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Employer branding CIPD factsheet

Revised December 2013

In this factsheet

What is employer branding?

Why employer branding is important for HR

Employer branding and mergers and acquisitions

How organisations can benefit from developing an employer brand

How to develop an employer brand

The value proposition and employee segmentation

CIPD viewpoint

Further reading

What is employer branding?


The term employer branding describes how an organisation markets what it has to offer to potential and
existing employees. Marketers have developed techniques to help attract customers, communicate with
them effectively and maintain their loyalty to a consumer brand. Employer branding involves applying a
similar approach to people management.
Our Guide to employer branding suggests the following definition of an employer brand: ...a set of
attributes and qualities, often intangible, that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind
of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture.

Go to our Guide on employer branding

A strong employer brand should connect an organisations values, people strategy and HR policies and
be linked to the company brand.

Why employer branding is important for HR

Writing in our Research Insight Employer branding: the latest fad or the future of HR?, Shirley Jenner and
Stephen Taylor of Manchester Metropolitan University Business School suggest there are four main
reasons why the concept of employer branding has become prominent in recent years. They identify
these as: brand power, credibility, employee engagement and the prevailing labour market conditions.

Go to the Research Insight

In the last two decades, branding has become a central concept in organisational and social life. Many
HR professionals have chosen to embrace the language and techniques of branding to help enhance
their strategic influence and credibility, and although the recruitment proposition was the starting point for
many organisations forays into employer branding. today many recognise the value of a branding
approach to the whole employee lifecycle as they seek to build an engaged workforce. See our factsheet
for more information on engagement.

Go to our Employee engagement factsheet

Is employer brand still a relevant concept?


Many organisations initial employer branding efforts took place against a background of tight labour
market conditions, employers were competing fiercely for talent in a context of low unemployment and
skills shortages. However, in uncertain economic times, employer brand remains a relevant concept.
In the wake of the global financial crisis, many organisations are recognising the business benefits and
opportunities that can develop from embedding a responsible and sustainable ethos into the organisation
and employer brand. Our Talent and changing values thought piece (part of the Talent forward series)
also highlights an increasing desire for individualism and less trust and loyalty to organisations,
(particularly among younger employees) which presents an important challenge.

Go to Responsible and sustainable business: HR leading the way

Find out about our Talent Forward series

Our quarterly Employee Outlook survey covers the impact of the economic climate. In tough times,
organisationsneed to motivate and engage existing employees as well as make themselves an appealing
destination for potential future talent. In a climate of job insecurity, they also need to tempt candidates for
key positions away from roles they perceive as safe in their current organisations. Businesses making
employees redundant will need to consider how they minimise damage to their reputation as an employer
and consider the impact on survivors still with the company.

Find out more about our Employee Outlook series

Our report Social technology, social business? emphasises the popularity of social media (despite the fact
that people are currently more likely to use it in their personal rather than their professional lives). The use
of social media is only going to increase and this underlines the importance of continued attention to the
employer brand.

View the report

Employer branding and mergers and acquisitions


Mergers and acquisitions have a particularly significant impact on the brand and shake the deal which
exists between the individual and their employer. Many employees are disempowered and may feel they
are working in a job they did not pick, for an organisation they did not choose to work for.
For more information, read our report The impact of mergers and acquisitions on employer brands and for
practical advice and recommendations, CIPD members can use our online tool Your employer brand:
keeping it real through mergers and acquisitions.

Find out more about the report

Go to the online tool

How organisations can benefit from developing an employer brand


An employer brand can be used to help organisations compete effectively in the labour market and drive
employee loyalty through effective recruitment, engagement and retention practices.
All organisations have an employer brand, regardless of whether they have consciously sought to develop
one. Their brand will be based on the way they are perceived as a place to work, for example by wouldbe recruits, current employees and those leaving the organisation.
To be effective, the brand should not only be evident to candidates at the recruitment stage, but should
inform the approach to people management in the organisation. For example, the brand can inform how
the business tackles:

induction

performance management and reward

managing internal communications

promoting effective management behaviours

exits from the organisation.

To deliver benefits, it is important that the employer brand is not merely rhetoric espousing the
organisations values, but is reflective of the actual experience of employees. As our Guide on employer
branding points out "People who like the job they do and the place they work become advocates for it".
An employer brand approach involves research with employees to understand their attitudes and
behaviour, for example, through a staff attitude survey. This employee insight data can inform metrics on
people performance in the organisation, providing an opportunity to demonstrate links to organisation
performance.

