White Collar vs Blue Collar EVP
Founded in 1889, over the last decade or so, GE has undergone a transformation from an industrial company to a digital industrial company. This change hindered them in their recruitment activities because most Americans viewed the company as industrial-only work. This led to a company-wide shift and re-branding effort which included a stronger focus on the EVP for every type of GE employee (both blue- and white-collar professions), and which featured a campaign called “What’s the Matter with Owen?”. The multi-commercial campaign centered on new GE employee Owen, who worked to convince his family and friends that he was not joining the industrial (blue-collar) workforce, but was instead being employed as a computer programmer (white-collar) in a leading digital industrial company. The recruiting series sparked additional videos on Owen and other new GE employees, and increased traffic to their Careers Page by 800%.
METHODOLOGY & FINDINGS
I began by looking for pre-made case studies that met your specific parameters, but found none with your particular focus nor any that included everything you were looking for. I widened my search to include highly-regarded recent (2015 – 2017) campaigns that focused on the company’s EVP. I found a wide variety of recruiting-strategy campaigns from US-based companies that have both blue-collar and white-collar positions, and that focus on EVP, including campaigns from: Thermo Fisher Scientific, Microsoft, Starbucks, Lithium Technologies, E.on, Qualcomm, Heineken, and Samuel Adams. Though these were great examples of EVP, employer branding, and Millennial-hiring-focus, none of them featured any type of differentiation between blue-collar and white-collar jobs.
It is important to note that none of the examples that met your other qualifications featured different types of advertising for different types of jobs. It may be that some companies recruit in this way, but none that met all qualifications could be located. From the research, it appears that, like the case study below shows, companies have altered their strategies to be more specialized-yet-global, meaning that they focus on the value proposition of each different type of job, while not specifically creating different recruitment campaigns for each job-type.
General Electric (GE) is featured in the case study below. It is US-based, has a strong EVP focus, hires both blue-collar and white-collar workers, and has created several campaigns that offer insight into the differentiation of blue-collar and white-collar jobs. Although I could find no examples of the company using different strategies to approach hiring for blue-collar and white-collar jobs, the campaign itself is an example of the company’s overall approach – which includes specific differentiation among job-types. For this, I sourced a variety of articles that allowed me to create a comprehensive case study featuring your particular focus. This is detailed for you below. It is our hope that this case study sufficiently meets your needs.
CASE STUDY: GE (GENERAL ELECTRIC)
The following is a custom, detailed case study of GE, a US-based company, and includes information on their EVP focus, recruiting strategies, and a recent recruiting-marketing campaign that focused on blue-collar/white-collar jobs. We’ll begin with some background on the company, the issue they identified that prompted the campaign, the marketing strategy shift the company employed, a brief overview of the campaign, and the campaign results.
CASE STUDY: COMPANY BACKGROUND
Founded by Thomas Edison in 1889 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, GE has long been a strong US employer. In 2017, GE employed 106,000 people in the US, and about 313,000 across the globe, or 295,000 as shown on their Careers Page. These employees are spread across each of the segments in which GE competes, including Power/Electric, Aviation, Healthcare, Oil & Gas, Renewable Energy, Capital, Transportation, and Lighting. Each sector includes a wide range of jobs, both blue-collar and white-collar, for which they have “hundreds of openings at any given time”. In 2015, for example, they hired more than 9000 new US-based employees. According to their global recruitment marketing leader, Shaunda Zilich, the company’s “energy sectors and digital space are growing the fastest, particularly with engineering, IT, and software jobs”.
CASE STUDY: IDENTIFIED ISSUE
Most people in America associate GE with blue-collar workers, like those working in manufacturing or the industrial side of the company, rather than scientific or highly-technical jobs. GE found this to be their biggest recruiting challenge (LINKED IN). “For the past few years, GE has been steadily growing GE Digital as part of their goal to be one of the world’s ten largest software companies by 2020. And yet, they are having trouble recruiting tech talent, as people see them as a manufacturing company, not a tech company.”
CASE STUDY: MARKETING STRATEGY SHIFT: FOCUS ON SEGMENTED EVP
To address this issue, the company incorporated their comprehensive EVP program into their recruiting methodologies and created an innovative model for recruiting employees for all types of jobs. They started with improving their overall focus on EVP and undergoing a full corporate re-branding, which is detailed in this article from Talent Economy. This new focus included creating thousands of brand ambassadors from every corner of GE’s world, creating value propositions for their employees in each region and in each job, building profiles of each type of employee “that included descriptions of why they liked their jobs,” and increasing the number of global employees (from all business segments) on Linked In.
