March 30, 2022 • 7 min read
Getting a Seat at the Table: 10 Tips to Get Buy-in for Your EB Strategy
Employer branding is an essential part of not only hiring great talent but also humanising and telling the story of your company both externally and internally. That could be telling your story to your own employees to cultivate engagement, or telling your story to candidates to attract them to your company.
However, once you have the strategy for your employer brand, many EB leaders are left with the question of how to align with the efforts of the other key functions and leaders within the business. The synergy between marketing, talent acquisition and employer branding has increased, there’s no doubting that, but the goalposts have moved. Now, an employer branding leader has to engage leaders in HR, Marketing, Technology, D&I and Employee Experience to really make an impact, at scale.
Below, we’re sharing insights and advice from global employer branding leaders on how to get a seat at the table with these different leaders to bring them on board with your employer branding strategy.
1. Identify the right stakeholders
Irina Zavyalova, Employer Brand Marketing Manager, CGI
One of the biggest mistakes when determining your employer brand is thinking that it only sits with the marketing, HR or communications team. Indeed, MarComms and HR convey the right messages to the audience, properly and creatively packaged, but the real driving force comes from the leadership team who do not only create employer manifest but also actively support it and embed it in everything they do.
So to get the leadership team on board, it is important to understand first how your business currently functions, the mutual expectations of each function and what our common success looks like. To get buy-in for these conversations, I first try to bring value to all my partners and connect people internally here and now. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of communication – to inform our counterparts and business leaders.
2. Engage with the stakeholders in a way they understand
Lauren Saunders, Head of Talent Attraction, LinkedIn
One of my hot tips for educating the business around employer branding and to get their engagement on your employer branding strategy is just trying to speak their language. I have several decks that I use to present EB ideas – I have my TA version, and I have my marketing and comms version. Instead of talking about candidates with the marketing team, I translate this into qualified leads and try to use language that resonates, so that they also understand the metrics and information we’re sharing. In one meeting where I felt like everyone was looking at me with blank faces, I realised it was because I was talking in HR speak and sharing a document that I had prepared for the TA team rather than marketing and comms colleagues. It’s important to try and come to the party in a way that your internal audience can understand.
3. Build respectful partnerships–
Charlotte Anderson, Talent Brand Lead, Canva
When it comes to engaging stakeholders, my approach is to build respectful partnerships. I firmly believe that we can all learn from each other and it’s important that every voice is heard. Knowing when to bring stakeholders in on the journey, to communicate clearly and manage expectations are some of the ways that I try to bring this to life. In the same way that you tell the stories of your team, you need to tell the story to your stakeholders – the why, what and how.
4. Engage your employees to be advocates to the leadership team–
Thomas Reneau, Global Employer Branding Manager, Ritchie Bros.
Because we can tap into so many different business segments (tech, finance, operations, sales, HR, and so on), I believe storytelling is the most compelling and effective way to showcase your employer brand to the leadership team. By capturing the compelling narrative of employees to humanise the brand, it creates a beautiful myriad-mosaic that through iteration, and defines the identity and personality of our organisation.
It’s important to think about the process as a celebration and a new language we have to articulate for the employees, so that they understand what’s working for them to not only amplify the experience but also share the DNA of the organisational culture externally.
5. Embed employer branding into your company culture
Robin Dagostino, Branding & Marketing Director, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Beyond getting other functions involved, I would recommend bringing the CEO into the EB strategy as at the end of the day EB is really about your culture. It starts with your purpose of why you exist and who you are, then it’s the vision of where you’re headed and your strategy and how you’re going to win in the market. It’s that value proposition of why someone should join, stay and grow and even speak well of the company after they leave. That’s your culture at the end of the day and your CEO and your executive committee really kind of set that standard. It’s a partnership with marketing, with HR, even with IT, every single area.
6. Offer something in return
Erin Maxin, Director, Grace Blue Partnerships
To get the right conversations happening my tip is to offer an incentive. Marketing tends to speak in terms of customer value, prices, products and services, whereas EB has more emotional intelligence in the way that it talks.
I think that’s something that marketing can learn, and that’s a gift. But then to come in and say, we can help you make these connections. The people that you are trying to hire are also customers. So it’s important to be able to come to the table to say, “I have something of value, I belong here”. It’s part of just knowing really what you bring to the table.
7. Educate, educate, educate!
Devin Rogozinski, Senior Director, Talent Brand & TA Enablement, GitLab
Sometimes there are doors to be broken down, but other times there’s an educational component instead. As somebody who spent the first 10 years of their career in marketing, I had no idea how recruiting, especially in technology worked. So to be able to sit down with marketing leadership to explain “Here’s how many people we’re connecting with on a quarterly basis, here are the types of things that we’re talking about” is really important. And yes, CMOs understand that.
If you’re talking about creative directors who are looking to prioritise a certain piece of talent brand work or a digital marketing manager who you’re trying to get support from on a campaign, sometimes just doing the educational bit is as important as being in those right meetings.
8. Ask for forgiveness rather than permission
Phillip Lipka, Employee Experience Program Manager, Ritchie Bros.
When trying to get buy-in from the wider business on key employer brand initiatives, my advice is that sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. In the employee experience space, oftentimes when you’re speaking to leaders, they want to know what is going to be our return on investment. You don’t always see an immediate return when you’re investing in employees, but you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
9. Empower stakeholders by providing them with the right tools
Kylie Denk, Recruitment Marketing Manager, Relativity
Education is a big component for me. Even as we’re working with our chief of staff or other departments, beyond HR marketing, there are certain elements where we had to explain the significance as well, early on. Once you explain the strategy, the types of things we can do and how we’re thinking about attracting talent, it helps to showcase all the strategic effort that goes behind these things. In my experience, this transparency sparks brainstorming and excitement.
10. Start Small with Data!
Elle Green, VP Community, Employer Brandwagon
My key advice is to start small and scale. Find your champions and/or prioritise business needs and then prove what you know works, so that you can come to the table with tangible examples of what you can achieve.
Whether you want to reduce time to hire, increase retention, hire more tech folk or improve engagement, pick one that is higher in priority and go hard with your champion.
Use data. If you go to your stakeholders with data to back up your strategy you’ll have the power. Whether it’s your own internal data, or shared from another organisation or third party, it’s still proof of concept. Technology has empowered us to shift employer branding from intangible magic, to tangible outcomes aligned to business goals so build your armour with data.