We are living in the age of branding. As more and more interactions move towards digital, strong brand presence helps cut through the noise. Everyone from universities, cities and even individuals are focusing on brand identity. Likewise, organizations – vying to entice and keep top talent – should strongly consider esports as a tool in building a strong employer brand.
Employer brand marketing
Brand marketing in esports is already here. However, the current approach is focused on positioning corporate/product brands with customers. On the other hand, an employer brand is the image of an organization as a ‘good place to work.’
Yet, corporate/product brand strategies aimed at consumers are already being applied by HR/recruitment professionals to attract and retain talent. In the same light, esports is a valuable marketing and advertising platform which can and should be used in employer brand strategies.
Image courtesy of LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2017
Competitive video games are already a proven medium for reaching millennials – a growing percentage of the global workforce. Accordingly, employers can realize an edge, in the heated competition for talent, by communicating their company culture and identity through digital sport.
Going back to school
Corporate recruiters and HR professionals already have talent pipelines at institutions of higher learning. In tandem, there is undeniable growth of competitive video games on college campuses. This convergence creates a compelling opportunity for employers to engage collegiate students through esports.
Collegiate esports has a number of selling points for (US focused) employers:
- Zero governance by the NCAA – Digital competition does not sit under the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) umbrella. As a result, organizations can more flexibly partner with students, teams and competitions.
- The new STEM – Employers have long valued studies in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Competitive video games are wired around a new set of STEM categories: Strategy, Technology, Entertainment, and (Social) M These are hallmarks for the digital economy of the future.
- Built-in locality – In contrast to the professional scene, collegiate esports already have a home in cities and communities. Regionally-focused employers can immediately dial into local clubs at schools they already recruit from.
More than just games
The global economy is undergoing a drastic shift – with it employer/employee relationships are changing. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says average tenure at a job in the U.S. is just 4.2 years (January 2016). A different study by Future Workplace and Kronos revealed that 87% of employers said improving retention is a critical priority for their organization.
“Games are super flexible in the creation of personal learning pathways and we will soon see their adaptability in play much more widely in schools and among employers.”
Michael Levine, founding director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, via ESA
Meanwhile, esports – strengthened by emergence of gaming as a cultural phenomenon – is a strong passion point for millions across the globe. Employers are smart to align with that passion as a means of attracting and retaining talent. Here are some potential steps:
- Esports community advocacy – Nominate an employee(s) to work with recruiting and HR to integrate esports/gaming communities into the talent pipeline. For employers who are also consumer brands, hiring for an esports specific position – e.g. Coca Cola – doubles as an incredibly effective marketing campaign.
- Think digitally – Yes, esports is home to in-person events across the world. Still, it’s a digital first experience. Employer brand advertising benefits from approaching the space like a popular form of digital media – driven by social and live video.
- Engage first – Employee experiences are a hot topic among business leaders for good reason: engaged employees stick around longer and are more productive. Engaging millennial minded employees means replacing the company softball team of yesteryear with a gaming group – focused on any number of team based and/or social formats.