I’m usually not one to comment on what is written on other blogs (except the “Bring back the Whig party blog – they’re quite the group of rascals), but when a posting sets out to discredit the basic premise for this entire site, well then, a strongly worded contestation (that one’s for you, Joe) is warranted, I dare say.
The blog I’m referring to is written by Mr. David Lefkow, who in a previous life, was part of this organization. His post is entitled, “There is no such thing as an employer brand.” It’s this kind of polemic (another one for you, Joe) that resulted in the famous “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” editorial.
Mr. Lefkow states the premise of his argument: ”Why is this impossible? Because the differences between what makes one person work at a company vs. another are typically greater than the similarities. In addition, an employer value proposition is much more than the actions of a company (such as HR policies, pay, benefits) – it’s really more about the individual and what motivates them than anything the company does.
Think about a software engineer, who wants to work with the coolest, latest programming languages to advance their skill set; who wants to build the most cutting edge consumer applications that will reach and potentially change the lives of millions or even billions of people; and just wants to come to work barefoot and with dog in tow. Now think about a top salesperson, who wants a product that’s easy to sell once you get in the door with the buyer; wants an aggressive compensation plan; and wants nothing more than to purchase those maple cabinets for his or her house.”
Oh, how easy it is to be wrong.
Mr. Lefkow is correct about the necessity of understanding motivation and perception by job category. His mistake is in the assumption that the people in these categories are one-dimensional. Yes, many software engineers would list the coolest technology as the most important attribute an employer could offer, but just as many would list getting a project to market, while others would list working on technology that has a positive impact on society as the primary motivation, cool technology or not.
The same thing can be said for people in sales. The idea that compensation is the only driver is a very limited perspective. In the hundreds of interviews, focus groups, and surveys I have examined, it is quite common to see the quality of the product being represented as the most important attribute an employer can offer. Does that have a direct effect on compensation? Of course, it does. But the importance of compensation is not limited to those in sales. In fact, compensation and benefits are the two most highly valued attributes of all job categories.
Now there may be employer brand practices out there that start with a common proposition and limit their strategies to a vague umbrella. And in that regard, I join Mr. Lefkow in suggesting that exercise is not worth engaging in. But in our practice, which dates way back when to 2000, we use a constructivist approach that starts with understanding the drivers of each job category, determining how those synch with the employment experience offered by the organization in question, and providing room for both distinct over-arching positioning and market segmentation strategies based on the aforementioned categories.
So yes, Mr. Lefkow, there is an employer brand. Is it all real? Ah, Mr. Lefkow, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. (With apologies to Francis Pharcellus Church.)