IHG wins 2016 Personnel Today Award for Employer Branding

Intercontinental Hotels Group checked out of the Personnel Today Awards 2016 this week with the Award for Employer Branding. Here, we profile its winning entry and the submissions of our runners-up.



About the organisation
Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) is a multinational hotels company based in the UK. It operates more than 5,000 hotels across nearly 100 countries, containing about 742,000 rooms.

The challenge
In 2014, to support its growth agenda, IHG conducted a brand health study to understand how well the brand resonated with target talent. Results showed that employer brand awareness was low; candidates didn’t know it was a hospitality business and the external message was not clear. A digital audit revealed the digital brand identity and presence was inconsistent on the global careers website.

What the organisation did

Award for Employer Branding – the judges

Mervyn Dinnen, content marketing and social engagement strategist
Marcus Body, Thirty-Three

  • Decided to re-energise and update the external employer brand identity and message; transform the global careers website; refresh recruitment support tools and assets; and launch a global brand awareness campaign via digital, social media and PR.
  • Re-energised the external employer brand identity and message. Developed a promise to potential staff with the message: “Whoever you are, whatever you love doing, we welcome all of you at IHG”.
  • Brought to life “All of you at IHG” through a visual creative process. IHG photographed over 85 people globally to display a diversity of roles, people and brands.
  • Transformed the global careers website through mobile optimisation, and updated the user experience to allow the website to be user friendly on all devices.
  • Shared the brand story through updated video, blog and people profiles.
  • Brought the brand to life: through visual design and content, the organisation was able to link the IHG brand to its hotel brands more clearly than before, reducing drop-off rate and encouraging candidates to apply directly.
  • Led a four-week, multi-channel campaign, which reached passive talent with the “All of you” message, comprising editorial PR, a video series YouTube campaign and content on Twitter.
  • Ran a global launch week of internal activity, reinforcing the proposition and encouraging “brand ambassadors”. Staff were encouraged to externalise activities on social channels – #LifeAtIHG was used more than 900 times during the campaign.

Benefits and achievements

  • Refreshed external brand identity has allowed IHG to talk to candidates effectively – 21% more people are attracted and 22% would consider working at IHG after seeing the new concept. More than eight in ten (87%) people wanted to find out more about IHG Careers.
  • Monthly drop-off rate on mobile-optimised global careers website reduced from 43% to 19% (43,000 more people viewing IHG content). Mobile drop-off rate reduced from 61% to 23%.
  • Launched new brand toolkit, training tools, digital and offline recruitment marketing collateral in more than 25 languages.
  • Engagement has risen by 26% since employer brand was introduced.
  • Company pride is 95% and job satisfaction both stand at 93% (both 11% above industry average).
  • More than nine in ten (94%) staff would recommend IHG as a place to work (18% above average).
  • IHG has worked out that a 5% percentage point rise in engagement equals 70 cents of increased revenue per available room per night

Judges’ comments
“Great solution for deployment internally and externally across a huge range of geographies and talent markets. Impressive list of deliverables, with some great stats to show the impact.”

IHG receive their trophy for the 2016 Employer Branding Award


Dixons Carphone

About the organisation
In 2014, Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse Group came together in a £3.8 billion merger. The new company is now one of Europe’s leading electrical and telecommunications retailers, Dixons Carphone.

The challenge
The merger brought a host of high street stores together and made them one family – but without a unified brand. It was necessary to inspire colleagues to ensure staff retention during such major change, as well as attract the right new talent to the business.

