Personnel Today Awards 2009: Award for Employer Branding

THE AWARD

This award recognises employers that have made a major effort in creating a distinct employer brand, creating an identity for themselves as accessible, flexible organisations. Evidence should be provided of the benefits it has brought to the organisation, such as its impact on recruitment, retention and staff satisfaction levels.

THE JUDGES

Graeme Martin
Director
Centre for Reputation Management through People
University of Glasgow Business School

 

 

 

Kaye Thorne
Founding partner
The Employer Branding Forum

 

 

 

 


Boyes Turner


The team: HR
Number in team: 2.5
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 160

About the organisation

Boyes Turner is a full service law firm, based in Reading. It works with many of the world’s largest multinationals as well as UK and European businesses.

The challenge

In 2007, Boyes Turner introduced a three-year strategy to become the Thames Valley’s premier law firm, including doubling the number of legal staff. As a regional law firm competing with large, high-profile City firms in a saturated legal recruitment market, it needed to raise awareness of its brand.

What the organisation did



  • A high-impact advertising campaign was launched to increase Boyes Turner’s profile with legal recruitment consultants, and encourage potential candidates to ask recruiters to approach the firm on their behalf
  • The HR team maintained solid relationships with a high number of legal recruitment agencies, and built much closer relationships with a panel of six preferred agencies
  • A dedicated recruitment micro-site was launched, linked to the printed advertising campaign, which included videos featuring lawyers speaking about their clients.

Benefits and achievements



  • More than 150 applications received within five days of the first ad being placed
  • 1,450 applications received , 98% relevant to vacant roles
  • Candidate interest increased by 30% on the previous year
  • Employee headcount increased by 23% (target was 20%), with 30 new employees recruited between January and October 2008
  • 24% of recruits were direct applications, saving an estimated £64,000.

Judge’s comments

Kaye Thorne says: “The initial focus of this project was recruitment, and Boyes Turner have used some really innovative ways of building their brand.”

 


British Gas – Energy First


The team: Energy First people team
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 3,000

About the organisation

British Gas, part of the Centrica Group, provides gas, electricity and home repair services to millions of customers in the UK.

The challenge

In 2006, British Gas established three divisions to focus on distinct customer groups. The largest, with 3,000 employees, is Energy First, with nearly seven million customers. The business had a change of managing director and HR director early on, and the team felt an employee brand was needed to refocus the strategy and engage leaders.

What the organisation did



  • Created an identity based on a dot to reflect that it needed to ‘join the dots’ and connect what everyone was doing under a unified vision and strategy
  • The vision “First for customers… first for our people” was unveiled
  • Roadshows were held at each location to spread the message to staff, and call centres were rebranded.

Benefits and achievements



  • Engagement/commitment levels across the team up 21%
  • Customer satisfaction levels over the past 12 months in Energy First are up by 38 points – well ahead of target
  • Customer calls are being answered more than a minute faster than a year ago, on average
  • All three sites are easily identifiable as Energy First, and the identity runs through all communication channels.

Judge’s comments

Graeme Martin says: “British Gas discussed employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, sensible tests of employer branding suggesting a culture of measurement.”

 


Firmdale Hotels


The team: HR
Number in team: 7
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 750

About the organisation

Firmdale Hotels is the owner and operator of a collection of individually-designed luxury hotels in London. Founded in 1985, the company was an early pioneer of the boutique hotel concept.

The challenge

Firmdale Hotels competes with well-known global organisations, so it needed an employer branding strategy to promote it as an employer of choice. It also wanted to set itself apart in terms of service standards to achieve a repeat business rate of more than 50%.

What the organisation did



  • Selected two areas – service and careers – that differentiated it from its competitors, and marketed these internally and externally, ensuring employee brand literature reflected company brand
  • One-hour service training initiative launched by board director and head of HR
  • Incentive scheme rewarding individuals who add value
  • Policy of appointing general managers from within, with unsuccessful internal applicants given detailed feedback.
  • Careers open days.

Benefits and achievements



  • Asked what attracted them to Firmdale, 90% of applicants cite its reputation for service and career progression/training
  • Increase in refer a friend scheme
  • Direct recruitment costs down to £170 per hire
  • Repeat business more than 50%
  • 25% reduction in staff turnover
  • 800 examples recorded of staff adding value to customers in four months.

