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  • Petr Hovorka

Employer branding trends in the Czech Republic 2018

What companies got by with in 2017 won't be enough in 2018.

In the past year our team at BrandBakers stopped accepting requests for rewriting job postings and instead we have started working on changing the very recruitment process itself.

We work with our clients to turn the simple (and very often unpleasant and stressful) recruitment process experience into an amazing (and at the same time, branded) candidate experience.

There were some companies that we would originally only work with to prepare an HR marketing campaign – however, they would realize their shortcomings during the project and start working inwards, on their company culture. Other companies would take on an intense interest in individual employee or candidate groups and map their work-related wishes, expectations, concerns and fears. We also helped a few companies to kick-start the measurement of employer branding and HR marketing activities.

And we keep on going. The economy is roaring, the companies are doing well, they’re growing and they need more and more reinforcements. However, the market has long ago run out of people without jobs.

The demographic collapse between 2010 and 2030 will cause a decrease in the Czech workforce by 1 million. Some predictions say that Germany will lack 8 million people in the employment market by 2030, despite deploying artificial intelligence, robots and cobots.

The screws will keep on tightening. The scissors between the companies are opening, their brand positions are becoming much clearer.

Under the pressure of talent shortages, some companies have resorted to deploying their holistic medicine – employer branding – and their company culture is gradually shaping them into a better employers and partners for their own people. Meanwhile, other companies are stuck focusing on short-term solutions. They take painkillers to relieve the problem of attracting people. They release one recruitment campaign after another. They increase rewards for employee referrals. They try to solve their growing turnover when their employees leave for better opportunities elsewhere, by introducing commuter benefits or increasing the value of a meal voucher. Their short term solutions have very little impact.

So what can we look forward to in employer branding in 2018 in the Czech Republic? Just like last year and the one before that I haven’t conducted any detailed research, I’ve learnt from the world around us at BrandBakers, our networks and clients and have been inspired by trends and predictions from abroad (they’re years ahead of us anyway). I’ve only connected individual signals from the market and the activities of inspirational companies with my visionary ball. For 2018 I've ended up with 5 trends that will rive employer branding forward in the Czech Republic in 2018, the year when World Employer Branding Day returns to Prague.

OK, Let’s get into it!

1. The Brand and its growth can’t be delegated

Trend: From directed by the HR Team to Co-creation with senior management

Tomáš Karpíšek, the founder and visionary of the Ambiente restaurant chain, has considered its people and their brand as crucial from the very beginning.

Employer branding projects have mainly belonged under leadership of HR teams over past few years. It has to do with how the employer branding concept has been perceived and implemented: limited to ‘attracting’ new people. As the attention is being pulled back towards current employees, employer branding is increasingly being used in companies to ‘engage’ (to increase understanding, harmony and engagement) and to ‘retain’ (to lower turnover).

Some companies have realized, or are slowly starting to realize, that trusting the HR team with employer branding is similar to completely trusting the school with raising our children. School in life – just like HR in companies – should ‘only’ be a partner, supporting leaders and parents.

In 2018 more chief executives and senior managers will become involved in the employer brand strategy.

It will become part of their agenda and a regular point of discussion at meetings. The directors will start getting directly and actively involved in employer branding projects and no longer be a passive face of internal communication. They will become strong figures and support employer branding in their companies through greater focus and investment. HR teams desperately need this kind of support and attention – and the funds that go with it. Employer Branding will get closer to what it really is: ‘A leadership concept for increasing company value, for sorting thoughts and for forming teams of inspired employees that pull together.’

2. From Hunting to Nurturing, Towards Relationships Trend: From Hunting on social media to Relationships on social media

Some believe business content belongs on LinkedIn or career pages, while stories, entertainment, teambuilding or party photos belong on Facebook or Instagram. However, employer branding is about building relationships with candidates and employees with content and stories that evoke emotions, inspiration and engagement across all relevant social media platforms.

2018 will see companies opening up much more to their target audiences with the aim of building stronger relationships with candidates (and employees of other companies).

It will mostly be aided by inspiring, amusing and engaging content posted online. Companies will showcase their company culture and share both their successes and failures. Authenticity will drive engagement.

The potential reach and impact of social media is enormous. For example, two billion Facebook users spend on average 35 minutes per day on the platform and more than 3.7 million people log onto Facebook in the Czech Republic. Companies such as Maersk Group have amassed more than 2 million followers on Facebook not by chance, but by posting engaging, interesting and relevant content.

Maersk creates quality content that is shared with customers and candidates and followed by millions of people on social networks.

3. We listen to friends Trends: From Stimulated by money to Inspired by thoughts

Tyler Golden is presenting a referral program that brings over 50 % of new hires to IT company Red Hat.

A referral program as a means of recruiting new employees is still not helping Czech companies as much as it could. However when we look at it from the perspective of cost-per-hire and turnover in the first year (that troubles a lot of companies in the moment), it is the best tool. It’s no surprise, as its ability to spread positive (or negative word of mouth) is closely and directly tied to the quality of a company's culture. Bad companies, or those that don’t pay much attention to referral programs, gain 10% of employees this way –average companies are usually somewhere between 10% and 20% – good companies are in the range of 20% to 40% and the best ones soar above 40% (i.e. Red Hat from Brno, IFE CZ from Modrice, Renomia from Prague).

