Part five of our blog series that provides pointers on the employer brand journey. This edition discusses the role of quantitative and qualitative research, especially the importance of the latter.

Our last post highlighted the key importance of great organisation engagement and the importance of finding the right way to ‘frame’ an employment brand project.

The next process step is a continuance of the learning (we call it Immersion), and it manifests the bulk of the research phase. This is when we want to hear from stakeholders outside of those who have given us the brief. The question that we ask ourselves together with the client is:

What is the utmost we can do to encourage stakeholder input?

We want attitudes, we want opinions, we want stories. We are exhaustive; we are open and we love minutiae.

Formalising the Immersion phase of a project with a client is a fun exercise. Opinions often vary on the role and veracity of quantitative and qualitative research. Our perspective is they are both important and we encourage clients to see it the same way. There’s often a fear of ‘fatiguing’ an organisation when it comes to HR projects.

We find it to be the opposite; when encouraged by parties who want to listen to their experiences, workers typically love talking about their jobs. Healthy participation requires stakeholders who feel like a valued part of a project. If they see they are part of the project business case, they are far more likely to have a vested interest in the return.

Quantitative research alone is not a stable foundation for an employment brand project. It is a platform for bench-marking, it does provide a sense of climate, and it can identify issues that need exploration to crystallise employee value proposition development. However, quantitative research alone does not open the human dimensions that we feel the best brands are built upon.

The success of an organisation culture is gauged by the how well the organisation fulfils its potential, and how well matched that culture is to the value proposition and competitive advantage. Example elements of ‘misfire’ that we’ve seen uncovered by qualitative research include:

  1. Lack of knowledge/agreement around core values
  2. Perception of unequal playing fields
  3. Lack of confidence in leadership (for example fairness, or competency)
  4. Non-constructive internal tension
  5. Poignant legacy events that cannot be shaken or remain suppressed
  6. Lack of meritocracy


There should be no fear in discussing the issues that exist. Insight sessions do not focus on the negative but they will probe issues constructively. Discussion around existing examples like the above make the employer brand process less prescriptive and more inclusive – and they highlight the truth. They stop an organisation making promises it cannot keep. These discussions always provide plenty of information to assist in other organisation decision-making.

eBrands is incredibly wary of appointment with clients who resist insight sessions because of this. Don’t be tempted to patch holes, acknowledge them and show a response to their existence will encourage stakeholders to honour the organisational strengths.

That is when strategy formulation begins. Pretty sexy.

Comments? Thoughts?