Look at employer branding through a business lens.
Every month, Lesley Arens of #ZigZagHR interviews an international HR professional. This time Sofia Van Overmeire, General Manager of HR Talents, connects Lesley with Alba Mora, Head of Employer Branding International Region (Latam, Africa, Middle East, India, Euro Asia, Asia) at Sanofi. Together with Yves Pilet, she rolls out a strategic approach across the region and look at how the different countries can align and learn from each other.
Alba Mora is convinced that employer branding is a capability skill that every HR professional should develop. "However, managers and employees should also be involved here," says the Head of Employer Branding International at Sanofi. "It's up to HR to take the lead, so that the employer brand and the employer value proposition, the promise you make as a company to your potential and current employees, become fully embedded in all HR processes and practices," Alba Mora continues. The focus is not just on recruitment. It is essential to deploy the Employer branding strategy throughout the entire employee life cycle".
"In doing so, HR takes on the role not only being a business partner, but go further, being active part of the business" She believes. "That is precisely why the acquisition of business acumen is necessary for every HR professional. In this way you can add value to the business, understanding their needs and speaking the same language." She herself does not have an HR background, but she does bring a backpack of experience from marketing, sales, innovation, project management and business development to the table. A great added value, she claims, because it means she is well able to translate business challenges into an Employer branding strategy.
Yves Pilet, author of Boost Your Employer Brand, sits down with us. He helps companies to attract, develop and engage the right talent through his employer brand BluePrint© methodology. Together they share their approach and insights from the Employer Branding journey across the International Region at Sanofi, as aligning the different zones and countries is a long-term job and a permanent challenge... The biopharmaceutical company Sanofi has some more than 100.000 employees, spread over 100 countries. In Belgium alone, the group has 1500 employees at four sites (Brussels, Diegem, Geel and Ghent).
New job market, new strategy, new employer brand
Alba Mora: "The labor market has changed fundamentally. Worldwide, People have changed their expectations regarding work and employers. This has required a new strategy and now it´s translated into a new Employer Value Proposition at Sanofi. In order to guarantee the ultimate people, experience, our promise must come to life throughout the entire journey, inspiring them to be part of our common purpose: We chase the miracles of science to improve people’s lives and inviting them to live our value proposition: Pursue progress. Discover extraordinary.
Work method 1
Start with a baseline measurement
Alba Mora: "In order to roll out a new employer branding strategy regionally, you first required to ensure that all countries are aligned. That's why, in the first phase, we took a picture of how employer branding was shaping up in the different countries at that time. That photo or baseline measurement exposed major differences between them in terms of maturity and implementation of employer branding practices. It also revealed that employer branding was not embedded in the talent strategy to the same extent everywhere. There were opportunities to leverage collaboration and activate synergies. When we started four years ago, employer branding was still an emerging discipline."
Work method 2
Yves Pilet: "Sanofi wanted to achieve a clear and uniform understanding of what employer branding meant for all countries part of International Region. Therefore, in several sessions, I explained the importance of employer branding, as well as the different stages of maturity that you go through as an organization to build a strong employer brand. Instead of just giving them the tools, we made sure that the regions were aligned and that they could use employer branding strategically."
Work method 3
Establish a community
Alba Mora: "We then wanted countries to learn from each other. To encourage this, we created an international community and invited the various stakeholders to join: Talent Acquisition teams, HR business partners, Employer branding champions and Communication. This community has now grown into an international network of over one hundred peers who inspire one another and learn from each other's practices. In this way, we accelerate the maturity level, and at the same time we stimulate knowledge transfer and the collective intelligence. Important: We also learn from mistakes."
Expand your employer branding team with non-HR experts
Yves Pilet: "Employer branding is not about HR or marketing; the added value and magic lies in bringing both and other expertise together."
Alba Mora: "HR and marketing can learn from each other. A strong employer branding team is able to look at reality through different lenses. For example, you need to be able to look at talent management strategically. That means being able to read the external context and understand its impact on your talent strategy. Marketing and sales professionals are usually better at this, they also have more experience in monitoring results. It is crucial that you attract such capabilities, also in connection with diversity."
Always look at employer branding through a business lens
Alba Mora: "In Business, If you don't sell, you are not sustainable”. In HR too, you must sell to people and the business the value proposition of your offerings. You are encouraged to be a center of profitability rather than only a cost center, because that is the only way you create and add value. e.g. In an Onboarding process, the aim of HR is to integrate new employees into the company as quickly as possible and to ensure business continuity and short term results. That's why you have to approach employer branding and, by extension, all HR projects with a business eye."
Do not stop experimenting
Alba Mora: "We are now seeing an increased level of maturity, practices have been standardized regionally as everyone is using and familiar with the same tools and methodology, of course with a local translation for each country. Countries are now looking at employer branding more through business lenses. There is more consciousness of a learning community that seeks the continuous improvement and to keep experimenting as you learn from each test."
Employer Branding in 2030
Alba Mora: "Employer branding is not a project, not a campaign, not a tool and not a platform. It's about being able to properly assess the dynamics between candidates, employers and business, so that the company attracts the right people and engage them. This is where the strategic added value of employer branding lies."
Yves Pilet: "Employer branding has evolved from nice to have to must have, and not just for large companies like Sanofi. In the past, the focus of companies was purely on profit, today we see a shift towards profit and people, and in the coming years this will further evolve into profit, people, and planet. People increasingly want to work for organizations that look beyond the economic interests.