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Innovating the Talent Brand

Human Capital Trends 2013

In a knowledge-based economy, skilled talent may be what most differentiates great companies from the rest of the pack. Skilled talent can help drive innovation and customer value, creates growth opportunities and mitigates a growing river of risk. Organizations that do an extraordinary job managing their talent agendas have an opportunity to set themselves apart – in both the talent arena and in the broader marketplace.

Capitalizing on this opportunity requires creating distinctive talent capabilities, of course. But the next step – one that many companies overlook – is to actively promote and brand those capabilities.

In the past, it may have been possible for organizations to do this outside the influence of their external corporate brands. But those days are likely gone. In today’s hyper-connected world, your corporate brand and your talent brand are two sides of the same coin.

As organizations begin to rely on talent that resides outside their four walls, alignment of the talent brand and corporate brand are expected to become even more important. Creating strong bonds that help retain critical talent – and attract the future talent you’ll need – requires building leading talent practices and communicating them effectively and consistently. Get it right and the potential of brand convergence can work in your favor. Get it wrong and you may create more risk and confusion than you’ll know what to do with.

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What’s driving this trend?

The worldwide economy is beginning to regain momentum. Innovation and market share growth are expected to fuel profitability and increased valuations. To capitalize on this momentum, companies are looking for new and more effective ways to retain and attract top talent. That includes tapping a broader open talent economy that extends beyond the traditional workforce to include freelancers, contractors and other third-party suppliers of skilled talent.

At the same time, many top organizations now realize talent expects to control more of how, where and when they work. By including mobility opportunities in their talent value proposition, many companies are able to connect to and derive value from a talent base that is increasingly global.

Regardless of the source and location of talent, however, organizations are benefitting from innovation in talent branding in three ways.

Costs in the cross-hairs. Companies with the “hottest” talent brands enjoy the ability to pick and choose from a large pool of qualified people for their open positions. They also reduce the need for expensive search firms, which can reduce costs related to both acquisition and turnover. When the talent brand reinforces the corporate brand and vice versa, organizations may enjoy a virtuous cycle that further sets them apart from the rest of the field.

Google has used this two-sided brand approach. Not only does the company use its corporate homepage as a recruiting vehicle, but that page is the primary source for announcing new positions. There potential candidates can easily learn about Google’s strategy regarding work, opportunity, rewards, benefits, people and organization – all delivered in the context of the broader corporate brand.

Increasing shareholder expectations for innovation and value creation. A bit harder to quantify, but nonetheless integral to a company’s business model, is the innovation value skilled talent produces. If the best people aren’t innovating for you, they’re probably innovating for one of your competitors. So why not give them the time to innovate? Intuit encourages employees to spend 10% of their time pursuing other projects they're passionate about. And they are serious about it. Last year the company awarded its top innovator with $1 million in cash and stock for developing a new product.1

The shallow pool of critical talent. A third emerging area of business impact is the growing importance of the open talent economy in attracting hard-to-find talent, including contractors, alumni, subject matter experts, customers and even suppliers. When these nontraditional workers affiliate with your organization, they can supplement value creation and can enhance your overall brand. Procter and Gamble’s use of crowdsourcing for product development – the lifeblood of its brand – is an example of this phenomenon. Launched in 2001, the company’s Connect Develop program continues to provide innovation breakthroughs (including Tide PODS and the recently introduced Febreze® Stick & Refresh).

Read more about this trend.

Meet our people

Craig Gill, Chief Learning Officer, Director, Deloitte Services LP
Sarah Gretczko, Sr. Manager, Deloitte Services LLP
Grant Luckey, Analyst, Deloitte Consulting LLP


1 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, Fortune, http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/best-companies/2013/snapshots/22.html

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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