Creating The Right Employer Brand

We interviewed Birgitte Brix Bendtsen about the HR departments in big companies where the main operation has not been HR as well as employer branding. Birgitte states that employer branding creates the perfect match between a company’s culture, values, vision and competence-needs and the candidate’s competences, experiences, personal values, traits, ambition and ability. Lose yourself in this interview to learn a lot more about the importance of employer branding and the differences within the HR departments from firm to firm.

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You have worked at different big organisations. How have you experienced the HR departments in big companies where the main operation has been something other than HR?

The level of professionalism within the field of HR has grown immensely throughout the past years. CEOs need HR to ensure optimal value creation and ROI of leaders and employees in the business. Strategic HR contributes directly to the company’s bottom line by attracting, recruiting and developing the right employees to the company, so they can create optimal value to the business with respect for past achievements as well as a view for the strategic direction and plans for the future. HR ensures that a company has the right mix of competences in the organization – through recruitment efforts (i.e. hire the needed specialized competences) and through employee development, change leadership programs, leadership development etc., HR contributes to strategy execution. HR bridges the gap between the “as-is” culture, competences, work tasks etc. and the “to-be” vision and plans for the company. Just think about the amazing results you can create when you are part of a high performance team, where team members strive for best practice, by creating innovation solutions through respectful team-disagreements and collaboration, where they have each other’s back when inevitable mistakes are made and they need to move forward in a new form or direction. Great HR is leaders’ key enabler in this, as amazing results don’t magically occur, but requires dedication, focus and teamwork.

Why is employer branding so important for businesses and how important is the brand for potential new employees?

Employer Branding is key to ensure that a company attracts the right employees to the company and team. Employer Branding creates the perfect match between a company’s culture, values, vision and competence-needs and the candidate’s competences, experiences, personal values, traits, ambition, and ability. An Employer Brand links corporate branding efforts with messaging that speaks to both employees and candidates and thus links the company’s identity and culture with the company’s image and vision, and relates that to employees and the career preferences and employer decision factors of the company’s recruitment target groups. 

Employer Branding creates the perfect match between a company's culture, values, vision and competence-needs and the candidate's competences, experiences, personal values, traits, ambition, and ability.

To potential employees, Employer Branding helps identify the right candidate match to the company, and thereby ensures the right cultural and value-based fit between the candidate and the company. It creates proportionate expectations of the candidate and a sense of visualization of what it is like to work for the company, which the candidate can reflect on, before deciding on to submit an application. 

Since you have worked with both national and international companies, do you see any difference in the need for employer branding in connection to how international the company is?

Definitely. Although the main processes, content, elements, and collaboration are the same, the execution and complexity is very different in international companies. The company culture can also be quite different across countries and regions. You need to take this into account in your Employer Branding efforts to e.g. adjust your messaging and visuals. Likewise, you need to encompass the differences in national culture that impacts both employee conduct as well as recruitment target groups’ job preferences. Legal requirements and the structure in the job market can also be quite different. E.g. explicit diversity and veteran recruitment efforts are typically natural focus areas in Employer Branding and recruitment efforts in the US. However, these are not (yet) explicit focus areas for most companies in Denmark.

Explicit diversity and veteran recruitment efforts are typically natural focus areas in Employer Branding and recruitment efforts in the US. However, these are not (yet) explicit focus areas for most companies in Denmark.

What are the key characteristics of a strong employer brand?

An Employer Brand appeals to a company’s recruitment target groups. It is honest in terms of the culture, value and vision that comprises the organization, and thereby gives candidates a feel for what it would be like to work for the company. It encompasses the company’s vision and future directions in such a way that candidates can assess the company’s ambition and future journey. A strong Employer Brand has its employees at the heart of all communication. It is important that candidates can see that the company is real and honest about what the workplace environment and colleagues have to offer. Employees are the best ambassadors of a strong Employer Brand, as they represent a window to the company. This gives candidates a sincere impression of the employer, so they can assess whether or not there would be a good match between the company and candidate. A strong Employer Brand creates ROI, and it supports the business.  

A strong Employer Brand has its employees at the heart of all communication.

Most companies want to work with business partners that have the best solutions and minds, and they want to work with people who are great to work with. Thereby, a strong Employer Brand can also create business for your company, because the best minds want to work for your company and customers and other stakeholders  want to work with your company’s employees by buying their solutions and/or products. At Kromann Reumert, where I head up the People & Development department, we conduct customer satisfaction surveys. Most clients state, that one of the most unique decision factors when they choose Kromann Reumert as their trusted advisor is that we have the brightest lawyers who provide them with solutions and are also pleasant to work with. That is an amazing statement to build on to grow our business as well as attract future employees who also want to be part of such an ambitious journey.

Finally, what improvements should a company implement first in order to strengthen their employer brand?

First, they should really get to know the organization, the company’s values, vision, strategic direction, competence needs, pain points, successes, culture, history, mission, leadership, employees etc. as well as really get to know the key recruitment target groups, their decision factors when considering an employer, their traits, needs, ambitions. If you can answer the following questions you are on the right track to strengthen your Employer Brand; Who are WE, who are THEY and how do we become US?

Birgitte Brix Bendtsen is Head of People and Development for Kromann Reumert. Her leadership values are ROI for the business, collaboration and knowledge sharing, while she strives to create results through involvement, inspiration, communication and continuous improvement. 

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