What the organisation did

  • Defined a new employer value proposition (EVP), supported by evidence of the things that make people love working at Dixons Carphone.
  • Created a vibrant visual identity, including marketing material that showed bright, bold backgrounds alongside striking typography, so that colleagues could connect with bold, clear statements of what it means to work at Dixons Carphone.
  • Developed a detailed and interactive digital brand book, with everything colleagues might need to know on the new EVP.
  • Built a new careers site, designed to bring the EVP to life.
  • Gathered content from across the company’s social media channels on the careers site social hub – allowing users to hear about Dixons Carphone from passionate, proactive colleagues.
  • Developed a store managers’ recruitment toolkit, which gave each manager a branded USB wristband: a wearable resource hub and an immersive brand experience.
  • Created an HR presentation to roll out the store managers’ toolkit, complete with a communications plan and staggered announcements to help everyone understand the EVP and support the new recruitment experience.
  • Ran seasonal campaigns to help the business retain its best temporary Christmas colleagues, and used seasonal trends to drive engagement.
  • Embraced the EVP on a new e-learning platform, ensuring that all colleagues felt supported to develop their talent.

Benefits and achievements

  • EVP has been activated across multiple points across the business. All brand, marketing, communications, HR, resourcing and executive team colleagues now have the brand book.
  • Store managers’ toolkit has been delivered to 1,600 store managers in the UK and Ireland
  • Since the new careers site went live in February 2016, more than 73,000 applicants (resulting in more than 1,400 new hires) have engaged with the EVP.
  • All 42,000 employees are now directed to the new e-learning platform, and all communications that they receive are branded in line with the EVP.
  • Annual profit has increased year on year. Revenues are up 5% for the full year.
  • Dixons Carphone won Retail Week’s “Retailer of the Year” in 2016.

Judges’ comments
“Really complex merger situation, and a beautifully crafted and well-thought through creative solution with a great range of materials and resources.”

McDonald’s Restaurants

About the organisation
McDonald’s is a US-headquartered fast-food chain. It is the world’s largest restaurant group, serving approximately 68 million customers daily in 119 countries at more than 36,000 outlets.

The challenge
Over the last 10 years, McDonald’s has aimed to close the perception gap that exists around its jobs and its people. Although past campaigns such as “Not bad for a McJob” have played an important role in communicating its progressive practices, the view that the organisation offered low-paid dead-end jobs still existed.

What the organisation did

  • Overhauled consumer-facing brand and recruitment materials to address five objectives: build its reputation as an employer of choice; improve perceptions of employees; build trust in the brand; help attract and hire the right people; and instill pride in its people to support motivation and retention.
  • Put real employees at the centre of the campaign, showing that no matter who you are, McDonald’s could be a part of your future.
  • Set up a nationwide competition via the intranet, where employees were invited to submit their own stories and state what they loved about working for McDonald’s.
  • Invited selected employees to a London photoshoot, to create bright, fresh and vibrant material that was based around their story. Each individual was given their own headline in a personalised font that reflected their personality, supported with an image that brought their story to life.
  • Highlighted individual experiences and showed how McDonald’s had enabled them to focus on things that are important to them.
  • Built a modern and responsive recruitment site to offer a bright, clear and engaging experience, while maintaining an intuitive and informative journey for the candidate.
  • Distributed videos across a range of commercial and social channels. Videos and banners linked up with the refreshed McDonald’s recruitment site, meaning the user journey was consistent.

Benefits and achievements

  • Media campaign was viewed by 14.4 million unique users. Percentage of completed video views outperforming industry benchmarks across the board – especially on Facebook, where videos were viewed 43% more than the Facebook average.
  • Research to test the impact of the media campaign on people’s attitude toward McDonald’s found that the percentage of users who thought that McDonald’s has a positive effect on its workforce had increased by 16%.
  • Those who thought that McDonald’s prepares its employees for the future increased by 20%.
  • The percentage of people who think that McDonald’s is a good employer increased by 20%, showing that the media campaign and creative had a tangible impact on McDonald’s external reputation.
  • In the first four months of the campaign, the recruitment site saw more than 200,000 unique users searching and exploring the site, leading to a 27% rise in applications and 18% rise in hires (compared with the same period last year).

