Get the most out of your long-term employer branding

Published March 1, 2022, 3:30 p.m. by Marte Ramborg

Today, it’s an employee’s market in many industries, which means that many managers worry about attracting and retaining the best talent. Skanska dedicated time and resources to a strategy and campaigns around their employer branding and earned both a better reputation and made their employees proud, writes Marte Ramborg, CEO of Spoon Group.

In 2019, Skanska saw competitors pass them in the rankings of the most attractive Norwegian employers. But they weren’t going just passively to watch that happen. Skanska is a competence-based company that builds the world’s northernmost Powerhouse and handles complicated bridge projects along the Norwegian coast. It’s crucial for the company to attract and retain the sharpest minds.

To turn things around, Skanska and Spoon collaborated on an employer branding strategy and subsequent campaigns, and – spoiler alert – this autumn, Skanska overtook its competitors in the rankings. For the first time, they were among the top ten attractive employers for professional engineers and scientists in the Universum survey. Three years may sound like an eternity in communication and marketing, but this positive development came much faster than expected. It was built on a rock-solid foundation.

Skanska is engineering-focused, and neither builds bridges or strategies on flimsy foundations. So, for Spoon as an agency, it was gratifying to work with a client so committed to research and analysis. Especially as many people today feel they lack the time or resources. Skanska, however, was set on investing the necessary time and getting the job done correctly. Not least, they wanted to engage the interest of their most important “influencers” – their employees. And this takes consensus.


Spoon CEO Marte Ramborg and Christopher Griffiths, responsible for employer branding at Skanska.

Four smart choices

Together, we designed a strategy process divided into three phases over six months. Skanska made four choices that proved crucial to what turned out to be a successful process and result.

  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis

In addition to using surveys and statistics, we conducted roughly 30 interviews with internal and external stakeholders. Statistics are useful. And even more so when combined with interviews. This provides deeper and more specific insights. We later used quotes and content from the interviews in the strategy work and ideation processes.

  • Solid consensus

Skanska appointed the group management team as an advisory board. Retaining, engaging, and recruiting skilled people was a prioritized business goal, belonging at the highest strategical level. Involving employees from different departments and geographical locations at all levels also helped create change. The result was valuable insights, but also ambassadors for the strategy roll-out.

  • Clear responsibilities

The project team had a clear mandate and the project manager had clear milestones, progress, and authority. Time had also been set aside for the HR and Communication people participating.

  • Open communications

It probably applies to Skanska’s company culture in general, but for us as an agency, the communication was strikingly direct. Both the project group and the advisory board handled difficult questions and challenges along the way and had open discussions. The result was that the content was stress-tested, and we upped our performance.

Now you might be thinking, “Oh no, this sounds like too much hard work for my company.” My answer is: no, this isn’t a one size fits all solution. Skanska’s thorough approach may not even be necessary for your business. But I recommend that you go through the same steps and then adjust the process to your resources.

For example, do your research, but talk to just two employees and two people you wish were employed. Give a clear mandate and have a plan for those running the process. Perhaps this only fills half a page. And involve employees. They are your best ambassadors. And tell it like it is. Don’t paint a rosy picture of what it’s like to work for you. Your employees will quickly expose you, and newly-hired employees may feel cheated. That may cost you dearly.

I recommend you go through the same steps when working on your own strategy. Just adjust the length of your strides to suit your needs.
Marte Ramborg, CEO, Spoon Group

Response and results

Skanska spent much time and money on their strategy and two comprehensive employer branding campaigns aimed at experienced and recently graduated engineers and scientists.

Although the first campaign, “We want more”, was primarily designed to enhance reputation, it clearly found its target group. More than 500 candidates expressed their interest through the contact form, which was the most critical conversion goal for the entire campaign. 500 is a very high number considering the target group is limited to experienced engineers and project managers.

Just as important as attracting new employees is retaining the talent that you already have. Skanska found that its systematic employer branding work increased the employees’ pride in their workplace. The campaign content has been used extensively in internal communication. “We Want More” has really taken hold as a concept within Skanska. The HR and Communication departments got much positive feedback from proud and impressed colleagues. Many shared the content in their private channels.

So, how does it all add up? It’s not easy to quantify. And, of course, there is more to Skanska’s success in attracting and retaining skilled people than their strategic communication.

When looking to recruit such in-demand expertise, you quickly spend 200,000 kroner on ads and head-hunters, on top of all the internal resources. However, to make the campaign a success for Skanska, only a few of these highly skilled professionals need to say “yes” to Skanska – or “no” to a competitor. Then, add the internal pride and commitment – and that Skanska was named best in the industry and climber of the year in the professional engineers and scientists rankings in the Universum survey this autumn.

So, there you have it. The result that made senior adviser Christopher Griffiths, responsible for employer branding at Skanska, conclude at this year’s Content Marketing Day: “There’s no doubt about it, it’s worth it.”

Read more about how Skanska and Spoon worked together to attract the best