In just a few days, the stars of recruitment advertising come together to celebrate the best in the industry at the RAD Awards 2023. Here we profile the shortlist for a new category: Use of Research and Insight in Employer Branding, sponsored by Personnel Today Jobs.
AB InBev Cheers to Dreaming Big – MSL UK
Brewing company AB InBev’s existing employer brand ‘Challenge Accepted’, had begun to feel to masculine. MSL wanted to create an employer value proposition that held true to the needs of 170,000 employees in the new, post-pandemic world.
Using its BeliefStack technology and looking at data from previous campaigns and focus groups, MSL UK identified the primary beliefs of its three key audiences: students, factory workers and specialists. Over five months of research, the agency discovered that employees and candidates were motivated by supportive and inclusive values.
Winners will be announced on 26 January at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
The Cheers to Dreaming Big campaign brought together the company’s ambitious culture but also the notion of doing things together as a team. After the new positioning was launched, almost 3,500 graduates and undergraduates visited the company at the Bright Network Festival, with 51% of them female and 20% from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. Month-on-month statistics showed a 152% increase in the level of engagement and creations using the new branding. There was a 69% increase in job applications the month after launch, resulting in more than 2,500 applications.
Fidelity Employer Brand – SMRS
Investment company Fidelity International wanted to develop an employer brand that would attract and retain talent in global markets, help it to become a great place to work, support growth and help it to deliver on its purpose. It wanted to find out how the Fidelity experience and values played out in different regions and identify common themes.
Through a global survey and discussions with 44 leaders, it came up with the core theme of ‘Feel Fidelity’. It held focus groups with colleagues from 12 countries at every career stage, as well as new joiners. Working with SMRS, it created a distinctive look and messaging style, developing a global ambassador community to reflect the diversity of the business. It created guidelines outlining purpose, values, associated behaviours, the employee experience and its culture. The core branding has since been tailored to specific regions so colleagues can share stories and user-generated content.
The result is a framework of four ‘feeling’ pillars for employees: feeling curious about their career; feeling valued as an individual; feeling proud of the impact they make; and feeling part of the progress they are making alongside the company. These pillars drive purpose, values, behaviours and culture at the company.
Haleon For Health. With Humanity – Havas People
In 2020, GSK decided to spin off its consumer healthcare division and create a new brand. This was the challenge for Havas People: to build an employer brand for a company that technically did not exist. Usually employer value proposition (EVP) research looks backwards, but this was a unique opportunity to create an EVP from scratch that would define what the company would be.
The research phase involved a number of stages and took two years in total. Primary research was conducted with employees to see what mattered most to them. Havas People also talked to recruitment agencies and headhunter partners about perceptions of GSK as an employer and the candidate market, helping to address any potential questions from external candidates. Further research included a study of Gen Z motivations and an external survey of global professionals. The company launched officially at the London Stock Exchange in July 2022 and Havas People launched The Haleon Experience, a blueprint for the new company’s EVP.
The experience has been translated into 15 languages; 110 communication assets were created for the launch; there were more than 120 employees involved in the online research community and more than 30 workshops contributed to the new brand. More than 10,000 people viewed The Haleon Experience launch video when it was released.
IBM Global TVP Research – Pink Squid
After developing a global employer brand for IBM in 2021, Pink Squid wanted to understand what motivated sub-segments of candidates or employees so it could adapt its messaging. With 350,000 employees across a fast-changing company, it needed to gather in-depth insight from specific groups of talent – to understand their sub-cultures, skills and roles. After this, it could develop tailored messaging while remaining consistent with the global messaging framework.
It identified five sub-segments: developers, tech sales, early professional hiring, consulting and delivery centres. Primary research involved interviews with department heads, a survey and in-depth interviews with 28 employees. Secondary research was then undertaken, focusing on social media mentions, audience analysis, LinkedIn talent insights and competitor analysis. These focused on questions such as employees’ motivation for joining IBM, what they look for in an employer and what would motivate them to stay.
The key insight from the research was that IBM’s brand pillars continued to resonate across all sub-segments. This meant the company could build tailored messaging on top of its existing core brand. Pink Squid summarised its findings into five research reports, which will now be used for the final phase of brand evolution – flexing the employer brand.
Kingfisher Indifference – ThirtyThree
In 2019, ThirtyThree partnered with Kingfisher to launch a diversity, equity and inclusion campaign. The company had been criticised by its own employees for not being more vocal following the death of George Floyd in 2020 and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. The agency wanted to first focus on why the majority group (mostly white men in the head office) often don’t speak or act on race or equality issues.
The resulting insights of the ‘No Man Left Behind’ strategy would be focused on the white, male majority as much as under-represented groups. ThirtyThree explained the research to the senior leadership team, making it impossible for them to opt out of the conversation. It highlighted the facts that white majority audiences often turn away from such campaigns as they feel ‘blamed’ or that they are not the target of them, and was able to show they would be a necessary part of positive change.
The creative work that came from the research allowed groups that have traditionally been disenfranchised to feel seen and celebrated, while also involving majority groups in the discussion. It showed that indifference or apathy was as bad as racism itself as it maintained the unequal status quo.
Provident Credit Where Credit’s Due – Blackbridge Communications
The Covid pandemic had a profound impact on the 18,000 customer representatives who work for international financial services company Provident, who were dealing with customers in their homes. It expected a high turnover of staff in the 22/23 financial year, and realised it needed to combat this ‘great resignation’ with a change to its employer value proposition.
Research needed to clarify the role and motivations of customer representatives in the post-pandemic world, identify what motivated them, key areas for leadership to focus on and recommend specific courses of action to take. It decided to bring groups together face-to-face, with 58 focus groups taking place across five countries involving more than 500 employees. Blackbridge identified and trained facilitators from within the company.
The full outputs were then collated into a report, featuring key areas including attraction, development, recognition and communication. From this a cross-functional team was able to identify seven solution areas: revising talent attraction to reflect the reality of the role; consistent development pathways in different countries; revised management training; an annual customer representative conference; new recognition initiatives; different communication of incentives and upgraded technology. Stuart Doran, HR director at Provident, says the insight is “already reaping rewards – both in terms of commercially, but more critically, in the engagement of this critical population”.
Sanofi Employer Value Proposition – Symphony Talent
Global healthcare company Sanofi needed an employer brand that aligned with its new ‘Play to Win’ strategy, demonstrating its commitment to continuous improvement and positive change. Symphony Talent needed to incorporate Sanofi’s valued behaviours and align the new EVP to create a consistent internal and external experience.
Internal research covered four main business units, seven major markets, 20 virtual focus groups, a survey of 200 senior leaders, and 13 interviews with executive committee members, as well as focus groups with talent acquisition teams. Externally, Symphony Talent held 21 interviews with potential and former candidates, including those who had turned down an offer, or those who had not yet joined. The result was a research and brand strategy report that included a competitor audit, results of the focus groups, demographic breakdown of survey results and a full, thematic report on the brand.
From the research findings, Symphony Talent and Sanofi built an insights matrix based on the CARD methodology (credible, relevant, aspirational, differentiating). It also created a ‘brand key’ that includes the critical factors that feed into the Sanofi employer brand. There are four critical pillars: explore more; chase change; do right; and make miracles. Recruitment marketing projects have since benefited from more distinctive, tailored messaging and have led to further creative projects based on the research insights.