Following on from my last introductory editorial “EBSA plants the employer branding seed in Kenya”, I have pleasure in providing snapshot insights into the current and initial status and challenges within the Kenyan employer market place. It provides initial and basic findings emanating from questionnaires that were successfully completed by the participants who attended The Kenyan Institute of Management’s (KIM) first Symposium titled the HR Function in Managing the Complexities of Organizational Change of Transformation in The Emerging Global Order.

The majority of participants where County representatives from the 47 different counties e.g. Uasin Gishu, Tharaka Nithi, Thurkana, Homa Bay etc. One or two delegates represented the private sector. The findings are therefore reflective of the Employer Branding challenges that exist predominantly within the government sector versus the private sector. Whilst Employer Branding is a new phenomenon in the Kenyan market, they clearly saw the merit and importance in adopting such a strategy within their various organisations, especially with the recent re-organisation of the counties.


As of the 2013 general elections, there are 47 counties whose size and boundaries are based on the 47 legally recognised Districts of Kenya. Following the re-organisation of Kenya’s National administration, Counties were integrated into a new national administration with the National Government posting County Commissioners to represent it at the Counties. County governments have been established to a carry out exclusive, concurrent and residual functions. As such their operations are not mutually exclusive from those of the national government. The two levels are expected to work in cooperation and consultation with each other. Currently the national government plays an implementation role whereas the new order expects the national government to play a facilitators role in most of the sectors.

Key sectors where the national government is expected to cede considerable implementation powers and functions include: Agriculture, Health, Planning and Development, Pollution Control, Public Works, Roads, Transport, Public Entertainment, Soil and Water Conservation, Forestry, Trade development and Regulation, Tourism, Animal Welfare and Cultural Activities.
It was evident throughout my facilitating of this workshop as well as from my discussions with this delegation that since the shift/transformation from the old Kenyan governmental structure, to the now renewed county structure, the latter is being considered to be a more desirable place to work versus the private/corporate sector.


Size of the Organisation:

With the majority of delegates representing various counties, 57% of the delegates emanate from a governmental environment representative of 1000 plus employees. The remaining 53% represent predominantly the smaller county environments, with a fraction stemming from the private sector.

Public versus Private Sector:

90% of the delegates represent the various counties and 10% that of private sector.


64% of delegates affirmed that they have undertaken some form of Employer Branding and Talent Attraction Initiative/s, whereas 36% have not as yet.

Outline/elaborate on the present status of your Employer Branding and Talent Attraction Initiatives?

Of the 64% that have undertaken such initiatives, it is interesting to note that 53% of the counties are at different stages in their process of defining and developing talent attraction initiatives. Some counties have already recognised the need to e.g. further develop their website, revamp their advertisements to incorporate a more compelling value proposition, revise their HR manuals to include talent attraction and retention strategies.

Whereas other organisations feel that, since they are still in the formative stages and/or undergoing re-organizational changes, they are not ready to embark on such initiatives. 26% of counties affirm that they are capitalizing on their advertisements to drive their presence. 10% confirm that this is a new concept not yet embraced by their organisations, with others believing that once they have buy-in from their relevant stakeholders, it will be a great initiative to implement.


52% of the majority of organisations are utilizing print media publications i.e. Daily Standard and National Newspapers to position their company value proposition and recruitment advertisements, with a marginally smaller amount of 48% utilizing electronic and online channels.

In terms of organisations uptake on online/social media channels, they define online/electronic channels as being a combination of their county or organisational websites, social media, internet and online advertising (job boards). 48% of organisations are capitalizing on their websites to position their employer brand with 26% recognizing that social and electronic media (Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo) is playing an important part in the implementation of their strategies. The remaining organizations utilize online job boards and the internet to position their brand and recruit for talent.


A majority of 77% of organisations are managing their employer branding initiatives internally; realising that certain support departments like their Information Communications and Technology need to be pulled in to assist in an initiative of this nature. In certain instances counties need to consult and get approval from national government in this regard.


24% of the delegates agreed that the biggest hurdle that they presently face is that of working in a political environment (predominantly within the counties), where they are constrained by external bodies i.e. that of parliament, regulators and other oversight bodies. These figures are not surprising considering counties are faced with transformation challenges of past historical legacies and organisational practices, where the authority has always rested with National Government.

In line with the above 16% of organisations felt that in order to overcome the political hurdles, stakeholders buy-in was necessary, as there was a lack of goodwill and co-operation from key players and commitment from the top to achieve their objectives.

15% of organisations felt that a combination of internal factors such as inadequate technology and availability of IT tools, union factors, procurement processes and generally past organisational practices restricted their initiative/s.

14% confirmed that there was a lack of finances and a defined budget to inject into implementing an Employer Branding initiative.

13% of organisations confirmed that there is a lack of skilled and limited resources to implement a strategy of this nature.

9% of organisations felt there was a need to address their staff performance and management i.e. lack of objective staff performance management measure, addressing longstanding employees who lacked formal qualifications and aligning employee performance in all partner companies.

It was interesting to note that, as with many global companies, the delegation found that there was a disconnect with certain organisation’s corporate brand versus their employer brand, where the former were not necessarily regarded as the best employers to work for. 9% of delegates felt that external factors such as negative perceptions and misguided public opinions regarding their organisation not having competitors was some of the challenges they had to face.


Upon completion of my workshop, extensive fact finding and networking with delegates and collation of the above insights, I do believe that whilst employer branding might be a bit premature for the Kenyan market, it wouldn’t surprise me if they adopt and progress on Employer Branding strategies quicker than the South African market. I feel that some counties are more progressive than others and predict that these counties will make a concerted effort to integrate Employer Branding and Talent Attraction Strategies within their organisation, with a view to “winning the war for talent” above counties.
With the 47 counties still settling into their new structures, I do believe that down the line, they too will face attraction, resourcing and retention challenges like any other industry sector. It follows that Employer Branding will become that much more of a focus in the years ahead.


I would like to thank The Kenyan Institute of Management, more specifically Paul Ooga Gecheo (Business Development Manager – Training) and Eunice Njenga (Head of Training and Membership) for affording Employer Branding SA this fantastic opportunity to position Employer Branding into the African market. It was an educational and exploratory trip of note and I look forward to witnessing the various employer branding initiatives rolling out over the forthcoming year.