As the power of employer branding continues to gain pace, how can organisations effectively communicate their employer value proposition to build a consistent message both internally and externally?
The importance of employer branding
90% of PR job seekers would consider an employer’s brand when applying for jobs, according to the 2019 Employer Branding Insights Report from employer branding agency, Wonderful Workplaces. Furthermore, 95% said a company’s reputation is important to them, and 68% said they would consider applying for a vacancy if it’s a ‘unique opportunity’ even if they’re not actively looking.
At a time when the recruitment market faces great uncertainty, employer branding is of particular significance when hiring PR and communications professionals due to fierce competition for the best industry talent. This hot topic was discussed in detail at a recent PRWeek roundtable event, hosted by Wonderful Workplaces.
One of the issues raised during the roundtable was how employer branding initiatives are challenging to centralise, especially for companies with a global presence. There was consensus in the room that the best brands are bold and authentic, sharing an honest view into ‘what it’s really like to work here.’ An inside look into company culture, career progression and colleagues, is something jobseekers have increasingly come to expect from employers.
Attendees generally felt their organisations need to better understand their employer brand in order to reap the following benefits:
Attracting and retaining top talent
Increasing financial performance
Increased motivation and interaction among employees
Becoming an ‘employer of choice’ - job-seekers are increasingly looking for companies that offer more than the mention of salary and standard holiday allowances.
Attendees voiced a range of other challenges that they’re experiencing with their employer brand, from attracting female workers to a construction company to managing negative reviews on Glassdoor. There was also reference to communicating your employer brand with recruitment consultancies in order for them to effectively represent your brand to the market and candidates they speak with. One attendee mentioned the use of a sole recruiter as a partnership extension of the business, rather than as a supplier. One conclusion can be drawn from this; using multiple recruiters for the same role can negatively impact your brand and dilute your employee value proposition.
Jason Rosehill, sales manager, Wonderful Workplaces, comments: "I was genuinely surprised about how many diverse people around the table are experiencing the same problem. People are finding it hard to concept creative solutions to reach their target markets.
"From a more recruitment focused perspective, it was also clear that many agreed they were facing the challenge of ensuring your employer brand is represented accurately when others represent it, such as recruitment consultancies. You are entrusting others to carry your narrative and brand messaging externally - careful attention should be taken and creativity shouldn’t be sacrificed at the expense of urgency, especially when it comes to hiring."
Sean Connell, account director for Wonderful Workplaces, adds: "In such a competitive market the importance of being creative and out of the box to create content that is attractive to candidates is key. The more creative you can be with employer branding the more effective you will be. Many are still relying on traditional methods rather than looking at the problem itself and how best to address it."
The following approaches were discussed as possible ways to address their key employer branding challenges:
A personal touch: Candidates can interact with your organisation in so many ways – through your website, social media, job boards, review sites and via current and past employees, to name a few. Each of these interactions provide a unique opportunity to personally engage with a candidate or customer. For example, if you see a negative review on Glassdoor about a particular team, make sure a senior person from that team responds personally and promptly.
Recognise each employee: Recognition of employees’ efforts within your organisation can boost individual and team morale. This can go a long way as each motivated individual will radiate their high morale to others and help create a positive work environment.
Nurture employee relationships: Go the extra mile to understand the needs of each individual and address their concerns and career goals.
Bring everyone together: Activities such as bike rides and work clubs can bring everyone together, but make sure there’s something for everyone. One of the roundtable attendees addressed this directly, concluding that there must be a sense of belonging, employees believing in what they’re doing with belief in the organisation, not just a functional job and cog in a wheel.
Creativity: For your employer brand to stand out you need to be creative in terms of what you offer your employees to address the above points. The days of simply uploading a standardised job description on your website to find the right talent are gone.
Transparency and honesty: It’s important to be clear and honest about what you’re offering employees in order to portray a realistic view of the role and company. An attendee for corporate hospitality and events company, Delaware North, commented: "It’s no good putting a picture of Bon Jovi on a job advert for a catering role at a stadium to attract attention, if that’s not reflective of the job they’ll be doing." Impressions count and misleading your candidates can affect that impression and not gain you trust and loyalty in the long term!
Rewards and incentives: When it comes to retention, rather than rewarding the masses, focus on rewarding key individuals. A representative from Propellernet at the roundtable believes that "you have to do something good that’s worth creating employer branding content about". Their Dream Balls initiative has allowed the business to connect with employees by offering high performers the chance to have their wish come true - this has aided with retention and demonstrates going the extra mile in rewarding employees.
Adopt a marketing mindset: Employer branding is where recruitment and marketing meet, and in our increasingly candidate-driven market, you need to adopt a marketing mindset in order to attract the right talent. HR and marketing teams should collaborate to create a valuable EVP content strategy. If you don’t have a marketing team then consider outsourcing.
Ultimately, the people who work for you are all brand ambassadors and will be the ones who promote the organisation both during and after their employment.