Saturday, 24 January 2009

The Changing Context of Employer Branding

This post is prompted by a number of initiatives we're involved in that deal directly or indirectly with the changing context of employer branding (EB) and HR (see next paragraph). It is also prompted by direct communication from a colleague who has just posted an item on 'reverse employer branding' on This post is definitely worth reading because it points out that the reputation of 'toxic' firms can spillover to their employees, so making them less employable in the future because of their association with the unethical/inept practices of their leaders. This must certainly be a worry to those employees/managers in some of the major UK/US financial institutions that have had to be rescued or allowed to collapse over the last few months.

To return to the initiatives we're lucky enough to be part of (and do a bit of advertising for the Centre), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has just promoted two important initiatives in this field. The first is their 'Shaping the Future' programme, the Scottish edition of which we are launching with them in Glasgow on March 27th with a working lunch for an invited group of HR directors to consider the future of HR in the current economic conditions. The second is an advisory board established by Rebecca Clake of the CIPD to examine the role of EB research in the current recessionary context. In addition to these initiatives, we're also running a one day seminar we're running with the Institute of Employment Studies in Glasgow on EB in changing contexts on April, 16th.

So what does all of this activity add up to? Well, all will have to re-visit EB with a critical hat on because it was largely a product of the talent management agenda and employee shortages of a few years ago. For some people, EB and recruitment were almost synonomous. Therefore, what is the future for EB when talent management takes a downturn?

A few months ago I posted some thoughts on that issue following a series of seminars in Australia, to which I still adhere no matter how deep the recession bites. However, I'm working with two sets of colleagues in Australia and Canada on different projects that may have something more to say about this question. The Australian project, with colleagues from Macquarie (Paul Gollan) and Monash (Kerry Grigg) and supported by ADCORP and other organizations, is examining the impact of EB not only on the talent management/human capital agenda, but also on the creation of social capital (creating strong organizational identities and creating strong bridges/networks among people) and organizational capital (e.g. Web 2.0 - our CIPD report on this comes out in a few weeks). Surprisingly, some excellent research has shown that both of these forms of capital have more of an impact on innovation than human capital/talent. The Canadian/British project is a new book I'm editing with Ron Burke and Cary Cooper on Corporate Repuations for Gower. A key focus of this book is on managing reputation risk, which leads me back to the opening comments on reputation spillover and reverse employer branding. The more I think about this issue, the more important I think it is to investigate. So thanks to CV, the author of Authentic Organizations, for raising this issue. Any comments, experiences, examples would be greatly appreciated to help inform our events and research.


Anonymous said...

I suppose a prime example of employer branding is McDonald's, they took what was essentially a bad brand - the term "McJob" and turned it around. They put adverts up telling you about the salary and benefits you get from being promoted to manager, followed by "not bad for a McJob". I think it must have worked - although I'm still put off from working there because I know I'll just eat McDonalds and die of a heart attack before I'm 40!!!

James said...

Saw this and thought it might be of interest to you, Graeme. James.

Graeme's HR Blog said...

James, many thanks for this helpful reference

Dr. Arup said...

I feel reputation management and branding matter is more important today than that of past. We should always think of HR as aspects. Let us think creation of humane organisation.