„Co že to vlastně děláš?“
Jednou z důležitých charakteristik srozumitelné firmy je, že zaměstnanci rozumí tomu, na čem se…
Despite being a successful medium-sized company, its B2B business model and location in an industrial zone outside of Brno don't make IFE very visible on the employment market.
Brno is the second biggest city of Czech republic, counting approximately 800 000 inhabitants in its whole greater area. Brno is a significant center of higher education with its 33 faculties of 13 universities and other schools, attended by more than 89 000 students. Therefore, in the past few years it's naturally become a home to many international technological and IT companies. I.e., IBM, Honeywell, Siemens, AVG Technologies, Cisco Systems, AT&T, SGI, Red Hat, Alstom, Motorola, etc.
In the beginning, however, we weren't faced only by the company's lack of recognition on the extremely competetive employment market but also by a huge support of the company's leaders. It is fundamental in the case of employer branding, and sometimes outweighs a lack of the brand awareness Let's look into how everything unrolled.
Building an employer brand in our Bakery always starts with the phase of Insight, followed by the phase of Strategy and finally the phase of Activation.
Image 1: Process of building an employer brand, BrandBakers 2014
After having had agreed on the final project's scope, we put together an inside project team of 18 embers, comprising of operators, masters of production, technical engineers, personalists, and company directors alike. The team had an equal representation of junior and senior ranking employees. A diversity of views is always very rewarding.
A project team has many benefits to us: Thanks to it, we gain an early insight into the functioning of the company. It supports an informal internal project communication. We get an open design feed-back. We build a team of first brand ambassadors, who have a superior knowledge of the company. At last but not least, we pull members of the project team deeper into the "brand story", strengthening their connection to the company.
During the project we've met with the project team at three day-long workshops. The first meeting revolves around a simple analysis of strong and weak spots of the company's role as an employer. It provides an insight into the current associations with the employer brand, and offers a wider selection of possible brand archetypes. At the second workshop, we introduce findings from the Insight phase to the project team, formulating a wider choice of pillars of the employer brand and explaining a chosen archetype against the background of the story. At the third and final workshop, we present the ideal of the employer brand to the team, the basic "contents" which includes the story, the mission and the promise of the employer brand. We present and discuss the plan of an internal and external activation (communication) strategy.
Image 2: The workshop with employees at the IFE company, BrandBakers 2015
Internal communication is a vital and inseparable part of every project. Our goal is "making recruitment a hot topic", way surpassing the HR team. After all, the employer brand is not only about the work of the HR team but about including all the employees of the company, including the management. It is first and foremost the current employees who build the employer brand.
After having put together a project team and informing employees what is it that's going on, we sent our researchers into action. Every employer branding project is conceived by a deep analysis of the current state - the Insight phase. It usually comprises of three main areas:
1) Analysis of the employer brand perception by the employees. We've conducted a series of in-depth structured interviews and questionnaire investigations among all employees. We've also described and analysed the current recruitment process - took part in selection interviews, the first day at work, a presentation of company management to the employees. We’ve simply looked into how the employees percieve IFE as their employer. What they like, what annoys them, whether and for what reeasons they’d recommend IFE to someone, etc.
2) Analysis of competitors' recruitment communication. We've looked at how IFE's competitors manage recruitment - how they communicate, what they offer people. Recrutiment communication is usually analyzed with five subjects. Analysis is provided based on information gained in an on-line environment in the form of "desk-research" - especially on career company websites and social networks.
3) Analysis of a candidate preference. We need to know how and based on what an employer is chosen by those we want to attract to our firm - from many pre-selected focus groups (workers, technical engineers, university graduates, etc.). We focus on what they want, what they're interested in, which offer they find attractive, and also what doesn't interest them at all - what they don't want to hear and what our client can turn them off by. Analysis of candidate preferences is assembled from interviews and online questionnaires of a selected target group.
Image 3: The path to creating Employer Value Proposition, BrandBakers 2014
The strategy of brand building is nothing but a roadmap, which will be followed by IFE for quite some time. We've set how the brand should be perceived, and how that would be achieved by our client.
In reality, brand is not born on paper but among people instead, the actual employees. Therefore we always start among them and with them. We've included the IFE employees since the beginning. We've consulted important findings from the Insight phase with them, as well as the main strategy points. We've presented them with the first visuals of the internal and external communication for approval.
