Blog Oslo Business Forum 2021

Rethinking Employer Branding with Steve Franklin & Espen Steinsrud

In this lively Fireside Stage discussion, Steve Franklin, the Chief Commercial Officer at Santander Consumer Bank – Nordics, and Espen Steinsrud, the National Director at Dfind considered how the pandemic has changed how we utilize employer branding, and how organizations can create high-performing teams.

Rethinking Employee Onboarding

Steve spoke to the importance of maintaining consistent messaging and branding during the pandemic but altering the manner of communication. Onboarding new employees, in particular, has been a big challenge. He believes that onboarding is often a missed opportunity for employers.

“It’s one of those things that we could rethink and do differently,” he said. He provided an example, suggesting that a hiring manager could spend time having a personal conversation with a new hire, and then incorporate that knowledge into the onboarding process. What if, he suggested, a new hire who had expressed a love for Liverpool football opened up his new company laptop to find a personalized Liverpool football shirt? “It would just create more connection with your employees from day one. And it would resonate outwardly a little bit when someone says ‘how’s your new job going?’” said Steve.

Espen agreed that onboarding is a major challenge, and emphasized that a new approach to communication is key.

Building a High-Performing Team

So how do you ensure a high-performing team once new hires are on board?

“There’s a lot of research on this, and of course you see common values,” Espen said. “You need some kind of openness and honesty. You have leadership as a part of it. You have communication as a part of it, diversity as a part of it. So there are a lot of aspects that you need to take into account.”

Honesty is key, Espen said, particularly in response to other global challenges, like climate change. “What we are most afraid about is greenwashing, when someone tries to be someone that they are not. If you’re going in the direction where you are really focusing on climate change, then you need to have some clear goals and some clear actions connected to that. Don’t try to greenwash because people see through you all the time. And this is a part of that employer branding. If you’re not really honest on that part, it will weaken the brand,” he said.

Steve agreed, and brought up the concept of radical truth and transparency: “Feedback is really important in that process…For a high performance team, truth, transparency, and feedback are critical.”

At Santander, Steve said the company is in the midst of rethinking their organization. “We’re creating what we call value teams in order to focus on the customer experience,” he said. “And the idea really is to get the high performers into those teams, looking at the customer experience from start to finish, and try and gather around it, and deliver the best possible outcomes that you can.”

And how does an organization build a team of high performers?

“The start is to know what kind of talent you need,” said Espen. “Do that analysis. It could be that the talent that you need for tomorrow is not the same that you have today…You need to be aware of what you are offering them…they are looking for something and you have to be really clear on what you are offering.”

Steve said that for him, the main action item that employers could take away today relates to the onboarding process. “How many people could consider doing something a little bit differently to break the script and encourage more personal interaction?” he asked.

Steve Franklin and Espen Steinrud

Sketchnote by Monique van Rooyen


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