A global retail brand
needs a local employer
H & M Canada
In early 2015, retail competion was heating up for H&M Canada with new market entrants like Target crossing the border from the US and brands such as UNIQLO, the Printer Group and Joe Fresh all expanding.
H&M is one of the world’s largest fashion companies – a global, dynamic and customer-focused workplace that employs 148,000 people across the world. H&M’s business concept is to offer fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way. The retailer currently offers customers inspiring shopping experiences in 61 markets, as well as through a growing shop online.
In early 2015, retail competition was heating up for H&M Canada with new market entrants like Target crossing the border from the US and brands such as UNIQLO, the Primer Group and Joe Fresh all expanding. In order to attract – and keep – the best Canadian retail talent, H&M wanted to ensure they were standing out as a preferred place to work amongst their key talent segments.
At the same time, H&M Canada was focused on their journey as one of Canada’s best employers. Engagement results were strong overall; however, like many companies there was an opportunity to listen as an employer and communicate with teams in a more impactful way. Employee feedback was leveraged to ensure people felt recognized and appreciated by various levels of the company.
H&M Canada’s recruitment efforts were spread across a variety of channels including job fairs and advertisements with results lacking consistency. Laura Hammond, Country HR Manager for H&M Canada said:
“With a variety of recruitment channels to choose from we were constantly trying new tools to attract qualified candidates. Spreading our recruitment dollars across a variety of platforms yielded inconsistent results in terms of number and quality of applicants. In partnering with employer brand consulting firm Blu Ivy Group, we were able to align their holistic approach to employer branding by driving engagement, communications and talent attraction in a way that went beyond typical recruitment methods.”
H&M Canada partnered with Blu Ivy Group to conduct employee value proposition research, identify opportunities to better align the employee experience and then build the activation and communication strategy.
Internal talent from across Canada participated in workshops and interviews with management and leaders brought additional perspective to marry the perceptions of employees with the business strategy. External research was conducted to better understand how H&M Canada was perceived as an employer, as well as their behaviours and preferences as job seekers
H&M Canada integrated the local EVP work into their existing recruitment campaign for the Canadian markets after the initial launch to take full advantage of the shared opportunity (see figure 1). It was important to position the employee value
proposition as an authentically Canadian message that would
resonate with employees and local talent. In order to drive
Today, H&M Canada utilizes custom talent personas to support recruitment. These personas speak to talent in a way that is engaging and connects with the right people in a meaningful way. Personas ensure messaging hits the mark based on the specific role and geography. The results clearly indicate the impact of employer brand on engagement and talent attraction.
Figure 1: H&M Canada Employee value proposition
How it came to life
Digital and social
With a strong customer fan following on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, H&M Canada had an opportunity to harness the social space to externally introduce social media content (see figure 2 and 3). Custom content featuring employees and their stories was developed and shared across social media channels.
The key element of the employee value proposition was to ensure that internal and external talent shared a consistent understanding of what makes H&M Canada unique as an employer and a great place to work.
HR and recruitment materials were updated to reflect employer brand messaging, inclusive of offer packages and refreshed career booths. Recruitment networking events were launched at local venues close to retail outlets, called “Interview Us”. Talent was encouraged to come in and ask questions of H&M, instead of the traditional job interview. This refreshed approach drove high participation and yielded a significant improvement in the quality of candidates being considered.
Figure 2 H&M Social Media Campaign
Figure 3 H&M Social Media Campaign
Thought leadership marketing
The external launch included media coverage in one of the country’s largest newspapers. In the media, the storytelling came from Country Manager Toni Galli as it is critical to show that employer branding is an effort driven from the highest levels of the organization.
H&M Canada prioritized public speaking opportunities for the Human Resources Manager in order to further share the employer brand story at a number of HR and retailer events. Attendees were brought along the employer brand journey and shared in what the initiative has meant to the organization and its people.
The internal activation plan
H&M Canada wanted the buy-in from their staff since they are their strongest brand ambassadors. In addition to being the stars of the employer brand work, staff needed to participate in the metric success of the campaign. Employees were asked to support their co-workers and help take the social media exposure to a new level by liking and sharing posts – this didn’t require any convincing. The teams were excited and felt honoured to see themselves and their friends on the official Facebook and Twitter page of H&M Canada.
Employees not only engaged and shared the employer brand content, but they began to co-create content along the same theme. Instagram was a preferred channel for employees to share photos and comments about their work experience and a high percentage of the team got involved (see figure 3)!
Figure 4: H&M Social Media Campaign
What we learned
Tremendous success with social media
The foundational work conducted by H&M Canada prior to the employer brand launch was the critical piece to inform their overall efforts. H&M was able to craft social media content to resonate with the right people by utilizing candidate research insights to understand what matters most to key talent segments, how they looked for work and what social media platforms they used.
Internal sentiment and results
Employees absolutely loved being part of the employer brand content and marketing strategy. The team began sharing and liking the content actively online. The engagement with employer branding content illustrated that fans and followers were taking an active interest in this content. The team began to create their own employer brand content on their favourite social channels, lending additional authenticity to the work.
Today, employees are more engaged, the content is differentiated and compelling, and receiving significant awareness in the Canadian retail industry.
Key learnings from H&M Canada
It’s important to recognize the difference and fluidity between employer branding and recruitment and. H&M Canada saw the value in opening themselves up to the general public in a new and exciting way that was fundamentally rooted in research.
They took the time to listen to the perspectives of employees from across the country and reflect on their values as an organization to continuously attract top talent. By building a holistic activation with a strong call to action, not only can internal and external talent understand the unique opportunities H&M provides, but from a business perspective, clear metrics can be extracted for analysis.