employer branding 101


I’ve always been interested in Employer Branding, but of late have had cause to delve a little deeper into this concept, so as this could be the first blog of many on the subject, I’ll start with a bit of a 101.

Employer branding refers to an organisation or “employers” reputation in the market. It encompasses the extent to which a firm both internally and externally promotes itself to become “an employer of choice” and therefore attract the highest calibre of talent from the pool.

This reflects the generally accepted principle of human capital being the most valuable asset in an organisation and a considerable source of competitive advantage. Whereby in a highly and ever competitive marketplace employers are vying to attract and retain highly skilled and valued employees.

Here’s a pretty apt description I found during my research:

Employer branding has been described as the ‘sum of a company’s efforts to communicate to existing and prospective staff that it is a desirable place to work’ (Lloyd 2002)

So what does this all mean? Primarily that organisations’ are placing an ever growing importance on selling themselves to their current and future staff.

When & How are they doing it? By and large since it’s “conception” in the 1990’s employer branding has primarily followed the media trends of the moment; print, radio, TV and now an ever increasing presence in social media.  

Why? Largely covered off above; employer branding is about attracting a following of top talent who want to work for you above other employers. Effectively giving the organisation a competitive edge above the competition, reducing recruitment costs and timeframes and increasing retention of current staff.

Who do I think is doing it exceptionally well? Check these organisations out, and tell me they don’t immediately make you want to work for them!


New Zealand

The picture here shows Randstad’s awards for NZ’s most attractive employers for 2014. Here’s a link to their site and further information about the awards: http://www.randstad.co.nz/about-randstad/randstad-award/randstad-award-per-country/winners-per-country/2014-new-zealand-winners .  What do you think of these brands?


What Ever Happened to small steps?


It seems to me that with every generation the expectations in terms of a career path grow. Gone are the days of the ‘Silent Generation’, starting out in a job or career and expecting to stay there for life (thankfully!). Gone too are the days of starting at the bottom and gradually over years in each role working your way to the top  – Coordinator, Executive, Manager, Senior Manager, Group Manager, Director etc. a trait of ‘Gen X’.  ‘Baby Boomers’ fall somewhere in between these two groups in their outlook / progression through work life.

These tiny and small steps have most recently given way to giant leaps and bounds. The latest ‘Gen Y’s’, or ‘Millennials’ as I’m told they like to be called, expect great jobs straight out of university, view six months as “experience”, are more than open to sideways and alternative career moves and envisage a swift rise up the corporate ladder (or ladders as many will have multiple career paths).

Organisations are gradually awaking to this phenomenon. Some have embraced it creating roles and opportunities to attract, engage, develop and retain this talent; viewing these younger generations and their swift adoption of ever changing technology and ideas as essential to their future success. Others are a little slower to come to the party.

Older generations too are taking note, and taking action. Slowly changing their approach to careers, work, development and expectations. A rise in adult education is testament to this as is Baby Boomers’ uptake of social media and the like, and more women returning to the workforce after raising families. These groups are adapting at a less break-neck pace than Millennials, but adapting nonetheless.

I feel it should be noted here that each of these Generations has its own set of characteristics, tendencies and expectations; unique to its members…I won’t elaborate on those here as that’s a whole other post, but resources are provided below.

So whilst I’ve wondered of late what happened to the small steps; I’m now thinking they can walk alongside and instep with leaps and bounds quite nicely. As HR types I believe it’s our role to recognise the different traits and values of these generations; and then to plan and prepare accordingly for all to work together for the future benefits of both the individual and the organisation. No easy task. Attracting, retaining, motivating, engaging and developing four essentially different groups will be no mean feat.

Seek first to identify which generation you sit in, then to define and understand the main drivers for the others. From here you will better understand how to get the best out of them. This is about small, but significant changes in leadership, management, coaching, reward and recognition, communication and more. There are many well documented studies on managing each of these groups, and so too, posts on the cross management of them. I think it’s best to start with a few universal strategies, and build individuality from there. My suggestions as starters:

  • Focus on results over process.
  • Encourage open communication and respect for diversity.
  • Get regular employee feedback.
  • Understand engagement and organisational culture, and what drives both.
  • Give thanks. Recognise success.

Start with small steps and build from there.


A great info graphic depicting the different Generations: http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2011/05/living/infographic.boomer/

A more detailed description on each of the Generations: http://www.hrinz.org.nz/Site/Resources/Knowledge_Base/A-H/Diversity.aspx

introverts vs extroverts…and implications


Introverts vs Extroverts…and implications

There has been a lot of debate, discussion, attention on this subject of late in the various HR circles I follow – and wider (further reading links below). It’s prompted me to throw my two cents’ into the ring.

