Script Writing – Randstad Awards

Randstad UK Award Ceremony – Senior Management

As Content Development Manager at Randstad UK I produced the entire script for the Randstad Awards – a high level event designed for UK Senior Management to report to Randstad Global and the UK teams on the state of employment and key macro and micro environmental drivers for job seekers and employers.

Full script:

[Mark hand over]

Hello everyone, I’m Clare Carpenter; Randstad’s UK Concepts Director.

Firstly, let me explain my rather elusive job title.

I work with our business heads and functional leaders to ensure that our market strategy is focused on what our customers need and what makes them tick – both today and tomorrow. 

We are all in the people business – each and every one of us in this room – which makes it all the more important for us to build and maintain a really strong talent community; that is, an interactive group of current, previous and potential employees, connected by our social and professional networks.

And we have the added responsibility of not only doing this for our own business but also for the businesses of our clients.

Section 1 – Define

Why are we all here today?

I’d like to think it’s because we all care about our place in today’s transformative business world.

[Slide 1]

Brand matters; reputation matters; and they both matter now more than ever before.

Consumers have more choice; technology and globalisation has enabled more start-ups and innovators to gather momentum in the market, leaving us all with one choice; differentiate or succumb to the competition.

And what differentiates a business in a world of similar products, services and features?


Brand is everything you are and everything you represent as one business entity – a culmination of what you do (your product or service), as well as how well you do it.

Every interaction a customer has with your business influences their perception of your brand; whether written, spoken or face to face.

Your people, therefore, are your brand.

And employer brand has a direct impact on current and future talent acquisition and retention in your business, which in turn affects the growth and success of your business.

Employer brand is super important but perhaps doesn’t get as much attention as it should do.

Did you know…

…that a search for the words “employer branding” on Google brings 391,000 hits, “corporate branding” produces over half a million hits, and the word “branding” alone delivers 30 million search results? And “marketing”, unsurprisingly, brings in 450 million search results.

Case closed!

Employer branding is not common knowledge. But it does matter – and it’s becoming increasingly important owing to:

So what actually is employer branding?

Employer Branding Experts, Universum, define it as “the strategy companies use to appeal to desired current and future ideal talent.”

Ok, so we can be strategic about how we identify and manage our employer brand but first, before we attempt to set objectives and devise a strategy, we’ll need to take a look at our current situation.

Ask yourself;

We are going to help inform your situational analysis now, by discussing how people perceive your brands, competitors and industries based upon the Randstad Award research.

Introducing the Randstad Award….

The purpose of this evening is to get you thinking. We’re going to share insights with you around the following topics:

[Slide 2]

But we want you to leave tonight with more questions than answers – questions about how you, as brand ambassadors, can transform your business today to suit tomorrows employable workforce.

In September 2014, we partnered with independent, third party researchers – the ICMA Group – to conduct the world’s largest employer branding survey – The Randstad Award. It is our fifth edition of the awards in the UK, but Randstad’s 15th year globally.

[Slide 3]

The Randstad Award is three times the size of any other similar study, polling over 225,000 people and covering 75% of the global economy:

The UK sample –

How the study measures employer brand –

[Slide 4]

This is a simple but effective way of providing unique insights into employer brand perceptions and preferences.

Section 2 – Trends / How does the UK feel about work?

We wanted to find out how happy our employable UK workforce actually is, and whether people are moving jobs as freely as we’re led to believe.

[Slide 5]

So we’re doing something right. 61% of the people surveyed do not plan to change jobs in 2015.

Great news! This isn’t a lecture on how awful we all are at managing the perceptions of our brands; instead it is a way to explore the opinions and priorities of our UK customer base to ensure that we remain competitive in the recruitment and retention of top talent.

Only 19% of people in total actually changed jobs in past 12 months. In other words, most people aren’t readily leaving or keen to jump ship. And those who stayed / would stay chose to do so based upon a good work-life balance, pleasant working atmosphere, security and salary.

[Slide 6]

Salary is still top priority for people when choosing an employer (selected as a top 5 most important criteria for 62% of respondents); job security is second (54%).

[Slide 7]

This isn’t breaking news. Salary and benefits has consistently remained a ‘top five driver’ for people considering taking a new job or leaving a current one, since the annual UK report began five years ago.

But despite being the number one driver for the past three years, salary and benefits is actually twice as important today (only 1 in 10 chose it as a most important factor in 2012 compared to 1 in 5 now) than it was in 2011 and 2012. This cumulative UK data sample stands at 43,400 people over those five years so we’re pretty confident that these results are credible, and a true representation of societal opinion.

