The importance of employer brand to attract top talent
Guest blog by John Lynes- Director of the Ashdown Group
How does a growing company manage to attract and retain top talent?
With the continuing decline in candidate availability, increase in number of job vacancies and starting salaries at an all-time high (REC) – combined with a Brexit and pandemic fueled skills exodus – the shoe is very much on the foot of candidates looking for a new job. Strong candidates will have a choice of job offers. So how does a growing company manage to attract and retain the most talented?
Pre COVID, it may well have been enough for managers to take their team out once a month for lunch or to redevelop an area of the office as a breakout room and claim that employee welfare is at the heart of everything they do. However, as we’ve moved to more remote ways of working, the perks offered pre-pandemic no longer stand up on their own. Instead, it is vital that organisations are able to not only communicate their purpose and company values, but to imbed them into their everyday ways of working.
Those businesses with a distinctive employer brand, strong employer reputation, employer value proposition and employee experience strategy, actively demonstrated and communicated, have become more attractive to employees than those without. In fact, a strong employer brand can often outperform other decision factors such as salary and benefits when a potential future employee is thinking about the right move for them.
Typically these are developed by internal HR teams to promote the company employee vision, support career pathways and retain the existing team, but should the responsibility fall solely to HR? The process by which an employer brand is arrived at has a number of similarities to the responsibilities of the marketing department when branding the company products or services. The research, identifying unique differentiators, carrying out competitor analysis, defining the target audience, agreeing the communication channels and delivering the messaging across these channels all sound very familiar to your average marketing team.
In a job market where the level of demand for talent, and constricted supply, can actually affect the success of the company growth strategy, getting it right has become critical to the bottom line of any business with growth aspirations. Developing a communication strategy, harnessing the power of various media channels to appeal to the widest target audience, and present a compelling story for any potential recruit will have a positive impact on reaching your recruitment goals.
Employee Value Proposition
What is an employee value proposition (EVP)? In short, being transparent about what a potential employee will receive in return for their skills and experience and the unique benefits that working for you will bring, setting out clear expectations of what an individual will get for what they give.
Communicating and sharing the company purpose, vision and values makes it clear to potential employees the direction of the organisation and allows the individual to decide whether that meets with their own personal sense of purpose. Employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives. Employers need to help meet this need or be prepared to lose talent to companies that will.*
* Mckinsey – Help your employees find purpose or watch them leave – April 2021
So what makes a strong employer brand?
Employer brand starts with your company brand and your company reputation, is your company perceived as a desirable place to work? For some businesses this may be easier than others. Companies with a strong sense of purpose, such as charities or sectors that are driving for a better world like sustainable energy or environmental businesses, are more attractive than say a cigarette manufacturer or gambling company. It is, however, still possible to elevate your perception as an employer by developing and communicating what makes your firm special.
Internal research & reputation
Your existing and past employees will have an influence on your employer reputation. When considering your employer brand strategy, internal employee research and feedback is essential to ensure that the company is living and has imbedded its values and culture in the existing team. This research will also help identify company advocates.
Having clearly defined objectives and expectations of employees, results in a stronger understanding of the career pathway and what will be received in return for delivering. This ultimately leads to greater engagement and a trust based relationship between employer and employee and a stronger employer brand.
Historically a company based within a community undoubtedly had a reputation amongst the local residents. In a world dominated by social media this now extends way beyond the local population and information is readily available online to any prospective candidate. According to Glassdoor 86% of job applicants research a company before applying for a job. Glassdoor, Google Reviews and review sites are all listed as sources of information used to build a picture of an employers reputation. Theses sources are more trusted than company website career pages as they are impartial.
Marketing and IT have been comfortable bedfellows for a number of years with the merging of technology and communications, less obvious are the partnering between the Human Resources and Marketing teams, but we are now seeing much more collaboration between these departments to deliver a strong message and succeed in the war for talent
HR working collaboratively with marketing specialists will help ensure your employer brand is given the same care and attention and is communicated as effectively as your company brand. In many cases the two will be aligned.
In a fast-paced world, where information can be shared in an instant, communication is key. Potential employees have the ability to instantly research their future employers and make a judgement based on reputation, reviews and public image. Demonstrating your culture, community, mission and aspirations will in turn lead to interest from the people you want to attract.
Nothing speaks more highly of an employer than a referral or recommendation, and these can only be brought about by good employee experience. Companies that invest in their employee's development, training and overall experience, seeing their team as their greatest asset, can out compete the market in terms of attraction, employee retention and tenure.
'In demand' candidates have the luxury of choice in the current job market. They need to be able to trust their potential employer is the right company to join and having a strong, well communicated employer brand is one of the best ways businesses can establish and build this relationship.
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