How Siemens is evolving its employer brand to attract new talent

Siemens wants to shake off perceptions that it is “traditional, large and not fast-moving” and show its “sexy” side as it looks to increase its appeal to future employees amid growing competition from the likes of Google and Tencent.

As businesses fight to attract and retain talent in both existing and emerging markets, Siemens is focusing on its employer brand in an effort to change the way people view the company and compete against the likes of Google.

This is why Rosa Riera was brought on as vice president of employer branding and social innovation three years ago, to oversee the transformation of the Siemens employer brand and bring a new relevance to the business.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Riera says the shift to digitalisation and new business models means Siemens is now fighting to win talent with more businesses than ever before

“Companies that are not even in our business are suddenly competing for talent that we want too, like Baidu in China, Tencent, Google,” Riera explains.

“We are no longer just competing for classical talent but also for talent in emerging fields – software engineers, data scientists and so forth. Suddenly we felt it was not so easy any more to say ‘I’m from Siemens’ and people want to talk to you like it was in the past.”

Realising it would “lose” to other businesses if it didn’t quickly change the way it was attracting talent, Siemens began the mammoth task of trying to erase decades of “corporate” perception.

“If you treat this process like B2B, which is a bit more traditional and corporate, then we lose,” Riera says. “Because what do you want when you see a new employer? You’re looking for purpose. You don’t want to press yourself into a personality that you’re not. People want to bring their own self to work, not just their work self.

“Which is why it’s so important to not promote something that you’re not because it’s super expensive for any company to hire people that they’re going to lose in a few months.”

‘Global’ not as attractive as it used to be

As a multinational business, it might seem like Siemens has an advantage when it comes to recruiting talent; however, Riera says being global is no longer a good enough reason to want to work for a company.

“Being a global brand is good, but it’s not as good as it used to be because people don’t feel as attracted to working for a global company anymore,” she says.

“Studies show that the talent market don’t want to move as much because travel has become much more accessible. So in the past, the way to explore the world was often through an employer, nowadays there are different means.

In the past, our brand was seen as traditional, large and maybe not the fastest moving, so we’re trying to change behaviour on three different levels.

Rosa Riera, Siemens

“And also people are getting more and more local, maybe because social media connects us in a way that makes us feel like we don’t need to move to know the world.”

As such, Riera is on a mission to give Siemens a “sexy” name and change how people feel about Siemens as an employer.

“In the past, our brand was seen as traditional, large and maybe not the fastest moving, so we’re trying to change behaviour on three different levels,” Riera says.

READ MORE: Why building long-term brand loyalty starts from within

“In the short-term, we want to change the behaviour from people not interacting with us to interacting with us – be it that they share content, comment or do something with it that is positive. Medium term, we want to grow the number of applications that we have and we see an uprise already.

“Long term, there are a lot of strong rankings out there and we want to rise in those. This is the most visible KPI we have.”

Growing from the inside

While Siemens clearly wants to be seen as an attractive place to work from the outside, it believes an employee-first and “super personalised” approach is key to growing the business in the long-term.

As such, it is using technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to drive interest and engagement, and has created a number of documentaries about people that work at Siemens which can be accessed via a bespoke app.

“We use VR because it is very immersive so it creates intimacy and we wanted to invite people to experience what it’s like to work at Siemens – every employee that uses the Siemens app is given a Google Cardboard. And AR – which we mainly use at talent fairs and universities – because it allows us to have a shared experience so we can have a conversation,” Riera explains.

“By focusing so much on our employees, we know they talk to their friends and family so this is an important element that we find incredibly relevant. VR and AR are still technologies that a lot of people haven’t experienced yet, so being able to play with them at home also grows the interest in the brand.”

In time, Riera says this is something Siemens will look to distribute to people outside of Siemens – with social media expected to play a crucial role in growing the audience.

“The hook and the growing the audience comes through all the different stories we have that can be shared through social,” Riera says.

“So what we see, because we are in so many different fields, is different people in different regions drawn to different stories…and that really grows the audience. We share through our channels, our people share and their friends share – that versus normal corporate content is interesting to see because it’s super personalised.”