HR professionals need to demonstrate added-value from employer branding initiatives and how they will positively impact the bottom-line. This business case can sometimes be hard to collate if you’re unclear on the feasibility of it and the potential impact it will make on business performance.
A first important step is your own self-realisation of the true value in employer branding and how it can help make an enormous difference in attracting and retaining the right people in your organisation.
Here’s a list of top triggers (many of which are inspired by The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development’s Guide to Employer Branding) that will convince and persuade you to embark on the process of developing your employer brand – even if you only can relate to one or a few of these points.
- Your organisation spends a lot on recruitment
It may be difficult to quantify what constitutes as ‘high’ recruitment costs, but put it this way, if you’re heavily reliant on using recruitment consultants/agencies to fill roles (which is expensive) you have good reason to evaluate your current reputation in the marketplace. There’s no doubt that a strong employer brand enables recruitment advertising to be truly effective – your organisation’s reputation, presence and brand profile will do the work and naturally attract talent along with right number of responses from suitable candidates.
Another metric of performance to consider is the number of candidates who, after several interviews and showing lots of interest, decline your job offers because they’ve been offered something they perceive to be better elsewhere. Starting the recruitment process again, as you know, is costly and time-consuming.
- You want to win awards for being a top employer
There’s real advantage in claiming any accolade that pronounces you an employer of choice, a great company to work for and so on. An award-winning company badge is good for staff moral and a magnet for attracting talent in a competitive marketplace.
Some of the higher-profile awards (eg. Sunday Times 100 Best Companies) are based on how people genuinely feel and what they actually say about working for their organisation. The success of each any every company has been derived from defining what they want their distinctive employment experience to be and ensuring it’s lived and breathed by all employees from the top down.
- Some of your best people leave after less than 18 months
How authentic is your employer brand? A tell-tale sign is what new starters experience verses what they were led to believe working for your organisation would be like prior to joining.
A lack of alignment is one of the cardinal employer brand sins – not only is there a sense of disillusion and uncertainty but these people are likely to share their disappointing experience with others.
- You feel uncomfortable saying who you work for
The corporate brand has the big responsibility of delivering an image that people are proud to associate themselves with. However even the least sexy of brands, those operating in what is perceived as ‘grey’ marketplaces, can re-position what they stand for with a compelling employer brand, vision and purpose.
Developing your employer brand will surely identify the reasons ‘why’. It gives shape and coherence to the reasons why people should feel good about the organisation that they work for, and help them to articulate those reasons.
- Your recruitment campaigns give little return
Here’s the scenario: you’ve invested a significant amount into your recruitment campaign, utilised job boards, offline and online advertising, attended events, and sent out 300 job application packs only to get 30 back.
What has happened is your employment communications has created certain expectations; however subsequent follow-up and the candidate experience have failed to deliver.
A lesson learned here is that your employer brand must be embedded across the entire candidate journey from the first time candidates interact with you, to the point in which they come to work on the first day of their employment.
Your employer brand has a role to play every step of the way. If it’s not working for you, you should think about the consistency of your brand message and consider making it clearer. You want it to be delivered in a consistent and positive way at every touch point.
- Your workforce lacks the balance and diversity it needs
New blood comes from branching out into new communities, your workforce will lack the balance and diversity it needs if you have too many job applications coming from the communities they’ve always come from. And, why do we need a diverse and inclusive workforce? Well, that’s a separate blog post. What’s certain is that organisations are feeling the need to cast the net wider and explore alternative talent pools.
Embracing and encouraging better diversity within your organisation will be a problem if the employer brand doesn’t relate to the communities it intends on engaging with. Your employer brand needs to be determined and communicated by the markets from where you seek to recruit as well as from your existing employees. An effective employer brand will paint a picture of how things will be and dissolve any out-of-date preconceptions.
- Your workforce has more cynics that optimists
Reverting back to the earlier point about the misalignment between what’s expected from new employees verses what’s actually experienced – this can lead to more brand saboteurs than brand advocates. For some, the sense of let-down will be so strong that they’ll simply vote with their feet – although spare a second thought for those who may not be luckily enough, or practically-able, to find their next job. They start to infect those around them with negativity including new arrivals. Cynicism is hard to get rid of once it’s established.
It’s important to address these issues head on and not bury one’s head in the sand. An effective remedy is to rethink your employer brand and use its development as a catalyst for improving the employee experience, employee engagement and management practice (the latter is usually the main culprit for dissatisfaction in the workplace).
The employer brand development process will reveal any gaps between how senior management sees the organisation and how it fairs in terms of its ability to effectively engage and manage its organisation’s employees. The process with proper creative input will express the organisations vision and values in ways that people can relate and sign up to.
- You get bad reviews on company review websites
How does your organisation view bad reviews on employer review sites such as Glassdoor? It can, in some cases, take one scathing review for senior management to take action, identify the root of the problem and fix it.
And, let’s face it; it’s not a case of ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ for top talent. Pay and benefits are the no longer the ultimate persuading factor for taking a new job – there are other motivations, and appraisals from employees (existing and those who have moved on) on employer review sites can influence someone’s decision whether or not to accept a job offer enormously.
Don’t forget that chat about organisations and what they are like as places to work, as well as do business with, is ubiquitous across social media. Ask your marketing team to employ some social media listening tactics across platforms to gather feedback – good, indifferent and bad – on a regular basis. What your customers say about their interactions with your company is also indicative of how your employees are feeling.
- Your recent merger or acquisition has resulted in a disparate, inhomogeneous team
The seamless integration of new businesses/teams within your organisation can be underestimated in respect to the task at hand. There’s the technical and operational aspect to deal with, and then each part will have its own distinctive way of doing things, its own ethos and culture, its own management practice and so on. How can an organisation with an undefined employer brand effectively articulate its culture and expected behaviours to the teams it wishes to unite?
A merger or acquisition situation is one of the major triggers for reviewing and evaluating your employer brand. Simply, there’s no excuse for not doing it. Your employer brand will instantly give all employees a sense of what their expected contribution to the organisation’s overall success looks like. People will be confident and clear about their roles and feel engaged. Importantly, there will be an evident sense of team, rather than an ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Author: Sally Davidson, Marketing & Brand Specialist at Capita