Every company has a reputation whether they choose to create it, or not. A word widely used to encapsulate all perceptions of an organisation, is ‘brand’, which can be a powerful, mysterious, and synergistic force that will influence your company’s performance like no other.
There is also a second aspect of your brand, often pushed aside as unimportant, which spills over and affects the way you are able to attract talent and further grow your company. The same way CocaCola is able to convince the public that their drink tastes the best (even when tested and loosing against other ‘fake’ cokes), potential employees react and form an opinion of your communication and offering in terms of recruitment - more specifically to your employer brand that lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of former, current, and future employees. Similar to the way a corporate brand works, the employer brand encapsulates the market perception of your company as an employer and describes your commitment to potential candidates in exchange for their knowledge, skills, talent and time.
Robert is a co-founder of Increw
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Why is it important?
As part of a forever shifting recruitment environment, where the power is now in the hands of the candidate and applications do not come flooding in without recruitment presence, you must market your organisation to potential candidates the same way they would to a customer. A strong employer brand empowers companies to compete in the race to hire and retain the most qualitative talent. Without one, all these aspects increase in difficulty, price and time.
A strong employer brand will positively influence the three most important hiring metrics: cost-to-hire, time-to-hire and quality-of-hire. As showcased in a study made by LinkedIn, companies are able to cut costs in half, attract 50% more qualified candidates, all while decreasing the time to hire by 50%.
In a time when large and well-established companies are usually the ones that cherry-pick the best talent first, employer branding, thus, represents the most impactful source of talent engagement solutions you can deploy. It allows startups and SMEs to communicate that their organisation is in fact the better place to work, thus boosting the engagement and retention of current employees.
Building your employer brand to attract the best candidates
Just like building a compelling brand to sell products, it takes time to establish a strong employer brand. A primal aspect that will allow you to understand how your organisation is perceived, is the Employer Value Proposition, which encompasses your company’s values, culture and mission that enables you to touch upon the most important decision factors within the candidate’s mind - it’s everything your organisation can offer in exchange for what your employees will bring to the table.
A well-defined EVP allows you to not only attract, but when consistent with your proposition, retain your current employees. When reviewing your EVP, keep in mind the following aspects:
Compensation (salary, shares, etc.)
Benefits beyond salary (healthcare, perks, etc.)
Defined career development opportunities
Opportunity to learn new skills
Work-life balance and flexibility
How to Build Employer Brand
After you’ve taken a step back and understood your identity and what you can bring to the table, how can you share it with the world? The following steps should help you map out your communication strategy:
Share your culture and mission through content: It is imperative to offer a sneak peek into what working for your company is like and this can be best achieved visually through blogs, pictures and videos. What makes your company exciting (ping-pong tables, beers and a game console is old news) - focus on the mission and environment that you are able to create which empowers your employees to communicate freely, exchange ideas, elevate their knowledge and have an impact. Share what makes your company, your company. The strength of your message will increase as you are able to showcase how the impact of the work you do is superior to monetary compensation and leads to personal fulfilment.
Tell Stories: this represents the best opportunity for you to offer a personality and face to your brand that will capture and engage talent attention. Sharing narratives from members of your team will allow candidates to envision themselves in their positions and offer them the comfort of getting to know your company as it is. Candidates aim to understand your company’s culture and the day-to-day work life as they want to know the organisation on a more human level. Once their attention is captured, use this to your advantage - set up an easy to access contacting platform such as a chat, or direct access to a recruitment representative, who will be able to respond in a conversational way to any questions and offer further advice. This goes a long way, as candidates feel valued and cherished.
Campaign for your brand: over 80% of any customer trusts peer-to-peer reviews and recommendations more than any other form of advertising - capitalise on this untapped and underrated force. Empower your employees to share their opinion on Glassdoor (most frequently used platform for company and job reviews), but also allow the freedom and encourage them to share their experience in the most personal way they can (be prepared for some negative feedback as well, as people are able to share their honest feedback when behind a keyboard). Respond to all the feedback that you receive as this will showcase that you value your employees and their wellbeing.
Smoothen your onboarding process: you are not only competing with other organisations to capture and maintain fresh talent, you are first of all competing with yourself. How can you offer the most seamless experience that will improve your candidate’s perception and increase the chances for them to pick your company? But also, how do you empower your new employee in their first few months to fully understand their potential in the new role they have just embarked on. Shorten the period of time you take since you engage the candidate, to the time he/she signs the contract. Try to adopt an overall friendly approach - people want to feel they just joined a group of friends they can change the world with, so why not give them that? Following their onboarding, arm fresh employees with introductions, training and all the tools necessary to hit the ground running and blossom in their new role.
Offer skills training and advancement opportunities: listen to your employees since day 1. Everybody has dreams and aspirations, whether this is to lead a team, research and development or just to help your company to reach its full potential. Empowering them to take the necessary steps to achieve this will take you a long way in the long term. Nothing saves recruitment spending better than good hires and promotions from within. Share a well-defined timeline that encapsulates and is personalised according to your employees’ desires that will allow them to reach their goals. Provide training, certifications and all the tools necessary to elevate themselves to their desired standard. Why would they leave if their future looks bright and the group they are part of is here to support and encourage them?
Keep diversity at the core: going beyond all the well-known advantages of having team members from different backgrounds in terms of creativity, productivity and problem-solving qualities, diversity showcases that you care about equal opportunity and expands your brand reach to multiple cultures and social groups - an amazing strategy where word-of-mouth shines the brightest.
Some fear that the authenticity of their culture might scare off potential talent - don’t. It should scare off candidates who do not fit in as it filters and attracts the right people that will be happy and engaged in the environment you are willing to offer. Eventually, encouraging self-selection and reducing bad, unfitted hires. Be unapologetically, you.
All the changes mentioned above take time, but in small increments, you are in for success in the long run. EVP allows you to go to the core of your company, what defines it and what keeps it moving through the good and especially the bad times. Understand it, build it and cherish it. Once you understand this, you will be able to leverage it in any communication you put forward.