It seems to emanate from company human relations departments, and it has to do with bonuses, perks and benefits. The concept and purpose are derived from employee retention programs. These programs and their tools are meant to engender employee loyalty and longevity.
I applaud these programs. But I wouldn’t call them “employee branding”.
First in the context of employees, it sounds like a way of identifying them, and/or classifying them.
Second, though one of the functions of corporate branding can and should be to educate and motivate employees to “carry the brand message” to all stakeholders, what is being advocated with “employee branding” from an HR standpoint is only peripherally a function of branding.
Branding has enough ambiguity in definition and function. Adding a new one, one with a perfectly good and understood existing terminology, just muddies the water. Call employee relations programs employee relations programs.
Yes, the HR department should be involved in spreading the corporate brand mantra throughout the organization. Discussions of branding and the importance of employees communicating brand in all their efforts should be part of new employee orientations and periodic corporate messages and meetings. In that context, employees become valued as messengers and icons for the brand.
But this is not employee branding. This is part of an integrated branding process.
Let’s not confuse employee retention with employee evangelism.