Judges’ comments
“Good challenge and the rollout seems to be strong, targeting the right audience.”

Odeon & UCI Cinemas

About the organisation
Odeon & UCI Cinemas is Europe’s largest cinema operator with 243 cinemas, 2,238 screens and around 9,500 employees across seven territories (UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and Austria).

The challenge
Odeon needed to increase market share. This meant that it needed to fully engage its colleagues, empowering them to give guests the best possible experience. The employer brand needed to resonate with employees across all territories in multiple languages (without an intranet), and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the brand despite a constant flow of news starters entering the business.

What the organisation did

  • Devised an insight-driven, long-term employer brand strategy, which would have a measurable impact on engagement and motivation, guest satisfaction and profit. It achieved this by using: colleague focus groups; candidate surveys; employee engagement survey data; and the creation of a “colleague archetype”, which depicted exactly who it wanted to attract.
  • Developed an EVP that truly reflects what it is like to work at Odeon & UCI. The new EVP focused on building “skills for life”. Every internal communication reflected core attributes including: “never stand still”, “we’ll go on a journey together”, and “work hard but play harder”.
  • Created the “Be Odeon” employee brand, which uses emotive language, powerful imagery and the overarching concept of “Be Odeon” (eg “Be Inspired. Be Odeon” and “Be Adventurous. Be Odeon”).
  • Utilised an exciting, recognisable internal design, introduced across all colleague communications.
  • Completed an audit of every point of a colleague’s journey; from attraction to application, onboarding, induction, reward, career development and exit.
  • Results were used to create a roadmap, which will inform the group chief people officer’s HR strategy for the next five years.
  • Committed to supporting colleagues on their journey with the organisation, including the recruitment of 100 “brand heroes” across Europe to undergo specialist training and help their peers to live the employer brand.
  • Introduced Google+ to enable colleagues to share stories and interact with each other.

Benefits and achievements

  • Odeon has shown the largest increase in organisational health index (OHI) score in a two-year period. A current score of 76 (up from 56 in March 2014) is in the top quartile of McKinsey’s global database.
  • There was a 14% growth in attendance in 2015, which was 40% better than the average 10% growth in this industry.
  • Total revenues grew 20% in 2015.
  • As at February 2016, more than 1,200 members had posted on Google+, and more than 2,500 pictures and 100 videos had been uploaded. Google+ has proven to be a quick, easy and cost-effective way of bringing international colleagues together.
  • More than 90 days were spent by colleagues actively taking part in vision and values activities (75 hours per day across the group).

Judges’ comments
“Really striking creative solution, with some great ideas, but what’s really impressive is the hard business metric improvements (alongside the HR ones), consistently across a huge geographical spread of employees. It’s no surprise the CEO is pleased.”

Royal College of Nursing

About the organisation
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is the world’s largest union and professional body for nursing staff. It is a membership organisation of more than 435,000 registered nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and nursing students.

The challenge
The RCN had never sought to identify its brand as an employer. With almost 900 staff across the UK, and annual recruitment for approximately 185 posts, it was crucial that it captured the essence of working for the RCN and sought to market itself as an employer of choice in order to attract the very best talent.

What the organisation did

  • Developed an employer brand to reflect and complement the mission, vision, values and core competencies framework. Created subgroups that represented a cross-section of staff to take each work stream forward.
  • Undertook research to understand staff perceptions of RCN as an employer, and how this fitted with its purpose and vision.
  • Identified a feeling that the “outside world” did not understand the depth of work of the RCN and, as a result, great people may not see themselves working there.
  • Created a new employer brand in September 2014. Based around the concept of “the Royal College of Possibilities”, the brand celebrates the diversity of the organisation, showcases the variety of roles, and encourages potential candidates to consider a career with the RCN through giving real insight into what working there will be like.
  • Embedded this into recruitment advertising, which has been integral to the promotion of the RCN as an employer of choice to attract and retain talent.
  • Launched a new careers website in March 2015 to highlight the brand. The site included branded videos of staff.
  • Showcased the RCN on social media, enhancing its presence on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Twitter.
  • Created a toolkit for recruiting managers to use, which includes advert templates that utilise the new brand language in a consistent way and a bank of assessments that ensure the brand translates into the selection process and into onboarding practices.

