5 secrets from SA's top employers

HR has traditionally been viewed as the cogs in the wheel to strategically manage people as a business resource – dealing with HR policies, contracts, employee development etc. However, HR has become much bigger than that.

HR plays a critical role in shaping and defining the employer brand. A healthy employer brand is critical in engaging with your staff and attracting quality prospective employees. With the labour market becoming increasingly competitive – HR has had to adapt to the changes and not just fill in a tactical role but step up to being a strategic partner of building and maintaining the organisation’s employer brand in order to attract, retain and engage talent.

We’ve interviewed 5 of South Africa’s Top Employers for their secrets to successful employer branding. These Top Employers have been certified for providing excellence in employee conditions.

1. Mercedes-Benz South Africa: “Marketing and PR work hand in hand to create the Employer Brand”

Mercedes-Benz recognised early that the collaboration between HR and Marketing was becoming critical to employer branding. Mercedes-Benz used key marketing insights to develop Employee Value Proposition messages for the right target market and branched out to digital tools to maximise creativity and appeal.

Marketing helps increase the visibility of the employer brand and attractiveness through channels, media and platforms traditionally used for brands only. Digitalisation has also expanded opportunities for creative employer branding. For example, the use of virtual reality technology to give prospective talent an experience of the employer’s value proposition without having to physically visit Mercedes-Benz’s facilities, is an example of how marketing and HR collaboration is driving employer branding.

2. Sanlam: “LinkedIn is a powerful platform for Employer Branding”

As most of Sanlam’s professional staff are LinkedIn members – they strategically decided to incorporate LinkedIn into their employer branding strategy. Sanlam use Work with Us, a bespoke LinkedIn employer brand methodology to leverage their employee’s networks on this platform. Using LinkedIn as a prime platform – the brand ambassadors are able to engage with internal and potential external talent by positioning the Sanlam brand.

In order to achieve this, Sanlam have selected 10 brand ambassadors and work on creating content with these brand ambassadors, such as through photo shoots and stories. This content is then shared on their internal career page and on their LinkedIn career page. Sanlam has also developed a website specifically dedicated to their Employee Value Proposition. The Employee Value Proposition is the golden thread in all of Sanlam’s employer branding campaigns.

3. Transnet: “Nothing beats belonging”

“Wouldn’t you agree that the biggest driving force behind any organisation is its people and that companies that perform extremely well, do so as a result of their inspired, empowered and enabled colleagues?” Ogotlhe Dolly Sathekgem, General Manager: Group Talent Management & Transformation for Transnet. Transnet recognises that in order for the company to consistently achieve their strategic objectives and to be an employer of choice, Transnet needs to create an enabling environment where their people feel that they belong.

Sathekgem shares Transnet’s formula for success: “I am empowered”, “I am enabled”, and “I am inspired” = “iBelong”. Sathekgem continues: “empowered employees are confident to take action, and most importantly have the authority to do so. Our Leadership is committed to inspiring and empowering employees to take action to serve our customers, a critical part of why we exist. We value our people and enable them to grow through outstanding training and development programmes that will allow them to add value too, and become an invaluable asset to us and to our country. In this high performance and enabling environment, our total reward structures are market-leading and we encourage and recognise our employees for excellence and their innovation."

4. Clicks: “Link your Employer Brand to your Employee Value Proposition”

The Clicks Group recognises that employer branding is a key mechanism used to attract talented individuals able to thrive within their high-performance, fast-paced environment as well as to inform their employee engagement interventions aimed at retaining both top and scarce talent. In order to maximise return on investment, the Clicks Group needed to ensure that their employer branding reflects their Employee Value Proposition and supports their organisational vision and mission. Measuring the success of their employer branding activities has proven to put the Clicks Group in good stead with the organisation achieving 7 Top Employer Certifications.

The Clicks Group has shared its wealth with 10% of its issued share capital in the hands of their employee share trust. The Clicks Group has also made a R 95 million investment in the development of our as well as having R 22 million spent on sustainable community initiatives in 2016 alone.

5. Wipro: “Employee involvement is critical to developing Brand Ambassadors”

Wipro has recently rebranded, incorporating a new logo and re-affirmed values. This new brand was largely birthed from within the Wipro family, based on Wipro employees’ own vision of what the Spirit of Wipro entails and what they believe Wipro stands for. The Wipro brand, as it now exists, is a collaboration between expert design and the Wipro family’s passion for the Spirit of Wipro.

Our brand is centred around our core values, drawn from the people we expect to be brand ambassadors, our employees. These values are: be passionate about clients’ success; be global and responsible; treat every person with respect; unyielding integrity in everything we do. The Wipro family believes in our brand and continues to uphold it and its values, having been a part of their establishment.

Empowering our employees to continue to be brand ambassadors is an ongoing process, however; one which we revisit annually when conducting our employee perception survey. At each survey, we evaluate the Wipro family’s belief in the brand, assessing what has changed, incorporating changes where common, newly born beliefs or values are discovered, and re-affirming their pride in our brand and our values. Recently recognised as a Top Employer, Wipro Africa’s Business Head, Gavin Holme, said "We firmly believe that people form the foundation of an organisation. Companies need to invest in nurturing their employees and promoting an environment which fosters trust, growth, ideas and innovation. Happy and motivated employees are important aspects which drive organisational growth."

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