Of the 19% of people that did change employers last year, the reasons given were low compensation, lack of career growth opportunities and poor leadership.

[Slide 8]

Of course people want to be fairly (or generously in some instances) rewarded for the work they do – don’t you? But this is good news for us as employers. Assuming we’re all operating fairly and profitably, and are aware of current market rates for the skilled people we employ, adjusting salary and benefits to retain top talent is a fairly straightforward solution – either pay more or say goodbye!

Much simpler, at least, than the intangible ‘poor leadership’ reason for changing employer – that’s something that requires assessment of culture and the appreciation that different characters and personalities will have different drivers and expectations.

People are different and it’s our job to try and match individuals to our own companies as best we can. Are the leaders of your company aligned?

After all, if in fact – “leaders aren’t born, they are made.” – are we the ‘Frankenstein’s’ who’ve created our own monsters? Or have we hired people with conflicting cultural beliefs and ways of working from the offset; thus creating team imbalance from the word ‘go’?


Let’s take a look at how other generations stated leadership did / did not affect their decision to change employers.

[Slide 9]

A significant 40% of the 45-65 age bracket who had decided to look for a new career opportunity in 2014 put their decision down to poor leadership in their existing company.

Leadership, retention, engagement, and performance are interconnected. Research shows that when we feel disengaged or overwhelmed at work, much of the problem comes down to the management environment.

Research shows that the qualities demanded of high-performing leaders have changed over time: today’s leaders need to be hands-on, inspirational, creative, and inclusive.

Interestingly, our research indicates that strong management isn’t deemed important, as it features all the way down in 11th place for the ‘criterion most important when choosing an employer’ question.

[Slide 10]

Perhaps it’s down to how we define ‘strong management’. Does this term conjure up images of more traditional leadership and management traits, such as setting direction, having all the answers, controlling performance and running a tight ship?

That’s probably how I’d define the term ‘strong management’, whereas the term ‘leadership’ conjures up thoughts of a more ‘participative’ management style for me.

So it would seem that ‘strong management’ – as defined above – does not tie in with the leadership qualities demanded of today’s workplace.

A new generation of leaders – what we need now

Today’s businesses are facing new, unpredictable challenges, and what we’ve thought of as traditional leadership and management skills (as above) are less relevant in today’s changeable environment.

[Slide 11]

Increasingly, leadership is about creating a context for innovation and inclusion in the face of ambiguity and the unexpected.

Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have been firmly in charge for the past few decades, and as a rule they have been willing to operate by a well-understood, ‘tried and tested’ set of corporate practices and policies.

However, Generation X’ers (born between 1961 and 1981) – the next (or ‘now’) generation of leaders – should be more apt to reject status-quo definitions of success and challenge existing social structure and values, focusing instead on:

[2010 HBR data] Did you know that nearly 90% of the world’s top 200 firms are currently led by Boomers or people from an even older generation? Only 23 of these 200 firms are headed up by members of Gen X (the 35-55 age bracket).

Remember, our research shows that 40% of the 45-65 age bracket who decided to look for a new career opportunity put their decision down to poor leadership in their existing company – that’s likely Boomer leadership.

The question is; what are these leaders doing wrong now?  

Is it their inability to change and adapt to suit an evolutionary global market? Is it cultural conflict between the generations? Or are they in fact, not doing anything wrong at all?

Our research suggests that alongside poor leadership, people are looking to move because of a lack of career growth opportunities – 30% of the 25-44 age group (Gen X / Y), 33% of people in a management position and 32% of those educated to Masters Level or higher.

Are the two inextricably linked? I’d wager they are – poor leadership and a lack of career development – in most cases; you can’t really have one without the other!

If we can’t have your job, we’ll find our own elsewhere!

Ex CEO of Sainsbury’s (voted 3rd best known company with 92.32% recognition rate – our research), Justin King, spoke at a JLA speakers breakfast on Tues 10th Feb on the subject of leadership. He said:

“The stark reality is that 4 out of 5 of you will never hold a more senior position than the one you hold today.”

A little harsh, perhaps, but sitting in a room full of middle management of all ages, he was most likely right.

Is this realisation responsible for the surge in workforce transition within this age bracket? Perhaps our 25-65 age group are so determined to make it to the top right now that they believe they need to move on to move up? Perhaps there’s a little jealousy involved?

Or to turn this on its head, perhaps leaders are neglecting the ‘older’ generation of worker in favour of investing time, training and attention in the “young, hungry and foolish” – the arguable ‘next generation’ of leaders – perhaps the more influential and easily mouldable demographic?


