What is an employer brand?
Branding is a perception of any stakeholder of your organisation: from current employees to potential employees. What do they think of your organisation—how do you conduct yourself, what is it like to work for you? The logical conclusion is that you want to show your organisation as a good employer, a great place to work at and, well, basically somewhere people want to be a part of.
“Logical, you say,” might be your response. Yes, logical. When an organisation is viewed positively in terms of employer branding, recruitment and retention is improved—simply because people like working with you (or your organisation).
As with perceptions in the business world, it is all about good marketing. For good marketing to happen, there are 2 components: A well branded product and effective communication. This holds true for a good employer brand.
First, let’s look at a good product. What is the product? Your organisation, of course. Employer branding is made up of every touch point your organisation has with employees— training and development, support networks, the development of career paths and benefits and incentives, right through to their exit from the organisation and beyond. How you treat and take care of your employees matters. They form the base of the perceptions about your company.
In tight recruitment markets, companies with strong values, a personality and behaviours that are carried strongly across the organisation tend to have increased employee engagement, have a consist talent pool and is at top of mind for anyone seeking a job. Greater employee engagement means motivated staff that leads to higher productivity and better retention rates—giving your organisation a better bottom line. The domino effect is that it also builds employee loyalty and reduces the risk of poaching and avoids other implications such as recruitment and on-boarding, plus it contributes to retention of skills, knowledge and experience.
Some questions to consider:
- How would your organisation look like as a person?
- How does that person treat others?
- Is that person likeable?
- What is most attractive attribute of that person?
- What are your important roles and what would attract and retain the people in those roles?
- What are the current perceptions of your organisation and how does it stack against that person?
Once these questions can be answered and an optimal persona developed, you can then outline and draft out the policies that you want to have to attract and retain the talents you want.
Second, let’s look at marketing. What are you saying about yourself, about this person that is your organisation? Start thinking about content. Stories that you can tell. Who better to tell them than your employees? Using your employees as brand ambassadors allows you to showcase what it is like to work within your organisation and tell stories as if they were testimonies to how great it to be working at your organisation. People sharing stories sets the base for word of mouth marketing.
Another area to consider when marketing is alignment. What is the alignment of your employer brand versus your consumer brand (the brand the consumers see when they interact with your product)? How does this align to the company visions and goals? Having this alignment allows your organisation to appear consistent and have a clear connection with how you are presented in all areas of communications with the public. The alignment also sets a culture in your organisation and empowers your staff to “live the brand” in the work that they do and how they treat and approach people and things.
Lastly, take this employer brand into every interaction with employees. Know that while employer branding is essential to recruitment and retention, the brand is evaluated constantly and perceptions will get around through word of mouth. You will find that you are fighting an uphill battle if someone that a candidate knows of, told them something negative about your company.
So take that persona that has been developed and take it through into all interactions:
- Attracting new talents
This is first stage of any recruitment process. Promote your strongest attributes, talk about how it is like to work at your organisation, what success looks like, use your brand ambassadors to share stories, show that you care about employees and even your social consciousness (i.e.: Your CSR programmes, etc.). Provide this content via various channels (especially social media) and look beyond just the job description and requirements—talk about what would make your organisation a better place to work at than others.
- Interviewing and On-boarding
This is the first opportunity for direct interaction—not what they read or heard about your organisation, but the real thing. Take time to promote and reinforce your brand. The process should showcase your values. How you treat people becomes very evident. Interactions during interviews that leave a sour note, whether or not they ultimate get hired, will leave negative impressions that will be shared with others.
- Retention and Staff Policies
While you might have attracted the right talents, keeping them is another thing all together. It should be seen as a mutually beneficial relationship. For that to work, build on the relationships. This requires respect, listening and investment. It is when the employer brand must live up to the promises made—through reward and recognition, training and development or a clearly defined career path. Your brand reputation is built on perceptions that are matched to the actual experience of engaging with the brand, just like customer loyalty is built when your products delivers on the promises made.
- Employee Departure
Employees will leave. That is unavoidable. However, just because it is farewell, it is not goodbye. Employees that depart from organisations should leave with a strong connection to your brand. If their exit is managed well, they will continue to be your brand ambassadors, tell others about how great it was to work at your organisation and others will look to them as sources of insight about your organisation. Ensure that these exiting employees experience your employer brand throughout, till the end.
Exit interviews are great time to place a thermometer on your organisation. It gives insight on what is happening, the perceptions and allows the person leaving to feel that their opinions are still heard and valued. With the insights gathered, areas for improvements can be identified and worked on. Other tools include employee satisfaction surveys, training sessions or even employee workshops.
To close, remember to always monitor your employer brand. As the organisation grows, needs will change, so it is important to stay current and take action when it is needed. Organisations that fail to keep up to date with the pulse of their employees (just like those that don’t listen to their consumer), will ultimately fail.