The 106 Employer Brand and Employee Experience Bootcamp

08 February 2024

Yesterday, we were delighted to finally host our Employer Brand and Employee Experience Bootcamp at our offices in OSIT Southwark. After some rescheduling due to tube strikes, we were honoured to welcome some of the most dynamic and impactful voices in employer branding and internal comms. Since we promised a light lunch, it felt only right to deliver as much sandwiches, sushi, and sweets as possible to get everybody comfortable and settled in.  

Henry introduced the outline of the day, setting the tone for the day with a light-hearted look at how to build employer brand away from typical questions facing modern companies. This began by looking at trends in people’s habits over the past years and reflecting on how they have remained largely unchanged. He related this to the fundamentals of business organisation and how it can be the starting point of using your internal culture to drive output. Questions around talent acquisition and engagement will come and go, but creating a brand that’s in tune with your people and your customer base is the main driving point of bringing clarity to your vision and purpose.  

The first of our external speakers was Samantha Fletcher and Sophie Wood who headed up the communications team at Ocado. Their talk built on some of Henry’s points as their case study was a seamless demonstration of employee experience embodying brand values. They talked us through how they launched their driver-focussed podcast Scan And Deliver, from analyses of their different departments in Peterborough and Park Royal. This required an on the ground understanding of their employee base and a recognition and their listening habits to ensure that the podcast was produced for them and not seen as only for head office. Interestingly, the challenge that emerged was more similar to the problems of producing entertainment in general, as their initial feedback was that they didn’t want to hear about the heavier topics that were floated in some episodes. However, 66% of the Park Royal team were avid listeners and after some production tweaks, namely creating shorter episodes with more localised information, the hosts’ natural dynamic and charisma was able to shine.  

Next up, Neil Harrison of Consulting Ltd. took to the stage to tell us the ins and outs of EVP research. Despite joking about not being as engaging as the podcasters, his talk made a great point of marking the difference between qualitative and quantitative EVP research and how much this discernment enables practical value exploration. This included addressing elephants in the room at organisations and avoiding the too common mistake of overly positive communications with employees. Development of people, i.e. embracing their employee journey and addressing their personal goals, was at the heart of developing long-term value propositions because it created a genuine connection to the community within organisations. Fundamentally, by valuing your people this way, EVP research had the power to work alongside business strategy rather than against it and can lay groundwork for all-encompassing satisfaction.  

Now that we knew some of the building blocks of creating this type of EVP, Vicki Saunders of The EVP Consultancy asked the question where employee advocacy sits within EVP, employer branding, and recruitment marketing. She answered this with a delightful analogy of a Mars Bar, with chocolate being the EVP, the wrapper being employer branding, and the selection box being the job listings. As well-crafted as your value proposition is, how will it compare when standing next to other offers talent are considering? This is where employee advocacy comes is as Vicki showed how it has impact how it impacts all aspects of branding. A particularly engaging aspect was her use of neuroscience as a key explainer of advocacy’s importance, looking to historical need for people to come together as groups and tribes for survival. More concretely, she gave a five-point plan to launch these advocacy schemes and another five-point plan to replenish them. These pointers took us from identifying leaders in the space, equipping them with relevant toolkits, measuring reach and engagement, and continued commitments to these ideals through awards and success stories.  

After a quick break where we all got our fill of cupcakes, crisps, and juice, Emma Tolhurst of CQCO picked up some of the threads of previous speakers in her talk on bringing brand to life through employee experience. She made a salient point that brands across the board are defined by total experience that they provide stakeholders and that growth brands only emerge when we connect brand promise with culture and employee experience. Doing so effectively can grow employee discretionary effort by 40%. Emma stressed that this combination needed to start with responding to what we’ve learned from employee experience and acting on them. Does the organisational structure serve the brand? If not, it needs changing. This included recognising the need for flexible work with a whopping 97% of workers desiring flexible working arrangements. Across the board, Emma championed proactive engagement and solution-building for the most prescient of employee concerns with traceable connections to overall business functionality. This would work to foster a collective ownership of brand ideals, one that creates more organic advocacy of your business.  

Our penultimate discussion came from Claire de Souza of The EB Space. Her talk felt timely as at that point we’d discussed many realities of employee experience with Claire now poised to take us through some of the hurdles in activation and communication. These were refreshingly direct and actionable problem-solving, starting with the familiar issue of having too many opinions on campaigns. From her experience, she had developed a new planning system with set decision-makers to minimise having too many cooks in creative development. She highlighted the importance of using time effectively and recognising when your time was used reactively and when it was used proactively. This type of structuring also allowed for immense flexibility that was supported by data insights, using technical to empower the teams to work in a streamlined manner.  

Finally, our content strategist Daniel McKeon introduced the attendees to the world of influencer marketing. After a quick poll, it was clear that although influencer marketing had been discussed in creative strategy, few had actually used them in their employer brands. Daniel explained how the world of influencers was growing and that through embracing their understanding of their own audience, you had the opportunity to reposition your brand voice in new contexts and frank discussions about the choices talent make. This was demonstrated through 106’s own experience of using influencers to promote the Unlocked campaign, which was a non-profit campaign to reduce the number of prison reoffenders. This was a means of explaining how, even with a brand that’s about sensitive subject matter, by working proactively and collaboratively, you can create impactful content with a huge reach.  

One of the throughlines that emerged was developing an employer brand that was robust, agile, and could transform with changing times. Much of this arose from a comprehensive understanding of what you want your employees to take away from working with your company and how to find the new avenues in articulating your brand values. More than this, supporting your employees in this way had a myriad of positive business practices that worked with growth, not in spite of it as many business discussions tend to lead to.  

We wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to all the speakers and attendees of our sessions. We hope it was an enlightening and enjoyable experience and we look forward to the next one! And do reach out to if you are interested in attending next time. 

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