Creating a 'high-vis' employer brand


By Marie Morton

When we say ‘we take a research-centred’ approach to employer branding, we really mean it. Which is how I found myself, one breezy Monday morning, dressed in a boiler suit, high vis jacket and steel-toe-capped boots stood next to a hole in the road, in Failsworth. And no, I wasn’t on my way to a fancy-dress party. This was all in the name of research. I was spending the day ‘on the tools’ with Cadent’s Field Force Engineers, to find out what life was really like for them.

Once an intrinsic part of National Grid, Cadent is now a stand-alone business, with new owners, a new vision, new values and new performance targets. And, with a heritage work-force, 70% of whom were field-based, they urgently needed a new Employer Brand too.

So, hot on the (very practical) heels of my day ‘on the tools,’ we held focus groups, performed leadership interviews and evaluated staff surveys, to discover exactly who Cadent were, what Cadent people truly believed in, where they saw themselves heading, why someone should want to join and, importantly, stay.

We discovered an organisation that was proud to keep Britain safe and warm. A bit of an unsung hero of an organisation in many ways. Full of people performing all sorts of different roles, who quietly, safely and consistently keep the energy flowing. It was vital that our employer brand highlighted the often-invisible part that everyone at Cadent plays in the lives of the communities they serve, every single day.

This, very naturally, led to an employer brand centred around ‘Careers that power lives’.Encapsulating everything Cadent does, from both a literal and figurative perspective, this helped current employees feel valued and gave a real differentiator in terms of attraction. Emotive messages and imagery also got to the heart of why a career with Cadent can mean so much more – whatever your role or area of expertise.

It’s been a real journey of learning and discovery. Along the way, we’ve developed an employer brand that has raised Cadent’s profile and been embraced both internally and externally. And, on a more personal note, I’ve developed an understanding that high vis attracts wasps. So, I’m not planning on wearing that outfit again, any time soon!