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The employer brand is important for Norrbotten's growth

Published: 3 May 2021

Norrbotten is growing fast. By 2030, the region needs to employ 51,000 people. Anna Näppä, doctoral student in industrial marketing, has participated in a project owned by Luleå Business Region, whose purpose is to help companies attract the right kind of skills by developing their so-called employer brand.

– Since my dissertation is about the Employer Branding, it was very interesting to participate in this project, says Anna Näppä.

Luleå Business Region runs the project "Future-secured competence supply" with the consulting companies Arnqvist & Sivenbring and DARE Consulting and 14 companies in Luleå. Together, they have developed a method that helps companies develop their own strategies for recruitment and for nurturing their employer brand.

Anna Näppä has made participatory observations of the project work. Based on her empirical material, she has written a popular science research article, which is part of the support material that interested companies can take part in.

– Companies are often rather pushy when they try to find the right candidate for a job. An interesting conclusion I could draw from my observations is how open the participating companies are to collaborating with each other even though they compete for the same skills.

Win-win in the long run

When companies choose to collaborate on the employer brand, it may happen that a person with sought-after skills goes to the competitor instead. In the short term, one company loses on collaboration, but in the long term, everyone benefits from it.

– Although this person does not choose your company, he chooses to stay in the region. In the long run, it makes the region, and thus your own employer brand, more attractive.

A company's attractiveness is strongly associated with the region's attractiveness. That is why it is important to have cooperation between business, the public sector and universities, the so-called triple helix.

– There is a lot of competence at the university. We also have to work with our employer brand. If we become better known, it will benefit not only us but the entire region.

Anna Näppä thinks that companies rarely find it difficult to describe their attractiveness in terms of salary, work tasks and development opportunities. However, it can be more difficult to communicate the more abstract aspects of the brand, ie values that characterize the company and the feeling associated with working at a particular company.

The Employer Brand is like a house

Inspired by the participants, who often talked about the employer brand in building terms, Anna Näppä developed a matrix where the metaphor "house" was allowed to represent a company in a certain development phase:

A start-up company is like a construction site. There is a plot, a vision, drawings for a house and skilled builders, but no house yet. Another type of company is the showroom; everything looks good on paper, there are written down strategies and plans but there is no real relationship between the people. It's not a real home yet. A third model is the renovation house. The company has a strong organizational culture, but it needs to be renovated to meet today's modern requirements and challenges, while the renovation must take into account the company's history and identity.

The dream house is of course the goal. For the company to become a dream home, all employees must together develop processes to attract new employees and create a positive employee experience that strengthens the company's values.

– The values must be rooted in the employees and expressed in concrete behaviors, otherwise they will just be nice words on a board in the coffee room, says Anna Näppä.