If leaders/ management are investing more time in developing the younger generation, does how we communicate with them determine how successful our development plans become?

Today’s generation of leaders might make assumptions as to how the younger generation prefers to interact with their peers and employers, but do the assumptions of management match up with what millennials actually say?

Randstad Global interviewed a number of employers and Gen Zers and asked; ‘how does the Gen Z workforce prefer to communicate’? Let’s find out…

[Slide 12 – video]

So although this generation is far more connected and engaged online, they still value traditional means of communication and think face to face is the best way to engage with future and existing employers.

Do you dedicate enough face time to ‘your people’?


The young and the restless

Our research shows that the younger generation is more driven by training and international career opportunities, and less by salary and job content compared to the 45+ age group.

However, when asked what would contribute towards their decision to leave an employer, money was voted 10% more important for this age group than it was for Gen Ys and Xs.

[Slide 13]

Secondary to salary, 38% of the 18-24 age group said that disinterest in their job would be the most likely reason for them to consider changing employers. But interestingly, this reason does not feature in the top three for Gen Y and Z.

You could argue that this is because older generations are more established in their careers and are therefore more likely to find jobs that they are interested in, whereas younger people are still finding out which career they’re best suited to.

Perhaps young people are not picking the right careers in the first place, or they’re being misled by employers at the interview stage regarding job content?

Perhaps school leavers are getting poor advice or guidance from schools, colleges, universities or career advisors?

Employers play a part too – of course.

But how can we, as employers, ensure that we’re picking the right person for our business and brand rather than just the person who came off best at interview?

We should be clear about what the job entails when recruiting people and ensure that the individuals’ personality and skills are well suited to the role and organisation. Ask yourselves:

Without addressing these uncertainties, retention won’t be improved. And without recognising the ‘Belbin’ you’re introducing to the company, you risk ignoring people’s strengths and talents, and ‘poisoning’ the perception of your brand through misunderstanding and misalignment.

Remember that everyone who comes into contact with your business is a brand ambassador – that includes every interviewee, whether they’re successful or not.

What else are the younger generation interested in seeing from potential employers?

The 18-24 generation is also more concerned with ensuring that employers use the latest technology, which is particularly important for all of us as the rise of online and social infiltrates traditional business models.

It’s time for leaders to make effective use of individual skills to foster innovation – and much of this can arise from giving the younger generations a voice when it comes to online and social.


What does your social engagement strategy look like? We’re still trying to figure ours out.

In fact, we’ve even considered dropping Facebook entirely. Engagement is non-existent and the page just isn’t growing.

Why? Because the general population doesn’t care about our brand, product or service. They care about their own needs and interests.

Our research shows that in the UK, only 39% of the people we surveyed use social networking sites to find a job.

[Slide 14]

So not everything is social! Under half of people in the UK use social media to look and apply for a job.

From experience, it seems B2B marketing on social media is particularly tricky.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. Of all the social platforms, which do you think was nominated number one for job seekers?

[Slide 15]

Of the 39% using social media to find work, 61% of men and women across all age groups voted Facebook as their preferred job seeking platform.

But how are people using Facebook to find work and why has it proved more popular than professional networks such as Linked In?

Firstly, let’s consider the culture and behaviours of today’s workforce.

Did you know that research shows today’s business professionals can only focus for 7 minutes at a time, after which we change windows or check Facebook! [Deloitte – Mar 14 – LinkedIN]

So it’s used as a break from work and professionalism – a way to connect with your personal life and ‘see what’s going on’ between your day to day tasks.

Let’s remove the ‘jobs-focus’ for a minute and ask; why do people still use Facebook and what for?

I Googled it (obviously) and the top reasons were:

[Slide 16]

Our research segments Facebook as the preferred choice of platform for blue collar jobseekers and secondary / lower / bachelor educated individuals.

[Slide 17]

On this basis, we can assume that they use Facebook to find flexible work in a more informal way – perhaps using the platform as a bulletin board (as mentioned above) for finding work on the basis of word of mouth (or post) – mentions of vacancies or availabilities on the ‘news feed’ rather than through adverts or the more traditional ‘job search and application’ process. What do you think?

LinkedIN came in second as a preferred job seeking platform for 47% of all groups –apart from the 18-24 age group who voted this their third choice.

[Slide 18]

This is perhaps owing to this age groups’ underdeveloped professional networks; these young people are probably not seeing the benefits of networking and connections yet because their careers are only just beginning – particularly as LinkedIN is most used by office workers and managers with higher educations (not assumption – our research shows this).

