Employer branding & how to boost your appeal
Attracting and retaining best talent has never been more challenging or resource-intensive for employers. Regardless of your market sector or the size of your organisation, you will be competing in the ‘war for talent’.
Strong employer branding provides invaluable differentiation in the talent marketplace.
An effective employer brand will operate on two fronts; first, to engage with and inspire current employees, and second, to appeal to and connect with new, quality candidates.
Despite the imperative for high performing recruitment and employee engagement, organisations can struggle to meet their people needs. Human resource issues such as low volumes of quality applications, a decline in job acceptance rates or a high employee churn rate may be indications of a misaligned employer brand, impeding the organisation’s ability to attract and retain best talent.
What is employer branding?
Employer branding relates to how your organisation is perceived in the talent market. It is what differentiates you, and the experience you offer employees from your competitors.
Employers are recognising that a strong and compelling employer brand is now the difference in an organisation’s ability to compete for talent.
Effective employer branding is a proactive approach to managing and developing how you are seen by employees and potential employees. It brings together recruitment, marketing and communications to drive meaningful business outcomes, including lowering recruitment costs, reducing time to hire and increasing high calibre applications.
Your employer brand already exists, whether it is managed or ignored. But employers are becoming increasingly aware that taking control of the employer brand delivers benefits in talent acquisition and retention.
Through your employer brand, you can articulate your identity and what makes you different as an employer, and showcase the employee experience to enable improved performance across recruitment, retention and employee engagement.
Investment in your employer brand can result in returns in areas such as reduced recruitment costs, shorter time-to-hire and increased candidate quality. Among existing personnel, employers report improved productivity, motivation and lower attrition rates where employer branding has been leveraged to nurture a cohesive and inclusive approach to workforce management.
Employer branding: exerting influence
The first step in any employer branding programme will be to understand where you are now. Audit existing assets and activity, conduct research into perceptions among employees past, present and future and benchmark the results against competitor and market research. You are looking to identify where the weaknesses and risks are and the strengths and opportunities, aligned to the organisation’s people strategy and priorities. What are you known, respected and admired for? Do you offer exceptional training opportunities or a high degree of flexibility? What are the issues that need to be fixed?
Brands demand ongoing attention and alignment to changes in organisational values and aims. Communication is critical, from the initial research and gaining senior and workforce buy-in through to the implementation phase. Training will also be essential for recruiters and key employees responsible for the external and internal touchpoints that shape and convey the brand.
Key considerations in employer branding
A number of factors should be considered where organisations are looking to transform talent acquisition and retention by leveraging a more compelling, relevant and authentic employer brand.
Your employer brand ultimately has to reflect who you are as an employer – your goals, values and culture. While it should inspire your people, it must also be authentic, credible and clearly aligned to your organisation’s objectives. It should resonate with your existing employees and their experience of being employed by you, while also differentiating you from the competition in a highly crowded and competitive talent marketplace.
The demands and expectations of individuals when considering a potential employer are changing, and HR has to take the lead in ensuring the organisation is keeping pace. Pay, reward, benefit and personal development schemes must be sufficiently attractive and competitive to appeal to top talent.
The brand also has to resonate with your ideal talent. The millennial generation, for example, is known to look for greater flexibility in working arrangements, real-time, ongoing feedback and the opportunity for overseas experience. An employer brand that fails to communicate – and back up – this kind of offering will fail to attract the best in the cohort.
The proliferation of digital channels has opened up the potential for employers when recruiting and engaging with employees. A strong and positive online presence helps to build trust, reputation and connection points. The same however applies to your competitors, demanding differentiation and optimisation of online activity, and a data-driven, strategic approach to stakeholder segmentation, profiling and targeting.
Employers should also explore how technology can help to leverage employee advocacy. As employees operate their own social platforms and develop their personal brand online, there is considerable opportunity for employers to provide frameworks in which employees can support corporate promotional activity through their own individual efforts, amplifying reach and credibility.
As with any change management project, barriers to take up and implementation should be identified and countermeasures taken proactively to reduce the impact of potential objections or apathy.
Successful adoption of the brand will also require support from all areas of the business, such as collaboration with the marketing and communications functions in developing and promoting the employer brand.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.