Many organizations spend a lot of time and energy building strong brands —but they often fall short when it comes to strengthening their employer reputation.
“Employer branding” is no longer simply a concern for recruitment marketing; it is also a key component of effective organizational leadership. If organizations can’t attract, engage, and retain the right talent, they’re unlikely to achieve their goals and objectives.
One way to clarify what makes you different is to create an “Employee Value Proposition,” (EVP) which sets out the qualities that make you special to your employees.
For example, Adidas defines “six beliefs and qualities” that they want people to feel and experience—and that differentiates them from competitors like Nike. For example, they stress “Collaborating with those that inspire us,” which they explain means, “opening our doors to collaborators from all walks of life, opening our ears to their points of view, and being generous with our own insights and experience, so that we can all co-create the future together.” This emphasis on the collective distances Adidas from Nike’s more archetypal sports obsession with individual winners.
Google, for example, takes a scientific approach to managing every aspect of the work experience, to ensure people not only enjoy their work but perform to the best of their abilities. There are numerous well-known examples of how this experiential design works in practice– such as the “20% time” offered to software engineers to work on projects of their choosing, which Google found promoted greater innovation.
What is Employer Branding?
Employer brand (branding) is the term commonly used to describe an organization’s reputation as an employer, and its value proposition to its employees, as opposed to its more general corporate brand reputation and value proposition to customers. The term was first used in the early 1990s and has since become widely adopted by the global management community. Your employer brand is defined as “the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, and other key stakeholders). The art and science of employer branding is therefore concerned with the attraction, engagement and retention initiatives targeted at enhancing your organization’s employer brand.
Just as a customer brand proposition is used to define a product or service offer, an employee value proposition or EVP is used to define an organization’s employment offer. Likewise, the marketing disciplines associated with branding and brand management have been increasingly applied by the human resources and talent management community to attract, engage and retain talented candidates and employees, in the same way that marketing applies such tools to attracting and retaining clients, customers, and consumers. https://www.ere.net/9-steps-to-a-successful-employer-branding-strategy/
Your employer brand comes down to how people perceive your organization. It dictates your reputation not just among clients, but also with key stakeholders, employees, and future job candidates. Employer brands are influenced by everything from internal communication strategies to organizational-specific solutions for employee recognition – even your brand advocacy programs.
In a world where more than half of employers can’t find qualified candidates for their empty roles, the easiest way to lure skill to your company is by showing employees that you have a brand they’ll want to work for. Your employer brand focuses on promoting the inspirational aspects of your corporate culture, along with the various features that differentiate you from other employers in your industry.
Given the fact that 94% of candidates are more likely to apply for a position listed by an organization that actively manages its employer brand, you place yourself in the enviable position of having your pick from the talent pool. As you get started, ask yourself and your team questions like:
- Why should someone want to work for you?
- Do your managers and employees share the same perception of your brand?
- Are you appropriately visible to your talent pool?
- How can you use brand advocacy or brand ambassadors to give your employer branding strategy volume? https://getbambu.com/blog/employer-branding-strategy/
An employer brand refers to the perceptions key stakeholders, and more specifically current and potential employees, have of your organization. It is about how they view your organization; from how you conduct yourselves in the market, through to what they think it would be like to work for your organization. An effective employer brand presents your organization as a good employer and a great place to work and can, as a result, help with recruitment, retention and generally affect the market perception of your organization.
Employer branding is therefore about effectively communicating your organization’s values, personality and culture to create the desired perceptions. Employer branding affects every touch point the organization has with the employee, starting with the recruitment and onboarding process. It then extends to every aspect of their employment including; training and development, support networks, the development of career paths and benefits and incentives, right through to their exit from the organization and beyond. https://www.realstaffing.com/employers/recruitment-guides/building-a-compelling-employer-brand
The benefits of a strong employer brand
A clear and defined employer brand can offer significant benefits to your organization. It can significantly improve application rates and put your organization in the enviable position of having a wide pool of talent to choose from. In tight recruitment markets, where competition for the best talent is fierce, it can also help keep the organization top of mind, make you stand out in a crowded market and provide compelling reasons to join your organization rather than going elsewhere.