LinkedIN has obviously recognised this shortfall as they’ve now made their platform available to 13+ year old students. They hope that this will generate communities of younger users and ‘forward thinkers’; encouraging ambitious students and young people to plan their careers early on.

If school leavers are getting poor career advice or guidance from schools, colleges, universities or career advisors, will LinkedIN’s strategy to get students and younger users engaging with other professionals online earlier help to cure this?

How well are we using social media in business now?

We’re all guilty of promoting too much and acting in our own interests (the interests of our company), instead of our customers.

Some say to follow the 80/20 rule – eighty percent of social media activity is entertaining, conversational and educational, and twenty percent is marketing about the company/product/service.

Key to remember is that this is social media, not advertising.

So how much control as ‘a room full of corporates’ do we have over Facebook and how it’s used by our customers?

We can’t be friends with every stranger who fits our target audience demographic – so perhaps the influence needs to come from within. If we focus on harvesting our brand from the inside out, perhaps perceptions will change, Facebook followers will grow organically and our employer brand will be promoted through word of mouth (or word by post!).

We need to find a way of harnessing the power of our employees – our brand ambassadors. But to do this, we need to give our current and future employees a reason to want to work for us.

If you manage your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) effectively, you can benefit from an increase in employee engagement, thus enabling your company to deliver sound and consistent communications; meaning you’ll have more control over the development and promotion of your unique, employer brand.

The internet bleeds information and opinion – it’s unstoppable. All you can do is go back to the source of information – your employees – and ensure that they’re spreading good things about you and your company. Address at the source!

Different agenders

A new dimension was introduced to our research in 2014, and again this year: a measure of the ‘soft’ or symbolic values of employers in perceived attractiveness.

Young people are less focused on things like ‘security’ and ‘sincerity’, and we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the 18-24 group favouring more masculine attributes in an employer – as highlighted in section 5.

Our research also reveals that the older generations are more interested in softer, more feminine characteristics such as ‘honesty’, ‘security’ and ‘sincerity’ and less interested in the more masculine traits such as ‘thrilling’ and ‘daring’ (which are favoured by the younger generation of participants).

But what differences exist amongst genders?

This year’s Randstad Award surveyed an almost equal number of UK men and women (5.230 and 5.498) across all age categories, and here’s what we discovered.

[Slide 19]

What does this say about the change in the professional mind-set of younger women?

Are women now adjusting to more masculine ways of working rather than trying to oppose them?

Rather than demand changes from employers are women now changing themselves to ‘fit in’ with more typically male-dominated industries?

The study indicates that the young men and women of today have much more in common than previous generations. It seems that expectations have aligned with an equal world – women, men and employers are more expectant of equality now than ever before – it’s almost considered ‘a given’. This applies to salary – which has been voted twice as important today than in 2012 across the board – and could relate to the fact that young people now assume that they will be paid the same as their gender-counterparts.

Trends show that less educated participants prefer softer traits – ‘honesty’ and ‘security’ – whereas highly educated people look for ‘intelligent’, ‘highly regarded’, ‘exciting’ and ‘robust’ employers.

Perhaps the more highly educated you are, the more confident you are in your career – irrespective of gender. Does confidence equate to masculinity?

And actually, do young people value traits such as honesty less now because they assume it’s a given? These results reinforce the expectations of millennials and are inherent in their opinions of working life and what they both assume and expect from employers.

If graduates and young people both essentially want the same thing from us, doesn’t that make it easier for us to appeal to both genders simultaneously?

But more specifically, how do we address employment culture for a younger, more educated generation?

Sheryl Sandberg – author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead – advocates asking people both senior and junior to you for specific advice to solve a problem. She believes that this will engender far more productive relationships between both genders and generations.

This relates to our discussion earlier around participative leadership and the need to create a collaborative environment, and empower people; because increased employee confidence levels are essential if we are to compete on the ‘innovation’ front as a business.

Section 3 – The UK’s leading sectors and employer brands

Everything I’ve spoken about so far this evening has focused on the first dimension of our research: that is, how people feel about work.

We also invited those same people to share their perceptions of 150 of the UK’s largest employers for two reasons:

And as we’ve seen already, the results can throw up some really surprising insights.

A great example is the automotive and aerospace sector.

[Slide 20]

Our respondents have been more likely to want to work for one of the big employers in this sector than any other for the past three years.

If we dig a bit deeper, we can see that the ‘employer brand dimensions’ that people rank automotive and aerospace most highly for align with those key factors that people are looking for in 2015:

Now you might be thinking ‘what about salary and benefits?’