Thanks to that, the proposed strategy is their own, and the brand's communication is actually a summary of their words that they're willing to sign and connect their faces and names with.
Communication strategy is not only about the contents, but its form as well. It's crucial to choose the right language, means of expression and visual style in general. The most important leads for us in this case are a) brand archetype (in case of IFE – "the hero") and equally important b) personas of people who we aim at. That applies to communication with candidates and employees alike. Besides, Employer Branding's goal should be nothing less than connecting these two worlds into one.
Image 4: Employer Brand One-pager IFE, BrandBakers 2015
When we commit a small simplification, we can say, that what the people perceived most intensely on the company as an employer, can be divided into three areas:
Image 5: Employer Brand DNA, BrandBakers 2014
People would rather build a cathedral than lay brick to brick. Therefore, a mission plays a key part in the brand communication.
We definitely shouldn't leave out a company story, which is important to people and belongs to this category, for reflecting the purpose and effort of a company.
Companies often talk of values, but people mostly perceive what the company turned out to be thanks to these values, meaning how the values come to the surface.
Intrapersonal relations, style of leadership, opportunities to learn new things, collective events at the workplace and out of it, the physical surroundings where the employees work. All of that influences people's perception (that is, the employer brand).
People find it important to feel sympathetic with the employer, to feel (even rationally inexplicably) that they belong to the company. On the other hand, the company needs the right individuals in its ranks, and therefore they need to be clear about who the right ones are.
The goal is not to overwhelm the candidate by an infinite amount of whatever they will gain from their belonging to the company, but rather informing them of only the basics, what they see as important, what is characteristic for the company and differentiates them from the competetitors at the same time.
An important goal ahead of us and IFE in particular is activating the brand in the whole recruitment process and an employee's lifecycle. Each phone call with a candidate, e-mail, interview or assessment centre is where people should perceive IFE according to the adopted company strategy.
We've created a creative communication concept merging photographs of real employees and a motto "Become a hero in IFE" with a motive of Spartan warriors, that symbolise values of the company and a "hero" brand archetype.
One of the first tangible outputs in the Activation phase was creating "recruitment" leaflets and presenting them to the company employees. The basic content had already been created - the company story, mission, promise (what the company offers), what the company is like. We've created a series of interviews with employees, in order to offer "proofs instead of promises" to the candidates.
We also needed to "immediately" increase the number of responses to open positions in the company before launching a new career website. Therefore we've created a new recruitment campaign which included: billboards with company employees, advertising in local press, banners in trams and chosen train lines. We've approached potential candidates through the means of a promo team, which gave away energy drinks and leaflets at the most frequented stops of public transport.
Image 7: The recruitment billboard IFE, BrandBakers 2016
The touchpoints for technical engineers and operators alike is the career website. Because of easy actualization and settings of required traffic analysis, we've chosen a new independent domain hrdinouvife.cz. We've created the first few blog articles, which will be a part of the carreer website. The Blog articles will significantly make the work on social networks easier - we'll have a meaningful content worth reading.
Image 8: Career microsite IFE, www.hrdinouvife.cz, BrandBakers 2016
The referral program represents a separate chapter. A charm that rarely works well. More than 35% of all the new employees came to IFE on a recommendation. The default referral program presented the usual situation – a financial reward for the recommending employee is separated into two parts (half after a trial period and half after half a year). We’ve designed a new approach, whose main challenge for engagement was „bring a buddy who you’d work well with and make a good team with, and you’ll be well too“. We’ve changed rewards for recommendations. An employee gains an immediate reward after delivering a relevant CV or a contact – a ninja card. Right after having the reccommended new employee take up his job, they get a team reward (experiences like motocross, bowling, football, hockey, pool etc). We thank the employees in a monthly newsletter. Recruitment and recommendation in the midst of the company becomes a „hot topic“. The referral program is further supported by the internal communication (how it works, what positions are open, etc.), a simple leaflet presenting the company, memory games and rail transport themed coloring books, for the employees to give out to their acquaintances. Employees of IFE can much more easily present themselves nowadays, please approached candidates with gifts, give them some information and share emotions to take away.
