A Magnet for Talent.
A Catalyst for Change.

About Employer Branding

Sometimes, when I open Microsoft Word, I think of Clippy and a feeling of cosmic horror rises up in me. Until 2003, the annoying and useless little paperclip was a digital assistant that was supposed to help with the operation of Office programs. Microsoft developers affectionately referred to it internally as TFC: The f****** clown. Today we have ChatGPT instead of Clippy. We also have digitalization, automation and a small demographic earthquake, including completely new lifestyles and values. How we work is changing radically.

What we often forget: The faster and more technology-driven the world of work turns, the more important people become. They are the ones who use their skills and creativity to use the new tools to generate added value. Not the other way around. And because most tasks today are too complex to be solved alone, a corporate culture is needed in which these people can grow together, feel comfortable and work productively.

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."

John F. Kennedy

A Shift in Power

For many, however, the daily commute feels more like a walk to Mordor. Almost all satisfaction surveys in recent years show scorched earth between employees and employers. This is also due to the fact that common work paradigms such as attendance culture, rigid hierarchies, control instead of trust and overtime as a status symbol were institutionalized in the days of the baby boomers and Gen X. Today, however, these artifacts no longer correspond to the ideas of a fulfilling and productive working life. The fact that organizations still cling to these paradigms is bad for talent and fatal for companies.

In recent years, the balance of power between employers and employees has shifted considerably. Good people often don't even apply for standard job advertisements. Of course they don't. Qualified applicants are increasingly self-confident and demanding in today's working world. They expect far more from employers than an attractive salary or good working conditions. They expect a corporate culture that matches their values and attitudes. They want to be able to identify with the company they work for and feel comfortable in its culture. Companies that cannot get to the heart of these aspects convincingly can hardly expect to be attractive to highly qualified employees and will find it more than difficult to attract the best talent with standard blah-blah. And if they are dissatisfied with their current job, they will simply look for a new one. After all, the chances of finding a job that better suits their wishes and needs are very good in today's working world.

Companies, on the other hand, struggle with high staff turnover, low morale within the company and the resource-intensive search for new employees. This has a surprisingly direct impact on the company's success and can lead to a loss of expertise and experience, damage to customer relationships and even lower motivation and productivity among the remaining employees. Companies that want to be successful today must therefore learn to think differently. After all, responding to new market needs is no longer an optional extra, but part of the basics of corporate management. Mordor was yesterday. Employer branding may not be a panacea, but it is a key component in leading organizations into the future.

Young and highly qualified employees today expect far more than an attractive salary. ©

"The War for Talent is over. Talent won."

Tim Ryan, U.S. Chairmen von PWC

A Moon to Guide 
Them All

On a sunny day in September 1962, John F. Kennedy proclaimed the race to the moon in front of over 40,000 people in Houston with the following words:

[…] We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win […]

In his speech, the then US President painted an ambitious picture of the future that united and inspired an entire country. An idea that people wanted to follow, that released and bundled new energies. An idea that communicated a "shared purpose" and "shared values". And it showed that there is a lot of magic in such ideas. Because they show us goals and paths that are bigger than ourselves and motivate us to act together. That's how you land on the moon. That's how you inspire people. That's how contemporary employer branding works.

A bold and differentiated employer brand and a healthy culture attract and retain talent. ©

Shaping Culture. Attracting Talent.

However, developing an employer brand that gives an organization a new direction and new magnetism is not entirely trivial. You first have to take an intensive and honest look at yourself and clarify fundamental questions: Who are we? What defines us? What drives us? And what do we want to change in the world? A process that must be thought through from the inside out and hand in hand with the corporate brand. After all, the employer brand is the facet of the corporate brand that focuses on potential and current employees.

Once you have identified a "common why" and "common values" that resonate within the company and that you want to strengthen in the future, you have found the core of your employer brand. In the best-case scenario, this has so much esprit that it creates new drive, new orientation and a collective sense of unity. This in turn leads to happier and more motivated employees who are more productive and fulfilled in their work - without a culture of command and control.

A strong and differentiated employer brand and a healthy culture can also create a strong magnetism in the labor market that attracts and retains talent. Money and benefits are important. Sure, very much so. But most people also want to make a difference with their work. They want to experience meaning and significance. With a strong employer brand, you don't just attract any people, but people who share your goals and values and represent a good cultural fit with your company.

"Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing."

The HubSpot Culture Code

For an employer brand to be effective, it must be made visible and tangible both internally and externally. ©

Have a Great Journey

In order for the employer brand to develop its full effect, its core must be consciously made visible and tangible. This involves systematically examining all points of contact that a company has with applicants along a candidate and employee journey. Problems, strengths and weaknesses are analyzed. And you look for potential to bring the central messages of the employer brand to life at all points of contact - through stories, symbols, language, artifacts and rituals.

The candidate journey refers to all measures from the first contact with a potential applicant to the signing of the employment contract. The main aim here is to attract the attention of potential applicants, get them excited about the company and convince them to choose your company. The employer brand should be reflected in each of these steps - whether it's an Instagram post that arouses applicants' curiosity, the career portal that informs and inspires or benefits that ultimately convince them.

The employee journey describes all contact points from onboarding to employee engagement and development through to leaving the company. This part of the journey is about systematically anchoring the employer brand in the company. For example, the values defined in the employer brand can be used as a yardstick in feedback meetings. Or the values can be translated into clear principles that provide orientation in everyday working life, as Amazon has successfully demonstrated with its Leadership Principles. The possibilities are diverse and range all the way to branded pencils and paper clips.

Speaking of paperclips: In the end, what can we learn from a tragic virtual assistant like Clippy that has driven millions of people mad? Perhaps that sometimes it's good to reinvent yourself. Because, as we all know, change is the only constant in life. But that's probably not a great insight either. Thanks again for nothing, Clippy.

Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

Dolly Parton

Patrick Greimel, Senior Brand Strategist ©

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