In organizations where values, personality, and desired behaviours have been deeply embedded across the organization employers are also likely to benefit from increased engagement from employees. Greater employee engagement and motivation has been shown to result in greater productivity and higher retention rates – all of which contribute to retaining skills and knowledge, and ultimately improving your efficiency. Increased engagement with the brand will also help build employee loyalty reducing the risk of losing your best people to competitors, and therefore avoiding the financial implications of recruiting and onboarding their replacements.
Building a good employer brand means learning what employees want. And most employees want to learn. A Gallup poll reveals that millennial workers crave development opportunities. This trend isn’t unique to young people: employees want to develop their skills, regardless of their age, gender or background. https://www.realstaffing.com/employers/recruitment-guides/building-a-compelling-employer-brand
Organizations that build education/training into their brands will be better positioned to hire and keep talented people. Because the key to building a strong employer brand is focusing on what you can do for your employees – not on how cool you are, as an organization.
Today, the most significant obstacle candidates face when considering a new position is not knowing what it’s like to work for a specific organization. An employer branding strategy allows you to focus on convincing talent that your organization is the best next step in their careers. If people believe that they won’t be able to find a better environment for their career, they’ll take much more pride and ownership over their role in the company.
With an employment branding solution, you’ll start to recognize:
- Increased motivation amongst employees who are happy working in an engaging and fulfilling corporate environment
- More reliable and loyal employees—if your staff love working for you, then you can rest assured that they’ll give you their best work and focused attention
- Lower turnover rates, regardless if there are higher paying jobs elsewhere.
- New generations of exceptional talent drawn to your organization by your compelling employer branding. You won’t just attract good employees, you’ll attract the best.
Over time, your employer branding will naturally improve and evolve as you attract new employees and establish loyalty within your existing ones. If your aim is to improve engagement and advocacy – while reducing turnover – employer branding is the key to success.
Your employer brand should be reinforced regularly; employees need to be reminded of the qualities that first attracted them to the organization. More importantly, you need to deliver on the brand promises you made to those employees, whether through reward and recognition, training and development or a clearly defined career path. Brand reputation is built on perceptions that are matched by the actual experience of engaging with the brand. https://www.realstaffing.com/employers/recruitment-guides/building-a-compelling-employer-brand
Developing your employer brand
When developing your employer brand, it is fundamental you consider the following questions:
- What are the most attractive and compelling attributes of the organization to both current and potential employees?
- What roles within the organization are most critical to your success and what do you need to do to attract and retain the best talent in these areas?
- What are the typical characteristics and attributes of current employees and what are their future requirements?
- What are the current perceptions of working within the organization? How are they affecting your current ability to recruit top talent? https://www.realstaffing.com/employers/recruitment-guides/building-a-compelling-employer-brand
With a clear understanding of these areas you can then define an outline of where you are now, what you would like your employer brand to be and the steps required to get there, all of which form the basis for your employer brand strategy.
Employer brands often falls to HR, Internal Communications and Marketing departments, but the reality is that everyone in the organization is responsible for your employer brand – particularly your senior management team. Employer brands cannot be forced onto employees; they must be true and accurate and reflect how your organization treats its employees. That means true employee engagement only happens if the brand is embedded into the culture of the organization, is lived and breathed by everyone and underpinned by a leadership team that leads by example. If the management team doesn’t believe in the brand values, even the very best internal communication campaigns won’t be able to instill a change in culture throughout the company.
Remember your employees can either be your organization’s strongest brand ambassadors, or your biggest critics.
It’s therefore, crucial that all employees ‘live’ the brand, including demonstrating the brand’s desired behaviours, beliefs, and culture. It’s key to remember this level of employee engagement doesn’t just happen overnight. To successfully shape your employer brand, you need to invest in your existing employees; it’s no use promoting a culture of innovation, ambition, and promising career development and training to potential employees if the reality inside the organization is one of bureaucracy and minimal training. The best employer brands accentuate the positive aspects of the organization but are realistic and create a picture people can relate to.
By understanding existing perceptions and the people you are trying to attract you can also create a more compelling case for you as an employer. For example, focusing on more than just technical requirements in job specifications and considering why a role would be attractive, what your organization can offer (culture/work life balance/benefits etc.) and what would make you more appealing than other organizations or opportunities goes a long way to developing a strong employer brand. Similarly, check the careers section of your website reflects the brand to its full potential.
