Why Bother with Employment Branding?

If you were to ask a child which organisation they would most like to work for when they “grow-up” chances are you would get an answer along the lines of “Coke” or “McDonald’s”. However, it’s unlikely that they are cognisant of what has influenced their choice.  As we go through our working lives, it’s not surprising that when we are looking at a potential employer or ask someone what their ideal organisation is, they may still not be fully aware about what has influenced their choice. We will often make a decision based upon an organisation’s reputation, a role/organisation which matches our personal characteristics and organisational values. Ever-increasingly decisions are influenced by an organisation’s employment brand.

Recently I read an article that proposed when an organisation incorporates Sustainable Human Resource Management (Sustainable HRM) with their employment brand, they can differentiate themselves from their competitors and enhance their attractiveness to employees.

Sustainable HRM is described as “the pattern of planned or emerging human resource strategies and practices intended to enable organisational goal achievement while simultaneously reproducing the HR base over a long-lasting calendar time”.   

Now admittedly research around employment branding and Sustainable HRM is relatively new, and at this stage fairly limited.  Nevertheless it made for interesting reading and had some points which resonated with me.

Traditionally an organisation’s employment brand has been a combination of their corporate brand (based upon values and culture) and corporate social responsibility policies.  Many organisations have an employment brand to attract potential employees and then assist the organisation in remaining attractive to, and thereby retaining, current employees.

In order to tie in an organisation’s current employment brand to Sustainable HRM the authors have looked back at existing theory:

  • Signalling theory suggests all communications with an organisation during the recruitment process send out signals, by which a candidate uses to form their opinions of an organisation.  They have suggested that by incorporating Sustainable HRM within the employment brand this sends a positive signal of preparedness to invest in the candidate/employee and an understanding of the employment relationship.
  • Social identity theory suggests that an individual’s self-concept depends on their membership in different social organisations and that an individual’s self-concept is strongly influenced by the reputation of an organisation.  They have proposed that by integrating Sustainable HRM within the employment brand this enhances the self-concept of current employees and candidates.
  • Person-organisation fit suggests that job seekers match their personal characteristics and values with the organisation’s culture and identity. The article has suggested that the perceived fit between employee’s and candidate’s values and Sustainable HRM moderates the relationship between Sustainable HRM and organisation attractiveness i.e. higher fit may mean a stronger positive impact of the Sustainable HRM.

From here they have suggested that integrating Sustainable HRM practices into the employee value proposition enables an organisation to address employees and candidates in different life and career stages.  Additionally the different needs and expectations of its workforce are addressed without compromising its consistent employment brand.

 An organisation’s employment brand and how it’s created varies vastly from organisation to organisation. What is your organisation’s employment brand?

App, S., Merk, J., Büttgen, M. (2012) Employer Branding: Sustainable HRM as a Competitive Advantage in the Market for High-Quality.  Management Revue, 23(3), 262-278


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