First up the test…posted online by the Guardian (link here: http://www.theguardian.com/science/quiz/2012/mar/13/quiz-are-you-an-introvert). I scored 6/20. Extrovert. In fact the average score is 14/20. However, my results had something of a justification:

You have a tendency towards being extrovert. The lower your score, the more extrovert you probably are. The nearer to 10 your score is, the nearer to being an ambivert you are (yes, there really is such a word). But even if you answered every single question as an introvert or extrovert, that doesn’t mean that your behaviour is predictable across all circumstances. We can’t say that every introvert is a bookworm or every extrovert wears lampshades at parties any more than we can say that every woman is a natural consensus-builder and every man loves contact sports. As Jung felicitously put it, “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.”

So I’m an extrovert, slightly tending towards an ambivert. Cool. What does this mean? Wikipedia defines Extroverts as:

Extroversion is “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with obtaining gratification from what is outside the self”.[4] Extroverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastictalkativeassertive, and gregarious. Extroverts are energized and thrive off of being around other people. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings, such as parties, community activities, public demonstrations, and business or political groups. An extroverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone. They tend to be energized when around other people, and they are more prone to boredom when they are by themselves.

This quality of being outgoing can be taken advantage of in situations such as at a workplace or social gathering. Teachers, politicians, salespersons and different types of management fields are all examples of work types that favour an individual who is considered to be an extrovert. They have the ability to act naturally with people in a way that will make them much more successful than an introvert because these are the types of the requirements of the job.

For all intents and purposes this fits pretty well. I love people. I love socialising. I love interaction with others in general. However I have a couple of issues with both the test and the definition.

1.)    Some of the questions in the test (agreeing with @RakshaHR) lean towards introversion, or depend on how you read them. Q2: I often prefer to express myself in writing. I answered NO; but sometimes the answer is yes – it depends on the situation. Q3. I enjoy solitude. I love my own company, but only to a limited point, then I drive myself mad and crave interaction with others. However short and regular bursts of solitude are necessary = answered NO. Q5.I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me. I’m female. I love talking shoes, shopping, men etc = small talk. However I relish an in depth and insightful conversation relating to anything progressive in business = answered YES. You get where I’m going with this. I know I’m more extrovert than introvert, but the questions definitely leave room for movement.

2.)    According to the definition above certain fields of work are more prone to success for either introverts or extroverts. However, I have first-hand experience to the contrary; my boss is a clear introvert, yet one of the most respected leaders I’ve ever come across. One of my closest friends, a social sciences teacher (yes she teaches sex ed) is an introvert; yet students relate to her to such a degree after two years in teaching she was dean of a form/year. Similarly, my cousin, an accomplished artist and another introvert, who’s spent time living in a tree house in rural Japan to focus on her painting, is probably the best presenter I’ve seen in action… a contradiction in terms? Maybe…but again, you see my point.

So perhaps there are extreme extroverts and introverts, but as the definition suggests given the situation, people may swing further one way or another. And as the test concurs, the two are not cut and dried, introducing the term ambivert for those in the middle ground.

So what does all this mean for the workplace? Most individuals will know which way they tend towards and here again I agree with @RakshaHR, be honest with yourself in this. Then be honest with your manager and your team. A good leader will adjust their management style / skills to you. Great leadership inspires the best in all they lead; allowing each individual to excel through their own individual style, while at the same time encouraging the group to work in such a way that allows all their tendencies to shine. And your team, potentially spanning a spectrum of introversion – extroversion, is not void of empathy. Be honest with them also, and they in turn will be considerate of you.

At work, in finding the right role you will find the place you fit best is my belief. Personally I don’t think I worked well in group situations at university, for a whole host of reasons I ended up doing 99% of the work through my slightly controlling / extrovert tendencies and I can look back and reflect that I probably overrode the introverts in the group. I’ve learnt from this experience and now value the opinions of all in the group and I know full well now that I work best with the support, knowledge and varying ideas / suggestions of my team. They’re very tolerate of mine and the other extroverts’ random and sometimes boisterous ideas / suggestions. By the same token we’re equally appreciative and supportive of their ideas / suggestions and take the time to properly listen and hear what they have to say….or debate it straight up – depends on the person!

