Budapest - April 26-28, 2017
The attendee list read like the who’s who of the corporate world: Swarovski, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Randstad Sourceright, Heineken, Ferrero, KPMG, Virgin Media, Deloitte - and the list goes on. All these companies have one thing in common: they recognize the importance of their employer brand and employ people directly responsible for developing, nurturing and advancing it.
Close to 400 of those employer brand professionals from around the globe came together at the 2nd annual World Employer Branding Day which took place at the historic Corvin Cinema in the heart of Budapest from April 26-28, 2017. Randstad Sourceright served as the Global Community Partner, supporting the organization of the event, providing content and critical input leading up to the conference, and delivering one of the keynote speeches on the day of the summit.
Driven by the success of last year’s inaugural conference in Prague, head organizer and CEO of Employer Brand International, Brett Minchington, upped the ante this year by having some of the most recognizable global brands take the stage to share their stories.
Here are some of the common themes explored throughout the conference:
Driving innovation through technology
Facebook’s Employer Brand Manager EMEA, Caoimhe Shepherd, stressed the importance of technological advancement for community building and strengthening employer brand, a theme running through the majority of presentations at the conference. From Facebook’s new 360° camera office tours to using Facebook Live for Q&A’s with grad students or HR managers, the social network giant is constantly exploring new ways of showcasing and communicating an authentic employer brand.
Virgin Media’s revamped application portal Volt, which tracks candidate experience and satisfaction throughout the application process, and SSC Heroes’ reimagined video application experience similarly showed that old conventions around application and selection methods are on the way out. The candidate is the new customer and big brands especially are balancing social media influenced expectations versus the reality of candidate experiences. Overall, the new candidate world is more flexible, mobile, adventurous and aesthetically interesting than ever before, with automation driving new technologies.
Automated yet personalized
Automation, however, does not mean robots are taking over recruiting or employer branding. On the contrary, Randstad Sourceright’s Employer Brand director, Steven Brand, reassured the audience that “robots can be people too” during his keynote speech. “Or more accurately – robots and automated technologies will only ever be as successful as their human interpreters and users. It’s all about finding the right technology for the right purpose operated by the right people. The goal is to free up time to make interactions ultimately more personal and more human, not less.”
Automation cannot come at the cost of personalization, and employer branding more than ever before is influenced by identifying and responding to micro-target groups. The “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work anymore, not for recruiting and not for employer branding. Matching the right person with the right job at the right time has become the goal and some brands are looking for creative ways to approach this challenge.
Heineken’s Global People Manager, Alfonso Garcia, presented a high quality, interactive video adventure that lets candidates make their own choices of how to push the story forward. At the end of the journey, their personality type is matched with existing jobs at Heineken. The sleek campaign resulted in doubling Heineken’s application number after launch and raised its monthly new LinkedIn follower numbers by 60%.
Reimagining the Workspace
In the new world of work, the Workspace itself is becoming a topic of discussion as well. With an emerging freelancer economy on the horizon in Europe and increasingly flexible working demands for employees, workspaces are being transformed into home offices or activity-based offices like the ones at Microsoft in Sweden. Helena Sjoerberg, Microsoft Sweden HR Lead, shared the tech company’s new and improved office layout: library rooms with ‘no sound policies’ are available next to group rooms with pub atmosphere or a forest room for a more relaxed work mood.
This is an indicator of companies starting to cater to the more interactive and technologically connected working ways of incoming millennials and the new demands of global projects and teams.
Employer Branding for tomorrow
There are still a lot of opportunities for employer brand professionals to position themselves within their own company as leaders of strategic relevance. Talent referral, employee retention and employee advocacy all strongly rely on an employer brand that everybody at the company understands and buys into. Candidates are looking for an authentic message and view into life at a potential employer, beyond the glossy picture on a career site. A company’s employer brand can be amplified, supported and shaped by technology and innovative, creative processes – but it needs to first and foremost be defined by the real people working at the company at the moment, so that expectations and experiences line up for everyone, from candidate to employee.
The vast diversity of conference participants and represented companies confirmed the trend we are seeing in the market – employer branding has arrived at the strategic table. Formerly a stepchild of either marketing or HR, employer branding has grown into its own. It has become too big and complex to remain a side project for any one department. As highlighted by Lindsay Ross, until recently employer brand and attraction lead for Tommy Hilfiger, IT and technology can be just as important for successful employer brand management as marketing. The biggest challenge is to recognize these new structural and organizational demands and involve all functions and channels for a strong employer brand unit. Only then can employer branding effectively and consistently be delivered across every channel and platform to meet today’s talent demands.