The model also included changes to how their website recruits new employees (as well as other changes):
• Changing everything on the website Careers Page to focus more on segmentation and EVP
• Adding a Working at GE Page that explores each type of job segment at the company, as well as offering featured careers (those in which the most need exists), as well as internship and leadership opportunities
• Adding a connected Culture Page that explores what all employees are offered at GE that includes:
o How the company supports diversity in employment
o How the company is transforming itself from an industrial company to a digital industrial leader
o The percentage of women in leadership positions at the company (25%)
o How much the company and employees have given back to the community ($502 M)
o Information on work-life balance at GE
o Information on how GE hires veterans
TalentLyft notes that, “In order to use your Employee Value Proposition successfully, customization is the key. If you want to attract the right talent for your company and open positions, you need to segment and personalize your EVP for your target audience.” GE embodies this strategy with their focus on segmented EVP – meaning: how the company benefits employees of all types – no matter their positions within the company (blue-collar or white-collar).
Additionally, the company changed their marketing campaigns to incorporate more social media coverage. They host more than 100 social media accounts, on sites like Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat – each of which represents a different type of career at GE. Some are also specific to regions or particular segments of their business. A search of their Instagram accounts show dozens of GE profiles, including their main Instagram profile. This profile, among others, features posts from GE employees across the range of positions at the company. An example includes a post from a GE Engineer. The post features a picture of the engineer (Millennial, Black, Female) in an industrial workspace with a selection of the hand tools she carries/uses every day in her job at GE. It is focused not only on the physical labor she does for the company, but the advanced technologies she uses to do her job, and was directed at encouraging diversity (gender, race) in STEM positions.
On Youtube, the company channel features ten videos at a time – each from a different employee at GE. The videos feature the employees’ stories – not just from the perspective of what they do for the company, but also about other important aspects of their lives that employment at GE provides for them. These videos change often – and the most-current set features a variety of engineers at the company.
GE also changed their recruiting strategies – and came up with campaigns that featured segmentation of careers, current employees in different types of jobs at GE, and a STEM focus. Two of these highly successful campaigns included the “Balance the Equation” campaign, which focused on raising “awareness of the gender gap in the field of STEM,” and the “What’s the Matter with Owen?” campaign, which we’ll discuss in more detail next.
CASE STUDY: CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW
The “What’s the Matter with Owen?” campaign was a series of videos featuring a newly-hired programmer at GE named Owen. The honest, straightforward video series captured the nation’s attention with its relatability and focused on the Millennial market, which is GE’s primary hiring focus. The first commercial, titled with the campaign name, featured newly-hired Owen’s parents congratulating him on the getting a job at the company that his grandfather worked for (blue-collar job) for years by handing down to him his grandfather’s sledgehammer (which he used on the job). Owen tries to explain to them that he’ll be working as a programmer (white-collar job), not on the manufacturing/industrial side of the business. The ironic and funny commercials follow Owen as he tries to explain that he’ll be working on projects that change the world, not just engaging in basic factory work.
Although the campaign does not include any blue collar jobs specifically, it mentions them, and fits directly with GE’s focus on specializing their EVP for each type of job, no matter whether the collar is blue or white.
CASE STUDY: CAMPAIGN RESULTS
Jibe reported that Business Insider highlighted the success of this campaign just a few short months after it launched. Their research showed that, because of the campaign, “GE saw applications spike 8X and traffic to their career site rise 66%”. Brafton also noted that GE’s successful segmentation for this campaign “increased [GE’s] number of job applicants by 800 percent,” confirming this success metric.
The success of this campaign prompted GE to create a second wave of commercials as a follow-up called “The World is Catching Up with Owen”. The videos feature “Owen’s network singing a different tune, shoving their resumes at him in various off-handed ways, looking for a way to get hired at GE”.
Want to learn more about using EVP as a candidate-attracting magnet? Read this article from TalentLyft.
Want to learn more about how the hiring process at GE focuses more on the people finding jobs that “meet [their] interests and qualifications”? Read this article from Cosmopolitan.
Want to learn more about GE’s creative uses of social media – supporting their hiring / employment practices? Read this article from NewsWhip.
US-based GE has found significant success since their re-branding and shift toward greater EVP focus. This is highlighted in their recent recruiting campaign called “What’s the Matter with Owen?”.