All organisations, consciously or not, have an employer brand. Built from a rich mix of employee experience, marketing positioning and company values; the employer brand has grown in weight and value in recent years and stands to have a big impact on your recruitment and talent retention.
Traditionally in recruitment a lot of emphasis is placed on the role itself and the makeup of the package offered to candidates. In the digital age, with greater transparency through social media, employer review sites and application portals, the candidate expectation is much higher and employer brand is taken more seriously into consideration. While you’re scouting for the best possible talent, prospective employees are scouting for the best possible employer.
So how do you continue to compete for talent in 2021? This is where employer branding plays a key role, offering a great opportunity for you to differentiate your organisation, enabling you to recruit, retain and engage the right people.
Brand vs branding
In most organisations brand management stems from the Marketing department and is associated with visual brand assets, such as a logo, corporate colours and image use. Your employer brand, however, is so much more than this.
As much as it is important to understand your customers, in recruitment to be successful you need to understand your employees and your prospective employees. Marketing professionals have developed techniques to help attract customers, communicate with them effectively and maintain their loyalty. With your employer brand you need to apply a similar approach to people management.
Your brand can be defined as a set of attributes, qualities and values, often intangible, that make your organisation distinctive. For employees, this is centered around the employment experience. Your employer brand is derived from the wider company brand and echoes the values and reputation of your organisation, and what it can offer to existing and prospective employees. This includes what you stand for and represent, your vision and mission, how your employees feel about working for you, the perks and benefits packages, company culture and your general reputation as an employer.
You have to consider your employer brand as a narrative or an experience, and in communicating this you are sharing your employee value proposition. You need to take people on your employer brand journey, encouraging great talent why they should collaborate with you over a competitor.
But, why is your employer brand important?
Having a reputable employer brand is no longer a nice to have, it is an important part of your organisation’s recruitment strategy and, if executed well, will support you in recruiting better candidates, reducing time-to-hire and minimising advertising costs.
Even during challenging periods, employer branding remains relevant. This has been incredibly prevalent with the recent global pandemic, which has pushed employer responsiveness into the spotlight. May it be to secure highly sought after, specialist roles, to recruit the very best candidates for competitive vacancies or to manage reputational risk, the strength of your employer brand plays a huge role in the perception and attraction of your business.
Check out our key considerations for why you should invest in an employer brand strategy:
Attracting quality candidates
By being perceived as a good employer, with great morals and values, you are naturally going to see an increase in quality applications. With a rise in key recruitment topics around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, flexible working and company transparency, your employer brand is an opportunity to showcase how you champion your employees and provide a company culture that people strive to work within.
Communicating with prospective talent has never been easier. The majority of applicants will conduct substantial research before applying for a role, including reviewing your website, checking out review sites and scrolling through social media. These platforms are a great place to demonstrate your employee value proposition and differentiate your strong employer brand from your competitors.
Employee engagement and talent retention
There is nothing more motivating than working for a company you are proud of. Employees who are motivated are more likely to be productive, driving business growth, financial stability and continued performance improvement.
Having engaged and enthusiastic employees, not only improves the likelihood of retention and company growth, but also breeds positivity. Your employees are your brand ambassadors and if they are sharing great content about working for your company, this will further improve your attraction strategies.
As your brand reputation increases, so will your brand awareness as a great employer. This will position your organisation as one people strive to work for, providing you with a healthy pipeline and therefore reducing the investment it takes to secure the very best talent for your roles.
Also, as highlighted earlier, working for a transparent and caring employer brand is overtaking the traditional application drivers, such as salary. According to statistics, there is a movement of candidates willing to accept a lower pay, if they work in a company with positive reviews and a well-known, reputable brand.
Just as a strong employer brand supports cost reduction, it also will help with your time-to-hire, as you will be building a following of interested talent. This not only will increase application volume, but further improve application quality.
A positive employer image will help in drawing attention towards your company and ultimately enable you to build a tailored talent pool for the roles you recruit.
Authenticity and transparency have become increasingly important in media, in general and especially as part of the recruitment process. Your prospective talent wants to be sure they are seeking an opportunity not only with a reputable brand, but one that lives and breathes their core values and one that is not just paying lip service to their social following.
With employer review sites and social amplification, there is nowhere for your company to hide in this modern, digital age. If you have an engaged and motivated workforce, this will be evident on the relevant channels your target talent is utilising, ahead of applying for your role. On the reverse, if you have unhappy employees, these bad reviews will be hard to escape from online.
Social media is no longer just a personal platform, but one that heavily overlaps with professional use. These are great platforms to enhance and communicate your employer brand, showcasing how you deliver value for your workforce.
Demonstrating your employer value proposition
It is clear that your employer brand is a crucial part of your recruitment strategy, however where do you start when implementing one? To succeed, you will need a plan.
Employee value realisation requires consistency, audience understanding, clear communication and proactivity.
Check out our steps to get you started:
Developing a plan for your evolving employer brand
Your employer brand is not what you think you stand for, it is what your stakeholders believe and perceive you deliver. To help you understand your brand, you could undertake a research project.
Discovery. This could include holding workshops and focus groups with internal stakeholders and employees, carrying out a survey and auditing the candidate journey, interjecting with questionnaires and feedback emails.
Interpretation. Taking the data you obtained in the discovery process, you can review this against your vision, mission and values (which is next in our key steps), to build a clear picture of what you actually stand for and offer as an employer. This will become your employee value proposition.
