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By Adrian Seligman, Chief Commercial Officer, Top Employers Institute
By Adrian Seligman, Chief Commercial Officer, Top Employers Institute

Unlocking the value of the Top Employers Certification for your employer brand

How do Top Employers across the world reinforce and protect their employer brands? This was the question I discussed in an online session as part of the World Employer Branding Day Virtual Event held on 5 November, 2020. Here are the key takeaways regarding the value that leading organisations can derive from our Certification Programme for employer branding. They are particularly relevant at a time when many organisations continue to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, including those of remote working conditions and scattered workforces.

Employer branding from the inside out

For many, employer branding typically pertains to talent acquisition, when it should be considered from an inside-out approach. What this means is ensuring that the best people practices are in place to drive how employees feel about and perceive the organisation and the work they do.

Our survey data obtained from more than 1 600 certified Top Employers across 119 countries/regions at the end of 2019 shows that, prior to the pandemic, leading organisations already had the necessary people practices in place to support their employees in everything from well-being to remote working and collaboration.

What this meant is that when the pandemic hit, Top Employers were ready to respond, adapt and continue focusing on improving their people practices. 

  • 85% of Top Employers indicated that employee well-being was a key business imperative.
  • 70% offered flexible working conditions, including remote working and flexible hours. 
  • 86% ensured that workplaces (both physical and virtual) were designed to optimise/support collaboration among employees.
  • 84% said that social technology is being used organisation-wide as a key communications and collaboration tool.  

Assess your HR maturity 

What does this mean for employer branding? When looking into the value of the programme when it comes to insulating and protecting your employer brand, there are two key areas that we see Top Employers action when looking at where to start. These make up the ingredients to the aforementioned recipe for success and they are common to all projects. Firstly, 'What are we going to do or where are we going to start?' and secondly 'How are we going to measure success?' This is where the Top Employers HR Best Practices Survey comes in, as it not only to helps HR leaders determine where to focus their attention, but also for measuring the success of their efforts.

Our survey is designed to cover HR Best Practices across the following six domains:   

  1. Steer (including business strategy, people strategy and leadership).
  2. Shape (including organisation and change, digital HR and work environment).
  3. Attract (including employer branding, talent acquisition and on-boarding).
  4. Develop (including performance, careers and learning).
  5. Engage (including well-being, engagement, rewards and recognition and off-boarding).
  6. Unite (including values, ethics and integrity, diversity and inclusion and sustainability).

As part of the certification process, information is gathered across the six domains, and it is then validated by a team of HR auditors. The results are collated, benchmarked and shared back with the organisation. This process of benchmarking may well highlight areas of concern that were previously unknown.

Over the years, we have seen many cases where an HR Director may have already identified an opportunity to strengthen a certain area but has been so far unsuccessful in getting investment sign off to do something about it. It is common that the addition of external data showing the gap between the company and the market is enough to unlock budgets and assist the HR department’s evolution.

Certification outcomes 

Augmenting an employer brand is a multi-year process and this gives the opportunity for HR leaders to set ambitious goals. This is our second ingredient for success where we see companies looking into four key areas when considering how to strengthen their businesses. We call those areas Brand, Benchmark, Align and Connect.

The Top Employers Certification Programme gives organisations the information they need to set ambitious long-term goals. It looks at four key areas when considering how to strengthen their business. We call these areas Brand, Benchmark, Align and Connect.  

There are many metrics to track across HR, and here are a few that are often measured in relation to the impact of the Programme:

  • Alignment an important element of ensuring strength from within. Executives at HQ level spend time crafting the best global policies and practices, yet it is often the case that they are not fully adopted across the business. Here organisations can calibrate the results across the locations of a single client in order to highlight those potential gaps.
  • Measuring brand awareness across candidates is regularly used as a tangible outcome, for example PepsiCo has cited that 40% of their candidates have heard of PepsiCo’s status as a Top Employer.
  • Improved HR practices is unique to each organisation as this is outcome of spending time enhancing the critical areas of your people strategies.

Research published by an independent agency on the value of participation in the programme, revealed that the vast majority of Top Employers derive value across all four areas:   

  • Brand: 92% use their Certification Seal to attract and/or engage talent.
  • Benchmark: 77% of Top Employers use benchmarking data to adapt and improve their HR strategies.
  • Align: 73% use calibration data to align and adjust their HR strategies.
  • Connect: 84% attend Top Employers events to keep track of HR trends and best practices.

Case study: How Infosys drove their employer brand during the pandemic

What does this look like in practice? Infosys, a global leader in digital services and consulting, provides a great example of they have derived value from the Certification Programme. As the pandemic unfolded, Infosys accelerated the impact of their people practices by aligning with relevant domains from Top Employers Institute's HR Best Practices Survey. They specifically aligned with the domains of Steer, Shape and Engage. 

All the hard work the organisation had done prior to the pandemic enabled it to roll out 232,000 employees to remote working within a week. This was achieved without disruption to their business, via a plan based on “3Rs”, which formed part of the Shape domain of their new people strategy. These were: 

  • Restructure to a virtual workplace, with humanity and empathy front of mind at all times.
  • Reconfigure a new balance between work and life, accounting not only for employees but also their families and workplace communities.
  • Rewire the business to ensure the digital fluency needed for workplace collaboration.

In terms of employer branding – and much else besides – the results have been phenomenal for Infosys. Latest results show that 87% of employees are proud to work for the organisation, while its clients have also commented on the positive experience of working with Infosys employees during a difficult period for all concerned. Download the full case study here.  

Certainty through Certification

The Top Employers Certification Programme clearly drives value in the employer brand proposition. One only has to look at recent events to see that Top Employers had the right people practices in place to help them respond and adapt to the pandemic, which owes much to the rigorous and consistent certification process that the Top Employers Institute provides at a global scale.