7 trends in employer branding for 2012

By Daniel Wägerth and Joao Araujo

Joao Araujo

Joao Araujo

Daniel Wägerth

Daniel Wägerth

2012 is here and after over 20,000 meetings with companies held by Universum’s team throughout 2011, we’ve had interesting discussions about what to expect this year.  The first impression is that our colleagues in Africa, Asia and US are feeling that the competition for talent is getting fiercer, while the European colleagues see a market where employer brands are getting more innovative and competitive. All in all, we see seven trends that might shape 2012:

1. New players will take up the space left by those that retreat due to the uncertain market conditions.

We’re just in the second week of the year and we are already seeing new companies jumping into the world of employer branding. But would this represent a fiercer competition in the talent market?   In the stock market there’s a term dubbed “shake out weak hands” which happens when oscillations in the markets make those that don’t truly believe in an investment to get rid of it. 2012 might be the “shake out weak hands” for employer branding and talent attraction: those companies that don’t yet truly believe in the benefits will withdraw and focus on short-term recruitment, while those that have defined their long-term goals will keep working strategically and aim to be the ideal employer of their talent groups.

2. Employer Branding definitely becomes “glocal”

There has been the time of many EVPs, then the time of one global EVP. The trend now is one global EVP but adapted to the local reality. While each company needs to have a “soul” (a set of core values that define what the organization is), talent across the globe is different and has its own interpretation of what their organization represents. Gen Ys who work for the same company, but in different locations, tend to associate the company to the same set of core values; yet the importance they give to each attribute, under the drivers of employer attractiveness, differ.

3. “Do or Die” for employer branding & social media

Since Bank of America got defaced in Google+ (see picture), we’re all convinced that companies will be present in the mainstream social media (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Weibo, Ren Ren…). Not being present represents a big risk of identity theft. Key question are: why be there (define goals), what to communicate (set the message) and how to monitor & act? The answers differ based on target groups.

4. Winning companies have an Employer Branding Dream Team

Is employer branding exclusively a HR responsibility? Our opinion is that it is not! There are 4 people / departments that should be highly involved:
CEO: has the inspiring vision and the decision-making authority.  The CEO will be the key to ensure that the vision is included in the EVP and that the teams work together.
Communications Director:  promotes the company’s reputation & image and has vast experience in adjusting messages to the target audience. She/he has a budget to spend on communication and is used to creating the messages and going through the media purchasing process.
HR Director/Regional HR Director: has the full overview of the HR strategy in the company. This person is understands the full scope of job characteristics and remuneration & advancement opportunities.
EB Director /Talent Attraction Director: has the insight on the talent attraction strategy, a full overview of the people & culture and the knowledge about how external & internal talent groups perceive the company as an employer.
The employer branding dream team should have the 4 roles above; otherwise companies risk missing  one of the five important areas.

5. EVP becomes more inspirational by taking in the vision

We already revealed part of the trend in #4, but EVPs will start to be more inspirational. While you can define what makes your organization an attractive employer based on 40 different attributes, including the company’s vision in the EVP will make it more appealing to your desired target group. After all, we don’t just go to work to deal with international colleagues or to have work/life balance – there’s more to it! We go to work to fulfil our purpose in life, one which is aligned to the company’s vision.

6. Talent attraction and retention enters the gamification arena

Gamification is taking over marketing activities. What is gamification? Wikipedia defines it as “the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences.” Marketing has been using it to engage audiences: recognition / badges, special benefits or tailored communication are all part of the game. Will employer branding and talent attraction board this train? We believe so. We won’t be surprised to see companies using gamification in their online communities and start rewarding the talent that is truly engaged and favorable to the brand.

7. More and more companies are investing in market intelligence

We see this trend already since 2008, but it looks like companies in 2012 will definitely start using talent market data to define KPIs, implement smart talent segmentation and plan their communication activities in a very efficient way. With uncertain economic times, the need to make sound decisions is even bigger – that’s why there’s market research.

Click on the image below to see infographic on 2012 Employer Branding Trends.

2012 employer branding trends

EB Trends 2012

Category: EB perspectives

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Elisabet Welinder
elisabet.welinder@universum.se








Joao Araujo
jfa@universum.se











Katharine Lynn
Katharine.Lynn@universumusa.com