As HBO’s epic seventh series Game of Thrones draws to a close, the big showdown with the Night King and his cronies looms heavy on the horizon. But let’s not forget the real battle that gave the series its title – which of the popular Houses of Westeros will conquer the game of thrones and come out on top?
When you take into consideration that no monarch of the Seven Kingdoms has won the iron throne without a bunch of quality manpower at his beck and call, you might well see a parallel between the world of Westeros and the modern day workplace. Pull the Game of Thrones houses into our world and you can just imagine Cersei Lannister as a ruthless CEO wondering why House Targaryen is attracting all the best Unsullied Talent and Olenna Tyrell bitching about how good fighters are hard to find.
In fact, I believe the leading houses of Westeros know a thing or two about employer branding. Perhaps that’s why they’ve made it this far in George RR Martin’s bloodthirsty universe whilst other, lesser, houses have fallen by the wayside.
Why employer branding matters in Westeros
86% of HR Professionals agree that recruitment is becoming more like marketing and that this is an effective strategy to identify, attract, engage and nurture candidates. This demonstrates that the values, personality and company culture of your brand is more important than ever.
In Westeros this could mean the difference between persuading more loyal subjects to bend the knee to your cause or watching your hopes for the Iron Throne dry up and blow away as your house falls apart around your ears.
The big cheeses of the Seven Kingdoms are indisputably House Stark, House Lannister and House Targaryen. Each has built a distinctive and aspirational identity, strongly aligned with specific values and traits. Using a house emblem, house words and even the actions of key members, each has cultivated an image that differentiates itself from the competition and aims to appeal to those who share the same values. With 75% of job seekers considering a company’s employer brand before applying for role, it’s a given that you should be doing the same.
Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up from the way they play it in Westeros…
Lessons from the Game of Thrones houses
House Stark with its symbol of the direwolf is all about the Northmen pulling together as a pack to face the adversity of winter.
Integrity, honesty, loyalty and following through on your promises are the core values of this house – align yourself with House Stark and you can rely on your leader to do the right thing, even if it means losing his family, his home and even his head.
The lesson: Showcasing your company culture with a few pretty words isn’t quite enough.
You need to ensure you hire people that demonstrate your brand’s desired behaviours, beliefs and culture. Bear in mind this doesn’t just happen overnight – I’m pretty sure it took House Stark a good few thousand years to get this right. Ensure your company culture and the type of candidate you are looking for is clearly defined and expressed in all communication materials and job ads. In this way, you can maximise your chances of attracting those who are a good fit.
House Lannister with their crimson and gold lion emblem, are notoriously all about the dollar bills.
The richest house in Westeros, they make sure that everyone knows they are minted by pushing their unofficial motto: “a Lannister always pays his debts”. Their image is one of good looks as well as having the smarts and the money to smash their goals and reward their followers well.
The lesson: Use your current employees as advocates and encourage them to push the image of your brand to their own social networks.
Remember, though, that employees will have no desire to push your brand if you don’t provide a company and culture to be proud of. Remember, too, that salary is no longer enough to win round top talent – research by Flexjobs found that 34% of millennials quit their jobs, 14% have considered leaving and 24% are actively seeking a new job because flexible working is not an option. Granted you may not be able to reward your employees with castles and lands, but think outside the box when it comes to benefits and you may well see retainment go up.
House Targaryen, with their dragons, exudes power from every pore.
The dragon lords conquered the Seven Kingdoms with fire and blood but lost it all due to King Aerys going round-the-bend pyromaniac. However, Daenerys Targaryen’s USP is that she means to change the world for the better and inspire love from her people, not fear. It seems to be working – after all, what’s a spot of madness and inbreeding when you can a) ride a dragon and b) sport excellent hair while doing so?
The lesson: Great employer branding starts from the inside out – you need to invest in your existing employees before you can promise the world to new hires.
Listen to your current employees to find out what the best things are about working for your company and what needs changing – share the results and action plans openly with employees. The biggest influence on employer branding is the strength of the leadership behind the strategy – nurture an environment conducive to collaboration and communication and watch your stock soar.
Content marketing plays a key role in building and conveying your employer brand. Contact M2 Bespoke to find out how we can help.