A Distributed, Embedded Approach to Employer Brand

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

On every episode of the Employer Branding Podcast we ask the same question: what is your main talent challenge? And almost every employer branding expert we speak to gives a similar response; they’re trying to hire more tech talent but they’re not known as a tech company.

If this sounds familiar, then you’ll want to take a listen to our most recent episode of the Employer Branding Podcast where we talk to Cristal Mikenas, the Global Employer Branding Lead at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Their multinational organization of over 50,000 employees has a wide variety of hiring needs, from top-level researchers to high turnover manufacturing jobs to, yes, tech workers.

We caught up with Mikenas to learn how their unique embedded employer brand structure helps them appeal to a diverse group of candidates and how Mikenas keeps the entire organization aligned.

The Employer Brand Enabler

Mikenas’s core employer branding team is just two people. While this might seem like an impossibly small team for such a large organization, Takeda has a unique structure of embedded employer branding resources within each individual business unit that works in concert with Mikenas to activate the employer brand throughout the organization.

Mikenas’s team acts as a consultative partner, setting best practices and supporting each individual business unit in its talent acquisition efforts. Together, they form an employer branding community at Takeda that can share resources, tactics, and strategies with Mikenas jumping in as needed with expertise, guidance, and more. “I view myself as the employer brand enabler,” she says.

Underlying all of this is the understanding that each individual business unit is going to know how best to reach and persuade their target candidate. While one group may be looking to land top researchers with very specific scientific expertise, another may be looking for help with global logistics, pharmaceutical marketing, or legal expertise. These needs are simply too diverse and varied to be covered by one central organization, so they’ve developed a distributed approach that allows for each business unit to get creative and adapt their approach to fit their specific needs.

Distributed Employer Branding in Action

One of the standout business units at Takeda is the GMSGQ: Global Manufacturing and Quality. The needs here are very different from other areas of the organization. It operates much more like retail, with a larger hiring volume and a higher turnover rate. “They have to be more quick and agile and can get a little more creative in how they’re targeting their talent,” Mikenas says.

In response to these needs, the GMSGQ is constantly running new campaigns on social media and programmatic media, as well as developing internal efforts centered around employee referrals. They’re especially focused on engaging new ambassadors on their team to champion the brand on social and beyond.

Within the context of the broader organization, the GMSGQ is almost like the research and development wing of employer branding at Takeda. Because of their constant need to hire, they can test new tactics and strategies and then share their learnings with the employer brand community throughout the organization in conversations facilitated by Mikenas.

Quantitative and Qualitative Employer Branding Metrics

Because employer branding efforts are so distributed, it’s important to check what feels right against data that can tell you what’s actually going on. “We might feel great about [our employer branding] internally,” Mikenas says, “but if it’s not driving engagement with our audiences, if it’s not driving people to actually go to our careers site and click ‘apply’ and actually complete that application, did it really do what we intended for it to do?”

Mikenas’s team looks at the usual quantitative metrics like cost-per-hire, cost-per-application, and time-to-fill to see how they’re doing, but they place an emphasis on qualitative data as well. They strive to create a culture of listening and feedback at Takeda, with internal surveying efforts to determine how their employees currently perceive the brand and how their work on EVP can further resonate with folks throughout the organization.

Additionally, Mikenas pays close attention to their Net Promoter Score (NPS), which shows whether or not they’re gaining more ambassadors over time and whether or not those ambassadors are sharing more stories over various channels. “I feel like that’s a really good indication of your employer brand,” she says, “because if the people within your organization don’t believe in it then it’s going to be really hard for the folks outside of Takeda to believe in what we’re doing here.”

An Employer Branding Community

While it’s certainly a challenge to keep such a large organization aligned around a single EVP, the distributed employer branding community Mikenas has built within Takeda is up to the challenge. Their ability to both share learnings and then adapt them to the specific needs of each individual business unit makes addressing their diverse hiring needs possible across a large, global organization.

To follow Cristal Mikenas’s work in employer brand, connect with her on LinkedIn. To measure your employer brand, you can use the Employer Brand Index. The EBI uses 16 key attributes that measure how you compare with others in your industry.


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