Too often organizations spend precious time, money and resources on developing their employer brand or an EVP, only for it to just sit there and not get leveraged properly to drive results. Not only that, but many organizations continue to focus on using their employer brand only to attract external talent, which is a major missed opportunity because your employer brand is also critical for engaging and retaining your current employee base too!
To dig deeper into this, I moderated a panel at the CandEs Virtual Conference on how to activate your employer brand internally with Charlotte Marshall, Global Employer Brand Leader at Danaher, and Cheyenne Sexton, Manager, Global Employer Brand at TE Connectivity.
We discussed everything from creating employer brand champions to strategies you can use to activate your employer brand internally. I learned so much from these savvy practitioners that I want to provide you with just a few of the insights they shared so that you can start to activate your employer brand internally. If you want to hear the entire discussion, watch the full video below.
Rally Note: You can still register for the #TheCandEs Virtual Conference On Demand to watch all the sessions.
Before we dive in, let’s meet our experts and review what activation is and why it’s important for the success of your employer brand initiatives.
Meet the experts:
Charlotte Marshall is the Global Employer Brand Leader at Danaher. Charlotte is an award-winning employer brand expert with a track record of building and launching 6 different Fortune 500 employer brands. Charlotte is also the co-author of Give & Get Employer Branding.
Cheyenne is the Manager, Global Employer Brand at TE Connectivity. Before joining TE, Cheyenne led the employer branding initiatives at Harman International where she built the employer brand from its beginning phases to launching and sustaining it globally.
What does “employer brand activation” mean?
Cheyenne provides great insight into how she frames with the stakeholders at her organization:
“When I’m talking to employees and leaders from different parts of the business, I frame it by saying that “activation” means bringing your employer brand to life.
When you’re trying to bring your employer brand to life, it’s important to focus on inspiring engagement. Whether it’s testing out messaging with your employees, or making sure they have the right tools and resources to champion your brand — the goal is to bring them into the journey.
It’s also really important to be transparent and provide opportunities for continuous engagement through your communications — which is so important now more than ever in the virtual workplace.”
Why is it important that companies activate their employer brands internally?
According to Charlotte, there’s actually more power in activating it internally and reminding your employees why they should stay. Particularly in a really good economy, there’s so much competition for in-demand talent and so much movement within companies trying to retain that talent, it’s easy to forget that the same messages that you use externally also have the power to galvanize, empower and remind people why you’re such a great place to work.
Additionally, starting with an internal activation can help you get some quick wins and insights before you go external. It’s like a smart test audience. If you’ve built your value propositions correctly, they should be bulletproof. Starting from within can help you see if your employer brand is embodied and embraced and what sort of advocacy you can gain from it.
10 Ways to active your employer brand internally
1. Build an emotional connection with your audience
The first thing that you want to do when you’re activating internally, or externally for that matter, is to remember that you want to build an emotional connection with your audience. When you can activate something that makes people feel something and increase affinity, then they’re going to start to have a connection with your brand based on your values and shared beliefs, and that’s a really good first impression.
Charlotte shared a great example of this when she told a story about the time she activated an employer brand at a company called Life Technologies:
“I was looking for employee stories to tell. Since Life Technologies was a 10,000-person biotech firm that did a lot of work in the life sciences and the DNA sequencing space, we wanted strong examples that related to this work specifically. I had come across the story of a man named Herman Atkins, who had been wrongly accused of a crime and had spent 10 years in Folsom Prison and at the time he was committed, DNA analysis didn’t exist. So, there was no way for him to prove his innocence.
Throughout his incarceration, Herman had been writing the Innocence Project, a nonprofit in New York that helps people in his situation. And when DNA testing became available, they retested his evidence and in fact, found he had been wrongfully accused and he was released from prison. When I heard this story I called the Innocence Project and I had them pull out the case files to find out if one of our products was used in the DNA testing and sure enough it was! I then got in touch with Herman and I said, “we’ve got to tell your story.”
