• Expert Tips

Employer Branding — Part 9:
Introducing Employer Branding, a Stepping Stone for Cultural Change

  • Expert Tips

Your outdoor facil­i­ties plan­ner works from a remote island … Every morn­ing, you open your laptop at a differ­ent place… Your fore­man handles his tablet more than he does the water level: New Work and digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion have long entered the more tradi­tion­al indus­tries, e.g. the construc­tion and real estate busi­ness. At the same time, the trans­for­ma­tion is a neces­si­ty just as much as it is a welcome occa­sion for enter­pris­es to devel­op a new self-image as an employ­er and to trans­form this into employ­er brand­ing. In last year’s Valdivia Expert Tip, we have already present­ed a number of ideas on intro­duct­ing employ­er brand­ing. This time, it is most­ly about the method­ol­o­gy as the under­ly­ing success factor for the project – rang­ing from tips on work­ing groups to a detailed report on expe­ri­ences straight out of the industry’s reality.

The Psycho­log­i­cal Foundation

An effec­tive employ­er brand relies on the accep­tance and the commit­ment of every­body involved – from corpo­rate exec­u­tives and middle manage­ment to the entire team. Only then can it contribute to the stabil­i­ty and resilience of your busi­ness activ­i­ty volume from with­in and attract inter­est­ing appli­cants from the outside. Impor­tant key features, such as appre­ci­a­tion, diver­si­ty or flat hier­ar­chy, do not meet with the approval and under­stand­ing of every­body involved. Even those who support these changes some­times find it hard to put all the aspects into prac­tice in the midst of every­day busi­ness routine.

In an inter­view, corpo­rate cultur­al change expert Sebas­t­ian Purps-Pardigol lists the prereq­ui­sites of a mind­set for a success­ful project of the type: staff members want to be an active part of the change, their ideas to be heard, to receive fair feed­back and to gener­al­ly feel connect­ed with the enter­prise and the change they are facing.

A Robust Approach to Work

Clear­ly-phrased goals, brand essence, putting values into prac­tice and even devel­op­ing formal elements, such as text modules for job adver­tise­ments or a guide­line for social media posts, will like­ly be most success­ful when as many staff members as possi­ble have been involved from the very begin­ning. Volun­teer work­ing groups are one tried, test­ed and proven approach, guid­ed by an exter­nal facil­ta­tor, if need­ed. It is vital that repre­sen­ta­tives of all hier­ar­chy levels and all depart­ments meet and can have an exchange on a level play­ing field.

Two factors have proven to be major vantage points:

  • It is not enough for every­body in the enter­prise to learn about the mere exis­tence of a project. What counts is that they under­stand the Why, the purpose behind it: What are the reasons and motives for the intro­duc­tion of an employ­er brand and there­fore – in most cases – of a new self-concep­tion of the enter­prise as well? Kick-off events are an estab­lished format for the entire staff, or – in the case of affil­i­ates at differ­ent loca­tions – an inter­nal road­show. Just mention­ing this topic as one of many bullet points at the gener­al assem­bly, converse­ly, is not a very good idea.
  • Should fric­tions exist with­in the enter­prise, it is neces­sary to first clear the air. For only if all involved people are will­ing to listen to each other and learn from one anoth­er can such a project succeed. Your HR depart­ment, for instance, can take home impor­tant stim­u­lus from Market­ing since, in a way, their job, too, is advertising.

Resilience through Feed­back

Constant feed­back to the entire staff is anoth­er impor­tant point. Misun­der­stand­ings happen all too easi­ly and result in resis­tance when work­ing groups seem to be perma­nent­ly occu­pied with them­selves. Here is how to avoid this:

  • Always and at all times make rele­vant steps known to the public; why not have the staff vote on good options, when­ev­er this is feasible.
  • Use your intranet (if you have one) or your own app to keep every­body updat­ed on progress made and issues aris­ing, and create extra trans­paren­cy by enabling work­ing group members to commu­ni­cate internally.
  • Depend­ing on the dura­tion and the scope of the project, install sever­al work­ing groups and have group members rotate with­in a certain period.
  • Town­hall meet­ings with exec­u­tives for status reports and Q&A sessions for everybody’s ques­tions, wish­es or reservations.

A Real-Life Report

Lorenz Hansen is the owner and CEO of 125-year-old Hannover­an­er Gund­lach Bau und Immo­bilien GmbH & Co. KG. In an in-depth inter­view with Sebas­t­ian Purps-Pardigol, he reports on his expe­ri­ences with a profound change process in his enter­prise. As a typi­cal repre­sen­ta­tive of his indus­try, he talks about the many reward­ing and also supris­ing expe­ri­ences as they espe­cial­ly arise in the field of construc­tion and real estate – find it right here on YouTube.