University of Edinburgh Business School
Developing a Sustainable Employer Brand: Recruitment and Retention
October 17, 2017
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How do you recruit and retain the best candidates for your workforce to ensure a sustainable employer brand? Our expert speakers and panel explore.

As part of the Sustainable Business Initiative‘s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Network (CRSN), we were privileged to collaborate with emperor on this exciting event that focused on sustainability and HR. We asked the question – how do you develop a sustainable employer brand?

The Business School’s Corporate Engagement Manager, Aidan Hetherington, kicked off proceedings with introductions and was followed by SBI’s Director, Professor Kenneth Amaeshi. Prof Amaeshi was delighted to inform the audience about the launch of SBI’s new and innovative Advanced Sustainability Programme (ASP) for practitioners.

Register your interest and view more details of our ASP

If you ever wondered about how to run a good recruitment campaign then our first speaker had the answers! Steve Othen is Head of HR and Projects for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). He set the scene for the evening by drawing on the work they have done around sustainable recruitment, including:

  • Skills analysis in an ever-changing marketplace
  • The ‘gig economy’ and making supply chains work
  • Improving the recruitment process for candidates
  • Ensuring the perfect match and making the right hire

The audience was then fortunate to hear views from REC member, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Jenny Steele is RBS’ Senior Resourcing Manager and she provided context to Steve’s examples as well as insights into how RBS have successfully implemented REC’s recommendations.

Moving along the HR journey from recruitment to retention, Dr Yumeng Yue, Lecturer in HR Management at the University of Edinburgh Business School, delivered academic perspectives during his presentation titled ‘Nurturing Sustainable Brains by Better Job Design’. He looked at research trends into workforce retention and new approaches that are being explored. In particular he concentrated on the following points:

  • Rest and leave should be viewed through a positive lens as beneficial and promoting productive working
  • No one should shy away from mundane tasks as this promotes activity in different parts of the brain and thus creative thinking (Brain incubation)
  • Various organisations are introducing exciting spaces for staff to relax/play/sleep and this should become the norm
  • Companies should take more responsibility to promote the well-being of their staff to ensure increased retention

The audience then heard from an organisation that is embracing a positive approach to recruitment and retention – A.G. Barr. Lindsay Barrie, L&D Business Partner, and Doug Brown, Head of HR, presented on the approaches the company has taken since the introduced a new strategy in 2012. They wanted to develop a simple framework that described how they should work together in order to get things done in a growing business. Given their operations in a changing environment and global market they focused on the main priorities to promote a sustainable employer brand and attract the best talent:

  • Preserving their unique DNA
  • Providing a voice (that is heard!) to all employees
  • Having strong foundations in place to ensure longevity and attractiveness of the brand
  • Equipping all employees to ensure they flourish in a large business and have opportunities to develop a career.

The final speaker was Susannah Gerner, Client Director at emperor. She pulled together the thoughts from all the speakers. She reflected on some of the ways in which they have empowered their clients to deliver unique recruitment campaigns, approaches to increasing retention and effective engagement with alumni. She suggested five main ideas to bring a sustainable employer brand to life:

  1. If you’ve got something you’re proud of, show it
  2. People tell their stories best themselves
  3. Create specialist appeal
  4. Play to personal ambition
  5. Communicate socially

The evening was wrapped up with a question and answer session with attendees asking about approaches used internationally, how to engage younger generations and how to retain your customer base, among others. As always, bustling conversation continued over the customary drinks at the networking reception. Thanks to all that attended and we hope to see you next time!