Hiring the right talent is not easy. Not only is there more competition between companies, but job seekers are increasingly less attracted by compensation and more in search of meaningful experiences. An effective employer brand strategy can help you attract and retain the right people. What is an employer brand, and how can you go about bolstering your own?
The growing competition for talent
As the global economy evolves, companies great and small are forced to compete on a daily basis to attract and retain top talent in order to be successful. The quality of the talent you hire is important. According to one white paper, more than 90% of the value of leading companies, such as Proctor & Gamble and Facebook, can be attributable to the value created exclusively by people. While high salaries and unique perks were once seen as the keys to attracting top talent, new research has shown that a company’s mission and culture have become far more important.
According to a 2019 study conducted by the global online job platform Glassdoor:
- Over 77% of adults across four countries – the United States, UK, France, Germany – would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there.
- 79% would consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying.
- More than 50% of the 5000 respondents said that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.
Reflecting on their findings, Christian Sutherland-Wong, Glassdoor President and COO, had the following to say:
[I]t’s clear that job seekers are seeking more meaningful workplace experiences … [they] want to be paid fairly but they too want to work for a company whose values align with their own and whose mission they can fully get behind.
Another research report, this time compiled by LinkedIn as far back as 2015, offered the following insights:
- Candidates trust the company’s employees three times more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there.
- 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.
- 52% of candidates first seek out 1) the company’s sites and 2) social media to learn more about an employer.
As job seekers turn to websites, social media, job boards and employer branding platforms to inform their job search, companies too need to be using these resources to highlight their brand and attract interest from qualified candidates. But, while companies spend a lot of time and money on building strong brands to win over customers, they often neglect strengthening their employer reputation to win talent. In other words, they neglect building an effective employer brand, which, Caroline Forsey from Hubspot contends, “can reduce turnover rates by 28%, and cut your costs-per-hire by half”.
So what is an employer brand, and how can you go about bolstering your own?
What is an employer brand?
Similar to how a corporate brand presents a value proposition to customers and defines products or services in the marketplace, an employer brand is the strategy through which you market your company to desired job seekers.
- Defines the market’s perception of your company
- Presents shareholders, employees and job seekers with an employee value proposition
- Outlines the promise you make to employees in exchange for their experience, talents, contacts, or skills
As noted by Lauren Cover from Sprout Social, “an effective employer branding strategy shows prospective employees that you have a brand they’ll want to work for”. It goes beyond superficial perks, such as free lunch or unlimited vacation, according to Ken Banta and Michael Waltars. An effective employer brand should ultimately:
- Grow from out of the company brand as a project led by your brand team.
- Harness the perspectives, skills and insights from the CEO, C-suite Managers, HR, Marketing & Communications, as well as employees themselves.
- Align with a talent framework that outlines the qualities, behaviours, and motivations your company wants to see in its work force, and in relation to delivering on its total brand promise.
- Promote the inspirational aspects of your corporate culture (like your brand mission), communicate values, showcase initiatives, and highlight unique features that differentiate you from other employers in your industry.
Building a powerful employer branding strategy can be difficult, but it boils down to answering two key questions:
- What kind of talent are you trying to attract in order to deliver your company value proposition?
- What makes your company the best place to work at for those prospects you want to attract?
Let us look at five steps you can take to bolster your own employer brand strategy.
Five steps to bolstering your own employer brand
1. Integrate a talent dimension into your corporate brand
Your employer brand should not be something separate from your company brand, it should rather grow from out of it. It is therefore critical to start by focusing on your company’s mission statement, values, vision, and culture. Identify what your business needs are and then work backwards to understand what type of talent you need to acquire to fulfil those objectives. In this manner you add a talent dimension to your existing corporate brand that is aligned with your broader objectives.
2. Conduct an employer brand audit
In order to know where you are going, you need to know where you are coming from. Ascertain what your company’s reputation is among employees and job seekers by conducting research. Make use of internal surveys and focus groups, conduct social media searches, read reviews on sites like Glassdoor, or hire a firm that conducts reputation monitoring. Ultimately, your research should establish what the best aspects of your company culture are and what areas require improvement.
3. Write an employer value proposition
With your findings guiding your strategy development, it is time to create an employer value proposition. This is your marketing message and promise to employees and job seekers. It should not speak to compensation. Rather, it must evoke passion in employees and candidates through expressing your company’s greater purpose. This statement can be harnessed across your marketing platforms as well as in your recruiting process.
4. Leverage current employees
As noted by LinkedIn, candidates trust a company’s employees three times more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there. Your employees are therefore your best choice of brand ambassadors. You can leverage your employees by conducting employee interviews or testimonials to share on your website and asking employees to share company culture across their own social networks.
5. Market your employer brand story
Just like with any marketing campaign, you need to 1) employ various channels to reach your audience, and 2) harness multiple content pieces – videos, photos, slideshows, blogs, and other forms of messaging – to tell your story effectively. Social media can effectively communicate your message to a broader audience, while your website’s Jobs page or even About Us page are spaces where you can expand on your story and drive your value proposition home through employee interviews and videos.
With a little effort, it’s yours for the taking
Human capital is your greatest asset and whether you know it or not, your company already has an employer brand. If you have not already done so, it is time to start defining and harnessing it in order to see greater value. One of the most significant obstacles candidates face when considering a new position is not knowing what it’s like to work for a specific company. Your employer brand does not only make it easier for job seekers in this regard, but allows you to convince them that you offer the best next step in their careers.