Well the sectors that are perceived strongest in this most important attribute are, perhaps unsurprisingly, professional services and investment banking. But automotive and aerospace comes in at position three (and we survey more than 20 major sectors).

If we drill down further we can also see that the automotive and aerospace sector has a really broad appeal. The result has just been shaped by one demographic really favouring it:

So what does this mean?

Well fortunately for the big employers in this sector, they can pretty much choose anyone from a broad (and deep) demographic when it comes to attracting talent.

These companies will also be in a better position to compete for scarce talent; as people with the relevant skills, experience and/or qualifications are likely to choose one of the few leading employers in this attractive sector.

Now this doesn’t mean that the fate of your own employer brand is sealed by the industry you’re in. Not at all.  

[Slide 21]

But it is interesting to look at how your sector is being ‘shaped’ by the large UK employers that operate in it.  

And by implication, which industries people in 2015 think are more likely to offer those key attractors such as good salary and interesting work.

Before we reveal the most attractive employer brand in 2015, let’s look at which of the ‘well-known companies’ are deemed attractive by the UK’s current and future workforce.

[Slide 22]

As you might expect, high visibility, high street companies dominate the top 20 with a strong emphasis on retail.  I should add the underlying awareness scores that shape this table are very close, so for example there are less than 10 percentage points between Tesco and Primark in terms of name awareness.

However when we move on to look at the 20 most attractive large employers, and we eliminate  any bias that being ‘more visible’ could bring to our results, we get a very different list:   

[Slide 23]

Brand loyalty sticks in less attractive sectors – M&S

So, results show that we all know the big supermarkets/retailers (of course we do). But according to the results, we’re keener to work for the ‘less well known’ employers.

These retailers may have a strong consumer brand but for one reason or another, their employer brand is less well known and subsequently, less valued. If these employers were to invest more time in nurturing their employer brand, they could see turnaround results in future attractiveness scores.

However, amongst the list of major retailers whose high visibility doesn’t correspond to high attractiveness, a notable exception is Marks and Spencer.

M&S received a respectable 48.91% attractiveness score – so almost half of those who recognised the brand would want to work for them (down from 55% last year).

Why is this?

You will have almost certainly have read about the challenges that many established UK retailers have faced in recent years, including good old M&S.

Anne Perkins, writer and correspondent for the Guardian says: “We all love M&S – but not enough to buy its clothes.”

Despite this M&S remains amongst the top 10 big companies we want to work, according to our survey.

A clear demonstration that the challenges faced by a ‘brand’ do not necessarily extend to damage to a strong and well-managed ‘employer brand’.


Another very interesting employer brand ‘story’ from a very different sector is PwC

PwC ranks fourth in the list of most attractive companies – up from thirteenth last year.

Why is this interesting?

As you will have seen, PwC doesn’t even feature in the top 20 ‘best known’ companies – ‘high street’ brand that we see advertised on TV, nor one that one might assume people feel close affiliation with or an emotional connection to.

But out of those individuals in our survey who said they knew the brand; a substantial 54.7% of them said they would like to work for PwC.

This compares very favourably the score for this year’s Randstad Award winner which will be revealing very shortly.

PwC was ranked number one for salary and employee benefits, and career progression opportunities, and was also cited as financially healthy, having good training and strong management.

At the same time, a reputation as a rewarding employer (in the financial sense) is not enough on its own to achieve the coveted number one position.

And the same is true we look at what we need to create an outstanding employer brand.

Because actually, the ‘softer’ attributes such as working atmosphere, job security, work-life balance and interesting job content are cumulatively just as important.

[Insert winner’s announcement]

Possible questions:

Q: How are you defining company attractiveness?

A: Among respondents who know the company, the percentage that would like to work for the company. This enables lesser known companies to have an equal chance of scoring well for attractiveness against better-known companies.


Q: How are you defining ‘sectors’?

A: Sectors are locally defined based on the companies surveyed – and sector results are based on the company scores within the sector


Q: How is the survey conducted by ICMA Group?

A: As we are working with large sample sizes, ICMA works with several global providers of sampling solutions. All partners are ESOMAR members – the organisation for encouraging, advancing and elevating market research worldwide to ensure the highest quality standards.

First, ICMA programs the survey as approved by Randstad. All technical features, quota and company lists are programmed and quality-checked by ICMA.

Then, the survey goes to the panel providers for testing. After testing and approval by ICMA, the survey is sent out to the audience as defined by the quota (gender, age, region).

ICMA monitors the survey progress and closes when all quotas are achieved. Finally, ICMA makes an extract of all data collected and starts data processing.


Section 1



Section 3