a common goal. Often, this involves educating stakeholders on the distinct but complementary role of the Employer Brand; its power as a business tool and reinforcing that it’s a critical part of a company’s overall comms architecture.

We are fond of saying that the success of a project lives or dies with how well we bring stakeholders with us – and we see time and time again how critical this engagement is to get to a fantastic employer brand that is supported throughout the organization.

Global brand parameters 

Strict brand guidelines focusing on consumer needs (rather than employee needs) is another challenge our clients often face. A creative direction that’s appropriate for consumers often needs to be adapted to engage with existing employees or to attract potential talent. 

Our stakeholder mapping early on helps with this– and when we utilize data and insight from our research program to build a compelling business case – we are often able to find the sweet spot for compliance with the guidelines with a push to differentiate the employer brand where it’s appropriate to.

Global VS local market nuance

Large multi-national clients often face additional challenges due to their complexity, a tendency to decentralization and their reach across markets and cultures.  

Put simply, a one-size-fits-all approach to Employer Branding won’t work for all.

When we’re creating EVPs and the research programs that sit behind them, we look at the multiple challenges faced by business areas, regions, or countries (that will often have their own political, geographical, and economic landscapes). We’ll look at where there are similarities, where there are differences and create a messaging framework that’s compelling and high impact globally – whilst retaining a flexibility to tell stories in a way that’s compatible with local nuance.

The ‘Take and Shape’ Approach 

It is not just HR’s responsibility to activate a global employer brand – it’s for everyone in the whole business.  This means everyone within the organization can be accountable for employer brand consistency – whilst meeting their own needs.

We believe that the simplest way to create a global impact with local flex to use the Take and Shape approach.

This means we provide a range of standardized tools and templates that unify the organization’s employer brand and create consistency – and we augment those with customizable materials and assets that can be flexibly adapted to the regions or business units' unique needs.

Once our toolkits are in place, we create processes for governance using Havas brand guardians and regular check ins with the client.

We ensure that these work across all online and offline channels so that we can create integrated launch and BAU campaigns that are high impact internally and externally.

Engaging employees as advocates 

People ‘buy’ people, and to make those emotional connections with potential and existing talent, we need to place storytelling at the heart of your communications strategy.  

So how do we encourage your people to tell their stories?  They need to understand the promise you’re making to your people, to believe in it, to see how their story aligns, and eventually, to share it with the outside world.

We always use the research phase as an engagement opportunity: asking employees if they’d be willing to share their stories or to volunteer as an official brand ambassador. We also might run competitions to find aspiring content makers who are excited to document their workday, or to share diverse stories that demonstrate the ‘people promise’ in practice. 

Employer brand ambassadors typically create social content and PR. To help them remain engaged, we often certify Employer Brand training content and reward and recognize their efforts on a regular basis.

Measuring the Success of your EVP 

“What will success look like to you?” We ask this simple and helpful question at the beginning of every project we work on. With so many different parameters and combinations of what constitutes success, we find it useful to create bespoke measurement strategies for each of our clients.

We’ll start by looking at the metrics companies are already tracking to create benchmarks (via pulse or engagement surveys, or eNPS). Where no or few data points exist, we’ll recommend ways to create meaningful data to ensure we track and monitor the right progress and track our KPIs. 

On a tactical level, we measure channel and content engagement, careers site visits, application conversions, etc. On a more strategic level, we look more holistically at the overall brand health, not just the impact on talent attraction.  

Our ‘Employer Brand Tracker’ takes into consideration 3 key areas to track progress and impact: 

  • Brand Health: investigating spontaneous versus prompted brand awareness; competitive position and brand associations. 
  • Audience Sentiment: looking at Employer Brand index scores, analytics, and ratings on review sites; social listening to establish sentiment around your brand.   
  • Industry Recognition: we can review industry rankings and awards in key areas of consideration/markets.

We create holistic reports for key stakeholders and report back regularly. By continually reviewing and optimizing our work, we ensure that the Employer Brand is having a true business impact and in the most meaningful way for your organization. 

Interested in learning more about how Havas People can revamp your EVP creative and messaging? Reach out to Elle.Green@themartec.com or Kelly.Estrada@themartec.com. We partner closely with Havas People to personalize the candidate and employee experience with authentic employee stories and will connect you to the right points of contact based on your needs.  

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