This Disconnect Between HR and Your CEO is Hurting Your Employer Brand

The greatest roadblock HR faces when it comes to building a strong employer brand is buy-in from top executives. For decades, they have struggled to get a seat at the table, yet they control one of these most important groups, if not arguably the most important. Their seat has been filled with someone who manages verticals that are bringing in some type of profit. What is often overlooked is that HR controls one of the largest budgets in the building and while they’re not directly bringing profit, they’re directly affecting a company’s bottom line.  

In the last couple years, we have seen a shift where the purple squirrel candidates have more options than ever before. This means that competition is not only strong within business verticals, but now, you may be a tech startup battling big brands like Walmart or Whole Foods for a top engineer. In this instance, every company is now a technology company looking for the same kind of talent. Candidates from all over are flocking to be a part of the next big thing -- and in order to acquire these purple squirrels, your employer brand must be on point, starting with buy-in from the top down.  

This trend shifts candidates from potentially weighing offers from multiple employers within one industry to many different industries and verticals. They’re now not only competing against salary and job title but on culture and employer brand against other competitors outside their industry. This is where articulating your employer brand with a focus on company culture and mission becomes key. 

With increased pressure to hire only the best, it’s essential that there is open dialogue and discussion between CEOs and HR departments when it comes to being intentional about the culture and employee experience. In the past, this hasn’t gone as far as it needs to and to be successful they both really need to start working together more closely as a team. CEOs need the help of HR to make sure they have the proper talent in place to achieve their goals. With a constant need to innovate and create a stellar employer brand, CEOs must realize that now is the time to give a well-deserved seat to your HR department. At the end of the day, while HR doesn’t control the consumer side of your business, the employee side is laced with just as many needs and wants.  

Companies who struggle to place the right amount of importance on their HR department, especially in times of rapid growth, will suffer from unintentional consequences of not doing so with a people-first strategy in mind. Avoid that pitfall and learn how to do these three things to stay ahead of your competition.  

COMMUNICATION AND AWARENESS 

Being able to communicate the strategic vision for the company and how that is reflected in the culture and experience of working at a company should be one of the top priorities for CEOs across the board. The moving pieces to get there lie within the people who are going to get you there. HR holds one of the most important pieces to the puzzle and without a seat at the table, they’re left out of all discussions that involve the headcount. Both the CEO and HR should work together to communicate a strategic vision across the board since they wield two of the greatest powers in a company: strategic vision & people.  

MUTUAL RESPECT THROUGH A COMMON GOAL 

At the end of the day both the CEO and HR are looking to accomplish the same thing. The CEO will formulate a strategic vision that’ll ultimately be carried out by the people that HR bring into the fold and the culture and employee experience they help maintain. While all this is happening the CEOs job is to balance not only the reputation of their consumer brand, but how candidates perceive the company from a hiring perspective. It’s impossible to manage both of these tasks -- so having HR at the table would be mutually beneficial to both parties.  

HR HAS FINALLY PUT THE HUMAN BACK IN HUMAN RESOURCES  

We can talk about candidate experience till we’re blue in the face, but it wasn’t until 3-4 years ago that companies actually started paying attention and spending money to power a better candidate experience and a more robust way to hire. Even more recently the trend of employer branding has given companies a way to both brand themselves internally to retain the talent they have and externally to keep a steady flow of qualified candidates coming in. This now includes talent that surpass not only their direct competition in their own vertical, but wiping the competition in verticals they never thought they would compete in before. 

At the end of the day, without the people there would be no product. HR and recruiting has been out of the loop for too long. They’re not clerical workers, they aren’t all sweater-wearing cat ladies or men, they are the driving force behind your product innovating constantly or being left in the dust by companies who value and understand that HR as a function is one of the foundational blocks of your company.  

It’s time HR and recruiting gets that coveted seat at the table. Will you put your faith in HR? Or will you be the next company to sell for pennies on the dollar because you didn’t value your people and didn’t give your HR department the resources they needed and the foresight to create a lasting, memorable impact for employees, candidates, and customers alike. 

Will Staney

Will is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Proactive Talent Strategies, LLC and the former Head of Global Talent Acquisition at rapidly-growing startups Twilio andGlassdoor. Prior to that he held recruiting leadership roles at enterprise software leaders VMwareSuccessFactors and SAPwhere he lead strategic programs includingemployer brandingsourcing strategy, recruiting operations and systems process design.

During his over 7 years as a recruiting practitioner, after 10 years in sales and marketing, he developed a passion for building what he calls "modern recruiting machines". He would push innovation from the inside, execute on his vision, and once it was realized he would pass the torch on to those he had mentored and move on to his next challenge. He was destined to start a consultancy so he could help as many companies as possible adopt a more proactive recruiting strategy with community in mind.

In his free time, Will enjoys riding his motorcycle, trying out the newest gadgets, and spending time with his two kids, Foster and Felicity.