Innovating the talent brand

Innovating the talent brand

One of the responses provided by Deloitte to the challenge of an open talent economy is the need for more innovation in managing a company’s talent brand. Skilled individuals are seeking out more control over their working conditions and increasingly work as independent contractors and freelancers rather than full-time employees. Companies no longer have the control they had when talent management was all about direct employment, so persuasion takes the place of control. If those skilled individuals are not working for you, they will be working for your competitors, making it doubly important that you attract them. So creating and maintaining a talent brand, a clear sense of what the organization represents as an employer and how appealing this is, is important in bringing talent on board.

In essence, companies must now sell themselves to potential employees as well as vice versa. A clear sense of the employer’s brand becomes vital, and it must connect into the wider corporate brand to avoid the appearance of inconsistency or insincerity. This also creates opportunities for direct sourcing of talent, recruiting through the company’s website and social media rather than agencies.

Working the talent brand in practice

To an extent, this is a matter of managing your brand in a modern fashion, for example making use of social media. That is only one of the many ways in which this is about connectivity.

As the Deloitte paper points out, connecting with the rest of your organization on this is crucial. In particular, it means that HR now has to connect in with marketing. The messages the two parts put out about the business must be consistent to avoid undermining each other, and they must allow the business to successfully sell itself to employees as well as customers.

Though it is only briefly touched on in the paper, your whole value chain is important here. If you contract out work to other companies, then their talent brand may affect perceptions of yours, as not everyone will draw the clear distinction between their work and yours that you do. It is like the damage that can be done to a sportswear company’s image if they are found to buy t-shirts from a sweatshop factory. Even if they neither knew nor encouraged the conditions, that bad publicity is now associated with them. So, think about what your whole value chain says about your talent brand.

A better connection with the people whose talent you use is also important – engaging with them in a way that will turn them from mere employees and subcontractors into advocates for your brand as an employer.

Recognizing interdependence

If we look at the wider pattern behind the individual pieces of advice provided by Deloitte, we can see a wider pattern, as we could with the open talent economy.

For the talent brand, that pattern is interdependence replacing independence. It is no longer enough to hold the recruitment process at arm length, or to do the same for employees elsewhere in your value chain. To compete for the best talent a business must recognize its interdependence, the way that it relies on those working for and with it to maintain a public image. Those people transmit as well as receive information about the organization’s work, and if you do not work with them to strengthen your brand then they will, intentionally or not, undermine it.

Next, we will turn to the fourth point in the Deloitte paper, a theme already emerging in the first three – flexibility.

– Mark Lukens

Links or other articles in this series:

Link to the full paper on Human Capital Trends

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