According to LinkedIn’s “The State of Employer Branding” study in 2014, 83% of recruiting leaders agree that employer branding is a critical driver of their ability to hire top talent.  An authentic employer brand encapsulates an organisation’s reputation as an employer and is essential for attracting and retaining the right talent.

However, contrary to this belief there were some surprising statistics recently published by the CIPD and HR consultancy firm Towers Watson on job satisfaction.  Apparently, a quarter of UK workers do not have confidence in their senior leaders. Over 50 per cent of employees surveyed said that their business’s leaders were uninspiring and that they were unconfident about top management’s ability to motivate and guide them through today’s dynamic business environment.

The research, taken from the 2014 Towers Watson Workforce Study, also revealed that one in four employees in the UK is currently disengaged. A lack of trust in leadership was cited as one of the top reasons for leaving a job, and less than half (49 per cent) of employees said they believed the information they received from the senior leadership team.

Just 40 per cent of employees said that the change management programme at their organisation was well communicated, and 49 per cent said the reasons for changes were clearly explained.

These findings suggest that leadership/management practice and an organisation’s employer brand strategy are not always synonymous. Leaders are not coming across as authentic to inspire and gain respect from the workforce.

How do you address discrepancies relating to your employer brand proposition and what actually happens in management practice?

Put simply, a top employer brand strategy needs complete buy-in from your senior leaders.

You need to achieve buy-in to the point that senior leaders endorse the employer brand proposition and take responsibility for ensuring that business practices and the work culture reflect it.

Earning the support of senior leadership for your employer brand strategy will involve explicitly demonstrating how it will deliver business value. In particular, the business case should be aimed at those individuals who actually drive the business; particularly those individuals entrusted with market expansion, new product launches or engaged in activities requiring highly skilled employees, where such talent is harder to come by.

There also needs to be clarity around how the proposed employer brand translates in terms of people behaviours, management processes and how it should be adopted and embedded. For example, incorporating employer brand values within staff’s objectives, putting measures of success in place and ensuring there’s a commitment to regular employer brand reviews that involve a number of stakeholders from across the business.

You could argue that managing the employer brand is just as important as developing and communicating it.

A recent research report by HRO Today on “How to launch a successful employer brand?” says that eight in 10 organisations cite employer brand strategy as very important or important, however nearly one-half (43.1 per cent) of respondents surveyed lacked a documented employer brand strategy. This is surprising as the research also supports the view that brand must be authentic and consistent with company practices, which are both driven by strategy.

An organisation will surely fall short of creating an authentic employer brand if it leaves it up to a few people to throw together some messaging for a recruitment campaign. You’ll only get found out and fast. Services like Glassdoor are providing prospect employees with a really good insight into what it’s “actually” like to work for an employer.

In light of a candidate-led market, employers are inevitability spending more on job advertising, offering attractive work packages and adopting more flexible working practices to attract top talent.

And rightly so. If you want the best talent, hard-working and committed to supporting business success you need to fully invest in presenting yourself as that “Employer of Choice”.

What is at the heart of an authentic employer brand strategy and getting it right? Admittedly there’s a lot to it and it’s the compounding effect of a number of contributing factors which deliver a fool proof strategy.  

One of the more important aspects of this is to consider how HR can fully integrate its plans and intentions with business practice. You should first achieve buy-in from the top of the organisation and allow this to cascade down to the bottom. Only then can you  truly practice what you preach.

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