With the slogan “Helsinki. Make a difference” and new branding materials, the Finnish capital is aiming to position itself as an attractive employer, ensuring it can meet the ongoing demand for skilled staff.
The initiative is being coordinated by the HR department of the City Executive Office and carried out in co-operation with the city’s departments and public enterprises. The campaign was developed with the communications firm Miltton.
The City of Helsinki is Finland’s biggest employer, with around 37,000 employees across more than 1,700 separate job titles. It hires 10,000-12,000 new employees every year as permanent or temporary workers.
Appealing to emotions
Tarja Näkki, Head of Strategic Resourcing, City of Helsinki, said: “Employee availability has emerged as one of the city organization’s key strategic development targets, and reinventing the employer image plays a part in this regard.
“This time, we set off to develop our employer image in comprehensive co-operation with various divisions and public enterprises, with an aim of reaching a mutual understanding about how we present ourselves as an employer. In addition to developing a harmonized phraseology and visual image, we will build tools, structures, and competence to enable a transition from recruitment marketing to the wider development of our employer image in order to attract the best employees.”
She told Cities Today that this shift means the message needs to “awaken emotions in our target audience”.
“Building an attractive and engaging employer image is a long-term job, so engaging communication needs authenticity. Our messages need to be positioned in the world of our potential applicants,” she added. “We invested in a strong visual catalog where our own employees are portrayed in the real environment where they work. In our visual material, photos, and videos, the aim has been to convey the pride that employees feel about their work.”
“Work that matters” is another key message.
Cities can’t always compete with the private sector on salaries – particularly in areas such as technology-related roles – and they are sometimes seen as less innovative and dynamic. Therefore, shifting public perceptions can be key. Steven Strauss, a lecturer and visiting professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, told Cities Today earlier this year that cities can play to their strengths and “use the emotional and morally satisfying card” to appeal to people who are motivated to do something for society.
Näkki said Helsinki is particularly looking to recruit professionals for early childhood education roles as well as social and health workers. There are other areas where high numbers of people are not necessarily required but finding staff with high competencies is critical.
“The work that is done in Helsinki has an impact on every citizen on many different levels. Our employees’ work has an impact on the urban experience. Everyone’s contribution counts towards a good life in the city,” she concluded.