This is particularly shocking as we expect our doctors and nurses to have a sense of vocation, an in-built value-set at which “care” should be at the core.
So I started to think about “employer branding” as a way of addressing some of the problems, given that it is such a popular concept amongst the HR community.
What is employer branding?
According to Wikipedia, the term ‘employer branding’ describes how an organisation markets what it has to offer to potential and existing employees. Marketers have developed techniques to help attract customers, communicate with them effectively and maintain their loyalty to a consumer brand. Employer branding involves applying a similar approach to people management.
And again from the CIPD:
“Our Guide to employer branding suggests the following definition of an employer brand: ‘…a set of attributes and qualities – often intangible – that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture’.
And finally from the employer brand consultancy Universum:
“Employer Branding is a logical process through which employers strive for one main goal: to have a strong appeal on their future and current ideal employees.”
This seems to me to fundamentally miss the point of the branding process.
You cannot separate people strategy from market strategy. We all know that a brand is a promise kept and how you deliver that promise is critical to the consumer experience and loyalty.
“Living the brand” is a cliché, but nonetheless true – a successful organisation must align its brand proposition, core values, customer service, staff training and staff recruitment strategies in the same direction so that the brand promise can be kept.
Your people strategy then becomes clear and the values inherent in your recruitment strategy are taken from the overall brand proposition – there is no separate “employer brand”.
Now, if someone, somewhere, could get the NHS off its bureaucratic merry-go-round and get back to the basics of what the organisation is there to do, who it’s there to serve, what core skills and values are needed to deliver it, and an HR strategy which recruited and trained to those requirements we might start getting somewhere….