Many businesses invest heavily to build strong corporate reputations and differentiate their brands in the minds of customers. However, there is another side to the branding coin that needs attention: the employer brand, or the organization as viewed by current and potential employees.
With today’s ongoing talent crunch, having a positive employer brand is critical to attracting top candidates. A 2019 survey by Wonderful Workplaces, part of U.K.-based Haymarket Media Group, found that 94% of candidates would consider an employer’s brand when applying for jobs, and 45% of passive job seekers would ask for a job if it meant working for a fantastic brand. In LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends report for 2017, 80% of talent leaders agreed that their employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to hire great talent.
There are compelling bottom-line benefits as well. Earlier research from LinkedIn (2011) indicated that companies with a stronger employer brand had a 28% lower turnover rate than companies with a weaker employer brand, a 50% reduction in cost-per-hire and 50% more qualified candidates.
As competition for talent becomes increasingly intense, employer branding is no longer just a buzzword—it must be an essential part of your recruitment strategy. Here are Bedford Group’s tips on getting started:
- Cultivate Culture
Thanks to social media and job review sites, candidates now have a view into what it’s like to work almost anywhere. If your employer branding efforts don’t reflect the reality of the workplace, candidates will find out and move on.
To build your employer brand, take a step back and define your company’s vision, values and culture. Measure workplace culture to find gaps between your current lifestyle and the one for which you’re striving. You will uncover areas for improvement, as well as positive aspects to highlight in your employer branding efforts.
- Define Your Story
As with customer-facing branding, storytelling is central to your employer brand. At Bedford Group, we use a methodology called “Why Do You Stay,” designed by our Chief Leadership Advisor, Dr. John O. Burdett, to uncover why top-performing people choose to stay with their current employer—information that is leveraged in our clients’ talent acquisition efforts under the premise that what keeps the best, attracts the best.
As the exercise states, “the compensation package and the prospect of the promotion will get people’s attention, but the decision to move to a new employer is far more about the extent to which the successful candidate connects with the organization’s story.”
A vibrant story answers four questions:
- Where is the organization heading?
- In what do we believe?
- How does what we do make a difference in people’s lives?
- What makes us special?
Importantly, the assessment notes that to connect with a top candidate, “the story” must be delivered with integrity and authenticity. An attractive story that lacks validity will not be viewed positively by potential candidates.
- Build Employee Advocacy
Just as companies have brand ambassadors to promote their products and services, they can leverage their employees as advocates for their employer brand. In the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global study, 71% of respondents said employees are more believable than CEOs.
With an employee advocacy program, organizations make employees a crucial part of brand storytelling. To do this effectively, organizations must: educate employees about the benefits of employee advocacy; provide the tools they need to create company content; empower them to share their opinions on their social networks; and to keep brand advocates motivated, recognize and reward them for their participation.
Developing a strong employer brand isn’t a one-off marketing campaign—it requires ongoing time, commitment and resources. However, in the long run, your efforts pay off, enabling your company to stand out from the hiring competition and attract and retain the best talent.