Who owns employer branding?
It’s a question being asked with increasing frequency as more organizations recognize the importance of this function and how, if properly executed, it can boost recruiting efforts. But if research is any indication, it’s a question companies are struggling to answer.
In its 2020 Outlook: The Future of Employer Branding report, Universum surveyed more than 2,000 senior executives on their perception of who has accountability for employer branding activities. The results paint a confused picture. 60% felt responsibility for the organization’s employer brand lies with the CEO, which while commendable is also somewhat unrealistic. The average CEO already has more work on their plate than can be accomplished in a day, and adding more isn’t the answer. 37% of respondents felt the Board of Directors should be responsible for employer branding (ummm, no), 32% felt it’s the realm of HR, 29% passed the baton to group heads and 28% deferred to marketing.
Clearly there’s a disconnect as to who owns employer branding activities.
Answering the employer branding question
To get past this roadblock, some proactive organizations have staffed dedicated employer branding divisions, but for many companies this isn’t a feasible investment. This doesn’t mean your employer branding efforts are doomed to a quagmire of confusion and missed opportunities, though. Building an in-house employer branding team from existing resources can provide transparency and ensure your organization is taking a strategic approach to this critical function.
To help get you started, here are the key functions any successful internal employer branding team will need.
Why they should be involved - It starts from the top. Your best-laid employer branding plans will be for naught if they don’t align with where the organization is headed. To succeed, your employer branding team will need visibility into the organization’s goals and expectations.
How they can help - Direction and focus. Before any work begins, senior leadership should provide the employer branding team with guidance in the form of short- and long-term growth plans and any associated staffing needs.
Why they should be involved - Battle-tested experience. Your recruiters and HR team are on the front lines of your recruiting efforts, tasked with selling your company to applicants and passive candidates. They’re answering the tough questions and gaining insight from interviewees every day. Simply put, they know more about your potential candidates than anyone else.
How they can help - Real world feedback. Develop a standardized process for your recruiters to document and share the feedback they receive from candidates with the rest of the team. This is invaluable market research, and should be used to drive your employer branding efforts.
Why they should be involved - They have the right stuff. Your marketing team is tasked with developing the strategies and creative materials that help sell your products and services. Getting your message in front of the right audience at the right time is what they do, and their expertise will lead to employer branding materials that create the experience you’re after.
How they can help - Put feedback into action. Utilize the feedback gathered by your recruiting team to develop targeted candidate personas and craft compelling marketing materials that speak to the wants and needs of potential applicants.
Why they should be involved - Numbers don’t lie. 79% of recent job seekers used online resources and information in their latest employment search, and 34% reported it was the most important resource they utilized. Your employer brand has to be online.
How they can help - Complete integration. Given the importance of online recruiting, your employer branding efforts must be tailored for the online world. Your IT team should have a say at every step of the process, ensuring your efforts are developed in a digital-friendly manner.
Not having the resources to staff a dedicated team doesn’t mean your employer brand has to suffer. Creating a team from existing resources can answer the “Who owns employer branding?” question once and for all, but like any other working group, success will depend upon setting clear objectives, bringing together the right mix of skillsets and developing a plan to effectively measure results. Having the right people in your corner will make the job much easier.