We want to take some time each month to feature insights from fantastic in-house employer brand leaders globally. The truth is, when we started Blu Ivy, very few executives had heard of employer branding. In fact, in-house Employer Brand as a function simply did not exist 10 years ago. It has been truly incredible to observe the explosion of talent in the space in the last 5 years. Today’s in-house employer brand leaders are entrepreneurs, carving out a voice within the organization, proving value and navigating vendors, stakeholders, and a myriad of opportunity every day.
In our first of the series, we feature insights from Chelsea Howard, Director of Employee Experience and Employer Brand at CIBC, one of Canada’s top 5 banks. Chelsea leads the implementation of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) across key experiences and programs & manages the employer brand portfolio, which includes all external talent marketing initiatives at CIBC.
5 Strategic Partnerships to Make Your Employer Brand a Priority, by Chelsea Howard
Eight years as an employer brand and talent marketing consultant for various global brands have given me first-hand experience with the exciting challenges of championing this discipline inside a company. One of the toughest hurdles to overcome is generating awareness for the employer brand, internally. Awareness leads to excitement which leads to executive buy-in and resources. One of the most essential activities an employer brand SME can undertake is ensuring the brand is visible to employees and leaders.
No matter how mature your employer brand strategy, or the size of your organization, there are foundational strategic partnerships within your business you need to cultivate at every stage of your strategy. These stakeholders and partners can support you in generating buzz and momentum around the critical nature of a strong employer brand in today’s talent market.
1. Your Talent Acquisition team will provide you with meaningful talent insights.
Recruiters are the boots-on-the-ground partners you need for deep insight on what talent is saying about your employer brand.
Scorecards for TA teams most often include metrics around time-to-fill and retention; these are key performance indicators for a strong employer brand, too. Partnering with TA to focus on these metrics will help you tell a story with your employer brand reporting. Understanding the journey from the time the talent is introduced to your brand to the time they are hired will help you build a long-term roadmap to share with key decision-makers.
2. The Brand Marketing team can champion employer branding at an enterprise-level
More and more, Brand Marketing teams are partnering to achieve the most impact from employer brand initiatives. Often, customer and employee audiences intersect and vice-versa. A strong partnership with Brand can yield better content and creative for your marketing calendar.
The strength of your partnership with Brand Marketing will dictate the ease with which you are able to execute on external employer brand initiatives. Building the partnership and making time to learn their processes will build your partner’s confidence in you. It will support speedier delivery of your employer brand to the external market. Quicker time-to-market means more campaigns, creative, visibility and awareness, internally and externally.
3. HR Business Partners provide opportunities to connect with key decision-makers for critical talent segments.
HR Business Partners have close relationships with business leaders and are generally the first to know about changes to hiring forecasts and talent needs – essential intel in shaping and evolving your employer brand strategy.
Include HRBPs in your employer branding strategy as stakeholders. Build the partnership so you have the access to business leaders you need to grow awareness and visibility for your employer brand.
4. Analytics teams can offer access to more powerful tools and more meaningful metrics.
Across all industries, the way we measure the effectiveness of our talent attraction efforts still has a long way to go. There are exciting new platforms that use AI and machine learning to give us deep insights about candidate behaviours, our reputation in the job market and the elusive ‘quality of hire’ metric.
When you are ready to implement a measurement strategy for your employer brand, stay close with Analytics’ teams to help align your scorecard to any enterprise measurement guidance that may exist. Analytics may have access to dashboard functionality, software, and platforms you can pilot for talent. If you have Data Scientists on your team, ask about the best way to synthesize your talent data and create a robust measurement strategy. A great way to make waves at senior leadership tables is to demonstrate to Analytics’ experts how the employer brand can uplift the enterprise brand.
5. Communications/Public Relations will make sure you are looped into relevant company news.
Make time to connect with your external Communications team regularly and engage them on any employer brand messaging that is set to go external. Your Communications/Public Relations partners likely have daily briefings with executives to go over wins and potential risks. These are great opportunities to plug any good press from employer branding efforts and, once again, create visibility and awareness.
A secondary benefit to this partnership is access to great content. The social component of your employer branding strategy is driven by meaningful, compelling content that features your employees and offers opportunities to advocate for your company.
You and the PR team can create a symbiotic partnership – you feed their daily new briefings with wins from the employer brand/EVP space and they feed your content strategy with timely, relevant industry wins. Great content means high engagement and visibility.
A note on building partnerships…
The keys to any strong, strategic partnership are regular communication and reciprocity. A coffee chat is a great place to start if you are new to the employer branding space and just starting to build your partnerships within an organization. Focus on 1) learning about your partner’s team 2) introducing yourself, employer branding and some high-level objectives and 3) determining where they see opportunities for mutual support. Make sure you have regular touchpoints to solidify the partnership.
Our working world is rapidly transforming.
Now, more than ever, it is important that companies take an internal inventory of how effective they are at galvanizing their current workforces in support of a compelling employer brand narrative. Looking to the year ahead, employee advocacy, meaningful metrics and impactful storytelling will be key strategic pillars in designing your employer brand to evolve with the shifting talent landscape.
As we explore integrating more of these initiatives into our employer brand roadmaps, it is incredibly important we bring our stakeholders along and strengthen the partnerships that matter to amplify the employer brand internally.
Personally, in 2021 I am looking forward to building more “employee voice” into content strategy through targeted advocacy initiatives. I am also looking forward to exploring emerging metrics and key performance indicators for employer brand and how they can inform holistic measurement strategies.
Closing Thoughts From the Blu Ivy Team
We know that stakeholdering is one of the most essential skills for success in building a strong employer brand. For that reason, we know that what Chelsea and the team have accomplished to date at CIBC is nothing short of spectacular. We’re looking forward to seeing how the CIBC employer brand evolves and what Chelsea is up to next. We hope you found these Master Class insights from Chelsea to be as valuable as we did!