Implementation. Once you have a clear understanding of your employer brand, you need to look at how it applies to your wider recruitment process. This includes adding clear messaging to the induction process, including your values in the interview stage, launching internal initiatives (such as referring a friend) and rolling out relevant communications on external media platforms that reinforce your employee value proposition.
Measurement. Decide upfront how you are going to measure and continually enhance your employer brand. Using internal and external probing, questionnaires and taking regular performance reviews of candidate volume, application quality and advertising spend, could be a few ways to review.
Once you have a clear understanding of your perceived employer brand, you can look at ways to influence and enhance these views, using some of the following tactics.
Vision, Mission, Values
Your vision, mission and values should be aspirational but also realistic and authentic to who you are as a business. It may seem like a marketing initiative to document and communicate these messages, but it also has a big impact on the recruitment process when candidates are seeking information on you, to buy-in to your organisation before applying.
When devising your values, you should look at brands you are inspired by, what value you offer your employees and customers, what your ambitions are and any feedback you received when obtaining internal and external feedback. This should help you to position values that resonate with all your key stakeholders, whilst being true to the company.
Your employer brand is reflected in everything, from the way your team members communicate, to your office setup and all the content that is pushed out on all platforms. This is why it’s so essential to clearly define your vision, mission and values.
Communication for candidate personas
Just like marketer’s create buyer personas, it is important to understand your candidates and create personas based on roles, departments, interests and need states.
A candidate persona demonstrates the characteristics of your ideal candidate and you may have multiple personas for your organisation. As part of these profiles, you will map media preferences and what type of content would best engage and inspire your audience. This could be blog posts about company events and work culture or social media videos of ‘a day in the life’.
It is important to include a mix of these pieces to attract and interest your candidate personas, ensuring you are easily found by potential talent. This content also serves as educational material, that helps move top talent down a “hiring funnel” with the ultimate goal of potential candidates actually applying for the job.
Be proactive on career sites
It is easy to leave career sites to maintain themselves, however as a great employer it is important to keep on top of sites, such as Glassdoor. These platforms enable employees, past and present, to be very candid about their experiences and often prospective talent will use these sites to get an honest review of the company culture.
The content of the comments and the lack of response from the company can often be a red flag to applicants, so as part of your employer brand strategy, you should spend time addressing any negative feedback and showing your drive to support and motivate your employees. Sadly, you cannot control what everyone thinks, but by responding you can help shape the narrative and demonstrate your willingness to improve.
Get socially active
Social media is a great tool for sourcing talent when recruiting, but it is also a fantastic tool for demonstrating your employee value proposition, to strengthen your attraction strategies.
Posts from employees about their experiences and showcasing recommendations are likely to generate greater trust and weight when deciding on applying for a role, as they are perceived to be more genuine and authentic. As mentioned earlier, your employees are your brand ambassadors and social is an easy tool to leverage and engage with employees, increasing positive media around your brand.
If you are sharing great content and celebrating your team and their success, they are more likely to share it with their network. This amplifies your brand in association with positive employee experience and is a great way to build your talent pipeline too!
Deliver the best candidate experience
Candidate experience starts from the initial search, all the way through to onboarding and induction. This entire process should live and breathe your employer brand and values, consistently demonstrating why you are the employer of choice.
From maximising your digital presence using search engine optimisation, through to engaging, interactive and intuitive careers pages, your end-to-end candidate journey should inspire confidence and showcase your organisation in the best light. Whether you are utilising virtual recruitment techniques and video interviewing or inviting a candidate into the office, first impressions really do matter, so it is important to train your talent acquisition and in-house recruitment team to deliver a candidate experience they will remember.
Demonstrating your employer brand is a multi touchpoint initiative.
Consistency is key
There is no definitive list of tactics or exact formula for building your employer brand, it is an evolving piece. However, one thing that is certain is that consistency is key.
With a multitude of available touchpoints to influence and communicate, it is vital that your message is clear and transparent on all platforms. This not only reiterates and reinforces your employee value proposition, but ensures a streamlined candidate experience from employer review sites, through to the application and interview process. The end-to-end candidate experience should deliver what you stand for and why the candidate should go ahead with your opportunity.
To execute this in your organisation, you may consider building templates, defining workflows, using automation and mapping the candidate experience for different roles, so you can look at ways to improve and add to the journey. As with technology, these processes change overtime so when the only constant is change, consistently seek to improve and enhance the process.
Defining employer brand success
Measuring and reporting on the success of your brand can be difficult, as how do you measure the intangible? Brand awareness and impact is a qualitative measurement, but that does not mean you cannot track improvements and measure success over time.
A lot of the tactics we have discussed, in executing your employer brand, will provide a great base to measure your performance, from online reviews, social listening, talent volume and the quality of applications. Other ways to gage feedback is to include it within the recruitment process, adding surveys and questions at the interview stage. Many organisations already do this to track the origin or source of applications. With a savvy applicant tracking system in place, this reporting will be in-built and you will be able to report over time the improvements across your recruitment workflow, including time-to-hire and cost reduction.
Although the impact of a strong employer brand takes time, it is an important ongoing evolution that you will continually refine in line with what your company has to offer and what your candidates are looking for.
The employer brand of the future
A strong employer brand should connect an organisation’s values, people strategy and overall vision, and be clearly identifiable to all key stakeholders. It goes beyond communication tactics and best practice and hones in on what you stand for as a business and what sets you above the rest.
For more information on executing a stellar employer brand, utilising innovative technology, AI and automation, get in touch today.Back to blog page