Summary: Reports and articles around attracting and retaining talent as well as getting ready for the new generation of knowledge workers become more and more frequent. It’s obvious that companies start to realise that globalisation, mobility and flexibility have added new angles to their HR strategy. In this article I want to share my thoughts around “employer branding 2.0” (is there anything you cannot add a 2.0 to??). Because it’s one thing to design a brand, another thing to build it and a completely different thing to live and breath it.

Branding

Wikipedia is referring to the original meaning of branding: “Making a mark by charring” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branding). Essentially it was the farmers way of marking a me too asset to be theirs. I have worked in advertising and marketing for some years now – on agency and company side and more or less exclusively in b2b/industrial marketing. One reason for me to quit my first profession “copy writing” was actually the fact that I was tired of

  • state of the art,
  • innovative and forward looking,
  • cutting edge IT and
  • customer focussed thinking.

I don’t know how many briefings I got that set out brand/image specifications that matched the ones of the competitors almost 1:1. However, my client was different of course…

Employer Branding

If one were provocative one could actually say: it’s about putting a burn mark on something that is more or less “me too”. What company wouldn’t offer

  • careers in an exciting environment,
  • open and collaborative work culture,
  • wide array of development and training initiatives,
  • an international perspective,
  • flat hierarchies and objective based performance measuring?

And of course it’s possible to get in touch with the new employer through professional and social networks…that makes it 2.0 then.

So there is this task force of HR professional, communication specialists and social media experts that create a brand to attract new talent. It’s a little bit like an agency’s strike team for new business and pitches. They are the forefront that is supposed to lure the client in and then the creative average takes over (even though that sounds a bit mean…). Looking at this from an employer branding article I am asking myself: will the talent be hit by the organisational average sooner or later as well?

Brand reality & breaking the rules

I am furthermore asking myself: how substantial is the corporate change process in the backend of those players that 2.0 their employer branding and dance the Harlem Shake to get the new generation interested? How far have old structures be broken up to nurture the power and potential of (not necessarily young) engaged, talented and passionate people? How flexible are today’s organisations to allocate people to places where they can strive and add value even if it’s not the role description they haven’t been hired for originally? Will companies create a two or multi class society and provide different processes and rules for the ones that count amongst the top tier of change agents and future leaders?

Does age matter?

One final thought…not sure if my memory is tricking me here. Nevertheless I would be bold enough to say that probably 95% of all articles are about getting on board new folks and being attractive to the Millenials, the Generation Y and the Digital Natives. Even talent management seems to mainly apply to that segment of employees…

I wonder what would happen if a company would launch a “Generation Silvery Y” initiative targeting talented AND experienced (if not even seasoned) people. Providing support and the environment to take the next step in utilising the new possibilities of digital and global work. Building a bridge between the existing high performers/potentials and the future generation.

 

Unfortunately I don’t have many answers here since I am lacking insight and have to trust what I can read in public media. So I would be extremely interested in getting some comments of people that know…and that maybe tell me that I am totally wrong with my perception of the situation.

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