Exclusive interview with Johann Driessens (Global Emerging Employer Branding Leader of the Year, 2018 & CEO of Branded.Careers)
Ádám Horváth: As a founding member of European Association of Employer Branding Agencies and Chief Enthusiasm Officer of Branded.Careers you have a huge knowledge on the topic of employer branding. In your opinion what is employer branding and why is it important?
Johann Driessens: If you want to do employer branding, it’s actually the output of creating great experiences all over HR processes. Employer branding means that you have great employee experience, that you have a great onboarding experience, an amazing candidate experience, even exit experiences. I truly believe that if you want to create great marketing to attract and retain the right talent then you need to focus on creating magical memories, experiences for your target group.
Is employer branding a buzzword today or is it more? How can a company gain benefit from a good employer brand?
Well, it is kind of a buzzword nowadays, if you look at how companies often look at it, but if you are doing it right, it is absolutely a strategic part of the growth of the company. This means it’s a business function, it’s not just for HR. It’s something that needs to be adopted all over the place, all over the organisation. Everybody has to be involved from the cleaning lady to the CEO. Employer branding is absolutely a strategic step to grow your business.
How can a good employer brand affect the business?
There is a lot of impact, and you have of course the Return On Investment (ROI) and you have KPIs. I think the real impact is what I see in our clients organisations: that people smile on Monday morning! Also, the time to fill in vacancies is much shorter. People feel more at home in the company much faster therefore they will become productive much earlier.
There is also the other side and that is something that is difficult to measure and that is the “happy profit” you create in the company. The brightness, the way people feel and tell others about it, it’s actually kind of priceless to have. Happy profit is hard to measure, but you affect how people see you as an employer and the way they are attracted to you. So there is also happy profit, not only in your business, there is also an enormous return on the investment for employees. If they choose you as an employer and you are a good employer and your employer brand is something that is really authentic and attractive, then they will simply have better life quality and that is also something beautiful to have.
You are an international speaker on employer branding and you travel the world. What are the megatrends in employer branding nowadays?
On the one hand, the first trend is that we start to look at employer branding as a business function actually. Another trend is focusing on experiences: creating and designing the right kind of experiences to attract people.
On the other hand what I see is that more and more companies see employer branding as an inside job. Internal employer branding becomes equally as important as external employer branding. That is a huge trend that I see and it is directly related to the experiences that we build for companies.
You joined the European Association of Employer Branding Agencies (EAEBA) one year ago. EAEBA celebrates its first birthday. Why did you join this association and what are the benefits for you?
I joined EAEBA clearly because it’s a group of highly strong employer branding experts with real passion for employer branding.
It’s not just their way of making money, they are truly interested in helping companies in attracting and retaining the right talents. It’s an amazing group of people with their own expertise. We learn a lot from each other and I also see how everyone who is in this organisation right now is growing and doing amazing meaningful stuff. It’s really inspiring and energetic to be in.
What can you recommend for a Hungarian CEO? There is labour shortage in Hungary, the economy is booming, everybody would like to hire the best talents. How to start employer branding if you are a Hungarian business leader, CEO?
I think that for a CEO of a company it’s very important to understand that the fastest way to grow a company is making it by people, not only by systems. I truly believe that the CEO needs to adopt a role of more like a human manager, instead of the chief financial manager. And I hope that there are a lot of CEOs all around the world and in Hungary who understand this and who understand the human capital in the company. It’s not just an asset you use to grow, but it is an important task with a lot of responsibility and I hope that they understand that if you have a job for a lot of people then you are part of their lives also and if they understand that then they will get all the benefits of highly motivated and productive people.
“I’m the CEO, employer branding is an HR task.” – this is what we hear sometimes.
The first thing to do as a CEO is ask for a professional’s help, to understand how employer branding really works, how you create the dynamics behind an employer brand and how to look at it in a strategic way. Employer branding for a lot of these professionals and CEOs was all about job marketing and job advertisement for a long time it. In 2020 employer branding is fundamentally in the company, it is really there, so there was a big shift that the most attractive companies made. CEOs are the biggest role models in an organisation, employer branding is not only an HR task.
You have met many people all around the world, many companies dealing with employer branding. What are your impressions about the Hungarian employer branding market?
In Hungary there is a group of talented experts and several people with very specific expertise towards employer branding. I personally know Adam Horvath and Anita Zvezdovics, the founders of Brandfizz Employer Branding. They brought it all into one company with a lot of knowledge and real experience inside.
5 years ago Hungary was not on the global map of employer branding. Adam and Anita were able to create a concept, which on the one hand is very pragmatic, they are very human, they understand human needs and they are fun to work with. On the other hand they have a very systematic approach and were able to bring those two very important things together and create one clear service around it. Brandfizz is a very cool company.
In 2020 the Hungarian business leaders have the opportunity to access cutting edge best practices from all around the world and receive professional support from building strategy till the implementation and execution. This is a chance that you didn’t have 5 years ago. I hope the Hungarian leaders will take this opportunity to build workplaces that make people smile on Monday morning.