September 20, 2019

What the year’s most celebrated shows can teach us about employer branding

Alexa Moritz, Marketing Manager

As Marketing Manager, Alexa handles the strategy and execution of marketing initiatives for ThirtyThree and works to raise awareness of the importance of employer branding within the North American market. This includes managing marketing and public relations activities, external communications, and planning industry events.

Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more.

This Sunday marks the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, recognizing excellence within various areas of television and emerging media. Believe it or not, some of the year’s most binge-worthy shows can teach us a thing or two about employer branding. So, grab your popcorn and join us as we explore some key learnings from some of the most talked about programs of 2019.

“The Good Place” and aspiration

Without giving away any major spoilers, “The Good Place” raises some interesting questions about the notions of “good” vs “bad”. We learn that, in most cases, both aren’t so black and white, and many people are on an ongoing journey to becoming the person they’d most like to be.

The same can be said about the journey that most employers are on. Whether it’s technology, acquisitions, or new strategic growth initiatives, many organizations today are in a state of transformation and evolving into what they’d most like to be. To achieve their vision, they’ll need to attract the right people to help them get there. But, to ensure those people stay, they’ll need to be transparent in communicating with them and get them excited about the opportunity to make an impact.

A combination of aspiration and authenticity is critical to success. By developing a strong employee value proposition (EVP) that aligns with the strategic ambitions of the business and is also rooted in the reality of the employment experience, the right candidates can self-select themselves into the organization and, ultimately, drive the business forward.

“Barry” and purpose

As a hitman, Barry Berkman is lonely and dissatisfied with his life. While Barry is good at his profession, he does not feel engaged in or inspired by his work. This changes one day when Barry stumbles upon an acting class and becomes reinvigorated by a sense of purpose. As Barry distances himself from his current occupation to pursue one that he’s passionate about, he also discovers a new sense of meaning and belonging.

People can be reskilled, in ways as complicated as behavioral shifts or as foundational as learning a new program. However, their values are often ingrained in who they are. Beyond having the right skillset for a role, employees must feel connected to the greater purpose of an organization to be motivated to make an impact. Any disconnect between personal ambition and organizational vision can cause people at work to become disengaged. These employees may experience eventual burnout or leave the company to pursue another opportunity. A disengaged workforce can also have a negative impact on the bottom line. In fact, it’s estimated that employee disengagement costs U.S. business between $450 billion and $550 billion a year due to poor productivity. Clear and consistent communication is essential to motivate and galvanize the workforce, ensuring organizations retain their top performers and improve productivity and morale.

“Queer Eye” and authenticity

Queer Eye emphasizes the importance of creating a life that suits you, not who the world wants you to be. While the external makeovers featured on the show are significant and just as fabulous as one might expect from “The Fab Five”, the most life-changing transformations are often those made on the inside. In each tear-jerking episode, we watch people embrace and become the best versions of their authentic selves.

Similarly, brands must identify the things that make them unique and special and find compelling ways to articulate those attraction factors to talent. Engaging language or beautiful designs expressed throughout various employer brand activation touchpoints might initially appeal to candidates. But if the inside of the company doesn’t align with what’s being communicated externally, people will quickly catch on. These employees will likely leave the business. Some may become angry and share their experiences in conversations, on job sites, or on social media.

The right external image, which might not be right for everyone (and that’s okay), will enable organizations to attract the people who will thrive within their unique culture. With these people onboard, the business can deliver the best products and experiences to customers.


The most engaging stories are those that create an emotional connection with viewers at home. Win or lose, this year’s Emmy nominated series offer some surprisingly teachable moments, both on- and off-screen.

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