In no particular order, here's what those of us who help companies identify and manage their employer brand—have seen in 2011.
1. Leadership is getting involved.
It used to be that any employer brand project started and stopped in the talent acquisition department with little participation from or exposure to company leadership. That's changed. Executive sponsorship is the norm and the expectation is that leadership not only supports the engagement but participates in it as well.
2. China rising
The pronunciation of the Mandarin word for hot is "ruh" and that's one way to describe the interest in employer brand work that centers on or includes China. In 2011, employers from a variety of sectors focused their efforts on determining their employment value proposition for this growing market now being referred to as the world's workshop.
3. Research is at the core
Employers want to see that the employer brand is grounded in market research that is soundly designed and executed. While this may seem like a given, it wasn't always this way, with many organizations cooking up their employer brand strategy in a vacuum.
4. I want my EVP
Marketing practices continue to infuse talent acquisition. This is particularly evident in the adoption of the value proposition as the centerpiece of articulating the employer brand. And it's not just being applied externally—it's being communicated to employees as well.
5. Training is embraced
Employer brand managers want everyone involved in communicating with candidates to understand the basis for a company's positioning. Whether it's a train-the-trainer initiative or a series of workshops, more employers are arriving at a one-voice approach through learning initiatives centered on the employer brand.
6. The corporate brand and employer brand are getting closer
And it's not by simply dictating that the employer brand reflect the corporate brand. It's more of each feeding the other. The employer brand naturally leads to the delivery of the corporate brand by employees, while the corporate brand is helping with attraction and retention.
7. The market is being segmented
Employers want a unified value proposition, but understand that the market itself is not unified. Aspects of the value proposition are being dialed up or down when communicated to certain job categories, geographies, cultures, career stages or even demographics.
8. Multi-department approach
Marketing is involved. So is Organizational Development. And let's not leave out Internal Communications. Often, Comp & Benefits are also at the table. In the same way that employer brand engagements are moving up the corporate hierarchy, they're also cross-pollinating beyond Talent Acquisition. The result: better outcomes and greater acceptance.
9. The practice is entrenched
In 2001, very few organizations were thinking about how to develop and manage their employer brands. Now, if a company isn't actively managing its employer brand, the organization is at least cognizant that it should. Employer brand management is not a trend – it's a practice that is expanding in both utilization and approach.
10. It's more than advertising
Sure, that's how it started, but today's employer brand managers are pushing the brand inside as well as outside the organization. And, it's not just through manufactured communication but also in an organic manner with employees as the foot soldiers.
11. The social network has yet to be fully tapped
And speaking of employees as the carriers of the employer brand message, not enough is being done in this realm. This has to be more than naming brand ambassadors. Until employers utilize brand-broadcasting strategies that embrace each employee as a voice of the organization, providing them with the tools, strategies and time required, there will be a big gap in the promotion of the brand.