Brad Pitt, Employers & Employment Brand


Get a glimpse behind the corporate glass with HR Future’s workplace radical.

Quickly, if you were in the market for a job, which of the following potential employers would be on your short list and why?

  • Brad Pitt
  • China
  • Nersa
  • Google

Love or ignore it, your organisation has a default employment brand in the market. It does not matter whether HR has spent millions or nothing to develop it. Like so many other organisational-HR extensions, it never requested management permission to exist, nor does it care what you will think about it twisting the minds of your workforce.

For me, the employment brand is about your personality, what you stand for (or won’t) and what makes you special.  During periods of upheaval, the employment brand is a puppet of the drama in the board room. When I come across a catchy logo, fancy slogan and PR perfect information on the company website, I think about the infamous nigerian 419 scam. You just need 1% of your target audience to believe & act for a “successful” campaign. The rest of us are cynical about an organisation denying their multiple personality disorder. It is frustrating to watch a tyrant slashing head count, a revolutionary selling a prosperous future and an arsonist, lighting operational fires from one department to the next. You can’t decipher what the organisation stands for when conflicting messages rule the hierarchy (does management simultaneously value and devalue HR?). The organisation is so busy grappling with their identity and convictions that there is no time to be “special”.

Returning to the potential employers on the short list: working for Brad Pitt is a no brainer for the millions of adoring female fans. With his career heading up and marriage down, I’m sure that he could attract enough volunteers to fill a dozen business parks. With the rise of talented individuals and their personal brands, don’t be surprised if working for your company in future = working for the “Brad Pitt” super star.

If you want to take over the global village, “Made in China is an inspirational, powerful employment brand. Forget about others that believe their products were manufactured in their backyard, you will know better (poor Zakumi, the proudly South African mascot, coming from a Chinese factory). If you are worried learning Chinese, sweat shop operations at R30 a day and zero work-life balance, give this opportunity a miss.

Never heard of Nersa (National Energy Regulator of South Africa)? The regulator lacks sufficient clout in the ongoing electricity debate and may push our electricity tariffs higher. Nersa definitely needs a visible employment brand that can attract independent, light bulb stars. Your job should be safe for the duration of the energy crisis, say until 2050.

With Google monopolising the web and simultaneously advocating that “you can make money without doing evil”; it is my choice for the ambitious individual that brings their conscience to the office. Sure, the online giant will stumble along the way, but how many companies even talk about not doing evil in business? 

UPDATE:  Maybe I’m wrong. Google staff are leaving to join Facebook, do a Google search & check out the results!

On The Roads

 I was going through the column archives and in December 2006, I slammed the brakes on public transport. Do you remember the “transport month” campaign of a car free day and a traffic alleviation campaign to restrict the far right lane for certain vehicles in peak hours? 

Forty months later and I am worried about the bus operators. According to the online profile of SA Road Link, the company was formed “in response to the significant demand that exists for reliable, comfortable and safe passenger transportation between the major city centers…”  Unfortunately, in recent times, the company has become synonymous with carnage on the roads during the holiday season. The company has travelled deadly roads in their history – headlines for bus crashes, impounding of their buses, fighting a ban in two provinces that lacked legislative teeth, sued by a victim of a bus crash, poor passenger service and clashing with the Transport and Omnibus Workers’ Union over working conditions. While the outrage is justified, don’t assume that their competitors are safe, reliable and caring. Rather it comes down to operating in a cut throat industry where staying out of the media is a ‘rule’ of the road.

UPDATE:  According to a recent press release in the Star, Road Link is working with Arrive Alive, beefed up their management structures and is committed to safety over the coming festive period. 

(HR Future, April 2010) 

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