Published on 17-11-2017
As part of our ongoing employer brand series we conducted an expert interview with Stephan Rathgeber, Director Marketing, Corporate Communications & Digital at the ManpowerGroup Germany. We spoke about everything from employer branding and cultural fit to the differences in communication with different generations.
What do you think makes an employer brand successful?
There are actually many different factors. One of the most important ones is to keep the promises we communicated as an employer. I always say you need to ‘walk the talk’. The definition of employer branding states that it is a strategic measure to make a company an attractive employer as well as stand out positively compared to its competitors by using different marketing methods.
If we are using this definition as a starting point it becomes clear how important it is to communicate aligning messages even if you are using different channels. Otherwise it will only damage your reputation as an employer as well as a company!
It is crucial to consider all different sorts of touch points your employer brand might have with job seekers and possible future employees, and communicate its goals in a consistent way. – Stephan Rathgeber
The second important factor is consistency. Let’s say an employer portrays to be a ‘super trendy and hip’ employer brand across different media but the moment candidates visit the career website or HQ offices they realise that the company is everything but ‘trendy’. This will definitely do your reputation as an employer no good! It is crucial to consider all different sorts of touch points your employer brand might have with job seekers and possible future employees, and communicate its goals in a consistent way.
The third factor is mainly dealing with the question ‘Do I know myself?’ Do I know what I want as a company? Who is my target audience? How can I address my target audience appropriately and efficiently?
To create a successful employer brand it is crucial to focus on one specific group containing the people and talents that would be the best hiring pool for your company (for the long term). Also, it is important to remember that the employer brand you are creating is also affecting your current employees.
How did you develop Manpower’s employer brand?
Three years ago, we redefined our employer brand to create the umbrella brand of the ManpowerGroup. We brainstormed for a while about how we were perceived as a company in the world. After all, you need to consider that the ManpowerGroup is operating on a global scale and wanted to present the ManpowerGroup as one company worldwide. That is why the ManpowerGroup Germany should not differ from ManpowerGroup France or Italy. To guarantee this unity we build our brand around the company’s values.
The three core values of Manpower are: People, Innovation and Knowledge. With those values in the background we came up with multiple hypotheses to following question: What makes Manpower Germany tick?
Afterwards we interviewed our employees. We initiated a massive internal employee survey – What do you think about the ManpowerGroup Germany? You could say we measured our internal mood barometer. The data was collected, analysed and subsequently put together in a questionnaire. Our next step was rather unorthodox:
Given we want to recruit people that are enthusiastic and successful within our company, we are looking for a very specific type of employee. That is why we selected trainees and young professionals for our next step. We asked 20 young colleagues to pick one person in the company they look up to and see as inspirational. Hierarchies were irrelevant! It could be anyone – from PA to doorman, CEO or marketing manager. Once every young professional had picked their inspirational colleague they conducted an interview with them. The questions were based on the previously mentioned hypotheses and questionnaire.
This approach enabled us to get a deeper insight into the ManpowerGroup Germany and helped us understand what our people love about the company.
That is why we are always trying to formulate an employer brand that reflects us plus 10%. The extra 10% gives us space for development and ambitious goals. We are always striving for 110%! – Stephan Rathgeber
How can you ensure the integrity of your employer brand? Are the mentioned employee surveys essential?
Definitely! Although I must add that an undertaking like ours is not a ‘one-time thing’. In a world of certain uncertainties, in terms of how skills and markets develop, an employer brand constantly shifts and needs to be redefined. Employers need to let go of idea that once defined, the employer brand can be communicated for years or even decades without any changes. Regular pulse checks are inevitable: are we still on the right track? Do we still communicate who we are? Do we still want to be what we communicate?
In a world of certain uncertainties, in terms of how skills and markets develop, an employer brand constantly shifts and needs to be redefined. – Stephan Rathgeber
At the ManpowerGroup we have good experiences with being self-critical and admitting that not everything might be as rosy as it seems. That is why we are always trying to formulate an employer brand that reflects us plus 10%. The extra 10% gives us space for development and ambitious goals. We are always striving for 110%!
Does the type of a company have an impact on the employer brand and its quality?