How to strengthen your employer proposition:
- Promote culture and rewards
- Show what success in the organization looks like
- Introduce current employees (including testimonials)
- Promote awards and accreditations
- Promote your commitment to career development and training https://www.realstaffing.com/employers/recruitment-guides/building-a-compelling-employer-brand
The best way to attract and retain talent at the same time is to focus on creating an environment where people can envision a future for themselves. Let them know what their path looks like in the short-term as well as in the long-term. Involve them in the organization’s future and show them how they can drive impact on a wide scale.
Your employer branding should be more than just a marketing strategy, it should be a way of life.
Make sure that your management and leadership teams are fully committed to the brand and understand how to use it to lead the rest of the team by example. Additionally, always continue to look for new ways in which you can remind your employees of why they joined your organization in the first place. Deliver on the promises you’ve made regarding recognition, reward progress and ensure that your brand is always consistent.
Importance of a Strategic Approach
Research on employer branding found that organizational culture is a key variable in sourcing and retaining talent. Employees join and stay when they identify with the organizational mission, vision, and values. It is cultural fit that either attracts or repels candidates and employees.
- Listen to employees – focus groups, engagement surveys, advocacy programs, exit interviews provide insights to the employee experience. This data allows the effective promotion of the organization to new talent and the areas where the organization is perceived positively by employees. Be prepared for negative feedback too, and encourage constructive suggestions as to where improvements might be made.
- Showcase your brand – successful organizations demonstrate strong values and robust HR strategies on which to base employer branding strategy. Focus on and define the audience, profile hiring parameters around attraction, retention, and engagement then decide how the brand represents the organization to stakeholders.
- Spread the message – use website, intranet, social media, job postings and advertising, employee advocacy to communicate with stakeholders; be sure to align the employer brand with the overall organizational brand, consistency is important.
- Measure progress – develop relevant metrics to assess and track the success of the employer brand, this may include quality of hire, brand awareness, employee satisfaction, employee referrals or other measures.
The employer brand reflects how the organization wants prospective and current employees to see the company. So, use the data gathered to develop a strong employer brand and see rewards in terms of improved retention, productivity and employee satisfaction.
Don’t rest on your laurels. Monitor and maintain employer brand efforts; as the economic environment changes, so adjustments and new initiatives may be necessary. Pay attention to the great reputation you build and nurture it. It is easier to acquire a bad reputation than it is to get rid of it. http://linkhumans.com/blog/employer-brand-strategy
Organizations that fail to recognize the importance of their employer brand and monitor it accordingly are likely to find themselves at a disadvantage over the long-term. Increased spending on recruitment campaigns may aid short-term attraction of new talent, employers may find themselves losing out on the best talent to firms with stronger employer brands. Even if you manage to attract a high level of talent the reality of how your employer brand is reflected across the organization will ultimately determine the ability of the organization to retain this talent. https://www.realstaffing.com/employers/recruitment-guides/building-a-compelling-employer-brand
When tracking the metrics that indicate ROI for your employer branding strategy, you’ll need to look at metrics that are related to differentiation, awareness and perceived quality in your workplace. Think about using online review websites and surveys to help you discover the changes that your employer branding is contributing to.
You can also look at things like employee retention rate, the number of candidate applications you receive, cost per hire and the strength of your brand ambassador programs. According to some studies, employer branding can decrease cost per hire by 43%.
Make a note of the metrics that are most important for you before you begin implementing your strategy. This way, you’ll have a baseline to measure and benchmark improvements or pitfalls against, while keeping company culture top of mind as a critical piece to the success of your employer branding program. https://getbambu.com/blog/employer-branding-strategy/
Employer Branding for Non-Profits
One of the key qualities of a strong employer brand is aligning employees around a mission. Deloitte research shows that “mission-driven” companies have 30 percent higher levels of innovation and 40 percent higher levels of retention, and they tend to best or second in their market segment.
