Gazprom Energy – finding the truth in talent audience perceptions

In January 2020, Gazprom Energy approached their Employer Branding agency partner – That Little Agency – for help and support with developing their employer value proposition.

Gazprom Energy supply gas and electricity to the UK and European business markets. It’s a highly competitive market with many new and disruptive entrants battling with the well know “big 6” energy suppliers. It’s also highly competitive in terms of talent acquisition, with crucial skills such as Energy Trading and Software Development in short supply.

Gazprom Energy’s parent company, Gazprom are a state-owned Russian giant. With this come many employment preconceptions mainly revolving around slow speed of change and controlling work practices. However, this was far from the truth for Gazprom Energy as an employer, who operate a smaller, lean and highly commercial business. Gazprom Energy feared that these preconceptions may be negatively affecting their ability to attract and retain talent. In order to attract and retain the best talent, Gazprom Energy needed to develop a clear and focused Employer Value Proposition that differentiated them from the completion, was authentic in its nature and was attractive to external audiences.

To ensure the EVP was attractive to external audiences, it was critical that we fully understood not only any preconceptions that existed, but that we also had a firm handle of what it was that external audiences wanted from their careers. This would allow us to shape our messages to meet the specific needs of the target audiences, ensuring we maximised the potential of our messaging.

Cogito were engaged to carry out a programme of in-depth interviews with Gazprom Energy’s core talent audiences. The team carried out 100 telephone interviews with target candidates in Energy Trading, Operational, Sales and Technology roles.

Notable findings included:

  • Only around 40% of the audience had heard of Gazprom and only 3% had any kind of pre-conception of what it would be like to work for them. This completely removed our hypothesis that the brand was creating a barrier to talent attraction
  • When given a little information about working for Gazprom Energy, audiences became far more positive about them as an employer, showing us that we were working with largely “neutral” audience sentiments
  • Different audience segments valued different factors, meaning a “one size fits all” message would almost certainly fail
  • The needs and desires of external talent audiences did not map entirely against the strengths Gazprom Energy have as an employer, particularly around developing new skills

 

The findings profoundly influenced the shaping of the EVP and Gazprom Energy’s wider talent management strategy. We were no longer working to an inaccurate hypothesis around brand preconceptions. Instead, we were able to focus on energies on closely matching our known employer strengths to individual audience needs and pushing the brand presence much harder through social media and advocacy in order to raise brand awareness.

Our research also prompted Gazprom Energy to look more carefully at their skills development and flexible working practices, knowing that these were two of the key needs and desires of their talent audiences.

Cogito’s talent audience insight proved a vital “north star” in the development of the EVP, influencing and shaping the talent acquisition strategy.  The EVP which is now being rolled out across the business and will form the foundations on which their future employer branding activities will be built.