It’s no surprise that many big tech companies are top of the global brand rankings, with several growing their brands both in terms of value and revenue.
Tech companies have pioneered new ways of doing business – not least in their approach to the workforce. But it didn’t take long for the cracks to appear in Silicon Valley. Casual dress, unlimited holiday and a cool office only go so far. Allegations of workplace bullying and glass ceilings have turned some employer brands toxic, with a tech-savvy workforce quick to voice their grievances via social media.
It’s all too common for brands to obsess about how to reach and appeal to their target consumers, but then fail to put the same commitment into employer brand marketing. For too long the value of the employer brand has been under-appreciated.
At the same time, the battle to attract and secure the best talent has become ever more competitive. Connectivity is such that we are competing for the best candidates in a global marketplace and their priorities are changing. In the face of these changing dynamics, there exists a fantastic opportunity for HR and marketing to form strategic partnerships that benefit the employer brand.
Traditionally, there has been insufficient crossover between HR and marketing, with little or no creative interaction. This has left a vast amount of untapped opportunity when it comes to using creative solutions and digital channels to aid recruitment.
It is only in the past few years where we have begun to see HR and marketing form powerful partnerships. Marketers are getting hired into HR departments. Employees are fronting major brand campaigns.
Employer brands must be nurtured
This year, PepsiCo created a new employer branding function across Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA), hiring marketing talent directly into HR. It has become the cornerstone of our broader talent acquisition strategy.
Like many large parent companies, PepsiCo’s corporate name is often eclipsed by its brands, particularly outside the US. Upon joining PepsiCo in January, I recognised that potential recruits were unaware of quite what the business represents; from the strength of the brand portfolio, to the breadth of categories and markets in which we operate.
Awareness was limited to our soft drink namesake, but there was little appreciation for us as one of the world’s leading FMCG companies and the brand-owner of Doritos, Tropicana, Walkers and Quaker, to name but a few. This lack of awareness is one of the biggest barriers to our ability to hire great talent.
We think that part of the appeal of working at PepsiCo is our ability to cultivate and develop talent, with fantastic opportunities to work across a broad and successful business. We have our very own PepsiCo University and Marketing College, where our people can tap into insights and expertise from both external sources and those within our own markets. We also partner with business schools and world-renowned experts to deliver content to our talent academies and strive to create a culture that allows innovation and ‘intrapreneurship’ to thrive across our organisation.
But people only know that when they’re in the skin of our business. Brands need to do more to build awareness and understanding among new recruits. To achieve this, we need to put marketing at the heart of the talent acquisition strategy.
PepsiCo’s first step was introducing an employer brand campaign in summer 2017, which ran throughout the ESSA region. Team members from across the business, from the UK to Russia to South Africa, shared stories about their lives at PepsiCo, demonstrating the challenges, opportunities and rewards of continuing the successful evolution of our brands.
The employer brand should be treated as part of your brand portfolio. It needs the same drive, attention, strategy and protection. It should also concentrate equally on re-enforcement within the existing team (your influencers), not just talent acquisition.
As companies grow, it becomes harder to integrate and consolidate functions. Businesses must take the time to identify and incentivise collaboration to help build a strength and depth within the workforce.
In failing to nurture and protect their employer brand, businesses are not only missing easy wins, they are failing to protect themselves in the long-run.
Rebecca Gloyne is head of employer branding for PepsiCo Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.