The Art of Work: Employer branding, a summary

Spaces and Homerun collaborated and turned Homerun’s online platform ‘The Art of Work’ into an event series where experts go on stage to elaborate on everything that has to do with the fine art of work.

Since every company nowadays is bending over backwards trying to make their employees happy they should know money isn’t the only solution. It has become a matter of defining where you are coming from as a company and what your common goal is.

Here is where employer branding comes in:

The good news is: Every company has an employer brand. The bad news is: Not every company has the ability to make proper use of it. During this first edition of the Art of Work offline series, five speakers and employer branding specialists stated their opinion on how to build a strong employer brand formed by their own believes and experiences. Yuki Kho, Project Lead at The Art of Work: Homerun’s online magazine exploring company culture, hiring and work/life balance was this evening’s moderator.

Five speakers and employer branding experts were being interviewed on the top floor of the extraordinary Spaces building at the Vijzelstraat in Amsterdam during a lovely sunset (talking about employer branding):

“Having the common goal of creating a great product establishes our culture” – Rick Pastoor, Blendle

Rindor Golverdingen, Co-founder/Creative Director at Vruchtvlees and Rick Pastoor, Head of Product at Blendle kicked off the interview:

On identifying and sustaining company culture;

“Figure out the pain-points of your culture. Focusing on the company culture is about this group of randomly collected people realizing how to create a great product by using their talent together. We plan trips together to enable that team feeling and make sure to document everything for social media, the blog and employer branding. We cook for each other during lunch, we celebrate birthdays and invite (global) inspirational speakers that are relevant to the company”.
– Vruchtvlees

On choosing what to share online;

“If you want to attract new applicants you need to share whatever it is you want to reach. If you tell the story of your product it automatically becomes clear what’s connected to your goal and purpose: Let’s ship the product and grow hard instead of designing a new identity. August 1st Blendle’s internal wiki was published online for the whole world to see. With the head of HR leaving the company to travel the world in his van we needed guidance. It had nothing to do with employer branding. It was just necessary. The decision to make it public, to be as transparent as can be, turned this action into employer branding. Having the common goal of creating a great product establishes our culture”.
– Blendle

We want to radiate that we are an ambitious team that is not afraid to work hard to reach a common goal. We put a lot of Effort in our working environment designed to fit the context of your work: Whether that is on the couch with your laptop or in a dark room for some deep work. We invite clients to have lunch with the team so they can feel part of the culture and we get to see the true identity of our client. Showing pictures from (team) events you organized or attended is just a small slice of who you are as a company, but it sets a great example of your culture for the outside world and potential candidates.

– Vruchtvlees

Art of Work

On the biggest challenges within the company;

“I believe you become a strong brand by choosing to take a stand for something that’s important to you. And then stay consistent every single day. Internally vacation was a hard theme to encounter at Blendle because it’s so hard to take a stand around this subject. You will upset some people whatever you will decide. Now we have an unlimited amount of vacation days policy. To make a decision for the whole team and then make it public and share with the world is scary. A lot of people disagreed on what the handbook stated, but that’s the whole point of the handbook. That it’s documented. We also had a struggle with our developers having a hard time giving feedback. So we’ve created a matrix for performance reviews for every role, which is also online for everyone to see.”
– Blendle

Attracting the right people is a big challenge for sure. The real challenge now is keeping the team together and have each and everyone focused and aligned with the product. Together we work on the same goal so everybody really needs to be on the same page. We don’t have a handbook yet, we do have 4 statements we live by:

  • Be optimistic and positive

  • Be ambitious and conscious

  • Be a sports team not a family (focus on the goal)

  • Be adventurous (make decisions in favor of the company)

We settled on these ‘culture keys’ by having team sessions in which we were very transparent and asked them what they think is important.
– Vruchtvlees

“Elevate your people to a next level. Invest in them. This is the best way of employer branding” – Rick Pastoor, Blendle

On prioritizing employer branding;

You want to deliver the best product possible. The only way to do this is by having a great team. You create a great team by attracting the right hires. It’s that easy. We want to help our employees to get better. #rehiring is applauded at Blendle. We are happy if someone returns to us after a certain period of time. It means we did a good job, having a great culture and a product that someone wants to come back to. Elevate your people to a next level. Invest in them. This is the best way of employer branding. They take it with them and will tell the world about your company and why people should want to work there.
– Blendle

The no. 1 must have for employer branding;

Create transparency and honesty
– Blendle

Evaluate your own boarding process through the eyes of a potential employee
– Vruchtvlees

Malique Steenbrink, Employer Brand specialist at Appical
, Yves Pilet, Employer Branding Specialist and author of ‘Boost Your Employer Brand’ and Tatjana Obenaus, Global Digital Brand Lead at Booking.com continued the conversation on on-boarding a new hire:

Focus on creating a soft landing for anyone joining the company and use online channels to attract hires. For example, We were in need of a UI designer, but it was very difficult attracting one until we spoke to our own designer, discussed with him what we were looking for and defined what should be in the social media campaign. After that, we received over 300 applications. Make sure you defined and stated explicitly what profile you are looking for, work- and personality wise, so it will be a great hire in terms of background and team fit.
– Appical

We spend a lot of time with recruitment, HR and marketing on the candidate journey. The first impression of your brand is the most important. Be sure to oversee all touch points from first contact with the company to transforming into a fully established employee.
– Booking.com

Your employees are the ambassadors of your company. Spend a lot of time on getting new hires up to speed and the off boarding when employees leave.
– Appical

With the financial crisis there were a lot of people that got fired in an inhumane way. The companies that didn’t have a successful off boarding now pay their dues by having a bad name. As the leader of a company you really need to be as transparent you can be and set an example of how you want your employees to behave.
– Yves

“It’s important everyone is on the same page in terms of knowing the company’s values, what it stands for and the goal you want to reach” – Tatjana Obenaus

Give people a family feeling from day one: Celebrate birthdays etc. Even these little things will affect your employer branding. Try to make your fresh hires as comfortable as possible by providing them as much information as you possibly can so they won’t feel abandoned: Enable virtual tours through the office. Being able to see the colleagues they will work side to side which is a nice touch. Think about how you would like to be treated coming into a new company (culture). If you, for example, need a .NET developer. Talk to one and find out what makes him come to work with a smile on his face. Carry this out in your search for the new hire.
– Appical

Art of Work

On carrying out your company values;

A company needs to know what it stands for. If you don’t know: Ask your employees. Be willing to share, also the things that are not that great, be authentic, you will get rewarded for being transparent. Live your brand internally as well as externally. Have the CEO and management explain why the values are important and open up the discussion to find out if your employees feel the same way.
– Yves

There’s unfortunately no quick trick in building a solid employer brand. Be sure to know:

  • Where you stand for

  • Educate yourself of what your employees think about the company

  • Keep the conversation going: A lot of times employee’s say something for the sake of getting out of the awkward conversation. Keep going, that’s when you receive the honest answers that you can work with.

  • Find out the purpose of the company and make sure everybody is aligned on this.

Base your value on your employees believes, and never forget that your consumers might be potential hires too. Not only your employees, but everyone that comes into contact with your company needs to know what you stand for and what your purpose is.
– Booking.com

These pearls of wisdom formed the end of this very insightful evening on taking your employer brand to the next level. Thank you Homerun and Spaces for collaborating and educating us and thank you Yves, Malique, Tatjana, Rick and Rindor for sharing your experiences and thoughts on employer branding.

Be sure to check out Homerun’s online platform ‘The Art of Working’ to elevate your own brand!