Marketing Playbook for Start-ups Session #5 — Employee Branding and its Connection to Marketing

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With Yael Eckstein, Shiri Grosbard, Ultra Connector of People Brand & Experience, and Galit Rubinstein, VP of People and Culture at Model9, a StageOne Portfolio Company

We are back with another marketing playbook session! This time we discussed employee branding, how it’s different from employer branding, and how to do it right.

Joining us today is Shiri Grosbard, Ultra Connector of People Brand & Experience. Shiri is an entrepreneur with vast experience in establishing companies from scratch and a senior executive with over 20 years experience in various companies in different sectors and segments (B2C, B2B). She is also one of the 3 women co-founders of the G-CMO, a community of Israel’s leading CMOs from global companies.

I have known Shiri for a few years, and I promise you,  there is no one better to speak with us about employee branding. Let’s hear what she has to share with us! I recommend you watch the session as there is so much to learn from Shiri, but we have summarized a few of the points we discussed in the article below:

What is employee branding?

Everyone lately has been talking about employer branding. In this session, however, we got into discussing employee branding, which describes the reputation of the employees at the company, their reasons for working, and how they view their roles and the company itself.

Based on employee branding, what’s most important as People Ops and HR personas are building teams is actually not who is the best talent. Instead, it’s about finding the right person and values for the company. This set of ideas and rules doesn’t only apply to high tech — low tech, other industries, and even the army can use this concept that joining a team is far more dependent on why the employee wants to join and what is driving their decision.

Whenever an employee is considering their own current and future career, they might ask themselves three questions:

1. Why did I decide to work here?

2. Why am I staying in this role?

3. Is what I was promised actually fulfilled?

The way they answer these questions can have a clear effect on company culture and brand.

How does employee branding affect everyone in the company’s ecosystem?

From employees to suppliers, to investors, to customers, employee branding really and truly affects everyone. The way that employees are seen and view themselves has a distinct effect on what people believe about the company and in what light they see the brand, product, and business decisions.

How do you incorporate employee branding as a start-up?

When a start-up is getting off the ground, there is obviously no HR department or People Ops lead to manage employee branding. So, as a CEO, you really need to start thinking about this from the beginning. In other words, ask yourself: who do I want to work at my company? What character traits should they embody? What should make them want to come to work each day?

There is a notable caveat here: it is incredibly dangerous for CEOs and HRs to focus only on bringing on people that are like them, or that fit in completely with the current team in terms of background, upbringing or skillset. Diversity in a company, in any capacity, is proven to make more dynamic and adaptable teams. So, when you are putting together your team, the focus should be on similar values and ideals rather than on similar characteristics, schooling, or upbringing.

As you’re getting started, a good way to build a basis in an early-stage company is to create a connection between HR and marketing. Have the team leads sit down for regular lunches, or even meet just once to brainstorm on the employee branding that they want to create. Focus on the values of the company and how those values can translate to and work together with people’s careers.

How can you measure employee branding in numbers?

The easiest thing to do to measure employee branding is to measure the characteristics of the employees themselves, whether that’s their attributes or their values, or some other set measure. The next thing to do, which is somewhat similar to regular branding, is to measure the engagement of employees — where do they engage with the company and the brand, and how do they engage?

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We were lucky enough to also have the opportunity to bring in Galit Rubenstein, the VP of People and Culture at Model9, one of StageOne’s portfolio companies. Galit is an expert in organizational psychology with over 15 years of experience in HR and organizational management in a wide variety of industries.

With our resident HR expert at hand, we covered a few important topics that are top of mind:

One of the biggest challenges in recent months has been returning employees to the office. After two years spent mitigating the challenges of Covid and trying to ensure that everyone stayed safe and healthy, it seems as if a lot of employees actually prefer to stay in the work-from-home groove and are resisting a full return to work. What’s the solution?

·Particularly within the high-tech world, there’s been an emphasis on showering gifts and benefits on employees, from decked-out offices to crazy perks. There’s a fine line between giving employees an experience of belonging and connection because of internal company engagement and simply throwing gifts at employees to try to make them happier. Where is the line, and what’s the best way to navigate it as an employer?

Thank you for joining us for our fifth session! It was incredibly helpful to break down employee branding and discuss why it is so important for start-ups and companies of any size to consider as they build their workforce.

Stay tuned for the next session!

To learn more about StageOne Ventures, please visit our website at www.stageonevc.com.

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YUVAL COHEN

Founder and Managing Partner

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Yuval has a track record of two decades in leading the operations of early stage VCs. Before founding StageOne, he co-founded and managed two corporate VCs as part of IDB (Israel’s largest conglomerate) estimated at $150 Million in investment portfolio and was personally involved in early stage IT investing totaling over $1 billion in exit value.