Employer Branding: Whose Responsibility Is It?

Alexandra Levit, People Results
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A recent article from my friends at Recruiter.com asks an intriguing question: who exactly owns the employer brand?

In 2015, employer branding firm Universum released a four-part study, “2020 Outlook: the Future of Employer Branding.” Based on a survey of more than 2000 HR professionals and CEOs from around the world, the study examined where employer branding is today and how employer branding may evolve over the next five years.

Interestingly, the results illustrate that HR and the C-suite can’t seem to agree on who should own employer branding, with 60 percent of CEOs saying it’s their job and 58 percent of HR executives saying it’s theirs.  Uh oh.

This situation rather reminds me of the bystander effect – a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. That’s because every individual assumes that someone else will call for help.

The researchers believe that employer branding efforts are stalemated at many organizations precisely because no one is sure who should be issuing calls to action.  “Since there seems to be a misalignment on who is accountable on both a strategic and operative level, no one has a good answer on how to increase internal engagement on the employer branding topic,” says Jonna Sjövall, vice president of talent strategy and employer branding for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Universum.

The folks at Recruiter.com agree with us: they feel that the divide between HR and the C-suite need not exist and that the efforts of both should be substantially intertwined. CEOs, with counsel from a CHRO, should own employer branding.

What does this look like? Universum’s Sjövall paints a picture in which organizations link employer branding and the overall talent attraction strategy closely to business goals. The driving forces behind employer branding, therefore, are questions like: what do we need what do we need in order to outperform competition and what do we need to be more efficient and to drive our growth? The whole management team should drive the topic together and the talented pros in HR, marketing, and communications will need to coordinate with top managers to execute and innovate.

Who owns employer branding at your company? If it’s more than one group, is everyone aligned on the strategy? Is the outcome effective?

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