Brook Calverley, Dec 10,2015

A room full of employer branding experts. With the author of the very term ‘employer branding’; listening to case studies about employer brands, for HR and comms professionals – who want to create employer brands.

This is not going to be a popular sentiment: but I don’t think we should try to create employer brands.

Each of us works for an organisation that already has a brand. A shared vision. Common values. A clear mission and purpose. A position in the market and a promise for customers. An organising principle that guides everything we say and do.

It’s painstakingly built over time and it’s extremely valuable. The absolutely last thing we should do is construct a whole new brand, a duplicate and competing set of ideas, values and directives. It adds a heap of unnecessary complexity and confusion when often, all we really want is to improve our reputation as an employer.

And reputation doesn’t rely on branding. It relies on doing.

On making a promise to employees then delivering it, consistently.

A promise for employees that doesn’t just capture ‘how great it is to work here’ but also that recognises the challenges too. A stretching aspiration but one grounded in truth, one that inspires deeper and more genuine preference by sharing a picture that’s real.

A promise that isn’t just about what employees want but also what the business needs. That actively enables performance by signalling and attracting the right people, constantly reinforcing or re-directing the culture, one hire at a time.

But most of all, it relies on a promise that’s experienced by everyone, throughout their employment journey.

This means the employee proposition has be the strategic guide for everything HR does. It’s not the recruitment piece – it’s the everything piece. It defines the deal, the culture, the way we work and the kind of place we aspire to create.

And the primary role of HR is to define and deliver that proposition.

Do that, and we create clear direction and purpose for the HR function and provide partners with a simple, unifying goal. We make a deal with employees and build trust by keeping it. Create a simple mechanism to ensure our people are facing the direction the business is heading.

Do that and we’ll find that ‘brand’ we were looking for – that reputation – has formed already. Deep rooted, clearly articulated, firmly planted – by what we do, not what we say.