Ever wondered what it takes for your organisation to be known as the employer of choice? Most organizations nowadays no longer have the luxury of a single focus such as ‘how good is our product or service?' Nowadays, it is equally important to ask ‘how good a company are we to work for?’ If we look at companies such as Google, Apple, etc, yes they are known for their great service offering but what sets them apart from the rest is their focus on the importance of their employer brand and investment in the happiness and well-being of their employees. To effectively attract, motivate, and retain talented employees, many firms try to become employers of choice defined as firms that are always the first choice of first-class candidates due to their status and reputation in terms of corporate culture and HR practices’ (Sutherland et al., 2002).
According to Harvard Business Review, employer branding is becoming strategically more important to CEOs and HR and marketing leaders with a third looking to build their global employer brand by 2020. Your employer brand is essentially the face of your company. Being considered an employer of choice can provide an organisation with various advantages, ranging from better recruiting to stronger community relations. Over time, this may result in outcomes such as improved customer service and stronger relationships with customers (Hannon & Milkovich, 1996). One may be wondering what is an Employer Brand? Employer brand is a term referred to describe the company's reputation and popularity from a potential employer's perspective and describes the values the company gives to its employees.
What are the benefits of a Strong Employer Brand?
Having a strong employer brand has many opportunities. Companies all around the world are constantly developing their employer brands in order to remain competitive and acquire the best talent in the market. In a modern business world of talent acquisition, employer branding is used to introduce the company as a great place to work. It's used for communicating with current employees as well as attracting new employees. Research has shown that companies with a good employer brand have high quality and more satisfied employees. Such companies are likely to attract and retain the best talent.
According to Link Humans a London based Employer Branding Agency, the following are the top reasons why employer branding is important:
- Decrease in cost per hire: According to LinkedIn, a company with a strong employer brand than its competitors on average sees a 43% decrease in the cost per candidate they hire. This because with a strong employer brand there is no need for a company to spend a lot of money on advertising and marketing campaigns but rather they reap the benefits of natural talent attraction which is attributed to having a strong employer brand.
- Reputation carries more weight than money: According to CareerBuilder, 67% of candidates would essentially accept lower pay if the company they were interested in had very positive reviews online.
- Attracting and retaining the right talent: Approximately 78% of people will look into a company’s reputation as an employer before applying for a job and 88% of millennials believe that being part of the right company culture is very important. Hence it is highly important that you build out your employer brand on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn as an access point for candidates to get a look into your company, as 79% of job seekers are likely to use social media in their hunt for their next job.
- Building a strong talent strategy: A strong employer brand leads to 50% more qualified applicants. Employer branding becomes even more important in highly competitive sectors where niche skill sets are in serious demand. Employer branding is statistically proven to make a significant difference to the organisation’s talent attraction efforts. Research has shown that 84% of employees are likely to leave their current employment to go to another company with a good reputation.
How to grow your employer brand
Your brand’s identity is more than just what you sell customers. It’s not even the benefits you can provide your clients or the results they can expect from working with you. A brand identity is something much more personal than just benefits and solutions. It’s who you are. When you invest in your brand, rather than just a product or campaign, you’re giving your audience a long-term connection with your business. When you have a brand to back what your business provides, your brand image can give your marketing campaigns, products, and other business endeavors instant validation. Now all this stems from having a strong employer brand.
The following are ideas on how companies can boost their employer brand:
- Evaluate your employer brand awareness and reputation:
Firstly it is important to understand where your organisation stands in terms of employer branding. A poll or survey of key external stakeholders and target audiences can measure the pulse of your company’s reputation while surveying existing employees will provide insights into how attractive your organisation is. Based on the feedback received, metrics can be established and a strategy can be created to improve employer brand reputation.
- Analyse your company culture:
According to Holzman (2019), a strong brand starts from within. In other words—if you want candidates to perceive your company as a great place to work, it must actually be a great place to work. The best way to gauge the strength of your company culture is to speak directly with your employees. Whether through anonymous surveys or face-to-face meetings, find out what they love most about working at your company and what they would like to be different. Gathering your employees' opinions will help you identify your weaknesses that need improvement and discover your strengths which you can showcase as part of your employer brand.
- Invest in learning and development initiatives:
Today’s and tomorrow’s workforce is dominated by Millennials – due to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. This demographic has an expectation to be provided with opportunities to learn new skills and develop existing ones. According to a study conducted by Gallup, half indicated that learning and development is an important aspect they consider when applying for a job. As result companies must be prepared to meet that expectation. In order to deliver on this appetite for learning, organizations should embrace the ever-evolving e-learning landscape as it provides employees with the opportunity to learn and grow in their own time.
- Capitalize On The Value Of Your Brand:
According to Glassdoor, 69% are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand. An organisation must be able to portray itself as a strong brand by making sure a potential employee is able to see into the brand and be able to buy into its mission. An example of such a brand is L’Oréal, which went as far as to create a website dedicated to communicating their brand ethos to prospective employees. Entitled ‘L ’Oreal Talent’ the site communicates who they are and what they represent, what their employees can be and what they offer as an employer.
- Develop a content strategy to promote your brand:
To build a strong employer brand, you must craft a comprehensive, multi-channel content strategy to engage your target candidates. Your candidate-facing content must resonate with your ideal candidates. Here’s where candidate personas come in. Candidate personas are profiles of potential candidates that include a set of preferred characteristics like work history, skills, goals, employment preferences and much more. You can also make use of storytelling. Through written and visual brand storytelling, talk about the journey of your brand and of specific employees. These stories will resonate with candidates and show your company as a collection of real human beings rather than faceless employees.
- Leverage on Social Media
Social media has quickly become an essential marketing channel and it’s equally as important for recruiting. 79% of job seekers are likely to use social media to hunt for their next job. Use social media to engage with candidates and share valuable content. Consider creating a separate profile for your recruiting efforts to distinguish your employer branding from your traditional marketing efforts. For example, Microsoft uses the Twitter profile @MicrosoftJobs to share content about their employees and company culture.
The best branding can’t make up for an uninspiring culture or unsatisfied employees. Don’t try to make your company seem like an amazing place to work—strive to actually make it an amazing place to work for your current employees. If you can do that, a big part of your employer branding will take care of itself.
Tatenda Sayenda-Havire is a consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm.
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