What's new in Employer Brand?

Reflections of World Employer Branding Day in Lisbon, October 2022 #WEBD. A series of reflections and considerations for future events, from Will Innes, TQ's GM of Employer Brand and Experience Practice.

Last week I attended World Employer Branding Day in Lisbon. I’m extremely grateful that TQSolutions invested in the opportunity for me to be there and must acknowledge the amazing feat of Brett Minchington and Andrea Fielding in pulling together an event with more than 650 attendees from around the world. The venue, event management and sense of community you created were fantastic!

There were some great sessions and the plentiful break-out times allowed me to connect with some fantastic new people (Matthew Jeffery, Becky Pulley Edwin Pene, Signe Hagstrøm to name a few) as well as reconnect with some of my old crew (Andy Curlewis, Steven Brand, Lauren Cousins). What’s not to love about that?

There are some developments I would love to see the event consider making in future years, which I consider at the end of this article. But in the meantime, what were the themes that came through for me during my 2 days at the event?

1. Australia is doing alright, thank you very much

When I first came to Australia 15 years ago, Australia was earlier in its Employer Branding (EB) journey than other parts of the world. This gap is far less noticeable now! Sure, in bigger markets there is perhaps greater use of certain technologies or tactics, but the concepts, mindset and approaches have lots in common. This insight was slightly double-edged for me: I don’t feel we get ‘left behind’, which is nice. But I do wish I’d returned home armed with new insights to drop, it would have made my event ROI easier to calculate, and this article simpler to write :)

2. Many Employer Brand teams are still bootstrapping

I was surprised to meet folks from large organisations around the world where they had just employed their first EB manager. This is still commonplace in Australia, but as we’re a smaller market, I thought more mature markets like EMEA would have been further along than this. (Of course there are may exceptions to this statement, Amazon has over 100 globally!)

Despite the clear advocacy for tools like Papirfly by several speakers, there was also lots of talk about relying on free/cheap tools for teams to make their own tools or content. While it makes sense to be cost effective, more broadly I believe these observations reflect that as a function;

  • We are still challenged by accurately demonstrating value, therefore securing investment
  • The bench strength of EB skills remains low compared to more established functions. Many EB folk are still first timers who have to figure things out as they go - meaning we continually need to build core knowledge, rather than deepen and extend into new areas

3. There is only one brand (still!)

The industry has been saying it for 20 years, but a ‘one brand’ mindset has become EVEN more intrinsic to how Employee Value Proposition (EVP) strategy needs to be developed. This showed up in the sessions by Unilever and Baxter in particular – the frameworks they developed and their internal stakeholder relationships really showed how critical the alignment of key elements like organisational brand, purpose, values and behaviours are to designing a modern EVP.

This also means the EVP needs to adhere with ALL elements of an organisational brand, including sustainability or social impact agenda (these critical areas were touched upon during the event, but I would have liked to hear more). For many EB's, this alignment to corporate or even consumer brand will be a key source of differentiation.

4. Storytelling and Employee Generated Content (EGC)

The art and science of storytelling are maturing, as exemplified by the excellent Lauryn Sargent from Stories Incorporated , who dropped great stats and examples from around the world. I say ‘world’ intentionally, as the rise of video tech and new production techniques make it easier than ever to capture, curate and showcase stories from around the globe.

I loved Lauryn’s description / call to action for Employer Branders to be the stewards for corporate storytelling!

If you were in any doubt…Cameron Brain from EveryoneSocial dropped lots of truth bombs about the value of EGC and how leading corporate (not just EB) brands were focused on ‘activating their people’. I also really liked this line which emphasises the importance of distribution.

Maury Hanigan's session also reminded the group of this – we can be quick to pat ourselves on the back when a video story gets added to the careers page, but when it gets five views a year you’re not going to rock the world.

The real value from storytelling comes from the sharing, advocacy and distribution of content. Our very own Nick Rudzki from TQ talks about the importance of making it possible to ‘binge’ on content. I believe this is a missing piece of the puzzle for many organisations and we’re likely to see more smarts going into not only the sophistication of storytelling (what do your audience want to hear about, what are your people comfy sharing?) but also what are the distribution and content metrics that will demonstrate much better ROI.

Other things worth checking out:

●    Steven Ehrlich – showcased a small part of Radancy tech platform for candidate engagement (personalisation and targeting) as part of their case study with Barclays. Great session Colette Murad

●      Seenit – very cool video content creation platform

  • The Martec - automating the curation and creation of ECG (have used this, love it!)

5. Your people are your biggest (Employer Brand) asset

It came up a few times but we all know that being an Employer Brander, you need to be the human form of a Swiss army knife. One of the many skills you need is to build relationships with various stakeholders – to beg, borrow or steal basically. To influence people to become advocates or think about ways they can bring the EVP to life across the array of touchpoints talent has with your brand.

Why do your people matter?

  • Emily Forbes dropped the stat that people are 3x more likely to trust employee content from the CEO (statistic from Edelman), so get your leaders talking
  • Using employees in your EVP research isn’t just good practice, it’s part of the engagement and change process to take the organisation on the journey with you. It’s a way to recruit ambassadors for testing creative or other initiatives that you need to get underway
  • Talent Acquisition folks are your EVP ninjas, check out these numbers from EveryoneSocial again. Recruiters can be prolific sharers of content and brand amplifiers so give them the training and tools to do it!


I’ve heard people moan about recruiters 'just sharing' jobs on LinkedIn, but with a little personalisation from the poster, data shows it’s not hard to generate an average of 32 clicks – substantially higher than lots of typical corporate content (average six clicks)!

So… use your people, people.

I hope you find that little recap helpful. I’ve enjoyed tapping it up and reflecting on a fun couple of days.

Despite all these great things, there is a ‘but’...

It’s definitely not my intention to be critical here, but I think it’s important that the community continues to shine a light on the future of Employer Branding, and this event would have been the perfect forum to do that.

I would have loved to dive deeper with a number of the speakers. At 20 minutes, I didn’t feel there was enough time to get to the nitty gritty of the challenges these organisations must be facing, nor a chance for the audience to ask questions. Perhaps reducing the number of speakers, mixing up the format with panels, or having a reduced number of 'core themes' would have allowed the weightier content to shine through. A content curation panel may be a way to ensure the material presented hits the mark even further, delivering value for the matters that are most pressing for the industry.

We have seismic changes happening all around us in the world of work – meaning there are some meaty and pressing opportunities facing Employer Branders. I’d have been inspired to hear about how companies, and I know many are doing this work, are facing their Employer Brand practices into issues such as;

  • Moving from external hiring to mobility
  • Modern approaches to Talent Pipelining / community building
  • Widening the lens on DEIB (some US case studies would have been super useful)
  • New ways to define the Value of EB (and to avoid putting your neck on the line for complex areas such as retention)
  • Innovation in marketing or designing experiences in the Metaverse

Personally, more inspiration and perspiration going into these areas would have elevated the experience even further (from what is already, no doubt, a great experience for many people). If we are to inspire the current and future generations of Employer Branders, we need to continually shake things up, don’t we?

Find out more from one of our TQ people today.