Kelly Bartkiewicz had been a Mars employee for nearly 20 years when, in 2016, she became their first-ever Global Employer Reputation & Talent Marketing Director.
By 2018, she and her team had built the brand’s global employer value proposition — and accompanying creative campaign — from the ground up.
In 2017, Kelly’s team got to work laying the foundation of the EVP.
“This is the first global EVP we’ve created as an organization,” Kelly said. “We have pockets around the world where people had talent marketing campaigns, but they never built up to an overall employer value proposition.”
Their first step was to gather extensive internal and external research.
Internally, the goal was to find what Mars’ associates look for in an employer and what their authentic experience is at the company. According to Kelly, they already had existing data from annual engagement surveys and The Great Place to Work Survey they had done in the past.
“Along with that, we launched an associate survey that went out to five of our global markets: China, Russia, the UK, the US, and Brazil,” she said.
In addition to that data, the team launched a survey where associates chose between the 38 attributes they find most appealing in an employer — whether Mars aligned with those attributes or not.
They also held external and internal focus groups to get perspectives from different generations and associates in a variety of functions throughout the organization.
Once Kelly’s team concluded their research, they determined the EVP’s three pillars.
“It all came down to these three foundational pillars: purpose, people, and development,” she said. According to Kelly, from their research they found those pillars to be applicable at all levels across the entire organization.
“And then within those pillars are proof points we started to collect,” Kelly said. From there, they built assets around those proof points.
Once it came time to deploy the EVP, Kelly said the team was mindful about the launch.
“We didn’t just do a full-blown launch to everyone at the same time. We started with a pilot in China and the U.S.,” she said.
The team had also developed a talent marketing creative campaign in alignment with the new EVP, which was launched alongside it. And, Kelly explained, the team made a point to carefully manage and govern how the EVP and campaign were launched.
As they were launching, the team signed on with Papirfly to create their first Employer Reputation Portal — where talent marketing assets could be stored, shared, and created. According to Kelly, the portal helped create global consistency in the assets they were building for the EVP and campaign.
After the launch of the pilot, the team did an assessment and didn’t have to make any adjustments, Kelly said. Then, they deployed the new EVP, messaging, and assets to 13 markets, including Russia, the UK, Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, and Australia. “We were able to deploy across about 85% of our markets around the world,” she said.
Proper training was a big component of governing the launch.
“We looked at all of our stakeholders because it was our first-ever EVP as well as a global campaign,” Kelly said. “We created different modules, depending on who the stakeholder was.”
They had three modules, she explained. The first was for the biggest audience — HR practitioners, corporate affairs, and most other associates — and it included general information about the EVP and creative campaign.
The second module was mostly for recruiters, and it included more in-depth information on how to leverage the tools via their Employer Reputation Portal.
The third module was specifically for technical specialists who create talent strategies and activations for their local markets. “That was more of a technical training around how to use the Portal,” Kelly said. “It talked about the templates that are provided and how we govern approval of the assets.”
She explained that along with the training, they also leveraged more informal types of communication — including a global Yammer feed. “We’d post highlights and pictures or links to the Portal,” Kelly explained. “Any associate around the world could learn about our EVP and how to talk about Mars externally to their family and friends.”
As a diverse organization with segments across confectionery, food, and petcare, Kelly’s team was faced with some unique challenges when building and launching the EVP.
Kelly explained how Mars’ different segments appeal to different types of candidates, with different professional driving forces — but their three pillars never change. “It’s about assessing where to dial up the different pillars based on the segment,” she said.
According to Kelly, because veterinarians and other petcare professionals tend to be driven by their passion and love for helping animals, Mars aimed to appeal more to the “purpose” pillar for those segments.
However, while purpose is important to people across most talent groups, it’s generally not the final driving force to accept a job offer. “It’s also about leadership development and things like whether they have access to a great line manager,” Kelly said. So, those Mars segments work to highlight the “development” and “people” pillars as well.
Kelly emphasized that although it may seem like they’ve figured out how to apply the EVP to every aspect of the organization, it’s still a work in progress.
“The governance of a global EVP and creative campaign has been a challenge,” she said. “We have this complexity around people wanting to customize the EVP and the creative that goes with it.”
According to Kelly, their Employer Reputation Portal has been essential to governing the EVP and campaign and keeping the assets consistent across markets and regions. “Everyone wants their own iteration of the EVP, so we always come back to governing but also creating flexibility,” she said.
There’s also the additional challenge of updating the EVP as Mars evolves, Kelly said.
According to Kelly, Mars recently updated and refreshed their corporate brand, presenting another challenge for the team. “We have to evolve and make sure the language and tone of voice shifts with the new Mars brand,” Kelly explained.
So, the team set about creating their second creative campaign — in line with the new Mars Visual Identity, and building on learnings from their previous campaign.
“Our three EVP pillars stayed the same, but the team adjusted the tone of voice to better suit Mars’ new purpose,” she explained.
While the EVP and accompanying creative campaign are still in their infancy stages, they have already seen some external success.
“Historically, Mars hasn’t had a talent marketing strategy,” she explained. As the team was launching the EVP and creative campaign, they were doing it all through new channels. “We didn’t have a global Facebook careers page or Instagram page,” Kelly said.
Recently, they conducted a survey of 2,000 people around the world to assess how the evolved EVP and campaign were faring with their talent audiences. “It basically validated that what we’ve been deploying is resonating and that it’s appealing and attractive,” she said.
They’ve seen an uptick in followers on their social pages, as well as more engagement on their LinkedIn posts.
“We’ve also been recognized for our efforts, picking up two awards earlier this year for best activation of an employer brand, and best student marketing campaign via social media. We’ve also been shortlisted for four Recruitment Marketing Awards being announced in October 2019,” Kelly said.
And earlier this year Kelly was also invited to be the opening keynote speaker at the prestigious World Employer Brand day, speaking alongside brands such as Netflix and LinkedIn.
Within Mars, it’s clear associates are appreciating the new messaging as well.
“We’re actually telling the true authentic story, which really helps our associates get behind it better,” Kelly said. Because of that, she said associates are sharing their story on their own social networks, and Kelly’s team has been able to pull associate-generated content from that.
For other brands with similar employer branding goals, Kelly advised against attempting to create an EVP in a silo.
She emphasized the importance of having buy-in and investment from leadership. “It should also be approached as a strategic initiative versus an operational or a tactical initiative,” she said.
According to Kelly, at big brands, leadership often fails to see how projects like this can impact their strategies outside of recruitment. So, being able to articulate the impact it could have on the business is crucial.
“There’s also this idea that building an employer brand is a short-term investment,” she said. “You need to articulate that if you want to build things like a digital strategy, you need to invest in your candidate experience. And you need to continue to evolve because employer branding isn’t static.”
Kelly Bartkiewicz has been a member of the Talent Marketing Board since 2018. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.