Employer Branding in a Post-COVID reality

Projekttitel Employer Branding in a Post-COVID reality
Projekttype Anvendt forskning og udvikling
Frascati Ja
Tema Business | Kommunikation
Teaser Employer Branding and City Branding have both been at the forefront of the global fight for talent. Are there mutual benefits to be had?
Status Igangværende
- Akademi Erhvervsakademi Sydvest (EASV)
- Kontaktperson Christian Dragin-Jensen
Senior Research and Business Development Specialist, PhD
Nat./Int. Nationalt
Projektperiode 08. august 2022 - 31. juli 2024
- Projektresumé

Employer Branding has become an integral part of an enterprise’s strategic efforts to promote, attract and retain talented employees. Since its (academic) inception in 1996 by Ambler & Barrow, the domain has expanded greatly and moved beyond simply being a “package of functional, economic and psychological benefits” (1996, p.187) provided by an employer, to a fine-tuned definition as “a generalized recognition for being known among key stakeholders for providing high quality employment experience, and a distinctive organizational identity which employees value, engage with and feel confident and happy to promote to others” (Martin et al., 2011, p. 3618-19). Yet the vast majority of employer brand(ing) research has focused on the internal and external brand associations, fully managed by the company, not necessarily taking into consideration additional factors (not necessarily related to the job) when choosing where to work. Factors, such as the geographical location of work often goes unseen.

City Branding, on the other hand, is about creating a collective and competitive identity for a place – usually with the intent of attracting/retaining tourists, investors, companies, students, and of relevance to this project – talented people. It therefore seems opportune for employer brands to harness synergy effects from a city’s image in order to secure and deliver a high-quality employment experience. This is of high academic and managerial relevance to both companies and cities in the global marketplace as, the fight for talent has intensified, and migrancy patterns leaning towards larger cities and urbanization. Would the same job fare as well in capturing the ideal candidate in Vejle, as compared to Copenhagen?

Moreover, in a post COVID-19 world, the standard ‘office job’ has been greatly opened up to debate and testing. More specifically, is it necessary at all to sit at an assigned desk in a building for an office job? Remote work has become the new megatrend with work-life flexibility and balance, and companies are still left scrambling on how to balance productivity and a motivated workforce. For city branding, attracting talent may have opened a new avenue – especially for smaller cities – who can offer better/cheaper housing opportunities, closer access to nature and institutions for families, etc., while said talent can work remotely.

This is of particular relevance to our corner of the world (Esbjerg), where we have some of the highest failed recruitments in the country – particularly the highly educated workforce (Stagis, 2021) and a negative image making the place seem as an unideal place to work and live (Dragin-Jensen & Lenholdt, 2021).

This project will focus on investigating our understanding of how companies, via their employer brands, can use city brands as an additional avenue for differentiating their employer image. Specifically, we wish to assess what is currently being done in the field (in Denmark) of harmonizing employer brands with city brands, as well as identifying areas of opportunity.


Ambler, T., & Barrow, S. (1996). The employer brand. Journal of Brand Management, 4(3), 185–206. https://doi.org/10.1057/bm.1996.42

Dragin-Jensen, C., & Lenholdt, M. (2021). City profile: Tackling prolonged negative images in Esbjerg, Denmark. Cities, 119(103323), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2021.103323

Martin, G., Gollan, P. J., & Grigg, K. (2011). Is there a bigger and better future for employer branding? Facing up to innovation, corporate reputations and wicked problems in SHRM. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22, 3618–3637. doi:10.1080/09585192.2011.560880

Stagis, N. (2021). Bosætnings-og Imageanalyse: Esbjerg kommune.

- Baggrund og formål
  • The project bears relevance to EASV’s knowledge strategi, as well as our overlying strategy, “Tættere på” – notably with engaging a problem that is directly pertinent our region of Denmark, as well as global challenges such as the UN Development Goals (especially numbers 8, 11 and 17).
  • This will generate valuable knowledge for all business-related courses who work with organizational behaviour and Human Resources (Int. Sales & Marketing, MAK, SØK, FIN)
  • Companies are increasingly dependent on attracting and retaining the right talent, an area of key importance for this area of Denmark. The project will benefit all types and sizes of companies when formulating employer branding strategies and initiatives.
- Aktiviteter og handling
  1. Project Planning: Fall semester 2022
  2. Data collection phase I (qualitative exploration phase): Fall semester 2022
  3. Data collection phase II (quantitative phase): Spring semester 2023
  4. Article writing and podcast creation: Fall semester 2023/Spring semester 2024
  5. Dissemination activities: Spring semester 2024/Fall semester 2024
- Projektets Metode

Data will be collected done in two rounds, thus blending both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative will serve as information gathering needed for the quantitative (called qualitative exploration)

  • Interviews with key actors within Employer Branding, Recruitment specialists/headhunters, and City (branding) officials, tasked with attracting and retaining talent in a business environment (Region: Denmark)
  • Quantitative survey sent out to companies (specifically, to people who work with employer branding/HR).
- Projektets Forventede Resultater
- Projektets Forventede Effekt
- Studerende
- Medarbejdere Erhvervsakademi Sydvest (EASV)
Mathias Lenholdt
Anne Marie Sørensen
- Virksomhedsrepræsentanter
- Andre
Partnere Syddansk Universitet
- Resultatets formidling
- Resultaternes værdi
- Målgruppen
- Publikationer