My advice? Explore yourself. Push your boundaries. Try things that scare you. Know how you work best and be mindful of how others work best. Learn what works for you in any given situation, then develop strategies for coping if these don’t eventuate – as let’s face it, nothing goes our own way 100% of the time. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Enjoy your introversion and/or extroversion tendencies – you’re not alone in either; and give the other a try every now and then – you might find it works for you or isn’t as scary as you thought, or that it’s about finding the right company, conversation, work, group or otherwise for you.

Reading / Mentions in the blog:

Be the change you wish to see in the workplace

I found this post today and it really resonated with me. It’s by Ted Coine, posted on Switch and Shift, Human Side of Business, link here: http://switchandshift.com/be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-the-workplace. Ted’s sparked my interest enough to buy the book…review to come.

Any person, at any level of the org chart, can – and must! – make the change their organization needs to survive and thrive in these turbulent, ever-changing times.

Right now. Right where you are.

CEO Patti Johnson’s two-year, intensive study of people who bring positive change to organizations culminated in a phenomenal book, Make Waves. It is one of my top 2 or 3 reads for all of 2014 so far – and as a guy who averages about a book a week, that’s saying a lot!

What do all her Wave Makers have in common? They follow a simple – though not easy – formula to success:

Think. Know. Do.Think about what is needed – and what drives you as a potential agent of change – to bring significant, beneficial change to your company or industry.

Know all you can about your topic, by teaching yourself if you must – and learn as you go if you have to, like the young leader at Pepsi who had to “build the plane as he was flying it.”

Do. Don’t hesitate. By all means, don’t wait for someone else to make it happen for you. No matter whether you’re a CEO, a vice president, or a new hire – or even if you’re a medical school student who has a vision to manufacture high quality polo shirts, like one of the wave makers in Patti’s study – roll up your sleeves and make it happen!

Some quotes from Patti:

  • “A lot of people have started important changes. It often starts with a little decision.”
  • “It’s not just about what you do. It’s about how you think of the world around you.”
  • “Some of my favorite examples of wave makers in the book are people literally at the beginning of their career. They were people without any knowledge, with no experience, who get inspired and set about educating themselves.”
  • “Conventional wisdom would say, ‘What are you doing, you’ve got to be kidding me!’ But a lot of the people in this book don’t listen to that and they just go out and do it.”
  • “Wave makers are voracious learners. It’s in their DNA.”



Recently a friend convinced me in a weak moment to sign up for a half marathon with her and another friend. This wasn’t just any half marathon…it took place in the Coromandel of NZ, was all terrain and SUPER hilly (here’s the link to the course if you’re interested http://www.bushtobeach.org.nz/#course) I had three months to train for the run and had rarely, if ever, run before in my life.

As soon as reality set in and in the name of not wanting to let a friend down, I quickly realised I had no idea where to start and needed help. After asking “the runners” at work the advice was largely to download a running app or plan and faithfully follow it to the end. Here’s the link to the one I used http://running.about.com/c/ec/41.htm.

This turned out to be the best advice I ever received. The plan was emailed to me at the beginning of every week, it detailed not only the running plan for the week, but cross-training days, rest days, diet, pre and post run stretching plans as well as a whole  host of other extremely valuable tips and suggestions to ensure you achieve your goal at the end of the three months.

And here’s where I link this back to HR. During this same time period I’ve had one of the busiest work periods in my career to date. I have put in some serious hours over the past few months covering off the evolution of a sales team towards a new culture focusing on excellence and development, a restructure of three of the four main sales teams in the business, the creation of a top performers team identifying, leading and initiating key projects across the department, recruitment and on-boarding of eight new staff members, development of a new model of sales person on a purely commission basis and the list goes on! Getting through all of this and more has been an exercise in preparation, planning, process and attention to detail.

Much like the build up to the half marathon. Without the preparation involved in building up to completing what turned out to be a 25km run, the planning around timing, length and type of training, sticking to the process suggested by the plan and related detail, and of course the attention to detail; clothing, food, weather, hydration etc etc I’m sure the result wouldn’t have been as good as it was. Turned out I loved every minute of my first half marathon. Yes it was tough, and no I didn’t break any records. But the scenery was breath taking, the sense of achievement huge and the time it gave me with close friends priceless. We’ve agreed to make it an annual event…and have all committed to more preparation, planning and process in the build up to ensure an even better result next year. And of course the soaking in natural hot pools complete with cocktails post the event was a huge draw card (check out http://www.thelostspring.co.nz/)!

In the meantime we’ve signed up for two more half marathons…next one in four months’ time so there’s no easing up on pounding the pavements – or preparation, planning, process and attention to detail.