Mission is important for the next generation of workers: the same study showed that more than 70 percent of Millennials expect their employers to focus on societal or mission-driven problems. https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/employer-branding-for-nonprofits/
Competing against the private sector
While for-profit companies may have to work hard to define and communicate a mission, nonprofits have a leg up on the private sector. Whether your nonprofit focuses on social issues, education, the arts or community causes, you should have no trouble convincing candidates that working for your organization is worthwhile.
When you’re competing against higher paying jobs in the private sector, you should go the extra mile to convince candidates that the experience they’ll gain working for your nonprofit will more than compensate for a potential lower salary.
To be successful create a compelling employer value proposition. Your mission as a nonprofit defines what your organization does for your community, country or the world; your employer value proposition (EVP) defines what you do for your employees.
Can you define what value working at your nonprofit provides employees? If not, ask them. Launch informal surveys, focus groups or “stay interviews.” Solicit opinion on why employees love their jobs, how the organization supports their career goals and what keeps them on board. http://recruitingdaily.com/top-5-employer-branding-tips-nonprofit-recruiting/
Nonprofit organizations that want to recruit top employees must compete against top-notch, for-profit employers that have reputations for being some of the best places to work. But with a carefully designed employer branding strategy, your nonprofit can also become an employer of choice — even if you don’t offer the same employment packages as your for-profit competition.
Here are five tips for utilizing an employer branding strategy to boost your nonprofit recruiting and retention efforts.
Understand your employer value proposition. Employer branding is all about what people feel and think about working for your organization, and many nonprofit organizations have long understood that they offer a unique workplace value to their employees. As a nonprofit, your organization is likely to have a higher purpose than simply making money — and if you communicate the impact potential candidates can have on the world by working with you, it is likely to resonate with those who will be best fits for your organization.
Embrace social media.If you don’t already, learn to use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc. to communicate your organization’s mission, culture, and benefits.
“Whether you believe in [social media] or not, you should be there, and you should be consistently there,” said Jim Zaniello, president of Vetted Solutions, at a recent Bisnow-sponsored panel on Association and Non-Profit Human Capital Strategies. “Candidates have a choice as to where they go to work. They are looking at all types of social media.”
Keep current employees happy. Not only are your current employees’ valuable to your organization, but they can also serve as ambassadors for your employment brand, and sharing their positive experience with others who may be potential candidates for future positions. Keep these employees happy by creating generous benefits packages — your organization may not compete monetarily with for-profit companies, but you may be able to offer better work-life balance and unique opportunities for professional development, such as leadership training programs.
Conduct “stay” interviews. Forget the exit interview; conduct a similar interview with current staff members who (you hope) have no intention of leaving. In this formal discussion, ask current staffers what you can do to ensure that they will stay with your organization. Ask questions about organizational culture, communication, growth and recognition to gauge employees’ engagement and help you formulate policies and procedures that will best fit the needs of your employees.
Realize that one size doesn’t fit all. Just because a particular employer branding strategy works for another organization doesn’t mean that it will work for yours. “Employer branding doesn’t have to be built around a broad multi-channel social media approach,” NPR’s Schmidt says. Instead, it can be scaled to the size and needs of your organization. Rather than seeking to apply a cookie-cutter approach to your organization’s employer brand, determine the right approach for your needs. Be willing to experiment, changing things that aren’t working. The most important thing is that you choose a strategy that is streamlined with the culture of your organization. http://recruitingdaily.com/top-5-employer-branding-tips-nonprofit-recruiting/
Employer Branding for the Public Sector
Branding is a legitimate public sector activity. Over the past decade people have come to understand that branding is not only necessary for the public sector but critical. You have to put money in the “trust bank” first, establishing a positive and distinct reputation for trustworthiness and a particular set of values. This is not the same thing as doing your job and explaining your mission—it is something more. https://www.digitalgov.gov/2014/07/25/5-key-points-about-government-branding-now/
There is no avoiding the prominence of public sector careers. In recent years’ we have all heard the public/private arguments, tried to understand bench-marking, listened to the justifications of reduced packages for public sector workers in some jurisdictions.
If you Google “Why work in the Public Sector?” here are a few of the responses from the first page of results:
- There is such a variety of careers in the public services that you really could do anything.
