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`Employer branding key to attract talent'

Anjali Prayag

Recruiters in IT/ITES sectors are increasingly advising companies to hire expert help for employer branding

Bangalore , Sept. 1

You could call it an extreme specialisation of HR. Or in today's talent-hit situation, an extreme necessity.

Recruiters in IT/ITES sectors are increasingly advising companies to hire expert help for employer branding. "If you are not a first-mover like Infy or Wipro, then where is your USP?" asks Mr Gautam Sinha, CEO, TVA Infotech, one of the largest IT recruitment firms in the country.

Though few and far in between, there have been instances of Indian companies branding themselves to prospective and current employees. Some of course, have done it inadvertently. Infy did it with its `middle-class turning into millionaires', Wipro, known as a `take-off point for entrepreneurs' and TCS as a `training ground for freshers'. Though none of them attempted employer branding as a well-thought plan, employees began to associate these takeaways with the respective companies, says Mr Sinha.

Internal Branding

Unfortunately, HR or recruitment, which is most critical today, has not been attuned to `selling a company to employees.' "When the same talent is eligible to join 15 other companies, why would they want to be with you?" Mr Sinha asks, stressing the need for differentiation in workplaces. And the exercise should be driven from the top, he says.

Mr Harish Bijoor, CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, calls this a cusp activity between HR and marketing. "Internal branding is all about activation of solutions that can be seen, touched, felt and literally smelt by the employee every single day. Branding from the external perspective is all about top-down branding. Internal branding is a very bottom-up process."

Mr Bijoor works with six companies in this space and says the demand has been increasing over the years. "These are not hit-and-run operations, instead they are activities that are completely on-going. We typically run two-year projects and then create for the company an internal branding team that runs the programme thereon."

And it's not as if only the biggies have to differentiate themselves to attract talent. Mr Bijoor is working with a company that is as small as 280-employee strong and the biggest with 14,000 employees.

Branding Campaign

Aztecsoft that operates in a relatively much smaller space (2,300 employees) launched an employer branding campaign (hoardings that talked of Aztec as a `great employer') almost five years ago, when the term (employer branding) was unheard of. "It was created by our employees with a little tweaking from the ad agency," says Mr V.C. Chandrasekaran, CEO, Aztecsoft. "Work-wise, we could all be in the same space, the only differentiating factor would be how we treat our people," he explains.

But the whole thing boils down to fighting attrition, says Mr Sinha. "When the hiring pipe is leaking at each stage, we cannot afford to ignore it," he says.

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