Andy Getsey
Andy Getsey

Andy Getsey co-founded Atomic PR, which he sold to Huntsworth in 2011. With fellow Atomic co-founder James Hannon, he launched Employera human resources consulting firm earlier this year. Getsey spoke to O'Dwyer's about his move into HR consulting and the future of employer branding.

Atomic was known for its positive culture, a place where staffers from its many offices contributed to its support and success. We did a good deal of employer branding and recruiting support communications for clients on the PR and social media front. The whole talent cycle from attraction to engagement has been a long-time interest.

After Atomic was acquired, fellow co-founder James Hannon and I consulted with a large enterprise on a set of issues spanning operations, management process, governance, culture and reputation.

During that project, we saw and addressed the same issues in microcosm that exist at many companies today. Separate teams do different pieces of the work related to attraction, acquisition and engagement, but each team reports to different departments. Everyone is sort of responsible for the success of the various programs, and no one is clearly in charge and empowered to make decisions, assignments or budget commitments.

Each team has its own skillsets and tools for their own primary responsibilities, like marketing, web design, content, acquisition, engagement, retention - but the various groups don’t always share a common body of knowledge about the “audience,” a common view of the whole program, or a common strategy related to people’s journey with the company.

And finally, most companies approach to these things became codified more from the passage of time than from intention, and many didn't stop and re-evaluate or re-imagine from the ground up in light of some fairly radical changes in the workforce, modern best practices and new technologies.

Along the way, we fell in love with the whole field of people operations again, especially since things are nearing a tipping point in the way companies interact with their people. We decided to start a consulting firm to help companies evolve their thinking and operations to adapt to the present, and build sustainable organizations for the future.

Hannon and I gathered a group of accomplished senior partners in employer branding, talent acquisition, employee engagement and experience design, and spent more than a year together doing intensive research and development.

During that time, we built sophisticated frameworks, curated a set of modern best practices and created design-led processes to help companies develop and adopt customized strategies, specialized skillsets, integrated operations, modern technologies and management structures to become truly world class at attracting, selecting, and keeping the right people. After about 18 months in R&D and piloting, we quietly launched Employera to the public in early 2017.

Future of Employer Branding

Employer branding is a deceptive term. It sounds simple, but it’s not. In reality, employer branding is not a thing you do, it’s the net reputational outcome of everything a company does in its relationship with the people who work for it.

The way companies treat their employees is becoming of greater interest to consumers, investors and other audiences - so employer brand will soon become just another key part of the overall company brand. 

Almost all companies say that their employees are their greatest asset. But people aren’t just another asset class owned by the company – they ARE the company. And the composition and expectations of the workforce are changing dramatically. Relatively few companies truly back up their claims about their focus on their people with the design and support of intentional cultures, truly adequate training, thoughtful career pathing and mentoring, and the adoption of modern systems and technology that make the experience of working within a company as simple as consumer apps make things like shopping, travel planning, and banking so efficient and seamless.

But that’s changing, and more companies are now making significant efforts to evolve. Soon, the most successful companies will be those that put their relationship with and support for employees at the center of their business strategy, in balance with their focus on customers and profits.

And in the same way that finance people, engineers, and marketers have entered the ranks of CEOs, the next wave will see more Chief People Officers elevated to the corner office. It’s an exciting time in the evolution of modern business, and we think that surprising things are ahead for strategic, people-centered companies.

Our engagements range from very specific short-term projects to one multi-phase, multi-year assignment. We love this work, we love people professionals and we feel really lucky to be doing this right now.

What could be more inspiring than working with engaged employers to help create the best workplaces possible?

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Andy Getsey is Managing Partner at Employera.