- Salaries above the national average, excellent benefits packages
- Making a positive difference to society
- Working with people
- Flexible working practices and emphasis on creating a harmonious work-life balance
- Public sector careers are back in fashion as new job-seekers seek safer alternatives to corporate uncertainty.
The growth of a world class public service will rely on the ability of the public sector to compete for the very best candidates, yet the coverage of the government’s attempts to reduce public spending have eroded much of the brand equity that employment in the public sector enjoyed.
Creating and promoting a dynamic and attractive employer brand, or rather brands, will be key in this process. One of the first big shifts required will be the move for both employers and employees away from the idea of a singular public sector. One of the main reasons for joining the public sector – the variety of careers – will in itself drive the requirement for a range of value propositions that are unique, relevant and compelling at a more granular level than is usual.
Public Sector Organizations Need to Refresh Their Brand to Attract the Best Talent
According to studies conducted by the Conference Board of Canada , public sector organizations need to promote the purposeful nature of public service work and its social impact to become more attractive to millennials and Gen Z’s if they are to address the skill shortages and skill mismatches predicted in the coming years, according to a new report .
“The public sector’s ability to leverage its brand as a purpose-based employer has eroded in recent years and HR leaders are particularly concerned that attracting talent to the public sector has become more difficult as it competes against the private sector. With nearly half of its new hires expected to be millennials, HR leaders at all levels in the Canadian public sector, need to differentiate the value of their organizations from the private sector to attract the right, high-quality talent to move forward into a challenging future.”
Highlights of the Report
- Public sector organizations face similar human capital challenges as the private sector, but from a different perspective.
- Among the top human capital challenges facing the public sector are the need to develop managers and leaders and the need to build an optimum workforce in a period of demographic change.
- Public sector organizations need to re-brand and communicate the value of public sector careers to attract and retain the future workforce.
The report, Rethinking Public Sector HR: Canadian Executives Speak, identifies five top human capital challenges that public sector organizations face now and will continue to face over the next few years. These challenges include the need to build an optimum workforce in a period of demographic change, and the need to develop the next generation of leaders and managers that does not focus primarily on technical skills.
A previous Conference Board of Canada survey of 150 Canadian human resources leaders confirmed that the public-sector workforce is older than the private sector in all job categories. In addition, the average age of retirement is two years younger than in the private sector. These two factors combine to result in higher retirement rates in public sector organizations in the coming years. However, the survey also revealed that more than half of responding organizations already reported difficulty recruiting quality candidates with the mission-critical skills essential in their business context and with the hot skills most in demand.
Recognizing that attracting talent to the public sector has become more difficult in recent years, public sector organizations have identified the need to re-brand as a priority. Public sector organizations want to highlight the value of public service as a vocation—or a calling—to set themselves apart from private sector employment and to make it a more attractive career for millennials.
Other priorities for public sector organizations identified in the report include:
- Redefine how work gets done in the public sector. In the public sector, processes can often become more important than outcomes. Moreover, out-of-date technology, poor career development paths and a lack of innovation are potential disengagers for new, younger employees. The creation of a new organizational construct that is less hierarchical, more tech-savvy, and more sensitive to employees’ needs could help address these concerns.
- Deconstruct and renew HR. The changing nature of work is a growing workforce challenge for both the public and private sectors. HR can be the connector in helping guide the design and accountability of structures that support and sustain new approaches going forward. However, there is a need for a change in HR culture and mindset, along with a change in how HR is staffed, organized and operated.
- Support a mentally healthy workplace. Mental wellness was identified as a top HR priority. Measuring and assessing candidates for hiring and promotion, for a cultural fit and adaptability to change are new goals. Likewise, public sector organizations hope to offer more support to early-career employees.
The report is based on a round-table discussion hosted by The Conference Board of Canada, in partnership with Aon Hewitt, in early 2017. The round-table brought together 17 senior HR executives from public sector organizations across Canada. conferenceboard.ca/press/newsrele…
If the public sector is both to compete successfully for talented applicants and retain high-performing employees, they need to brand the public sector as an employer of choice that provides challenging work, progressive human resource policies, and opportunities for promotion and career development. The public sector needs to emphasize the advantages they can offer as compared to the for-profit sector. This will require the development and implementation of a comprehensive marketing and communications program. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/employer-branding-public-sector-dave-griffin