Companies that had already passed the first employer branding phase will target this tool in 2018.

It will be like the reinvention of the wheel – people rarely refer for only the sake of a financial reward. Companies will start asking themselves what would make their employees refer more, or what it is that stops them from referring. They will start training them how to advocate for the company. In the motto of ‘recruitment is not only a HR job,’ they’ll change the motto of the referral programs to: “Bring your acquaintance or friend that you would like working with. If you have a great team, we’ll be successful as a company and you will enjoy it here.” It may be aided by a new ‘service’ such as Atmoscope / Companies through the eyes of employees developed by LMC company ( operator), an equivalent to Glassdoor.

4. Back to basics, towards authenticity

Trend: From Marketing informs to Ambassadors communicate

A part of IT company Trusk’s career website #jsmetrask presenting the company culture as showcased by employees.

Information about companies used to be released into the world by PR or marketing teams. In recent years, these teams have also tried including external candidates in the dialogue as well. However, this mostly results in communication that is too shiny, too cute and too distant from the actual needs of employees. Introducing companies as employers needs particularly true story telling that showcases the employment experience, ideally through stories capturing the company culture in everyday life. Research shows the biggest obstacle in changing a job is that people can’t picture how it REALLY looks like in other companies. Ultimate authenticity is what it’s all about. And there are no doubles in these ranks. The biggest masters like Jean Paul Belmondo tend to have no comparisons.

In 2018, companies will speak much more through their employees, with whom they already have a firm bond.

Companies will gladly make the space and conditions for the employees and support them in any way they can. It’s a ticket to the most authentic representation on the employment market anyone could dream of. Besides the Prague IT company Trask in the picture above, the example of Thermo Fischer comes to mind. They gave out five cell phones to their employees so that interested candidates could call and find all about what really goes on in the company. They don’t instruct these employees in any way, they simply trust them.

5. Satisfaction is just the beginning Trend: From Satisfaction measurement to a Harmony survey

A pyramid of employee needs created by BAIN & COMPANY.

Many companies ask their employees year after year how satisfied they are at work. There’s nothing wrong with that, until they acknowledge that this parameter doesn’t have to be correct and it can steer them off track (i.e. by strengthening their teams with happiness managers). Measuring satisfaction is easy and easily comparable year-to-year. However, survey results have shown distinct differences between contributions of satisfied, engaged and inspired employees. It shows us that you need two and a quarter, satisfied employee to achieve the same performance as one inspired colleague.

In 2018 employee satisfaction will stop being perceived as the most important parameter. Companies will go a step further – they’ll pay attention to the integration, harmony and the extent of inspiration shown by their employees. They’ll start getting interested in whether their employees are in sync – whether their employees understand them, whether they share the same values and whether they live by them. As the logotherapy founder Viktor Frankl said: “The biggest unhappiness is looking for happiness. The right path is looking for fulfillment and meaning.” Companies will start looking for the balance between “directing satisfaction and happiness of their employees” and searching, realizing and strengthening the connection of their people to the purpose of their existence.

In conclusion The main benefit of employer branding is gaining a competitive advantage in the talent market. Each and every development phase, each new year, is more difficult when it comes to know-how, resources and execution. Companies have moved quite a bit in the past few years, so it won’t be a piece of cake in 2018. More directors will engage in employer branding, more employees will advocate and communicate on behalf of their companies on Facebook. But let’s not turn employer branding into rocket science, in the end it’s nothing more than creating ‘meaningful work in a caring environment.’

How many companies will use these employer branding trends for their benefit, I don’t know. I’m sure a few of them will. And those few will raise the bar of attracting, engaging and retaining the right people somewhat higher (and raise the price of doing business for those who will just keep taking painkillers).

What will you start working on in the next year?

Please let us know, we'd love to hear what's happening in your company.

Meet Petr Hovorka, Managing Partner at BrandBakers at World Employer Branding Day 25-27 April 2018 when he flies the local flag with Tomáš Ervín Dombrovský, Head of Analysis , Communication & Relations at LMC in a joint presentation:

"In Employer Branding, PEOPLE are CHANGING the Game!"

The Czech Republic is one of the fastest growing markets for employer branding in the world and the past two years has seen a significant uptake in the number of companies adopting a strategic approach to employer branding. However there is still much work to do!

LMC, a market leading company in the Czech Republic for the past 22 years, has assisted more than 5 million job seekers and collaborated with more than 20,000 companies by providing them with a range of services (e.g. job portals, recruitment management platform, online referral service, online education, employer review website, HR advisory, etc.) to support their dream for people to ‘love their jobs’.

Petr and Tomáš will present:

  • Iheir latest research on job market trends in Europe using unique data sets from research and services’ usage analysis from candidates and recruiters.

  • Insights on the changes in talent preferences when choosing a new employer, the key pressure points for employers in a talent short market and provide plausible solutions to address the main areas where companies are failing to match the best talent to assist them to innovate and grow.

  • Insights of the major trends driving investment in employer branding in the Czech Republic which are also adaptable in all markets as talent seek to work for companies with a strong reputation, a supportive workplace experience that offers meaningful work, fair pay, strong leadership and one that aligns with their personal values.

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