We invited him to speak at one of our all-hands meetings. We were also able to find one of the scientists that had helped create the legacy version of that product and we invited him to the meeting as well. Normally, you would think about sharing Herman’s story externally with candidates and customers, but I said, “let’s start internally. Let’s invite Herman in to talk to our workforce.” And as you can imagine, after that meeting everyone went back to their desks feeling so motivated because of the result of the work that we did.”
The takeaway? Look for moments like this. While not everybody has a “Herman Atkins,” you do have something that’s bigger than why you’re there every day to remind people why they do what they do. By simply sharing these stories internally, like at a town hall meeting, you’ll be able to get buy-in from your organization.
2. Provide employer brand training opportunities for your employees
When Cheyenne and her team were launching the employer brand at Harmon, they created a training program to empower employees and help them understand the new messaging. This training allowed them to showcase what their new EVP was and what it meant. And not just the classic “at Harman, we blah, blah, blah,” but instead got more into the personal message — how do they translate it to potential candidates? How do they translate it to their teams? How can they be part of it?
Cheyenne and her team started out by making it a required training for specific audiences, but then it quickly became one of the first resources they gave anyone who joined their different networks or wanted to learn more about the employer brand. And understanding that everyone has a lot going on, they made it a quick 15 to 20 minute training session!
3. Take your employees on a journey
If you want your employees to buy into your new employer brand, then you have to make sure that they see how they’re part of the larger story. Take them on a journey by engaging them throughout various touchpoints such as: creating an employer brand ambassador program, email newsletters, collaboration calls, company intranet messaging as well as events!
4. Organize an employer brand launch event
Create a moment to celebrate your new EVP. There are so many different ways to approach this — you can make it educational and teach people what it is, or you can get your executive sponsor talking about and champion it or even send a little swag in the mail. But a kickoff date will make it feel more formal. And you can take this opportunity to provide a little bit of recognition to those involved in creating the employer brand and celebrate all their hard work!
5. Create a referral campaign
This is a great approach if you don’t have a lot of budget. Charlotte mentioned how she leveraged this at Thermo Fisher:
“We had a great referral program, so we rebranded it and pushed it out. Everybody was interested in making that extra cash, but having it take on a new look and feel made it more visible and exciting. And it only costs updating a couple of digital profiles, files or assets!”
6. Create a culture book
Think about everybody being given a culture book on their first day or everybody being given it around the kickoff date to remind people what you stand for and how you can champion and embody the elements and the values that are within your organization. Netflix is known for having a great culture guide if you’re looking for inspiration here.
7. Create an employer brand cheat sheet
This is particularly important when it comes to recruiter adoption. Think about handing someone a scalpel and then asking them to perform an appendectomy — it can be a little bit scary and overwhelming without the right knowledge or training involved!
Charlotte shares that when she first tried to roll out an employer brand, she was met with a lot of questions and confusion like “what do you want me to do with this? How do I do this? Charlotte, I’m not a marketer. I don’t think this way.”
It’s your job to make it easy for them, and you can do that by creating a cheat sheet that outlines actions people can take in the first week, the first 30 days, the key messages to use with candidates and what to share on social.
8. Provide some structure, but also encourage some flare
In Cheyenne’s experience, this is particularly important with global or heavily matrixed organizations. Following a structure can help you remain consistent, but you’ll also want your efforts to be locally relevant. “It’s important to allow your employees and team members to execute and activate in a way they see fit.”
9. Focus on authenticity and activate your champions
It’s important to remember to keep your people and what they like and don’t like about your company culture at the forefront at all times. One great way to do that is to find the people in your organization who are already championing you organically and get them involved with your process!
10. Align with the business and integrate it into the employee life cycle
Cheyenne says that there are many opportunities throughout the employee journey to infuse your employer brand — for example, find ways to activate through your onboarding process, or even your employee performance review. Why can’t we be reviewed on our employer brand values or EVP? Continue to think about ways to infuse your brand into the full employee lifecycle at your company.
We hope these tips are helpful as you strive to bring your employer brand to life both externally and internally. Remember, your employer brand is most effective when it is built from the inside out, so look to your partners across HR and internal communications, leadership teams as well as your own employees to ensure that you can activate your employer brand for high impact. #yougotthis
Rally note: Download a free chapter of Charlotte’s new book, Give & Get Employer Branding.