Pity your peers in HR. They spend years enhancing the organisation’s employer brand, with the aim of attracting, motivating and keeping the best people, only to find that they now need to wish swathes of those people well for the future, as they manage their redundancies.
Perhaps, in the days before the crisis changed everything, you and your opposite number in HR engaged in some friendly, and occasionally less friendly, rivalry. Even in good times, corporate resources are finite. Where you both fought for budget to be spent on activity incorporating the word ‘brand’, then surely, you argued, it was marketing rather than HR that should always be the driving force.
You might have cited the research that shows how employee talent is disproportionately attracted to working for ‘famous brands’. Well, fame is something that’s created in the open marketplace, by the brands the corporation puts out there and gets behind. And those brands carry meaning, values and a certain undefinable ‘way’. Does there really need to be a separate ‘employer value proposition’? And if there does, shouldn’t marketing, with its understanding of the importance of cohesion, be the ones to influence it?
And your opposite number in HR might have cited the much-admired employer brand of the US casual dining chain, &Pizza. It makes rectangular-shaped pizzas and is famous for it. But what does that say to the gifted and ambitious people it needs to work there? How does ‘oblong pizza’ and ‘my future’ come together in the same sentence?