Sparking conversations with virtual reality

How Siemens uses cardboard virtual reality viewers to attract the employees of the future

To attract today’s talent it isn’t enough to highlight the work your organisation does. Potential employees want to know what it feels like to work in it. For this, Siemens found that a simple cardboard device came in handy.

Image: Assembly instructions for a virtual reality cardboard viewer given to Siemens employees / Image: Siemens

Employer branding is about identity. It is about how the people who work for an organisation view the organisation as an employer. And it is about how the people the organisation would like to see work for it view it as a potential employer.

In contrast to classic corporate branding, employer branding is not primarily about an organisation’s products and services.

Take my company, Siemens. We do some amazing stuff. Among other things, we are currently working on doubling Egypt’s energy production, finding ways to prevent malaria, making cities smarter and more eco-efficient, designing mobile, autonomous, and connected 3D printing robots, and helping NASA explore Mars. In short, we are changing the world through engineering.

Highlighting these things will help attract talent, for sure. But talent today has plenty of ways of finding out about a company’s portfolio: through ads, business news, events and many other channels. And the power of a portfolio as an attractor is waning, with talent becoming ever more interested in the deeper questions that even platforms like glassdoor or kununu, where employees can review their employer, often do not adequately address. These questions include: what does it feel like to be part of a team that worked on this company’s products and services? What does it take to develop the products? How does delivering the services shape the working week? What were the challenges along the way? Questions like these often provide the best answers for interested prospects as to whether they might fit into an organisation. They are open-ended and provide sufficient space for the true feelings of the people already working at the company to come through.

Recently, the need to communicate this more human aspect of working at an organisation has increased due to shifts in labour market preferences. Before we started to develop our own new employer brand, we put a lot of effort into trying to understand these shifts and the ways in which today’s internal and external talent markets are evolving. From this we gained valuable insights into what today’s labour market expects from employers, enabling us to develop our employer value proposition (EVP).

An example of a recent shift in labour market preferences is the one highlighted in a recent study by Universum, a specialist in talent market intelligence and employer branding, which found that within Generation Z, 55 percent prefer the idea of founding or at least working for a start-up to that of working for an established player.

For Siemens, these shifts have led to a decline in our attractiveness scores as an employer. Merely doing impressive things no longer automatically makes us the kind of place where a gifted engineer, data scientist or technologist might consider working.