I believe so, 100%! What a company offers – whether it is a service, product, vision, dream, platform or an iPhone – has an immense impact on its employer brand. If you have a closer look at the main players in the German market and compare it to the most popular employers you will find more than one correlation. The large businesses have a significantly higher media presence and people therefore have certain association with them. Brands are nothing physical but are created in the mind of the beholder – it’s no different for employer brands. Siemens, for instance, has received many awards for being among the world’s most regarded brands, a spectacular achievement. Nominations like these obviously enhance the attractiveness as an employer enormously.
Brands are nothing physical but are created in the mind of the beholder – the same counts for employer brands. – Stephan Rathgeber
Is the interactive representation of a company’s values the way forward or is written information still necessary?
In my opinion, both are necessary. What I value about CompanyMatch is the playful approach. It enables us to display our employer brand in an interactive way. The possible candidate can interact with the employer brand and receives individual results. Those results show if the cultural and work-related perception of a candidate match those of the ManpowerGroup.
At the ManpowerGroup we address each other in a rather informal fashion. If a candidate, however, prefers working for a more conservative company, it would simply not be a positive cultural fit.
Also, the ManpowerGroup is a little bit ‘crazy’, meaning that not everything is a 100% planned out. Our working environment is extremely agile, fast and flexible. There is no such thing as centralised chronology and you can work from wherever you want. Candidates that prefer a rather fixed work schedule in an office would not be a good cultural fit with the ManpowerGroup. That is why we decided to make use of the service of CompanyMatch.
For who is the availability of information about a company’s characteristics such as career opportunities, self-development, salary etc. especially important? Millennials?
I think that information about the employer is relevant to every candidate. So, in that case I would not distinguish between different generations. After all, everyone wants to know what their own employer stands for.
However, there are differences in terms of how to communicate most effectively with different generations, mostly depending on what kind of channels there are used to. In my opinion, a well-designed flyer is just as engaging as a creative post. In short, target audience specific communication is important and therefore you need to know who you want as an employee
Internal employer branding – what do you do to shape and communicate it effectively?
In several ways of course. On the one hand, we are integrating the defined employer brand in our internal communication.
Let me give you an example: We say that as a global company we are working very fast, are agile, organised as a network and perform within a collaborative culture. As a consequence of this statement we integrated Google Suite as an internal tool – including Hangout, chats and video functions. Everyone has their own cloud and we implemented Google+ as internal social network, meaning that the old-school mail, fax and “boss letters” are completely replaced by the network. Everyone is allowed to communicate. We are organised as communities, sometimes with over 1000 members, in which everyone – from receptionist and administrator up to the managing director – can post messages and instantly receives feedback from the organisation.
This a good example of the fluent transition between employer brand and corporate strategy and how the tools we use represent both.
On the other hand, it is important to us to already communicate our company’s values and employer brand during the onboarding process, especially with young professionals. In Germany alone, we are training over 60 new colleagues every year. Communicating our employer brand is one of our key focus areas during this process. How we perceive ourselves, how we want to be perceived and where we still want to go, so those 10% we were talking about earlier, are essential. We give our new staff members this as a guidance to take along on their way within the ManpowerGroup. In return, we expect them to challenge our brand and we will ask questions: Where do you agree? Where don’t you? In the internal communication this approach is replicated to address topics such as: Corporate Social Responsibility, our refugee program and the traineeship programs. We take one step after another to ensure that in the end we do ‘walk the talk’!
Stephan Rathgeber (born 1984) – Director Marketing, Corporate Communications & Digital – manages a team of 25. As part of his job in the industry he constantly reflects on the possible working environment of tomorrow. Digital transformation, discovering and pursuing the future, passionate leadership as well as active networking are some of his personal strengths. Everything based on his mantra: “Doing good, having fun and being successful!”
We thank Stephan for taking the time to talk to us. Thank you very much for this detailed insight into the employer brand strategy of Manpower Germany! We are looking forward to continue working together!
As part of our expert interview series we also spoke with Anja Bank, Employer Brand Manager at Vodafone Germany, and Sebastian Hopp from Innogy about topics such as on-boarding, company culture and cultural fit. Interested? Find all our blog posts here.
CompanyMatch also published a white paper about the real costs of a bad hire. To download the full report for free, please fill out the form below!