We live in an age where it is more important than ever before to attract the right talent and to retain it for as long as possible. As many experts have been warning, this is the age of diminished employee loyalty and the potential employees are becoming more and more discerning, especially in competitive industries where there is shortage of qualified workers.
One of the ways in which companies go about this is that they start doing a bit of employer branding in the hopes they will set themselves apart from the competition.
Employer Branding Basics
Employer branding was introduced as a concept in the 1990s even though it has arguably been a part of the business world since forever. At the core of it is sending across an image of a company as an employer that is superior to the competition. The ultimate goal of employer branding is to better attract talent, but also to retain it more efficiently. With the advent of internet and social media, this kind of branding has only become more important and widespread.
HR On The Front lines
For the majority of companies that do have an HR department, it is them who are tasked with doing employer branding. At face value, it kind of makes sense – these people handle recruitment and employee retention anyway and it is only logical that they would also do employer marketing. They know the most about the employee experience and they are the best suited to be those who present this brand to the public, right?
Well, not really.
The crucial part of the “employer branding” is the second part – Branding, with a capital B. Namely, employer branding is first and foremost branding and for the better part, HR people are simply not equipped to do it in any meaningful or effective way. If you want an elaboration on why this is the case, I would recommend this fantastic article by Mark Ritson.
Among other things, Mr. Ritson talks about half-baked surveys, recycled approach that most HR departments resort to and an overly positive view of the employer brand that non-professional people take in such situations.
What To Do Instead?
The first thing to do, if you are really keen on doing some employer branding, is to take it as seriously as you would take marketing your services or products. It is not something your HR people do on their slow days. It is something that your company really needs to be committed to.
Starting from the Top
For one, it will start with the top brass, with the people who run the show and who determine what this company will be about, both internally and externally. Not to sound too buzzwordy, but it is actually very important to establish your company culture which you will then convey to the general public.
The next step, and the one where the HR people will really be involved, is finding out what your employees think about your organization and its culture. It is crucial to ensure everyone is as honest as possible here.
There is no point in promoting an employer brand that has nothing to do with reality.
Also, when thinking about what you could promote, you should look at some other aspects of your company that might be important to potential employees. For instance, do you perhaps offer flexible work? Does your company employ conflict free auto schedule maker that makes sure no one is wasting time or clashing? How are you about parental leave?
These are all things that may be of importance in employer branding.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
Once you have established what you think your company culture is and what it actually is, it is time to think actual branding. Cold, hard, fact-based employer branding.
For one, you need to set your targets and the KPIs that will give you an idea of how well your new employer branding efforts are working. For instance, you might be interested in improving your employee retention or you might be interested in attracting a certain number of candidates when you post a job ad. The important thing is that you identify what you want and that you track your success.
From there on, you will probably start off with your website which will have to feature the best About Us/Team/Employee section you can imagine, filled with photos of your people and your offices. Please, stay away from stock photos.
Another great idea would be to allow your employees to contribute to the company blog, let them share their expertise and their personal stories. Your company blog should also feature a section about your people and the important milestones. Social media channels have also become an important part of employer marketing these days and you should both do it as a company and encourage your employees to do the same.
Of course, you will also be doing the more “traditional” employer branding like, for instance, brochures that potential employees will be able to browse. Once again, do not make them stock solutions that everyone else puts out too. Spend some money on them. You should also frequent job fairs and seriously consider a recruitment agency that will know how to convey your brand message to their candidates.
Finally, keep in mind that there is no shame in approaching an outside branding partner who will come with years of experience and plenty of expertise when it comes to promoting employer brands. Hiring some like that, however, does not mean giving them free reign and not checking up on them.
In short, employer branding is something that will involve the entire company, from the C-suite to the temps working the summers at your company.
Do not do it half-heartedly and always be honest.
Everything else should fall in place naturally.