Image 9: Memory Game IFE, BrandBakers 2016; Coloring Book IFE, BrandBakers 2016
In a world where many employers helplessly fumble, spend money for whatever they feel will improve their future, and spread a campaign after campaign, IFE knows precisely who their audience is and how they’re supposed to perceive the company. And not only the managment knows what’s important, the employees do as well. Thanks to that company activities can be consistent in the future, and all the energy and money spent with a clear purpose. After all, read the opinion of our client...
In the beginning of 2016 we’ve launched the project of building the IFE brand. Introducing our employer brand was preceded by a tight cooperation with BrandBakers, during which we and our employees joined forces to work on the Insight phase. Our goal had been to include all the employees into the project, and to learn their opinion of the company. Countless company events occured during the whole year – workshops, questionnaire researches, interviews. The whole project of brandbuilding was supported by internal communication.
This year in February we launched the most visible part of the Activation phase, which was the recruitment campaign in Brno and its vicinity. Thanks to it we’re visible on billboards, posters in trains and trams, in the local press, or on energy drinks and leaflets which were being given out by hostesses. In connection to the current recruitment of employees into the manufacture, the campaign has resulted in the higher amount of job applicants. Even just on the basis of the external campaign, we have 6 applicants every day reach out to us by telephone, while others respond directly through our career website.
Another significant change in the framework of the whole project has shown up in the internal program of recommendation. In place of the previous classic model of employees geeting a financial reward for each new employee after a certain amount of time, a fresher and frendlier system was introduced. Besides getting a financial award for themselves, our employees now get a reward for their team as well, and also publicity materials to give out to their friends and acquantainces. They get an immediate reward which supports their interest in further recommending.
Our employees are now given means to make promoting and recommending IFE easier to them. Anybody in their circles can get a leaflet where we describe what we manufacture and why we do it and how everything works. All that is supported by an external campaign that our employees helped create themselves, while some of them even appear on the posters and billboards.
Exactly these conditions have so far reinforced the most important effect of the whole project, which is strengthening our employer brand internally within IFE. We count on keeping up the employer branding in the long run, especially since this campaign was our first act ever. Even now from several responses we can tell we’ve gone in the right direction. Our employees are happy to see themselves or their colleagues and friends on posters around Brno, they passionately inform us about each new poster or billboard they spot, they actively bring up ideas about further promotion of our company, and most of all more and more engaging in the new recommendation program. About a month ago, a colleague from the manufacture came to us, saying that the new recommendation programme convinced him to finally try it out. Before that, he was afraid of the applicant’s failure casting a bad light on him as well. However, now he came to pick up a whole pack of recruitment leaflets, printed out his personal details and distributed them in his neighbourhood. It is these stories that bring us the most satisfaction. What else could we wish than employees that are proud of IFE as their employer. We thank all our employees, these results wouldn’t be possible without them.
Magda Hájková, HR manager @ IFE
We want to change the world of recruitment communication. We perceive people as the energy and momentum of business, not as a resource. And energy needs to be attracted, not recruited. We believe that compatible people with a common mission can create a company culture that breeds innovation for generating a long-term growth and a genuine value.
We want more than just spreading ideas, inspiring and offering advice. Our work is a means to an end where the specific benefit to the client lies. That's why we bring in only such (simple) solutions that they're capable of implementing themselves, either on their own or with the help of us. Instead of exaggerated promises and painting over the truth, we seek the genuine in what the companies possess and can offer to people. For us, the employer brand is the common denominator of not only how the company is perceived on the employer market, but by the current employees in the first place. That's why we always start with them.
We're the only counseling company in the Czech republic and Slovakia that specializes solely in employer brand building and prides itself with the most finished projects in that domain. We're a team of senior experts with experience in company directing, people leadership, creating and executing business and marketing strategies, research, graphic design and copy creation, HR management, classical and on-line marketing, including social networks. We bring in methods and tools that we were successfully applying in the domain of consumer brand building. We use tools that help us understand people's motivation and therefore we can work for clients in all sorts of fields, "starting with garbage men and ending with lawyers".
We’re BrandBakers, bakers of employer brands. We help companies attract the right people.
Petr Hovorka, Employer Brand Baker & Managing Partner
Jiří Landa, HR Marketing Strategist & Partner
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