Judge’s comments

Kaye Thorne says: “Firmdale wanted to create a compelling employer brand that differentiated it from its competitors, integrated its brand proposition into all areas of the employment cycle, and added value by executing the strategy within a limited cost.”

 


Kellogg’s


The team: European organisational effectiveness team
Number in team: 12
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 2,012

About the organisation

Kellogg’s is the world’ leading producer of cereal and a leading producer of convenience foods. Its products are manufactured in 17 countries and marketed in more than 180.

The challenge

Kellogg’s needed to compete for the best talent, drive down recruitment costs, source candidates directly, and build a talent back for the future to achieve its five-year business plan. Buy-in was needed from the president of Kellogg Europe, leadership teams and marketing and communications teams.

What the organisation did



  • Nine months of research inside and outside the business, including leadership interviews, analysis of career motivators, interviews with high performers, review of competitor activity, interview of potential candidates
  • Reported back to European HR director and leadership team. Results became basis of employer brand
  • Launched across Europe simultaneously by video conference, and to the media by a co-ordinated PR campaign. Employee and candidate-related materials rebranded.

Benefits and achievements



  • Placed 30 in Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For
  • Increased direct hires to 71% from 51% in 2007
  • Driven down cost per hire to £2,695, a saving of £1,202
  • Totals savings of £351,384 during 2008.

Judge’s comments

Graeme Martin says: “Kellogg’s did extensive research inside and outside the organisation, including reviewing competitor activity, which is the hallmark of serious engagement with a form of employer branding that is likely to be seen as authentic.”

 


Luminus Group


The team: HR business team
Number in team: 5
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 338

About the organisation

Cambridgeshire-based Luminus Group is a registered social landlord, and provides homes for more than 30,000 people.

The challenge

To raise the profile of the organisation and be recognised as an employer of choice through distinctive branding, enabling Luminus to recruit and retain the bets staff, raise morale, improve internal communications and increase employee’s sense of involvement with and commitment to Luminus.

What the organisation did



  • Recognised that brand was based on strong leadership, distinctive ethos and clear and open communication. Distributed set of advertorials in the press describing this approach
  • Regular one-to-one meetings, and monthly staff conferences where key messages shared and chief executive gives motivational talks, messages also available though newsletter and intranet
  • Staff issued with ‘I commit to’ card, outlining organisation’s mission, principles and basic standards.

Benefits and achievements



  • Attracted high calibre of applicants for vacancies
  • Average days lost due to sickness dropped to just 3.5 days per employee – a third of the level in 2006
  • Staff turnover down to 12%, saving recruitment and new training costs
  • Staff satisfaction levels improved – 86% feel the company provides a culture of respect.

Judge’s comments

Kaye Thorne says: “The initial focus has been recruitment; this has been an effective branding campaign.”

 


Paul UK


The team: HR team
Number in team: 4
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 354

About the organisation

French bakery chain Paul celebrated its 120th anniversary this year. It launched in the UK in 2001 and now has 22 shops here.

The challenge

Paul UK had no specific branding in place to attract applicants and support recruitment. Managers used handwritten window posters and applicants were often given napkins with scribbled phone numbers when applying for jobs. Out of desperation the company was hiring people with limited experience who walked in off the street.

What the organisation did



  • Created brand attraction materials portraying the Paul culture and values, including application forms, recruitment and benefit leaflets, posters, staff handbooks and online advertising
  • Created a buddy scheme
  • Defined a ‘Paul person’ with specific job descriptions aligned to career paths
  • Created ‘Branded Resource Centre’ above a Paul shop, co-ordinated vacancies centrally.

Benefits and achievements



  • Professional image from attraction and assessment to recruitment
  • Improved candidate quality, higher level of rejections
  • 82% would recommend a friend to work at Paul
  • Bakery staff turnover down form 58% to 92%, overall reduction of 30% (industry norm is up to 300%)
  • Significant cost reduction.

Judge’s comments

Kaye Thorne says: “Paul has embraced its heritage and aligned everything with its consumer brand, creating a distinct recruitment identity and further aligned this with career paths, pay rates and internal development progression.”

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