Benefits and achievements

  • Since the launch of the careers website in March 2015, the number of visitors to the site has increased on average by 974%.
  • In January 2016, there were almost 25,000 page views, the highest level yet.
  • When recruiting for posts in 2014, 11% of vacancies advertised were re-advertised following no appointment. From January to December 2015, only 4% of vacancies were re-advertised.
  • In the third quarter of 2016, 40% of candidates that applied were shortlisted for an assessment centre.
  • Overall spend on recruitment has fallen 20% since 2013, due to a significant reduction in expenditure on print advertising – roles that were previously advertised on costly job boards can now be successfully advertised for free.
  • Candidate engagement has been enhanced through the use of social media. RCN is currently averaging one new twitter follower per day and has gained more than 2,500 new LinkedIn followers in last 12 months.

Judges’ comments
“Clear challenge identified and good use of internal research to shape brand and language. Consistency and evidence of positive impact on quality, time and cost per hire.”

VSO International

About the organisation
VSO is a leading international development organisation that aims to fight poverty and reduce inequality. It sends skilled volunteers from sectors such as health, education and business to work with partners overseas.

The challenge
Over the last few years, VSO’s recruitment teams have faced increasing pressure. The skills required of its volunteers are often in short supply and in high demand globally. Attracting candidates is difficult, particularly because they are being asked to volunteer in some of the world’s poorest and most fragile communities.

What the organisation did

  • Created the new VSO People brand, supported by eight “building blocks” (themes such as demonstrating passion, enabling innovation and doing extraordinary things).
  • Consulted with individuals and teams across the organisation, with contributions also made by alumni, prospective candidates and external partners.
  • Conducted a global positioning project, focusing on the international development sector and VSO’s role within it, including an employer brand “competitor” analysis.
  • Drew on significant analysis into what the focus of VSO should be over the next five years.
  • Put the new brand into practice by working through the brand touch points and key channels used to communicate with prospective, current and former employees/volunteers. Messages to support the brand at each point were incorporated into user guidelines and toolkit.
  • Developed the look and feel of the brand so that VSO would stand out and compete strongly, not just within the not-for-profit sector but across the private and public sectors too.
  • Made the guidelines and toolkit accessible to everyone at VSO, with dedicated training provided for specific groups such as recruiters and people managers in all of our country offices. A global repository was created to allow easier sharing of branded materials.
  • Built flexibility into the guidelines so that the brand could be adapted to suit local circumstances, while still presenting a consistent picture of VSO.

Benefits and achievements

  • “People” brand has increased awareness of VSO as an employer of choice in existing and new markets, and helped extend the reach of the corporate brand.
  • Engagement: there has been a clear emotional buy-in from candidates, current volunteers/employees and alumni and it provides a cohesive approach for engaging with them throughout their involvement with VSO.
  • Brand guidelines, toolkit and training made accessible across VSO’s network of countries, has enabled it to present a more globally consistent picture, while still allowing locally relevant adaptation.
  • Alignment with corporate brand: the People brand has been developed based on the organisational values and builds on, rather than contradicts, the corporate brand, ensuring they complement each other in communications.
  • Attraction of applicants: there has been a marked increase in the click-through from job boards to application forms, direct visits to the website and the volunteering/careers pages, and the volume of actual quality applications
  • Building a global presence has led to significant growth in sourcing from new markets.

Judges’ comments
“What’s really impressive here is that the brand doesn’t just tug at the heart strings; it has a clear link to strategy, purpose and values, and brings consistency across a complex set of audiences.”

Comments are closed.