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“Internal communicators have the spark and creativity to bring the employer brand to life.”

This spark was definitely apparent among the lively audience at the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) event last Wednesday evening – the first in a series of three events exploring the role of internal communication in creating a strong employer brand.
Chief executive of the IoIC, Jennifer Sproul, chaired the discussion, as panellists and audience members shared their views and experiences of why having a strong employer brand is so important, and what role internal communicators can play in bringing it to life.
Fairly new in her role, Jennifer spoke of the challenges of employer branding at the IoIC – branding not just an organisation, but in her view, branding an entire profession. She wants people to develop an emotional connection to a career in internal comms and believes the IoIC has the potential do so.
So why is it necessary to have a strong employer brand? Quite simply, it’s what makes people want to work for you, and it’s what can drive people away. It reflects what employees and others say about your organisation and, crucially, what you say about yourself. For the financially minded among us, there is a monetary incentive too – 28% lower staff turnover for companies with a strong employer brand. In a competitive marketplace, it’s commercially savvy to do whatever you can to recruit and retain the best staff.
Panellist Mark Di-Toro, Senior PR Specialist EMEA at Glassdoor (the ‘TripAdvisor for jobs’), had plenty of experiences to share. Glassdoor works with clients to protect their employer brand online, driving organic reviews on the website, giving them the opportunity to respond to both positive and negative reviews, and providing analytics. He stressed that these reviews must be genuine. After a big, public pay saga involving a well-known sportswear shop, Glassdoor suddenly saw a huge spike in positive reviews from managers at said company. Clearly, this leads to a certain lack of integrity. “People believe people, not companies.”
What is the role of internal comms in managing and developing the employer brand?
Reflecting on the current state of play, Steven Brand, Employer Brand Director EMEA at Randstad Sourceright, says at best IC colleagues are informed, but are definitely not as involved as they should be. 
Mark pointed out that the “people experience” affects all departments in a business, so all teams must work together to be effective.  It doesn’t matter who owns the process – HR, IC, marketing, social – as long as someone is. Our role, as communicators, is to help craft the message. If no one is actively managing your employer brand at the moment, he asks: why shouldn’t it be you?
The conversation then turned to EVP – employer brand value. Or employee brand value perhaps? No one was really sure. Gemma McGrattan, managing director of SynergyCreative describes it as the “deal” – what should employees expect of you and what do you expect of them? 
At Parkinson’s UK, they refer to their PVP rather than EVP – the ‘people value proposition’. Carolyn Nutkins, Director of Organisational Development at the charity, stressed that volunteers are part of it too, and they’re a vital part of the organisation.
In a room full of communication professionals, the topic of measurement was bound to arise. The panel stressed the importance of not just collecting data, but using it too. Link your employer brand to market performance with stats. They agreed that HR directors are often more interested in the numbers than comms teams – cost per hire, attrition, ROI. These directors often have a direct line to the CEO and can help you get your senior stakeholders on side – 40% of FTSE 100 companies have HR directors on the board.
Why is it so crucial to get buy in from the top? The CEO should be the chief owner of the reputation in an organisation, says corporate communications consultant Ger Peerboom. Employer brand extends further than just your employees, to journalists, investors and stakeholders. If your CEO isn’t taking an interest, make it your responsibility to make sure he or she does.
Inevitably, the debate wrapped up with a question on managing employer brand post-Brexit. Most agreed that the biggest challenge right now is for the UK to defend its reputation as a place where people want to come to work. In the meantime, good talent will always be required. 
"I am very new into my first comms role. I thought the event was a great insight into the world of comms and in particular it was great to get a view from a panel with a wealth of experience. I also found the initial conversations with people in the room before the session started helpful, I was able to find out what initiatives and campaigns people are running in their own companies and take that info back with me to my own role. 
The event was very thought provoking for me and I was able to take away some good points, for example.  I had not quite considered how powerful employer branding is, the lasting legacy and the fact that some of our employees are customers of the business. I can now appreciate how key my role is to ensuring we open up those channels for the company to speak with our employees, and that senior mangers do not lose sight of how vital the right comms and engagement is to retain and attract people and in turn drive performance and results.
I have already booked onto sessions 2 and 3.”

Jodie Best, IMR Comms manager at Anglian Water

For details of the second event in the series, click here.
  • 28th June 2022
    Head of membership at CIPD and former IoIC board member Oli Howard has recently joined our impressive list of internal communicators who have received Fellowships. Here, he shares some valuable...
  • 21st June 2022
    Our latest IoIC Fellow Joanna Parsons, head of internal communications & culture with teamwork, discusses overcoming a case of imposter syndrome, being a “silo surfer” and the impact...
  • 14th June 2022
    After over 20 years of working in internal comms, Jo Bland, head of strategic engagement and internal communications at NHS Digital, has received a Fellowship in the profession. She tells us why...
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