How Thermo Fisher Scientific used stories to relaunch their employer brand

Disclaimer: Thermo Fisher Scientific is not a client of Stories Inc. We’re highlighting them in this case study because of their effective use of stories (lowercase) to enhance their employer brand.

In 2015, Thermo Fisher Scientific was looking to launch the company’s first employer brand. The Fortune 500 Company employs 50,000 professionals in diverse fields including the research, healthcare, industrial and applied markets. Thermo Fisher Scientific enables their customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.

Working in such a fast-paced and high-impact company, current Thermo Fisher professionals certainly knew the global leader in science was a great place to work. Communicating this to candidates around the world in a memorable way, however, was a whole different kind of challenge.

In the words of company employer brand leader Charlotte Marshall, Thermo Fisher Scientific is “the Home Depot of science” — they offer services and products that help customers around the globe in laboratories and clinics, on production lines, and out in the field. Communicating both the breadth and depth of the work they do proved difficult, leading the employer branding team to the drawing board.

Stumbling upon storytelling

Marshall and her team began by defining the company’s employee value proposition. They engaged a third-party creative and communications agency to conduct quantitative and qualitative research within the organization seeking to understand what working at this company means to current team members and why they wanted to work there in the first place.

Soon enough, a pattern emerged.

Marshall’s team found that many employees described their experiences with Thermo Fisher through personal stories. They defined their work not just by the hours spent in the lab, but more so by the lives that were changed forever by the science they helped create. Marshall found these organic accounts to be both engaging and impactful.

And so “What Story Will You Tell” was born. When job seekers reach Thermo Fisher’s careers page, instead of reading about hours, days, months in the lab amplifying DNA precision, they see Julio reflecting on the justice he knows his work has helped serve. He tells stories of families of victims who find peace through a rightful conviction based on DNA evidence; of wrongly incarcerated individuals set free, exonerated because of the science he helped create.

Alongside these stories of impact are even more personal stories. Joe, the CIO of Thermo Fisher Scientific, truly believes his work changes lives each day because the lives of his twin children were once transformed forever by sequencing technology. Both a giver and recipient of such a gift, he attests to his work being more than just science.

Impact of a story-based employer brand

Marshall and the rest of her team believe Thermo Fisher Scientific’s mission, combined with its ability to offer candidates an opportunity to realize their best professionally and personally, to be its differentiator. “Competing for the top talent in science and technology, we bet on these stories providing value beyond just compensation, job perks, and creating the next big innovation. And the stories did just that,” said Rob Russell, Analytical Instruments Group Talent Acquisition Leader at Thermo Fisher.

Since the campaign’s launch in September 2015, Thermo Fisher Scientific has seen an extraordinary impact. In terms of traffic, the new careers site has experienced a 123% increase in site visits, 162% increase in apply clicks, and 172% increase in mobile apply clicks from its 2014 averages.

How does this traffic convert to dollars? Since the launch, the science company has seen their cost per hire reduced by more than 60%. The quality of applications has also improved two-fold from 2014 to 2015. Application to hire ratio has reduced by 56%, and time to fill has decreased 47%.

Obstacles and moving forward

Post-launch, Marshall and her team have had the opportunity to reflect on their campaign and make adjustments moving forward. Upon the initial launch, Marshall admittedly underestimated the complexity of educating the talent acquisition team on the use of the stories.

“It was like handing someone a scalpel and expecting them to know how to perform an appendectomy,” Marshall reflected.

Armed with over 40 employee stories, Thermo Fisher Scientific refocused by incorporating storytelling training into recruiter training programs, helping them speak to people’s hearts as well as their minds. To incorporate it into the day-to-day culture, each talent acquisition member was asked to share their own story. Storytelling has also been introduced into corporate town halls, where company leaders begin meetings by sharing stories from around the company. The employer brand stories were also turned into beautiful wall signage that dresses their facilities around the world. These printed pieces build a strong emotional connection to the company and encourage their people to look at their work from a different perspective.

Marshall then began to hold her talent acquisition teams accountable. She has created a checklist of stories segmented by region, job category and key message. Team members had to sign off on the checklist and report this to their managers to ensure a high level of content competency. They are now looking to incorporate the key pillars of the brand into other recruitment processes, like the intake and offer process, to further influence hiring managers and recruiters alike.

Region-specific content relates to the goal of each story tying back to a specific hiring need. For example, Thermo Fisher is opening a new technology data center in Tijuana, Mexico. Competing with tech giants such as Google and Amazon for top talent — as well as recruiting into an area not traditionally associated with tech innovation — the talent acquisition team uses their stories to set them apart from the competition.

Empowering employees as brand ambassadors

Even more strategic, Thermo Fisher is also making strides to train their team members how to best use the content. According to independent research conducted by LinkedIn, when they share on their individual networks the same content as the official company network, employees on average receive 2x the click-through rates. The power of employees as brand ambassadors is overwhelming.

Aware of this fact, Thermo Fisher publishes a bi-weekly newsletter, #TATalk, which promotes the company’s stories and encourages team members to share the content on their personal networks. While not being forced, the newsletter arms its team members with engaging, easy-to-share content that when shared will resonate with potential candidates.

A story-based employer brand works

The overwhelming success of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s story-based employer brand launch demonstrates just how powerful storytelling is as an employer branding methodology. The organic process has more than doubled traffic to the careers page, more than halved cost per hire ratios, and drawn in a higher quality of applications.

“Without an activated employer brand, we are simply recruiting talent,” remarked Talent Acquisition Leader Noel Brown. “Our brand has been a game changer, helping us target the market strategically and enabling our recruiters to speak with confidence on why candidates should join us.”

Beyond saving time and money, the use of stories has also altered employee engagement and morale by improving how team members are choosing to communicate with each other. The stories have anchored them in Thermo Fisher’s mission and been a welcome reminder of just how important the work they do is.

Storytelling has allowed Thermo Fisher to remind the world that they are more than just a science company. What could stories do for your organization?

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