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on 23 January 2006
If you have ever been involved with Recruitment Advertising you may have flirted with the idea of Employer Branding. Given the cost of advertising in a national newspaper, you may have been tempted to tell readers both about the specific vacancy and also why they should join the organisation and build their career with it.
Such marketing could be on the basis of your personal experience, or based on the ideas of a few friends at a local hostelry. Or you might be tempted to describe your organisation and the benefits offered as you would them to be. But if you are going to do this properly, the marketing will be the result of systematic measurement, analysis, interpretation and leadership, and that is what this book is about.
The authors say that this book is about bringing the best of brand management to people at work. Consistent with this aim they define the term, and are clear about their potential audiences which include HR Specialists and Top Management. Simon Barrow wrote the five chapters in Part 1 – The Rational for Change, while Richard Mosley wrote the 7 Chapters in the rather longer Part 2 – The ‘How To’ Guide. At the end of the book there are two case studies, 6 pages of references and a detailed index. In keeping with the style of the book the references range from academic journals to details of company websites.
Had this book been available when I headed Recruitment, Development and Training in one part of a large organisation, I would have welcomed it. One reason is that while we were measuring and addressing a wide range of HR issues under our direct control, it raises questions about who was managing other issues affecting employees’ experiences of the organisation and how this information could have been accessed and used.
Other features appeal too. For example it is good that the term ‘Employer Brand’ is defined. In my view it is an attractive term but because of this may be one which is corrupted quickly. Consider the fate of the equally attractive term ‘Learning Organisation’ which arose from the experience of Honda in Los Angeles; unable to sell their large motor bikes in America, junior employees reported back to Headquarters in Japan the interest shown in the mopeds that they used to run local errands. Ultimately it was through sales of the mopeds that Honda conquered America, and the term ‘Learning Organisation’ was coined to describe the ability of the organisation to learn and adapt. However, it was not long before the term Learning Organisation was being used to justify large training departments and to argue for the automatic approval of requests for any training!
I particularly welcome the Tesco case study which describes how Tesco have spent considerable time to get to know their employees and manage the Employer Brand by means of a People Insight Unit; the PIU drew on the expertise of staff in the Customer Insight Unit set up several years earlier. Because of the complexity of large organisations it is difficult to say that a single technique has contributed to success, but Tesco are large enough to investigate difference between similar stores and learn from them, and their experiences give credibility to the use of Employer Branding in Practice. However, at a time when every man and his dog is claiming to have contributed to Tesco’s success, it would have been good to have a clear endorsement of the value and contribution of Employer Branding from the CEO, Terry Leahy, himself.
This is not a completely unbiased review – I have known Simon Barrow for many years and have valued his friendship; indeed I am briefly mentioned as being an Associate of People in Business on Page 18. But I hope that potential purchasers will find these comments helpful.
John Toplis
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on 18 October 2005
Perhaps a challenge for lay readers outside the strategic HR space, but opens up to be a very important read for students of what brand management means in the connected world.
I have to declare myself an old associate of Richard Mosley, whose work - as I understand it as one of the laymen - at the interface of brand and anthropology has been at the leading edge for some years now.
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