How to develop an employer brand


Our employer branding Guide (see link above) gives some more detailed advice and suggestions for
developing an employer brand. It identifes the various stages as:

Discovery - involves research to understand how the employer brand is perceived by various
stakeholders.

Analysis, interpretation and creation - involves using research to help build a clear picture of
what the organisation stands for, offers and requires as an employer its distinctive value
proposition.

Implementation and communication - sees the brand being applied for the first time in the
organisation.

Measurement, maintenance and optimisation - concerned with checking progress and


maintaining momentum.

We have also developed an interactive online tool for CIPD members Employer branding: your online
companion for the journey to help in developing and implementing an employer brand.

Go to the online tool

The value proposition and employee segmentation


As highlighted in the previous section, the value proposition describes what an organisation stands for,
requires and offers as an employer. There is evidence of the influence of the concept of the psychological
contract in the sense the proposition represents the deal between employer and employee.

Go to our factsheet on the psychological contract

Rather than focussing on a single value proposition for the whole organisation, some organisations are
beginning to take a more segmented approach. Employee segmentation is driven by the recognition that
employees, like customers, are not a homogenous group. It can be beneficial to tailor the deal or value
proposition to the needs of a diverse workforce and this can mean emphasising different elements of
the value proposition to different groups of employees or creating subsets of the overall value proposition.

It is possible to segment an organisations workforce in many different ways. Where previously


organisations might have analysed employee satisfaction or engagement data in terms of location and job
type, valuable insights can be gained from looking to segment your workforce based on categories such
as age, lifestyle and attitudes to communication in the organisation. Organisations have used such
approaches, for example, to help them communicate and promote flexible benefits packages reflecting
the different interests and needs of different parts of the workforce. Some are now moving on to using
segmented reward approaches for different segments of an organisations workforce, for example, sales,
executives, call centre, technical support, etc, in terms of base, variable pay, benefits and non-financial
reward polices.
Our survey report Gen up: how the four generations work, produced jointly with Penna, highlights the
importance of understanding different generations attitudes and preferences in the workforce. It identifies
the opportunity for organisations to consider (in addition to their generic value proposition) what the
value proposition for Veterans, Babyboomers, GenX and GenY might look like. However, this research
also points out the potential danger of stereotyping, which is one of the dangers to be aware of in tackling
employee segmentation.

Go to the report

Whether to promote a single employer brand (and value proposition) is also a consideration for
international organisations. For example, while they may wish to create global brand values, there might
need to be to be some local interpretation of these to cater for the diversity of cultural needs locally.

CIPD viewpoint
Employer branding is a useful tool to help organisations differentiate what they have to offer in the labour
market, and recruit, retain and engage the people they need to succeed. Just as marketers seek to
understand their customers, HR people will benefit from gaining employee insight through methods such
as employee attitude surveys and focus groups. This insight should inform the HR strategy, influence how
internal communications are handled and help in the design of effective people management initiatives.
Employer branding presents HR people with an opportunity to learn from some of the techniques of
marketing and apply them to people management. New roles have started to emerge in some

organisations which draw on skill sets from both disciplines. It is important that HR works collaboratively,
for example with colleagues in marketing, public relations, internal communications and corporate
responsibility, to share expertise and reap maximum benefits from developing an employer brand.
The popularity of social media makes for increased transparency about the experiences of individuals as
they interact with an organisation which underlines the importance of continued attention to the employer
brand.

Further reading
Books and reports
INCOMES DATA SERVICES. (2012) Employer branding. HR studies. London: IDS.
ROSETHORN, H. (2009) The employer brand: keeping faith with the deal. Aldershot: Gower.
Visit the CIPD Store to see all our priced publications currently in print.

Journal articles
DODD, L. (2011) Bringing a more inclusive approach to internal branding. Strategic Communication
Management. Vol 15, No 9, November. pp32-35.
ERICKSON, T. and GRATTON, L. (2007) What it means to work here. Harvard Business Review. Vol 85,
No 3, March. pp104,106-112.
KENWRIGHT, S. (2013) The value of good values. Training Journal. April. pp45-48.
KUNERTH, B. and MOSLEY, R. (2011) Applying employer brand management to employee engagement.
Strategic HR Review. Vol 10, No 3, pp19-26.